"Fast food. Hamburgers, French fries, and soft drinks are typical fast food items. Fast food is a type of mass-produced food designed for commercial resale and with a strong priority placed on 'speed of service' versus other relevant factors involved in culinary science."—Wikipedia
So, here's what I'm hoping. I'm hoping that even if you're gonna wish that you could un-see all of this info by the time you finish reading this, that you caught this article before you go on your next lunch break. I say that because, if you're in the habit of running out to a local fast food joint to get a bite, you might want to rethink that plan.
Now before delving deeper into why I say that, let's do a quick review of some fast food places that ain't McDonald's, Wendy's or Arby's. In-N-Out. Panera Bread. Wingstop. Boston Market. Moe's Southwest Grill. Noodles & Company. Chipotle. Jason's Deli. Panda Express. Starbucks. Your beloved Chick-fil-A (which was voted the #1 fast food place this year). If you Google a list of popular fast food chains, these are going to be on it. The reason why I didn't go with a Popeye's, Sonic or Pizza Hut is because those are pretty obvious, right? But for whatever the reason, when a lot of us go to Panera or Chick-fil-A, we think that it's "the other fast food". I'm not saying that some places aren't healthier than others, but when it comes to choosing between what's best for your health (and wallet), nothing beats preparing your own meals.
Health-wise, you're about to see why, if folks in drive-thrus know you personally, it really is time to spend more time in grocery stores (or farmer's markets) instead of fast food restaurants.
Fast Food Affects Your Brain
Something that a lot of fast foods have in them is saturated fat (and fatty acids). The problem with that is when too much of it is in our system, it can cause us to experience impaired memory or to even for our cognitive function to get all sluggish. Some other things that saturated fat puts us at risk for is weight gain and heart disease.
Does this mean that you can't have a burger or milkshake ever? No. What it does mean is in order for you to remain relatively unaffected by saturated fats, you should consume no more than 10 percent of them a day. And a burger combo is a heck of a lot more than that.
Fast Food Attacks Your Teeth and Bones
Contrary to popular belief, it's not actually sugar that leads to cavities. What causes them is a combination of bacteria, acid on the enamel of your teeth and a vitamin deficiency. Three things that you can do to combat all of these issues is to brush and floss your teeth after every meal, take a Vitamin D supplement and consume (more) bone broth, and cut back on acidic foods like soda and carbs; especially soda because the citric acid that's in it is the most corrosive that there is (by the way, if you're wondering which soda does the most damage, check out "70 Most Popular Sodas Ranked by How Toxic They Are").
As far as your bones go in general, fast food is a no-no because it leads to obesity and obesity can directly affect bone density. Who wants weak bones? Exactly.
Fast Food Wears Your Kidneys Out
If there's one thing that fast food contains a ton of, it's sodium. As a result, we end up dehydrated, bloated and constipated with an elevated blood pressure and kidneys that have to work harder than they ever should. In fact, if you are someone who is prone to kidney stones and you're also someone who eats combo meals a lot, those two things typically go hand in hand. From what I hear, everything about kidney stones suck. Wouldn't you want to avoid what causes them at all costs?
(If you'd like a list of other types of foods that produce kidney stones, you can check one out here.)
Fast Food Wrecks Your Hair, Skin and Nails
If you're someone who has acne-prone skin, you've probably been told that chocolate and greasy foods like pizza are to blame. But there are actually studies that indicate carbs are the real culprit. The reason why is because carbs causes our blood sugar levels to increase; when that happens, breakouts are sometimes the result. Actually, one study revealed that kids and teens who have fast food, at least three times a week, are more likely to develop eczema.
Also, because fast food is not usually loaded with iron (like say, a salad is), that's why it's not the best thing for your hair (low iron can ultimately lead to thinning and even bald spots). Also, since fast food isn't all that big on Vitamin C, your hair, skin and nails aren't able to get the collagen boost that they need on a daily basis if that's constantly what you're putting into your system.
Fast Food Makes You Anxious
Something else that fast food lacks are omega-3 fatty acids. We need those because they improve the health of our eyes, fight inflammation, reduce our risk for contracting autoimmune diseases and reduce our chances of having an age-related illness (like Alzheimer's disease). One more thing—if you battle with anxiety, omega-3s are able to lower those symptom-related issues too. Since reportedly 1 in 5 Americans battle with some sort of anxiety disorder, this is certainly good food for thought. Literally.
The kinds of foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include eggs, walnuts, wild rice, oysters and flax seeds. I'm not sure what fast food restaurants are in plentiful supplies of these things so yeah, this is just one more reason to stay out of their drive-thru lines.
Fast Food Messes with Your Fertility
If you're trying to get pregnant, this is just one more reason to stay out of fast food places. Fast food is highly processed, and processed foods typically contain something known as phthalates. What's that? It's a chemical that totally disrupts the hormonal balance in your system. If your periods are irregular and your hormones are all over the place, that's going to make it difficult to conceive.
Something else that's pretty jacked up about phthalates is, if you're exposed to high levels of them, you could also put your baby at risk for having birth defects.
So yeah, if you're trying to conceive and currently have a French fry in your hand, hopefully this motivates you to toss it into the trash.
Fast Food Dyes Can Make You Ill
Before I get into how the dyes in fast food can jack you up too, another read that's totally worth your time is "Fast Food Is Actually Unhealthier Today Than It Was in the 80s". One of the reasons why this is the case is due to all of the preservatives that are in today's fast foods. Anyway, as if all of the red flags that you've already checked out aren't enough, something else that should give you cause for pause is all of the artificial coloring that goes into fast food.
C'mon, surely you don't think that Fanta Strawberry soda is naturally red or Dr. Pepper is naturally a dark caramel color. And speaking of the shades of caramel that you see, there are studies which indicate that it carries the human carcinogen known as 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI); in rats, the consumption of this has sometimes led to cancer. Again, another solid reason to take a fast food pass.
Fast Food Can Kill You. Literally.
OK, so if you somehow like your burgers, fries and shakes so much that you somehow found a way to rationalize your way out of all of what I just shared, be prepared for this drop the mic moment—"Eating Ultra-Processed Foods Increases Death Risk by 62%". Yep. You read the title of that article totally right! And what technically qualifies as being an ultra-processed food? Brace yourself—chicken nuggets, white bread, frappuccinos, energy drinks and bars, sweetened cereals, fried chicken, potato chips, frozen pizza, packaged snacks, fries, biscuits, soda and pretty much any other kind of food that contains a lot of sugar and/or preservatives, artificial flavors, and colors. Is your favorite fast food restaurant good enough to die before your time for? (The answer to that is a firm "hell no".)
Whew, that's a lot of drama to take in. And, just like Rome wasn't built in a day, neither was going from eating fast food a few times a week to not consuming it at all. But remember that a lot of the fast foods that you like, you can still have so long as you're willing to prepare them yourself and make them differently. For soda, add some juice or lemon and lime to your sparkling water. For fries, bake potato wedges in your oven. Turkey and bean burgers are good beef burger alternatives. A homemade dark chocolate and banana smoothie is much healthier than a Sonic shake.
Bottom line is, when it comes to fast food and what it does to our bodies, all of them ultimately bring new meaning to "haste makes waste". Fast ain't always good, y'all. Choose (to eat) wisely.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
10 "Healthy" Foods That Actually, Well...Aren't
10 Foods You Should Eliminate From Your Diet If You're Trying To Lose Weight
15 Vegan Soul Food Dishes That'll Make You Rethink Meat
Plantain Flour, Spirulina & Other Uncommon Foods To Add To Your Diet
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Westend61/Getty Images
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Tracee Ellis Ross On Why She Declined The Idea Of Someone Else Running Her Hair Company
Actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross recently revealed the driving force behind her desire to become the owner of her haircare brand, Pattern.
According to its site, Pattern is a haircare company that provides a wide range of products, from shampoos, conditioners, oils, creams, and many more to individuals with curls, coils, and tight hair textures. Although Pattern would launch in 2019, the idea for the company first came to Ross a decade before --in 2008, when her hit show Girlfriends wrapped-- following a brief encounter at a beauty supply store and many wanting to recreate her past looks.
At the time, those individuals couldn't achieve the exact results because limited natural hair products were offered to the public. That instance became a pivotal moment in the star's life because she spent eleven years experimenting with professionals to create products that best suit those within the natural hair community.
In a May conference with Fortune's MPW Next Gen, Ross opened up about the struggles she faced early on as an entrepreneur trying to get Pattern off the ground and why she declined the offer to have the company be run by someone else.
Tracee On Past Struggles And Why She Chose To Run Her Company
During the discussion, the 50-year-old revealed that she is Pattern's "majority owner" because the company's overall mission to cater to those in the natural hair community was built from her "experiential knowledge."
"I'm a majority owner of my company. [Other celebrities with brands] aren't the founders of the company. Often, they join a company that exists," she said. "The mission [at Pattern] is born out of my experience. It's born out of my own experiential knowledge."
Further in the interview, Ross would add that she avoided partnering with an expert for Pattern because she felt she had gained enough knowledge experimenting with products in her bathroom.
"I didn't want to partner with an expert or a 'professional' because I felt—like so many—I had become my own best expert in my bathroom because the beauty industry was not catering to us," she stated.
Despite refusing to have a partner within her company, Ross found creative ways to build it. It includes paying a chemist with her own money to bring her visions of various products to life, and sending those samples to retail stores, ultimately leading to partnerships.
The final piece that helped Ross during her journey was receiving advice from business partners on ways to improve the brand, one of which came from Ulta Beauty CEO and Footlocker CEO Mary Dillon.
The black-ish star claimed that Dillon helped her realize how she could use her celebrity status and journey to promote Pattern, which she did. Because of that, Patten has now become a favorable haircare brand among many.
Tracee On How She Plans To Use Her Company To Create Opportunities For Others
Toward the end of the discussion, Ross disclosed how she plans to use the power of being Pattern's CEO to help others.
The High Note star explained that being an owner of a company has given her access to be around other CEOs interested in what appears to be becoming more profitable, and with that, she wants to expand that access to other people.
"I know that I have access to sit at a table with a CEO in a way that perhaps another founder doesn't. And when I do that, I make sure that those conversations are not only centered around Pattern," she said. "They're centered around creating and expanding the access for all of us."
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Feature image by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Webby Awards