Back to Basics: Rule #5

Rule #5: No Fast Food.

There are exceptions to every rule. I recently had to make an unexpected, emergency 14-hours-each-way drive for a death in the family, and I barely had time to get in the car, let along grocery shop and pack a cooler. It’ll happen. That is what fast food is for. I will say I haven’t been so incredibly sick as I was when I returned home, though, having eaten really poorly for a week. I regretted it for almost a month, and it’s taught me I need to keep ready-to-go travel food on hand, because I just can’t handle the crap they serve in fast-food places.

Why?

-Fast food generally means you’ve planned badly. I am not saying you can’t ever have a burger from McDonald’s again, but I am saying it should only happen a few times a year, and then only as a special “treat,” or an absolute emergency.

-It’s really high in calories, even the salads if you get croutons or add dressings. Take a look at the nutrition information. For most people, one sandwich from a fast food chain can be up to half of their daily caloric intake needs. Add fries, and the vast majority of people in the US have gone well over half, often up to 2/3 (and, with the bigger sandwiches and fries, it can be almost the entirety of some people’s caloric daily needs).

-Almost all of it contains ingredients that violate the previous rules. Yes, even that yogurt parfait will surprise you with it’s loads of processed sugars and preservatives. “Healthy” options at most of these places just mean “slightly less awful options.”

-It’s not satisfying, because the ingredients it does contain do not set off the hormones that tell your body it’s full. So, you eat far more. It’s also got little or no fiber, so you’re hungrier sooner.

-You don’t want to know what’s in it. Trust me on this. If you saw what it was made of and how it was processed, you’d never eat it again.

-There are exceptions, but not many, and they change often enough that it’s hard to keep up with what might be reasonable options. Ingredients change quickly in the fast food industry, and what you’re eating one week may not be what you’re eating the next.

How:

-Plan your meals. If you need lunch at work, plan your dinners to give you leftovers, or put sandwich or salad fixings on your grocery list. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, get a cooler or insulated lunch bag and an ice pack. If you don’t have access to heating facilities, plan lunches that can be eaten cold.

-Pack healthy snacks for yourself and children if you’re on the go. I keep a cooler in my car almost all of the time. I also keep roasted almonds and walnuts with me.

-Get used to being  hungry. Here’s the truth: people can be hungry for a half hour with no ill effects. we don’t need to eat the very second we feel a slight hunger pang. It’s better if you eat before you get hungry by setting a solid meal plan, but if that goes awry, know that eating in a half an hour or hour when you get home will be fine (obviously, if you’re diabetic or have hypoglycemia, this doesn’t apply; but, what does apply is that you need to keep appropriate snacks at your disposal).

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One response to “Back to Basics: Rule #5

  • Colline

    A good rule to follow! Apples kept in the fridge and a bag of baby carrots and celery sticks are good snacks too. My children have grown to love the crunch of a crispy red apple.

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