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What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Frozen Dinners

Beware of their sometimes negative side effects.

After a hectic, jam-packed day, the last thing you want to do is cook yourself a homemade meal. And while another easy option is to order takeout, you may not feel like you would make it another hour without waiting. That's where frozen dinners come in. You can have a full meal from the comfort of your home in just minutes—what could be better than that? Well, we'll tell you: Although they're incredibly convenient, eating frozen dinners regularly may not do your body as many favors as they do your busy schedule. We spoke to registered dietitians to learn of the side effects of eating frozen dinners. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

You may experience nutrition gaps.

frozen pasta dinner

Mac and cheese, frozen pizza, lasagna… Many frozen meals are made of refined carbs and cheese and can be lacking vegetables. "If you lean on frozen dinners, your body may miss out on the benefits of eating certain foods that are rarely included in frozen meals. Fruit is often left out of frozen dishes, and as a result, can leave some people lacking in key nutrients that these foods provide, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals," says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, of Nutrition Now Counseling and member of the Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board.

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You may feel bloated.

microwave turkey frozen dinner

Take a look at some of the 11 Frozen Foods to Always Leave on Grocery Store Shelves and you'll see that many of them contain thousands of milligrams of sodium—so much that a single meal can contain more sodium than what the American Heart Associations recommends in an entire day. As a result, you may feel some unpleasant side effects: "Salt oftentimes acts as a preservative, so it is a common addition to many frozen meals. Many frozen dinners (not all!) are high in sodium as a result. And taking in too much sodium can make you feel bloated and puffy," says Manaker.

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You may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

microwave frozen chicken dinner

While not one of the most common side effects of eating frozen meals, it is possible that you can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes if you frequently eat these meals. "If you are cooking your meals in a container that contains BPA, the harmful chemical can leach into your food. And since data suggests that BPA exposure is linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, relying on heating your microwavable meal in these contains can be an unsafe choice," says Manaker.

You may become thirsty.

frozen pizza

Another side effect of high-sodium frozen dinners? A classic: you could get really thirsty."When eating frozen dinners, the number one thing to be aware of is that they are generally high in sodium. So, you may notice that you're thirsty or maybe feel a little puffy from all the extra sodium. However, if you choose lower sodium choices, you can keep Na in check," says Julie Upton, MS, RD, registered dietitian and member of the Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board,

You may eat fewer calories than usual.

frozen meal

There is actually a benefit of eating frozen meals! And it's why many weight-loss programs utilize them in their diet plans. "One of the benefits of frozen dinners is that because they're portion-controlled, you can save a lot of calories compared to ordering take-out which is often higher in calories than a frozen meal," says Upton.

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Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is the Managing Editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more about Olivia
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