For many, the demands of modern life make eating healthily a challenge. In this week’s article, we tell you where you can get your healthy meals in Northampton. From takeaway alternatives to regular meal prep, there is one place that offers it all. Keep reading to find out more…
A matter of convenience
Over recent years, there has been a shift in work-life balance. The change has seen people become increasingly busy with less downtime. For most, a 9-5, Monday to Friday job is a thing of the past. The average workday has increased either on-site or with home-based assignments. Add to this the demand of ‘home admin’ and family duties; people get less free time. You may end up sacrificing sleep to give you relaxation time, but that might not be the best course of action. We have previously covered the health benefits of sleep; sleep should take priority for your health.
With this lack of free time comes a dependence on ready meals, takeaways, and fast food. Eating for convenience is coupled with eating to de-stress, and satisfaction. Although convenient, eating these foods often will pile on the pounds and damage your health.
The issues with convenience foods
Let’s stick the following food types, all under the label of ‘convenience’ foods:
- Highly processed foods/snacks (packet food, grab and go goodies).
- Ready meals (microwave in minutes, ready to eat food).
- Fast foods (drive-through, burger and fried chicken restaurants).
- Takeaways (regional cuisine from around the world, ordered and delivered in Tupperware)
The above foods tick some boxes to suit our modern life:
- They are quick and easy. Some you need to open a packet to eat, others require a quick whizz in the microwave.
- Low cost. For as little as £5, you can have a filling meal.
- Taste. These foods will tickle your taste buds and give you some enjoyment.
- Variety. You have hundreds of options from which to choose.
- Readily available. You are likely to have access to convenience foods within a short distance of your home. With Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats, food is available at the click of a button.
Although they are appealing, convenience foods do little to benefit your health. In fact, they do quite the opposite. Below, we give you a summary of the issues they can cause.
Convenience foods and obesity
One striking conclusion from a study in Spain found that the consumption of fast food more than once a week increased the risk of obesity by 129%. That’s is a significant increase in obesity risk! Obesity has severe health implications, increasing mortality risk. There is a link between obesity and increased cases of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. More recently, with the current COVID pandemic, the NHS released figures stating a higher mortality rate came from the clinically obese. Currently (December 2020), those who are obese are considered clinically vulnerable. Interestingly, most of the conditions within the clinically vulnerable list are associated with weight-related health issues.
Convenience foods and cancer risk
One study into food and cancer included over 100,000 participants over five years. They found that for every 10% increase of the daily calories from highly processed foods, there was a 12% increased risk of developing cancer. Highly processed foods, especially meats like bacon and sausages, contain carcinogens which can increase your chance of developing cancer. You should limit your consumption of these foods to limit your risk of developing cancer.
Convenience foods and weight-related health issues
Convenience foods are usually very high in sugars, salts and fats. These foods are what create that luxury feel and ‘reward’ the taste buds when consumed. Bu they are also linked to increased risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Most junk foods and treat based meals will be very calorie-dense, meaning they are low in volume but high in calorie content. It’s this calorie density which makes it easy to over-consume the calories. Perhaps you go for the larger portion, unaware of the calorie content.
Convenience foods and mental health
There are some links to show that regular consumption of highly processed foods and refined carbohydrates can contribute to depression, dementia and poor mental health. Although this is not a well-known side effect of processed foods, there are many studies which highlight the link between food and mental health. We previously released this article which discusses diet and mental health, and goes into more detail.
An example of calorie damage from convenience foods
Below is a list of some common convenience foods and their calorie contents. As a guideline, most food packets will say the average intake of an adult is 2000 calories. It is important to note that your calorie requirement is based on your age, height, weight, activity and body composition.
- A Tesco’s Korma and rice microwave meal contains 611 calories.
- A medium dominos pepperoni pizza has 2478 calories.
- A medium big mac meal which includes medium coke and medium fries contains 1015 calories.
- A KFC fillet burger meal with fries and a drink contains 750 calories.
- A one-pint tub of Ben and Jerries cookie dough ice cream is 1080 calories.
- A 2-litre bottle of original coke is 800 calories, and it’s all sugar.
- A Chinese take away: prawn toast (4 pieces = 208cal), egg fried rice (186cal), chicken chow mein (361cal), sweet and sour chicken balls (530cal) = 1285 calories (approx. figures from Nutracheck.)
As pointed out, modern life makes it difficult for many to prepare healthy meals in advance. Eating on the go may be convenient, but it is probably the worst choice for your health. The odd treat is not going to harm you, but regular consumption of these foods is proven to have a negative effect on your weight and your health.
When it comes to your food, there are two key areas you should pay attention to:
The calorie and macronutrient requirement to fulfil your personal needs
We all have a specific calorie requirement based on our height, weight, body composition, activity levels and goals. Calculate this number and ensure you consume this number to achieve your goals. Once you have your calories, you will need to work out your macronutrient needs. Again, everybody will have a different requirement for fats, proteins and carbohydrates. You can find online calorie calculators to help you work this out, but paying for a fitness professional to do this would be best.
The health content of the food you consume
Eating a balanced diet is essential for controlling your health as well as your weight. Consume unprocessed, natural foods for the majority of your calorie intake to ensure a spectrum of macronutrients and micronutrients. Micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients we need to keep us healthy. Although you can buy multivitamin supplements, we’d always suggest getting your micros directly from foods.
If you can put more time into your food prep, you might be interested in our previous blog regarding the best food shop in Northampton. Here you will find information on where to shop for your meal ingredients, as well as a tasty recipe to try!
Healthy meals in Northampton
If you live in Northampton, you have a saving grace! The Food Plug provides not only healthy, ready to eat takeaway food but also offers a meal prep service. Through this service, they provide you with your daily meals that are calorie and macro balanced to your needs.
One thing The Food Plug offers that is different from other takeaways is the ability to construct your meal. Although they provide a set menu, you can also pick your protein source, carb source and veggies for your dish. All their meals are freshly prepared to order from local, quality ingredients. Examples of protein sources off the menu include:
- Salt and pepper chargrilled chicken
- Chargrilled salmon
- Katsu curry
Once you’ve picked you protein source, you have the option of carbohydrate source. The list includes rice, sweet potato and quinoa. You can then add veggies such as wilted spinach, broccoli and black kale.
You have the option of making your meal medium, large, or going for a combo which includes three different meat servings and two carbs, veg and sides.
If you physically cannot find the time to prep your meals, The Food Plug provides a meal prep service. Whether you require a weekly supply of meals or if you are travelling for a day and want healthy meals to eat on the go, The Food Plug can cater for your needs.
The great thing about their service is that it is calorie and macro balanced. You tell them what your daily calorie intake is, macronutrient split and how many meals you wish to eat per day. They take this info and create you a day of eating to fit your requirements. If you are eating for a specific goal, such as fat loss or muscle gain, this service is perfect for you! By using a meal prep service, the planning and making of meals is done for you.
Good enough for athletes
The food plug is one of the best ‘healthy street food’ takeaways in the midlands which has attracted its fair share of professional sports stars, such as:
- Owen Franks, Northampton Saints player.
- Chantelle Cameron, female IBO lightweight champion.
- Taylor Hinds, Liverpool FCW.
- Ivan Toney, professional footballer.
- Abbie Eaton, British racing driver.
To attract such high spec clientele, your product must be high quality, which is exactly what you get from The Food Plug.
Here are some of the delicious meals provided by The Food Plug:
With free time being sparse, you need to make sure meals are planned and organised. Making your food choices a priority is vital. The food you eat has a significant effect on your health. If you find yourself unable to take the time to prepare food, there are many companies which can provide healthy, tasty meals. If you search for ‘food prep near me’, you will find companies local to you. When trying to achieve a goal, such as fat loss or muscle gain, using a meal prep service can help you achieve your goals with precise nutrition. There is nothing wrong with the occasional treat meal, having an occasional takeaway or treating yourself to a chocolate bar, but make sure it is ‘occasional’ and not ‘regular’.