Have you ever driven past a fast food chain during the lunch or dinner rush? If it’s anything like where I live, then regardless of the restaurant — McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, it doesn’t matter — they all have drive-through lines that always seem to have at least 8-10 cars waiting. It seems like most people like their fast food… a lot.
A [ recent report ] from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that over the past few years, approximately 37% of U.S. adults eat fast food on any given day. The study also discovered that among those who eat fast food, 44% did so at lunch, 42% at dinner, 23% during breakfast, and 23% as snacks.
And things are worse among young people. Approximately 45% of adults aged 20 to 39 consume fast food on a given day, compared to 38% of adults aged 40 to 59, and 24% of adults aged 60 and older. (Maybe we gain wisdom to avoid fast food as we get older, maybe we develop better taste buds — maybe a little of both.)
Those numbers are scary.
Look, I understand that heading to the drive-through seems relatively quick and convenient. But it only takes a few minutes more to head to the grocery store, and pick up a organic rotisserie chicken (the organic ones are usually only a dollar or two more than conventional chickens) and a bag of ready-made salad instead.
Fast foods tend to be high in sugar, salt, bad fat, simple carbs, and beef and chicken that are raised with tons of hormones and chemicals. When you weigh the negative impacts these things are going to have on your health and wellness (not just in the long term, but day-to-day as well), it’s obvious that you can almost always do better by choosing something other than fast food.
So here’s my advice: Have a couple of alternatives at the ready so that you’ll be able to make a better choice the next time you’re rushed for time or just can’t bear the idea of cooking dinner. Sometimes fast food gets the nod because we simply can’t think of a better solution when we’re already hungry. For example:
- There’s the organic rotisserie chicken and bagged salad idea above (and I’ve used this myself countless times). Actually, grocery stores these days generally offer multiple options as far as ready-made dinners go. Be sure to verify that whatever you choose is comprised of high-quality real food ingredients.
- You can make sure you have healthy snacks in your car or in your purse to help you avoid getting hangry, and to give you the energy to get home and prepare something nutritious. I love the chocolate sea salt RX Bars and keep them in my car, my bag, and at work.
- Eat better throughout the day. If you start the day with a solid breakfast, and follow up with a real lunch you’ve pre-made at home, you’ll reduce that chances that your blood sugar will be low when it comes time for dinner. You’ll avoid those difficult cravings.
- You can spend an hour or two every other week preparing a big batch of dinners that you can put in your freezer. Knowing that you can have a healthy home-cooked meal after just 5 or 10 minutes in the microwave makes it easy to resist the call of McDonald’s.
Going to a fast food drive-through should never feel like it’s your best option. Value your own health enough to make a better choice. Think about your tomorrow, your next week, and beyond. The decisions you make on a daily basis add up and if you’re adding up fast food, you’re shortening your life and decreasing your quality of life. Take better care of yourself!
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To your amazing health!
The Renegade Nurse