Let me first say that I am an offender, here. Let me get stressed, and I’ve been apt to send someone midday for a burger and fries, knowing full well that this is the wrong thing to do. But this article, for some reason, has hit home to me. I think that, if I haven’t yet turned the corner away from fast food, at least I am turning…it’s all a process.
The article contains the usual bad nutritional news about fast food. We all know this: fast food just isn’t good for us. The article points out that almost all fast food is laced with high-fructose corn syrup (even in fish patties and buns) and that it leads to obesity, clogged arteries, heart attack and high blood sugars.
So, if we know all this, why do we eat it? Well, for one thing, because it is “fast,” just as the name says. We’ve stopped expecting to pack lunches or to go home and fix dinner after a busy day away from home.
But, also, we crave this stuff. I have beaten myself up over this, thinking I was some kind of exceptional near-addict to fast food. This article points out something that helps me put that craving in focus:
…for most of human history, calories were scarce and we became attuned to enjoying them wherever we found them…
In other words, we needed the calories to survive at one time. We needed to load up where we could find them—like bears packing it on in the sweet berry patch so they can make it through the winter. Only for us, winter never comes. Just the packing it in part…but our innate craving for calorie-load remains.
This helped me; just knowing the physiology/psychology behind the fact that I have this desire to turn to fast food habitually. I’m hard-wired to do this. I just need to realize that and accept that I must overcome that urge, it no longer being beneficial to my survival. Quite the contrary.
Fast food is becoming, more and more, part of everyone’s life. This article points out that 30 percent of Americans consume some fast food on a given day—thirty percent!! It is a growing industry. Look at these statistics the article contains:
Amount Americans Spend on Fast Food1970 - $6 Billion2000 - $110 Billion2010 - $134 BillionNumber of McDonald’s Restaurants1968 – 1,0002007 – 28,000This stuff ain’t going away.
But the real point of the article is this: You don’t even have to eat fast food to be affected by it!! The article cites a Toronto study which shows that fast-food symbols create within us (whether we eat the food or not) a sense of time-stress and impatience. The study found, as the article relates,
…just a glimpse of the golden arches changes our psychology so that people become impatient about financial decisions…unwilling to postpone immediate gain for future rewards, so they sacrifice savings, against their own economic interest. Exposure to fast-food symbols also seeps into the way we approach leisure.
These reactions are automatic, involuntary. Scary. The need for immediate calorie-load translates into the need for immediate everything…I believe it.
Decades ago when the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor had a second wind of fame for becoming fat, I recall the comedienne Joan Rivers targeting her. “Elizabeth,” she said, “is the only person who stands in front of a microwave oven screaming HURRY!!”
Well, you know, that’s where most of us are: hurry to satisfy me! And it causes things like
- credit card debt by our inability to put off “things” until we can truly afford them, or
I am sounding very codger-like, I know. I suppose I have reached that point in my life where I like grouse about the “good old days” and how much better our ways were forty years ago. I’m trying to temper my view with this thought.
Still, I am disturbed, I’ll tell you, because I think there is something to all this. And it isn’t a good thing.
V decries this, as well, but puts a lot of the blame on working moms. (What, pray tell, about working Dads? Do they get any blame?). Well, maybe this is a factor…but I think back to those “good old days” when my stay-at-home Mom had to hang clothes on the line and iron and do all kinds of things that we’ve convenienced away. My mother never had, for example, a crock-pot when I was a child, nor did she have the convenience of trotting by the store whenever she needed something easy but homemade to fix.
I think there are a lot of things that balance the work load and make it entirely possible for working mothers to fix healthy food for their young. (Of course, insisting that working Dads do their part could be part of the solution, too). No, I think that part of the fast-food problem is that Moms may, too, have been hijacked by the “I’m too busy/tired to cook” message of fast food.
So, those of you with kids and grandkids, what are you training into them? Are you training them to wait on home-cooked pot roast and setting the table while it finishes cooking? Or are you training them that you can drive through and fill your need for body fuel immediately having no input into nutrition and no personal time sacrificed for its preparation?
What is that doing to their bodies? At least my fast-food forays came after my adulthood—it was rare, rare in my childhood.
And what is that doing to their habits in other parts of their lives? Are we training them to stand in front of life’s microwave, yelling “Hurry!” about everything, causing them to make poor decisions across the board?
Food for thought…C.
PS - after I published--in the shower--I thought of this "must add..." You parents, remember, your kids are hard-wired the same as you. They will crave this fast-food. You need to understand this and be the responsible adult. You need to expect them to beg for it and exercise your parenting responsibility to refuse. Sorry. It's our job to guide...not give in. (enough preaching).