There is little shock in the fact that America has become a “fast food culture.” The abundance of fast food restaurants across the nation is leading many people to clogged arteries and added pounds. So, while fast food restaurants can not be blamed for the whole obese epidemic in the United States today, they certainly can take responsibility for being a big part of the problem.
The cheap price and convenience of fast food makes it difficult to avoid, and their “kid-friendly” advertising insures that youngsters become devoted customers at an early age. According to an article by Jeffrey Zurlinden, about 96 percent of American school-aged children recognize Ronald McDonald, second only to Santa Claus. Equally alarming is the fact that almost every American child eats at a McDonald's® at least once a month.
It is easy to say, “Stop eating fast food,” but to those who have gotten into the habit of eating fast food regularly, it is easier to say than do. Below are a few suggestions for making the transition easier:
The key to success is to PLAN AHEAD. If you know you are going to be out for the day, bring snacks like fresh or dried fruits, carrots and celery, nuts, and whole grain crackers to hold you over until you can get home for a real meal. If you need more than a snack, pack a sandwich of lettuce, tomato, sprouts, avocado, cucumber and cream cheese on sprouted bread. Play around with different combinations of the above, add tofu for some extra protein, and sprinkle with olive oil and vinegar if cream cheese is too heavy. For an even easier sandwich, make a peanut butter n’ jelly with quality peanut butter (the ingredients should be nothing more than peanuts and salt) and naturally sweetened jelly (NO refined sugar) on whole wheat or sprouted wheat bread. Everything should of course be organic whenever possible. Bring your own water bottle and drink lots of water throughout the day.
Of course, there are times when eating out is unavoidable. In such cases, there is still no excuse to order the super sized cheeseburger, fries, and coke meal. Nearly all fast food places have salad and/or fruit bowl options. Order a green salad with either light dressing or no dressing (lemon juice, salt and pepper, or oil and vinegar make great alternatives to fat laden dressings). It you are in a metropolitan area, there is likely to be a Subway sandwich shop where you can get a tasty veggie sandwich on wheat bread for under $4. Also look for a Jamba Juice or other smoothie store where you can get a healthy smoothie and a snack or sandwich for lunch. Always be on the lookout for vegetarian and health food cafes, like Down to Earth, as these usually offer nutritious and delicious options. If you are eating breakfast out, steer clear of fast food. Even if it is the last thing on earth, NEVER eat one of those excessively processed French toast, egg and ham and cheese muffins or, heaven forbid, the “low-carb bowl.” Bagel and smoothie shops offer great breakfast options on the go. An even better option is to stop into a grocery store and get a banana and plain cultured yogurt.
If Americans are going to reverse the growing problem of obesity, fast food consumption must be reduced. Once the habit is broken, it is really quite easy to avoid eating fast food. You will find that your body feels better and that you lose the desire for fatty greasy food. It is also easier on the pocketbook when money is spent on fruits, vegetables, and healthy breads that can make many meals, rather than on a single meal that your body is not going to appreciate. Be good to your body as well as your finances by remembering that fruits go a longer way than French fries.