Are convenience products and highly processed foods causing damage to our health

In today’s busy world most people are looking for things that make life easier, but is our love for convenience slowly killing us?

Are convenience products and highly processed foods causing damage to our health


As our lives continue to be highly demanding, with many women, not only working full time but also having a part time job as well, most mums are looking for speed when doing things around the house and when out and about. So many pressures are being put on our time, that we get into the habit of choosing things for convenience.

However, what we are also seeing is younger generations are adopting this “convenience” lifestyle at an even earlier age.

Think about how kids are living nowadays - everything is immediate.

  • They want to see someone - they go on their phone and snap chat/video call them.
  • They want to watch the next episode of a series - they just click next on Netflix and it is instantly there.
  • They want a new game for their game console - it can be simply downloaded from the internet
  • They want snacks - they tend to be in the cupboard for them
  • They want a tan they go to the fake tan bottle ( you might be thinking that kids aren’t doing that, but look around, they are sadly.

Is it our generation that has caused this to happen and what are the long term effects of it?

When I was a child, things like this just did not happen. Nothing was as readily available as it is today. But as I have grown older, the era of convenience has really taken hold and it may be having a detrimental impact on our health.

The first thing to think about the effect that this is having on us as humans.

Are convenience products and highly processed foods causing damage to our health


Below are some of the things that I tend associate with convenience

1 - Fast food and take aways
2 - Cleaning products that do “everything”
3 - Fake tan
4 - Coffees, eating out
5 - Supermarket foods - prepared and pre-packed
6 - Cosmetics
7 - Microwaves
8 - Bottled water
9 - Energy drinks, sports drinks

So how can these effect your long term health?

Are convenience products and highly processed foods causing damage to our health

1 - Impact of Fast Food and Take-A-Ways on health.

I could write a separate blog on this one alone. Fast food is mass produced “food like substances”. It very rarely has anything of great nutritional value. It tends to be full of trans fats that are really detrimental to your health. They are high in salt and even sugar. The more sugar/salt/fat in the food, the more you will want to eat it. Portion sizes tend to be massive, which in turn encourages over eating in the long run.

Think about how you feel after eating something like a McDonalds. How long does it take you to feel hungry again? Most people would say that they feel hungry before they have even left the premises. This may happen for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, there tends to be very little nutritional value by way of micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) in the food. The body needs these micronutrients in order to function properly and build new cells. If it does not get it, it then can make you feel hungry again so that you will eat again and that you will get the macro nutrients then.

Another reason can be linked to the hidden sugars that are in the foods. If your blood sugars rocket and then plummet (it is a biological response that happens naturally), you will feel hungry again very quickly. Then your body thinks that there isn’t enough sugar/energy about and it will panic and make you hungry again. Once you get on this sugar rollercoaster, it is very hard to get off. If you can’t get off it, it can result in insulin resistance and possibly type 2 diabetes. When this is also happening in your body, your body is very inflamed and inflammation has been linked to many kinds of diseases.

You also need to be aware of trans fats in fast foods. These fats are hydrogenated and have been associated with lots of health issues.

2 - The impact of traditional Cleaning Products on your health.

Think about how many bottles of “cleaners” you have under the sink in your utility room. There are so many different kinds and so many different toxic chemicals in them. Look at the warnings on the backs of the bottles. They tend to come with a health warning on them for humans and also for aquatic life.

Think about how you feel when you are using these products. Do you feel your chest getting tighter or do you sneeze loads? For me, as an asthmatic, I hated using mass produced cleaning products. I always sneezed loads and if they were very fragranced it could have triggered an asthma attack.

Cleaning products are advertised to us in a way that makes it look as though cleaning will take less time, but is this really a good thing when it could potentially have an effect on our long term health. The ingredients in common household products have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity.

Another thing linked in this section is air fresheners, plug ins and candles. Again these tend to be full of toxic chemicals. Many are linked to headaches and allergies. For me personally, if I walk into a house that has a candle or a plug in going, I could nearly be guaranteed a headache before I leave, and my chest struggling as well. These products just mask the smells that are in your house - they do not get rid of them.

Something as simple as washing powder and fabric softener can also cause problems. Yes, with the “advances” in them you can now to a quick 30° wash and add in fabric softener to make them smell nice and easier to iron, but the synthetic fragrances and chemicals are just masking problems. Try washing your clothes at 30° without the fabric softener and see how your clothes come out of the machine. It just might make you think - but in saying that, it might take half a dozen washes to get rid of the chemical build up that is on your clothes, so you mightn’t notice anything immediately!!

We are being sold the idea of quicker washes, lower temperatures and less water being better for us and the environment but in my opinion it is the exact opposite. By using less water I feel that many feel the need more “product” in order to clean their clothes so in fact we are actually adding more toxins to the water and the environment by cleaning in this way.

Think of all the extra bottles that are going to land fills as a result of this as well.

I haven’t used fabric softeners in about 20 years and I can only use one kind of washing powder. I stopped using softeners because I didn’t like the feeling on my hands when folding and ironing the clothes and I also used to get skin irritations when I used highly fragrance products. Clothes do not need these chemicals added to them, I prefer clothes that have been dried outside in fresh air fact I love that smell as it reminds me of staying at my granny’s house when I was little and helping her with folding the bed clothes.

If you also look at the back of the bottles you might also notice a warning for the environmental impact with the chemicals that are in the products - I might to another blog on that issue too! You would be shocked.

Something as simple as Fairy washing up liquid has a warning on the back of it stating “Harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects” Is this something that we should be using in our homes on a daily basis?

3 The impact of Fake Tan on your health

Oh this is one that I used to do many years ago but I don’t anymore. The amount of young girls that are going to school on a daily basis with fake tan on is scary! Years ago, we would never have considered something like that.

If we wanted a tan, we went outside. Kids nowadays are not going outside and getting the health benefits of the sun - yes there are benefits to being in the sun! There is so much negativity about when it comes to a real tan but the body needs sun. We need to get Vitamin D from it in order to be healthy. So many of our bodily mechanisms are based on sunshine but kids are not being exposed to it.

I do encourage safe natural tanning and using a high quality sun cream - not the mass produced ones.

By covering the body in a layer of tan, it is stopping the natural sun from penetrating the skin and it is also exposing the body to so many more chemicals that may cause harm to the developing bodies of these young girls.

Dihydroxyacetone or DHA is the chemical that causes you to “tan” but it has been linked to damaging DNA and causing mutations. Artificial fragrances and preservatives are also in tanning products which may also cause problems.

4 - The impact of Coffees and Eating Out on your health

We really do eat on the run today. If you watch people around you in the morning heading to work, most have a coffee to go in their hand and possibly a quick snack too. We are skipping breakfasts and stimulating our bodies artificially with caffeine and high sugar foods.

When you drink coffee, you are increasing a hormone in your body called cortisol. This is the body’s stress hormone and it really isn’t something that you want to be stimulating regularly throughout the day.

Every time your body has a surge of cortisol, it can stimulate your body to store fat. This is due to how the body is designed to survive. In years gone by, cortisol was stimulated along with adrenaline when we were in danger. It primary purpose was to divert all your body’s energy to your limbs, heart and essential organs so that you can escape danger. When this happens your body is not digesting food properly and in the long run, it results in weight gain - especially around the middle.

The quick and handy grab and go foods, tend to be high in sugar, salt and sugar. When eating along with the coffee, it really is a recipe for disaster.

The plastic containers that they are stored and served in also can cause problems with your endocrine system due to the chemicals that are released when the plastics are heated.

We need to sit down, take a break and start eating at a table and with company. Not only will you digest food better, you will de-stress and most likely make better choices when it comes to the foods that you eat.

5 The impact of Supermarket foods and convenience foods on your health

Convenience foods have become such a massive part of family life. We are so busy, that we have been lead to believe that it is OK/normal, to buy and cook/reheat highly processed foods, rather than cook from scratch. As a result of this, we have become a nation of over weight people that are suffering from more illnesses than ever before.

So many people nowadays do not know how to cook a meal from scratch. This is so worrying, what will happen to the next generation if this generation does not pass on skills like cooking. It will be a forgotten skill which then in turn will lead to many more issues.

Chronic illnesses such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS, Lupus, Chron’s Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Alzhiemer's, to name a few are on the rise, and although people aren’t willing to link these illnesses to food choices, there is definitely a link between them in my opinion.

We have been lead to believe - through clever marketing - that the foods that these supermarkets are creating are still healthy. But once you understand how to properly read food labels and ingredients, you will realise that it is anything but healthy.

This is something that I cover in the 8 Week Educational Programme within The SMASH Way. These massive food corporations, really don’t care about our health. Their primary concern is their profits margins - they want to make the most money possible. In fact they spend millions making their foods more addictive so that you eat more, which will mean more profit for them!

These convenience foods tend to lack real nutrition. If your body is not getting the correct nutrition, problems start to materialise. At first you don’t notice it. It just tends to be, “just not feeling great” and then you start getting run down and illnesses appear and it becomes a way of life. Then we start to take some medications in order to help, which may lead to another range of issues but we never look at the food that we are putting in our bodies. Our bodies quite literally make their next batch of cells from the food that we eat. Think about that when you are reaching for something highly processed.

6 - The impact of Cosmetics on your health

We all like to look good. It is lovely when we see a photograph and we look fabulous and sometimes make-up has a roll to play in that. However, there are so many brands out there that have toxic chemicals hidden in them, that you need to really think about the long term effect that they are having on your skin. Anything that you put on your skin is immediately absorbed into you blood stream and if it has endocrine disruptors in it, it may cause hormonal issues and other health issues.

I used to wear lots of makeup years ago. Why? Well my skin was so poor and inflamed, I didn’t have the confidence to not wear makeup. When I changed my habits and the food that I ate, my skin improved dramatically. I no longer need primers and concealers and heavy liquid makeup. All I used now is a mineral foundation from a very reputable company that produces clean makeup products.

Any makeup that you use should be free from toxic chemicals. Use an app called “Think Dirty” or the EWG website to check how good your products are and if you are not happy with the results you get, let me know and I can recommend a good brand for you.

To me, makeup should just be used to enhance your natural beauty, used minimally and not cause damage to the body.

7 The Impact of Microwaves on your health

This piece of equipment dramatically changed peoples’ lives when they were introduced. Everybody wanted one and I would say that most homes have one. They are designed to heat up food quickly and make life easier for us.

However, there are health risks associated with the use of the microwave. This is quite an intense document on the effects of microwaving food. It is worth the read

For me, my main concerns are the diminishing nutritional value of foods heated/cooked in microwaves, the use of cheap plastics in them (they leak toxins in to the foods that are heated in them) and the rays actually escaping from the microwave.

We do have a microwave but only use it in emergencies and once it has broken/given up, we will most likely not be replacing it.

8 Bottled water

There are so many issues with bottled water, where do you start? Again, I used to buy and drink so many bottles of water years ago. I don’t drink any fizzy drinks or flavoured water, as I have always just drank plain water. When I was working full time I used to drive about 600 miles a week and always had at least 2 bottles of water a day. It horrifies me when I think of it. Not only due to the chemicals that I was consuming from the water bottle but the amount of plastic that I was using and the damage that it was doing to the environment.

The convenience of having a bottle of water over the effect that it can have on your health just don’t weigh up. When water is kept in cheap water bottles and it comes in contact with heat and sunlight, some chemicals can be released from the bottle and absorbed into the water. These chemicals - BPAs - can be endocrine disruptors and play havoc with your hormonal system.

We have a water filter on our home tap - as I say I only drink water and so do the rest of the family - as I am really fussy when it comes to water. I can taste and smell stuff in water that comes from the general household tap, it really doesn’t smell or taste great and I would worry about the quality of it. We have had a filter on the house tap for probably around 15 years and it is the best investment we have made. It saves us money, helps the environment and keeps us healthy as it is filtered. If you live in Northern Ireland and would like the name of the company that I get my filter from, drop me a message and I can give you his details. They offer a fabulous service and are really affordable too!!

9 Energy drinks and sports drinks

Again this is a sector of convenience that is growing dramatically and it is very concerning. If you are out and about at times when school children are about before and after school, have a little look at what they are drinking. The amount of energy/sports drinks that are being consumed is quite scary.

These drinks are so high in sugar and stimulants ie caffeine and it really isn’t something that children should be drinking. The short term effects of drinking these can be seen in the classroom. Kids are highly strung, too much energy, argumentative and distracted. It is making the whole learning process very difficult and may trigger health issues later on in life.

People who rely on these kinds of drinks for their energy can end up needing more and more stimulation in order to “get going each day.” The sugar content can lead to cravings, over eating and weight gain which could then lead to type 2 diabetes. The added ingredients for colours and preservatives may also cause issues in later life. There have been studies that are starting to show that these kinds of drinks are leading to calcium leaching from bones which can lead to issues such as bones breaking easily whilst playing sports and osteoporosis in later life.

Rather than reaching for the easy fix for lacking in energy, find a way to fuel your body without the overuse of artificial stimulants. When the body is getting what it needs from food, it will not need or crave these types of drinks. You will have more energy, better health and feel so much more balanced in the long run.

So do we really need the whole Convenience Life?

In my opinion, if we step away from the things that are not serving us well eg constant social media scrolling or watching mind numbing TV, we will find the time to do the things that are beneficial to our health and not rely so much on the convenience industry. By doing this, we will feel so much better, have so much more energy, less health issues and be ready to take on the day.

Are convenience products and highly processed foods causing damage to our health

It doesn’t have to be difficult to make the change to not relying so much on convenience items. For example:-

  • Rather than eating takeaways on a weekly basis, find a simple recipe that you can cook at home. What you may find is that it costs you less to make it yourself, you will feel fuller for longer and better in the long run. Then when you “treat” yourself with a takeaway once in a while, you will recognise how they can make your body feel. I could nearly guarantee that within 6 months you will not be eating takeaways anymore. Check out The SMASH Way for over 200 recipes that you could make, including curries, chicken in black bean sauce, chicken fried rice and so many more
  • Rather than using store bought toxic cleaning products, research how to make your own non- toxic cleaning products. It will save you a lot of money and your health will be so much better for it. Check out the Toxin Free Cleaning options that are available
  • Rather than use fake tan, be confident in yourself that you do not need it. Also get outside and let the sun get at your skin. This will help you in so many ways, I would need another 10 pages to talk about it.
  • Rather than grabbing a coffee and a snack on the go, take time to make something at home. Use a reusable cup (save money and help the environment), and bring something with you. You then are in control of what goes into the cup and what you eat and then will feel so much healthier for it in the long run. If it is a morning habit, I recommend getting up just 5 minutes earlier and grabbing a quick breakfast before you leave the house. Again you will save money and you will have set up your day properly and will most like be more productive.
  • Rather than grabbing the store bought convenience foods, research easy recipes that you can make from scratch. Most meals can be made within 25-30 minutes. If you meal prep and plan your food for the week, you will get into the habit of doing this and your body, and bank balance will thank you for it. Your body will be getting more nutrition and you will start to feel so much better for it.
  • Rather than using lots of toxic cosmetics, research non toxic ones, use the apps mentioned above and try something new. Once you start eating better, you will need less cosmetics as your skin improves! Embrace your natural beauty, you are good enough!!
  • Rather than using the microwave, pop food under the grill, on the hob or in the oven. Yes it might take long to heat but the nutritional content of the food will be better. Use your time wisely when the food is reheating and you won’t miss that time.
  • Rather than buying lots of bottles of water, invest in a high quality water bottle and refill it. May work places have filtered water points available to their staff, so take advantage of it. If you would like a filter in your house, give me a shout and I will put you in contact with a very reputable installer.
  • Rather than drinking energy drinks, fuel your body better with real food and hydrate well will water and you will not need them.

There are many simple little changes that you can make in order to break the convenience cycle. Take baby steps and enjoy the process of doing it. Your life will feel so much better for it. Living a life where illness is the “norm” doesn’t have to be the norm, by taking little steps towards living a healthier life, you can live a life full of vitality.

If you would like to chat about any of the above, give me a shout and I can talk them through with you.

Yours in Health and Happiness

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