At the weekend, there’s nothing better than settling down in front of the telly with a huge slab of pizza or a bowlful of sweet and sour chicken and egg fried rice. One in five of us indulges in at least one takeaway a week, so that’s a lot of non-homemade cooking finding its way into our systems.
We know it’s not exactly good for us. All that grease and cheese, not to mention all that contact with a deep fat fryer, is kind of a giveaway. Aside from fat content, there are other factors to consider before taking another bite out of that kebab.
Watch out for these not-so-tasty consequences:
Mind your teeth
We expect sweets and chocolate to have a nasty impact on our teeth. Did you know that savoury takeaway foods can inflict acid erosion, staining and tooth decay on our mouths too?
Dr Sameer Patel, clinical director at Elleven, warns that white pizza bases and pastas are refined carbohydrates, containing simple sugars that dissolve quickly and cause a spike in mouth acid. Combine that with the acid in the tomato puree and you have a perfect environment for enamel erosion.
When it comes to Indian and Chinese food, the use of spices and sauces that are heavily pigmented can cause staining. So, go sparingly on the curry powder and soy sauce. Dr Sameer advises eating “an appetiser of spinach or broccoli first, as these green veggies form a protective film over teeth, making them less porous and susceptible to staining.”
Fish and chips aren’t free from blame either. Starchy as they are, it’s almost as if they’re designed to get stuck in your teeth. They can be highly processed, so packed with hidden preservatives, sugar and salt.
“Sugar can come in many different forms. The batter on fish and associated sauces, such as ketchup, are culprits for having a high sugar content,” confirms Dr Sameer.
Lunch time blues
You might think buying a quick supermarket salad, wrap or sandwich for lunch isn’t the same as ‘getting a takeaway’, but the effect on your body isn’t always that different.
The sauces in wraps are often high in sugar, while the number of calories you consume thanks to a small, innocuous-looking pasta salad can be up to 500.
Even a shop-bought soup can contain almost 5g of salt per serving, and according to the NHS, we shouldn’t be eating more than 6g a day.
It’s not just your teeth feeling the rub. Chowing down on large amounts of chewy, tough-textured foods – such as the meat found in kebabs – can impact the joints in your jaw, leading to aches, pains and, in extreme cases, jaw misalignment.
Dr Sameer explains: “Any time you overuse a certain set of muscles, it can lead to contracted muscles and related pain, including headaches and toothaches over time.”
To avoid overworking your jaw and overextending the ligaments and muscles, he suggests cutting down on tough foods and using both sides of your mouth to chew. This spreads the workload.
As always, the healthiest diet is one that is balanced, with fatty, sugary foods eaten in moderation. If you’re worried about your health or the state of your teeth, speak to your GP or dentist.
Will you be cutting down on your takeaway consumption? Tell us in the Comments