Health officials in England are calling for calories to be reduced in fast food. Sameer Bharde tells you whether you should take notice of this development
It is not a secret anymore. Fast food, or as some people argue, ‘cheap food’, is popular for a reason. It is often crunchy, delicious and does the job for people on a tight budget looking for a quick meal. However, we all know the repercussions fast food can have on our health in the long term, especially since they are calorie-dense. And recently, British health officials have called for a reduction of calories in popular foods such as pizzas, burgers and ready meals.
It’s not just a well-rounded diet that you need; you must also keep an eye on the total calories you eat. The National Health Service in the UK recommends 2,500 calories for a man and 2,000 for a woman respectively each day. If you are frequently going above these limits, it will likely lead to weight gain, which can put your heart at risk.
Fast food is usually high in calories, salt and saturated fat. To top it all, it is also usually low in fibre and nutrition. The overall detrimental effect of fast food on your body can be profound. However, that is not the only way in which calories can be sneaking into your food. Healthy foods can be high in calories too, and moderation is the key. Here’s a quick guide to know which healthy, ubiquitous foods pack in loads of calories.
We love quinoa for its taste and healthy proteins. We also often think that quinoa is an extremely healthy substitute for rice, but that’s not quite true! A cup of cooked brown rice has 218 calories, while a cup of cooked quinoa has 222 calories. Remember to portion quinoa the same way that you would a bowl of rice.
An all-time favourite with falooda lovers, chia seeds are known for their health benefits. They also go well with cereal and in smoothies. But, just a tablespoon of these nutritious seeds contains 70 calories. It’s easy to go overboard on your calorie target for the day even if you add just two or three tablespoons to your smoothie or meal.
Milk chocolate is often written off as unhealthy, but dark chocolate is our saviour. It is rich in antioxidants and linked to an improved blood flow in the body. However, a bar of dark chocolate contains 600 calories, so it’s wise to limit yourself to no more than a one-inch square every day.
NUTS AND TRAIL MIX
We’re all aware that these make for a tasty, nutritious snack. They have fats that are good for your heart, but just a handful of nuts may contain as much as 175 calories. Branded trail mix may have more calories in them as they are often oil-roasted to lend more flavour. Stick to pistachios, as two handfuls have only 159 calories.
Yes, we know, a salad without dressing is just a bunch of leaves in a bowl. A salad is healthy, but if you opt for that delicious ranch dressing or sharp vinaigrette, it can add on a tonne of calories to your meal. A three-ounce serving of Caesar salad dressing can have 390 calories and over 40 grams of fat. It’s often better to just stick to balsamic vinegar or olive oil to give your salad flavour.
Packed with fibre and protein, they make a great dip in the form of a hummus or also a good meal as a curry. But, stick to half a cup of chickpeas, or just a tablespoon of hummus, as a full cup of chickpeas contains 286 calories, while four tablespoons of hummus can add 200 calories to your meal.
DON’T BE DISHEARTENED!
All the ingredients mentioned on this list are extremely healthy and must be consumed in moderation. Stick to small portions. If you are unsure about portion control, you can try out several applications that are available, one of them being the MyFitnessPal app, which will help you track how many calories you are eating in each meal.
CALORIES IN POPULAR FAST FOOD ITEMS
- Pizza: Rich, cheesy and flavourful crusty bread. Just three slices of a cheese pizza contains 600 calories!
- Chaat: This can have a wide range, but a bhel puri has about 200-250 calories per serving, while four to five medium-sized pani puris can have anywhere between 150-180 calories.
- Burger: No surprises here! With the slice of cheese, a burger can pack as much as 540 calories.
- Samosa: These make for a great filling snack, but they have 308 calories each.
- Fried chicken: Just three pieces of deep fried chicken can add 360 calories to your daily diet.