I am drawn to bad-for-you food. I love all things breaded and fried, I could eat chips, soda, and ice cream all day long and really, I find nothing offensive about a heaping pile of nachos. Especially the runny cheese kind. I once went on a cruise and realized I had some sort of nachos every day for 7 days. Only regret was that at the end I actually suffered some heartburn, but I attribute that more to getting old. My beloved nachos would never betray me.
But I digress. Having been raised in the 70’s and 80s, I believe my generation is one of the worst nutritioned in history. Attribute it to the deterioration of the nuclear family, the easy access to food, the technological “advances” in the food industry, or the globalization of food transport, my generation has been eating like crap. And as such, I, along with my fellow Americans, have developed the taste for salt, refined sugars, and trans-fats. Fast food quickly delivers all of those to me for a cheap 99 cents- so encouraging to shovel this stuff down my gullet. You see the results in our nation’s obesity epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control’s website, approximately ONE THIRD of all American adults are obese. And this trend is on the rise.
I’m not saying that fast food is the only culprit of this trend, nor am I saying that we’re all victims of the the evil industry’s ploys to fatten us up. But I am saying that eating fast food regularly is bad for my health and it’s bad for yours too. Why? When your diet lacks fresh fruit and vegetables, you get close to no nutrients from your food, you get very little fiber and subsequently your blood pressure rises, your bad cholesterol rises, your metabolic rate slows, your immune system weakens, and your blood sugar levels are destabilized. Fat storage increases, along with the risk of strokes, type II diabetes, heart attacks, cancer of the colon (due to a dampened ability to process waste properly), and increase in inflammation in the body. Doom and destruction! Raping and pillaging! Ok, I’m not trying to be overly dramatic but let’s admit – this whole fast food thing, not good.
Define the problem
I crave this stuff like you wouldn’t believe. But I want to shake the habit. In thinking about this, I realize that I eat fast food primarily due to two reasons: first, emotional stress. If I feel crummy or I’m tired or I’m feeling down or pressured, I tend to look for crappy food as solace. In the moment I feel better. Soon after, I feel worse. Secondly, lack of planning. I drive through the fast food when I can’t think of what to eat or if I don’t have lunch or dinner planned or if I’m late for something and need to just eat something. I find that I gain weight, feel tired, and hear my stomach gurgling when I eat fast food. Don’t want to do it anymore because I feel like there’s a lack of control associated with it. It’s bad for me. I don’t want to be fat, I don’t want to set this example for my child, I don’t want to punish my body. Yet here I am eating this way all the time.
When I was working, I probably ate fast food 4-5 times a week, sometimes more when I didn’t have time to make dinner and I went out for lunch. Now that I’m home, I’m finding that I go out at least a couple times a week still. As of mid-September, I’d say I eat fast food three times a week, on average.
I want to limit my fast food to only once a month by the end of 2011. I’ve gotten close to this before and I want to return. Right now it’s September, so I don’t have a lot of time. I will define fast food as anything with a drive-thru. The biggest hurdles are places like McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC, Chik-Fil-e – they’re everywhere and a couple of them carry sweet tea, which I love. Let’s start with these and maybe in 2012 I’ll kick a few more fast food habits.
How I’m going to get there
Some say – well, why don’t you just make healthier choices at fast food joints? I’ve tried that. Gravity pulls me back to french fries, Dr. Pepper, burritos and chicken strips. For me, the best option is avoidance. I think there are a few things in my favor to make this work. I’m home during the day, which affords me the opportunity to cook and plan more. #5 on the LIST is to cook more often so this will help too. So my plan is to start weaning myself by eating fast food no more than once a week for the remainder of September and October, once every other week in November and just once a month in December and then maintain that moving forward. I’ll only be able to do this by making sure there is quick, healthy food available for me at home and on the go. Also, my husband wants to get healthy too. We’ve been soothing ourselves with food and I think we’re both kind of fed up with ourselves. We don’t want to enable one another. This is a behavior change for me. Not easy but I think I can do it. Wish me luck. I’ll post weekly updates.
September 25: No fast food this week! Success! We did eat out a few times but no fast food. I think it helped that I pretty much ate lunch at home all week.
October 2: Got my Taco Bell fix on Monday. Wanted to cheat this week but fought it off. Also didn’t eat all the food I got from Taco Bell…that’s gotta count for something, right?
October 9: No fast food this week! I did get a soda from McDonald’s though. But that counts for the soda goal, not this one. Yippee!