You may have trouble passing up fast food meals, but not eating at the drive-thru has its advantages. Avoiding the poor diet of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods allows you to cut calories and increase your nutritional profile.
According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults and children consume too many calories and too much salt, fat, sugar and cholesterol--the very components that exist in the greatest proportions in French fries, tacos, soft drinks and cheeseburgers. Giving up drive-thru meals can turn your diet around and help prevent health problems down the road.
Getting Adequate Nutrition
Not eating fast foods can help you avoid deficiency-related health problems such as anemia, osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. The Dietary Guidelines explain that high proportions of undesirable nutrients edge out the more valuable vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber that your body needs. For example, a meal of large-sized fries, a double-meat cheeseburger, an oversized soda pop and an ice cream dessert can approach 1,500 calories, as per the USDA Nutrient Database.
That's three-quarters of your daily calorie allowance in a 2,000-calorie diet, leaving just 500 calories to complete the requirements for vitamins A, B, C, D and E, fiber, calcium, magnesium and other essential minerals. Reversing this equation and using the smaller calorie allotment for less nutritious foods can help you rehabilitate a poor diet.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Your body needs metabolic balance to function well. If you eat a regular breakfast and dinner in addition to the high-calorie fast food lunch, you'll take in more calories than you can burn. This actually reduces your energy level and raises your risk for weight-related health problems.
The American Heart Association reports that you can avoid obesity, or a body mass index of 30 plus, by improving a poor diet and exercising to shed unused body fat. The advantages of maintaining a healthy weight include better mobility, breathing and fitness.
Avoiding Chronic Diseases
By controlling your weight and eating a healthy diet, you can prevent health problems and extend your life span. In contrast, obesity and a poor diet of fast foods increase your risk for potentially fatal heart disease, according to the AHA. High blood pressure from salty foods and clogged arteries from too much cholesterol can cause heart attacks and strokes.
The Office of the Surgeon General notes that becoming just 11 lbs. overweight makes you twice as likely to get type 2 diabetes. Becoming obese raises your chances of contracting arthritis, asthma, gall bladder disease and cancer. Reducing your calorie and less-desirable nutrient intake will increase the quality and longevity of your life.