The culture of convenience and how it is wrecking our health

Convenience foods are destroying the health of society


We need food, and we need it NOW. The convenience culture, whilst practical at times, is proving to be more hindrance than help these days. We’re able to stay busy (and sometimes overworked), completing tasks and running errands — and when hunger strikes, we are able to head to our nearest supermarket and pick up a pre-packaged snack or meal without batting an eyelid.

What’s more, we don’t have to go through the ‘hassle’ of cooking anything from scratch these days. Microwaves exist for the ready meals that give us maximum satisfaction - in minimal time. But what impact is this having on our health and vitality?

Getting back to the source

Convenience foods do not serve us well nutritionally - it’s that simple. They are devoid of nutrients, and contain additional salts and sugars that keep us coming back for more and more - to the point where we end up over-fed, undernourished, and eventually in a state of imbalance.

Getting back to the source of nature is critical; nutrient-dense foods are what our bodies crave to function optimally, but they are often skipped on in favour of a quick fix. If we are to seek out convenient food options, heading for minimally-processed options such as canned fruit, nuts and seeds would be the way to go.

To cook or not to cook?

So many of us are now seeing the process of cooking from scratch a foreign entity altogether, and this is a bad sign. With the carrot of fast-food outlets and pre-packaged meals that we can stick in the microwave or oven constantly dangled in front of us everywhere we turn, this makes for outcomes not helpful in the long term.

Cooking creates a sense of community; think of the last time you created a delicious meal from scratch; one that was packed with nutrition. Now think of the feeling of accomplishment that came with it! It’s a win-win. Not to mention the intentional use of healthier ingredients, which leave us conscious in the fact that we know each and every step that went into making the plate we end up with.

Regularly cooking with fresh ingredients is a conscious step to intentional health choices
Regularly cooking with fresh ingredients is a conscious step to intentional health choices

Of course these words do not apply to all. We know that there are certain portions of the population who struggle with food access/apartheid, are in low-income areas and are only able to get food that is available to them and in their price range. That’s a whole new discussion - something that I discussed in my recent blog post on health challenges within the black community.

Whilst convenience has its benefits, we have to be more mindful of the long-term effects on our health. Sometimes we truly are short of time, and a convenient meal makes life a lot easier, but we can do our bit and prepare meals ahead of time - that’s the easiest way to stay on track. Failing that, seeking out convenience foods that are as minimally processed as possible will work. Fruit bars, packaged nuts and seeds; these can work out.

Whatever dietary plan fits in with our lifestyle, taking a step back and focusing on nutrient-dense foods, as nature intended, to cook from scratch will benefit us hugely, and our bodies will thank us for years to come.