Food swamps pull you in, down, and can lead to significant health troubles. But you can make it through by knowing how to identify and avoid them.
Fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and advertisements for the products they sell are on almost every corner and the streets that connect them. And although this isn’t the case in every neighborhood, it is for a heck of a lot of them.
These are called food swamps, where cheap, convenient, and comforting food reigns over the nutritious. Fast food and corner stores are often easier to access than grocery stores or restaurants offering healthy options.
Research suggests a clear association between food swamps and obesity. In fact, living in one might be one of the best predictors of obesity.
That can have major consequences for your health that extend far beyond the waistline. Fast food, sugary snacks, and other food swamp staples can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and a host of other problems associated with blood flow.
If you live or work near a food swamp, here are some ways to avoid falling for their allure:
Always pack a healthy snack: Keep an apple, some nuts, or carrot sticks in the car to help you avoid pulling into the drive-thru or the convenience store for a snack.
Don’t be a victim of value: Sure, you could add a hamburger or chocolate bar for another dollar or upsize your drink and fries, but do you have to? Just because you can get more for less doesn’t mean you should.
Open late? Who cares: Just because a restaurant is open until midnight or later doesn’t mean we need a fourth meal. If the hunger pangs hit after dinner, have some fruit, veggies, nuts, or yogurt on hand.
Go the extra mile: You can likely make it the extra few minutes in the car and eat when you get home. Sure, the allure of the drive-thru is enticing, but it’s not worth it in the long run. Limit those stops to once per week, maximum.
Skip the extras: Avoid adding syrups to coffees and sides to fries. These can save a ton of calories while offering the satisfaction you desire.