Friday, February 10, 2012

Breaking the McDonald's Habbit

I think I may have finally done it!  I don't crave Fast Food 24 hours a day!  How, you may ask.  Well, let's start from the very beginning!
I was brought up on fast food, especially McDonald's.  Whenever I said I was hungry when I was little, my parents would just pull over and buy me a Happy Meal.  It was a lot easier and quicker than driving home and making a meal.  This went on for years and years!  Before any function, they would just stop and get me fast food!  It wasn't that my parents couldn't cook.  They definitely were both great cooks!  My dad even ran a restaurant for years.  This action was more out of convenience.  It was also cheap! The Happy Meal averaged around $2 back then.
Then, in high school, I formed an addiction to the Whopper Jr.  I would eat Whopper Jr.'s three or four times a week!  I had so many after school activities, and Burger King was across the street from my high school!  There were other options in that shopping center, like Subway and Taco Bell, but I always chose Burger King.  Now, this whole time, I was very active.  I was on the Dance team, did gymnastics, and did the show choir for a while, but I never seemed to loose weight.  I maintained at most.
I went on to college. Now, college is a completely differently animal for all of those who move away from home and live in a dorm.  Dorm dwellers are not usually known for their healthy eating!  Most are actually known to gain the "Freshman Fifteen."  When I was a Freshman, I was taking Dance classes to cover my General Education PE credits.  So, I don't know if I ever really gained the "Freshman Fifteen." What did happen by second semester was, I started loosing weight!  Here's the thing, I was still eating Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell, and other Fast Foods on a regular basis.  On the weekends, the Cafeterias weren't open as much, and we were expected to eat in the Commons/Union Building.  These meals were also built into our meal plan for the year.   I know at this time in our lives, we were supposed to become more aware of what we are eating, or what we are putting into our bodies.  But let's face it, most dorm dwelling Freshman don't!
Between my Freshman and Sophomore year, and started Peritoneal Dialysis.  At the time, my body was getting sicker from the lack of Kidney function, and I went on the Transplant waiting list.  When I was that sick, it was hard to not turn to the comfort foods.  Well, for me, that is definitely Fast Food! When I went back to school, I was a dorm dweller yet again for my sophomore year!  The process starts over again! Trying to find healthy foods in the cafeteria was especially hard for me at the time!  Not only was I lactose intolerant, and my reactions were getting worse. I was on a Potassium restricted diet!  What healthy food does not have Potassium in it?! It was so hard giving up my all of my favorite foods!  Potatoes and Tomatoes are both Potassium rich and both are my favorite foods! Some how, I survived that year!  (The diet restrictions were only going to get worse from there!)
Well, my Junior year, I became an apartment dweller with three roommates. The eating got a little better, but I still ate Fast Food a lot!  Then, in the beginning of November, I got the call for a Kidney.  After that, give give you lists upon lists of diet restrictions/ a.k.a. proper ways of actually eating.  Who knew that there was a no sodium/low sodium diet?  Well, I found out what that was pretty quickly!
I still was absolutely in love with Fast Food.  I craved it!  I wanted french fries, burgers, and tacos 24 hours a day!
Then, it happened. I got a job at McDonald's!  I loved it!  All of the McDonald's food I could ever or never want at my fingertips!  And the experiments!  Big Macs with extra Mac Sauce and Bacon!  French Fries dipped in Mac Sauce!  Triple or Quadruple Cheeseburgers!  Endless apple pies!  Chicken Nuggets in every McDonald's sauce imaginable!  And it was awesome!  I NEVER GOT SICK OF THE FOOD!  I wanted MORE!  The funny thing is, I didn't gain 100lbs either. That was probably from how hard I was working at McDonald's!  Mopping a restaurant from front to back is a great amount of exercise!  I'm sure you can visualize my arteries clogging just from reading my last paragraph!  But I didn't keel over and die of a heart attack, surprisingly!
I worked there for almost two years.  I actually enjoyed the job most of the time. When I finally moved on, I worked at a Walmart that had a McDonald's in the store, and I would eat there often during my lunch breaks.
The cravings have gone on for years!  I wanted Fast Food all of the time!  On average, I would probably eat out at least four or five times a week, and most of that was Fast Food.
Then, the movie "Supersize Me" came out.  I watched this movie, and afterward, I wanted to go get McDonald's!  It just made me want it more!!!  Here's the thing about that movie.  The man went from being a Vegan to eating McDonald's every day. Of course he was going to get sick!  Anyone who goes from extreme to another will get sick!  He also interviewed the man who had eaten a Big Mac for everyday of his life over years and years.  This man was SKINNY!  He had also had blood work done, and things like his cholesterol numbers where just fine! This documentary did not detour me at all!
I also feel that he is creating a false premiss of going from one extreme to another.  McDonald's is more of that slippery slope.  You eat it one day, it tastes good.  Then, you think, it's quick, I can eat it again.  It it tastes awesome!  In fact, I personally think, it tastes better every time I eat it! Then, you start craving it. I would crave McDonald's so bad, it didn't matter if I was really hungry, I would pull over and get it.  I would be watching T.V. and see a commercial, and I would stop everything to run out and buy a cheeseburger or Chicken McNuggets! I've even sent my boyfriend out on late night runs for McDonald's or Taco Bell!
Another factor for Fast Food is that is is so CHEAP!  Who can't afford to dig up a dollar for a burger or taco?  Most Fast Food places have some kind of "Dollar Menu" or "Value Menu."  I may not have had the money to go get a steak at Applebees or something other casual dinning restaurant, but I sure could afford to spend the dollar on a burger! 
These habits have continued for years.  It's all just started to change in the last six months to a year.  One thing that happened that was not in my control is, these companies keep changing their french fry recipes! McDonald's is one of the only companies that haven't.  Burger King actually did this around 1997.  I hated the new fries.  They tasted like they were bathed in salt water!  I actually still liked their onion rings and continued eating there. 
The latest change in french fries came from Wendy's.  I loved their old fries!  The ones that came out in 2010 are the "Natural-Cut" french fries with a "sprinkle of sea salt."
They have the word "Natural" in their description, so, they must be better for you, right?  Actually, this product is still coated in a chemical preservative.  That's what gives them their "sprinkle of sea salt" flavor.  Also, according to this article:, they are covered in dextrose.  Basically, using the word "Natural" is a gimmick to make people feel better about buying them, but it's really not a good thing.  The world Natural is referring to the way the potato is cut and has nothing to do with the actual healthiness of the food.
Please, Wendy's, go back to your old french fries!  At least they tasted good!  Especially dipped in a Frosty!!! Instead of french fries at Wendy's, I now order a side salad instead.  Thanks Wendy's for pushing me in the right direction by ruining your fries!
What other kinds of chemicals do Fast Food companies use in their recipes?  There has to be something that creates the "addiction" to the food!  A lot of the companies are promoting adds that claim, their foods come from real farms, real fields, that it is all real food.  It IS real food.  The question is, what is done to it in the process before it is sold and eaten?

Here's some things I did to help me stop eating as much fast food.
1.  I bring my lunch to work every day.  This really helps me out a lot!  When I have a lunch to eat, I don't need to run out and buy one!  Sometimes, I have to talk myself into eating what I've brought.  I think to myself, "Well, that doesn't sound as good as it did when I packed the lunch!"  I just try to remind myself, it's here, so, I should eat it.  It works most of the time! 
2. My boyfriend and I make a dinner plan.  We find, if we have a plan, we try to stick to it.  It actually helps out the budget too. If you know, you are having Taco Tuesday or having an amazing meal at home, you train yourself to think about that food.  Then, you aren't thinking, "I don't know what I'm making for dinner tonight, so, we better go out!"  The other thing about having a dinner/meal plan for the week is, if you know you are going out to eat on Saturday night, then you are going to plan for it.  A lot of times, we'll even pick where we are going to eat when the meal plan is made.  If I'm craving Chinese that week, I can say on Sunday, when we make our meal plan, "Saturday, I want to eat at a Chinese restaurant," and go from there.  Then, I get to satisfy my craving that night!
3.  Creating a food budget:  This is a hard one!  I don't always stick to this, but it's been getting easier.  If I haven't budgeted for that extra five to ten dollars to go out to eat for lunch, I can usually talk myself out of going.  I do budget to eat out on Thursday night, because I go straight from work to a rehearsal.  That's five to ten dollars I have to remember to budget for once a week.  We also have a grocerie budget.  If I go buy the groceries, even with a list, I usually blow the budget.  But If I send my boyfriend to go buy the groceries, with a list, he is usually really good about sticking to exactly what's on the list.  We include going out to eat for our Date Night once a week in our Entertainment budget, but it is still budgeted for. I just have to constantly remind myself how much eating out adds up in the end.
4.  I remind myself of how many calories I can blow through in a Fast Food meal!  This is new for me.  I'm really working on this!  There are healthy choices when you go out to eat, but I'm not going to choose them!  I know this.  I'm being completely honest with myself!  When I go to McDonald's, I want the Big Mac with extra Mac Sauce and extra Pickles, the Fries, and the gigantic Drink filled with sugar that goes with it! It's the same way with any other Fast Food joint.  I want the unhealthiest crap on the menu most of the time!  Not going to these places is the only way to circumvent this issue for me.
Over the break from my choir, I rarely ate out at all.  The break was around five weeks long. I ate out a few times here and there, but most of the time, I chose to cook things at home, or we went out to places that weren't fast food.  They say it takes 16 days to break or create a habit.  I know I have been without McDonald's for longer than that!  I think it's weird to not have the feeling of wanting Fast Food all of the time. I'm going to try to keep this up! 

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