Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

C: We are What We Eat…In More Ways Than One

The October 2010 issue of Psychology Today has an article by  psychologytodayHara Marano  that has set me thinking. 
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, becausburgere 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 french-fries 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 Food
1970 - $6 Billion
2000 - $110 Billion
2010 - $134 Billion
Number of McDonald’s Restaurants
1968 – 1,000
2007 – 28,000
This 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.
archesThese 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
  • more to the point here: long-term health sacrificed to the immediate gratification of chicken nuggets.bills
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).


Vee said...

As one who loves a filet of fish sandwich once in a blue moon...can't remember the last one...but now that I'm thinking about it, perhaps I need to hurry...where was I going? Oh, yes, offender here, too. And when we're hungry it's so easy to choose the quick and wrong thing. Isn't that why the diet programs suggest celery and carrot sticks at the ready? The problem is that high fructose syrup. Can't we get them to remove it? Ha!

Everyday Goddess said...

Very good article that you shared here.

I am a big stay at home and eat together mom. I never take my only child to fast food places. Ever. She wasn't so thrilled with the idea, but she is not begging me to take her anymore.

I'm teaching her how to cook. We both love that.

Vickie said...

C - good post. I never thought about the comparison to our daily lives like the magazine article talked about. Hmmmm - very interesting.... will have to think on that one some more. We've all fallen into that trap of everything in a hurry. That's one of the things we're trying to work on by enlarging our garden each year and trying to have more home-grown food, etc. AND shaking off the "fluff" that we've accumulated over the years. I want to travel lighter, literally and figuratively.

Paul C said...

My wife and I just came back from an extended camping vacation and on the road we paid homage to the fast food shrines occasionally. You're so right about teaching kids about diet and lifestyle.

Immigrant Daughter said...

It is true we are what we eat - partly. Everybody's metabalism is different. Me I was told I would die early in life if I didn't stay away from the "wrong" food. I was told sugar will kill me. Well I didn't die I am still here and wondering why?. Oh I eat moderately any thing I want I feel as long as I can taste the food that is supposedly bad my taste buds are satisfied. So just be senseable.

Happyone :-) said...

I eat fast food but not that often. I think it has its place but not for every day. All things in moderation is what I like to say.
I am one of those people who can't eat when I'm stressed or upset.

Deep in the Heart of Happy said...

I have cut down my consumption of fast food and microwaved foods to once a month. I try to eat healthy all the other days of the month.

Great post though and you are right, we need to act responsibly.

I want to read the article about Revenge of the Introverts. That's me, right there.

Love ya, soul sister!

Karen said...

I'm an offender of the "when it's easy on a crazy busy day" thing.... and I hate that about me. Because that food really sucks. On most days I do cook a decent meal for my family tho. So.. I'm halfway to salvation :-)

Life with my sweeties said...


Mamma has spoken said...

I've been a working mother for the past 26 years. To this day I still make dinner 6 nights a week with the 7th night being the night to eat out. Yes it's hard to do after a busy work day but it is so much cheaper in the long run. Plus, it provides us with that well needed family time. Yes my sons are grown, but they still prefer home cooked dinners to the ones eaten out. I do agree that it does depend on what/how you were raised. My mother cooked most meals with us only eating out once a month and on vacations. However she did have a crock pot and make dinner in it about once a week. I use mine only twice a month. But as for fast food, it's not my favorite. When we eat out that one night a week, rarely is it fast food.

KathyB. said...

I still remember not having a crock pot or microwave. I also never bought boxed cereal for our kids because it was way too expensive for our budget when the kids were growing up.That was 30 years ago and I recall most of my friends were the same.My grown kids are not fast food junkies either, but it does seem most people do prefer fast food. Somehow things drastically changed in 3 short decades.Thought provoking post.

Kelloggsville said...

I'm a working mum and I do a home cooked meal every day. *sigh* . yes it's hard but there is no way I would ever go 'take out' for a staple meal. The worst it gets is soup and toast. Even Pizza must be cooked in the oven at home ever take out! We have 'take out' maybe once every 2-3 months and it is an enjoyable treat with a purpose attached. never a normal. but McD's, god bless 'em, always reliable for a toilet stop, no matter where you are in the world!

Zuzana said...

Yes indeed, our fight with food is at all times based in our genetic makeup, we need food to survive thus we will always crave food. And salt and calories particularly.;)
Luckily, fast food here is somewhat pricy and thus I rather make myself a can of beans.;) I love a good burger though once in a while, particularly when on a road trip.;)
Have a great weekend,

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