Reasons to ditch the junk food

07 March, 2019

Last week I watched Michael Mosley’s programme The Junk Food Experiment. I nearly didn’t, after all I write all the time about eating a healthy diet so I knew the message. Junk food is not good for you.

However, I am glad that I did watch the programme because it highlighted so very clearly why we all need to reduce our junk food intake. I won’t say give it up because I think we all need some latitude in our lives and a little naughtiness is OK in my book!

What I am giving you is a summary of the programme.

The first thing to say was it was an extreme experiment and so the results are dramatic. The study was of 6 celebrities:

  • Peter Andre – who felt he balanced bad foods against a regular training regime
  • Hayley Tamaddon – who has IBS
  • Tessa Sanderson – an ex athlete
  • Hugo Taylor – a health food fan
  • Shaun Wallace – who likes his fast food
  • Nadine Dorries – a healthy eating MP

The eating regime was burgers and chips three times a day for a week, pizza three times a day for a week and fried chicken and chips three times a day for a week. Celebrities were paired up and each couple did a food group for a week and then swapped.

The reason this experiment was undertaken was because we as a nation consume 22 million takeaway meals every week. This is contributing to our ever increasing levels of obesity and other health issues.

How did the meals compare?

Which meal would you say was the least healthy? I admit the results surprised me.

No 3 was burger and chips which treats us to half of our fat, salt and sugar allowances for a day.

No 2 was chicken and chips offering us over 100% of our daily salt intake and 70g of fat – saturated of course!

No 1 was pizza which generously gives us double our daily salt allowance and 2.5 times our daily allowance of fat.

The weekly analysis

Within a week all had digestive issues, some had gained weight and Hugo had an anxiety attack. The effect was such that he gave up after a week.

By week two Nadine had a muffin top, disturbed sleep and exaggerated hormone swings. Shaun was identified as having sleep apnoea – this means he stops breathing for a short period of time during the night. Junk food in refined carbs late at night just made his symptoms worse.

Hayley, already an IBS patient, reached a point of such pain and inflammation that she was advised it was too dangerous for her to continue.

Tessa was ill at this point. She experienced a massive headache.

Shaun lost his mental clarity and found he couldn’t answer questions he knew he should have been able to.

By week 3 Tessa’s health had not improved. Tests were conducted and she was shown to be having extremely raised blood pressure, 170/95 this level puts you at risk of a stroke. This for an ex athlete who looks much younger than her age! Her salt levels were also found to be dangerously high. Tessa was advised to stop the trial.

Peter’s stomach rebelled at the idea of eating another pizza and he had no energy or his usual happy spark.

Nadine was really struggling. By day 19 she had bad indigestion, felt awful, and tests indicated that she had the profile of someone with inflammatory bowel disease.

By the end there were only three left...

Peter had put on half a stone and most worryingly the weight wasn’t visible. It was fat around his organs.

Nadine had a stomach 2” bigger, no concentration or focus and felt awful.

Shaun was predisposed to his symptoms with his family history but like Peter the damage was internal rather than visible. He was diagnosed as pre diabetic.

Our Conclusion

It is easy to dismiss this as an exaggerated trial that is attempting to scare people. The reality is that junk food has crept into our lives and we are not always conscious of what we are absorbing when we are rushing from place to place. It is time to be aware of what you eat.

The solution

It is simple a diet of:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Wholegrains
  • Unrefined carbs
  • Simple proteins

Sugar Substitutes

For many people the craving for sugar drives their need for junk foods. It is the most appealing and addictive substance. I have fought my own battles with it.

Fruit is an excellent way of having sweetness without eating junk food. Look for the low GL fruits! To make life easy we have listed them here. For reference GL stands for glycaemic load which is a formula that takes in GI (glycaemic index) plus the grams of carbs per serving. It is a more effective measurement of how the sugar will process in your body.

The Healthy Fruits

  • Cherries
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Grapefruit
  • Pears
  • Grapefruit
  • Plums

The advantage of raw is that not only is it filling and tasty, it provides minerals, vitamins and fibre. Typically, one or two pieces of fruit is the right amount to eat each day. It goes without saying that local and organic are the best choices.

Other sugar substitutes

  • Stevia is a good substitute. It is very sweet so only use a little.
  • Coconut Sugar is a great alternative for cooking and drinks.
  • Raw honey has benefits beyond being an alternative sweetener it can help with hay fever during the season too. Just don’t heat it you will lose some of the benefits.
  • Blackstrap molasses work well in cooking as well as maple syrup and dates.
  • See our blog about giving up sugar for more ideas.

Eat healthy fats

A really helpful habit is to increase your healthy fats. By eating avocado, seeds and nuts and using coconut or olive oil you can manage and reduce your craving for sugar.

Replace the saturated fats with these delicious alternatives and give your health a real boost. See our blog on Coconut Oil for more information.


Salt is another unhealthy ingredient in junk food. If you enjoy salt then consider pink Himalayan salt it is tasty and offers you many health benefits.

We hope that you have found this article interesting and that you consider the information we have given you. Excess sugar alone puts you at risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cognitive disorders and high blood pressure. It’s not a pretty picture is it?


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