Fat Fridays: Fast Food

This week I have been thinking about fast food. When I was a kid, growing up in the 80s, our family did not eat out very often. Rarely. I remember going to Mcdonalds for my birthday, because that was a special treat. I think our family treated restaurants as an opportunity to eat food we wouldn’t normally get, like Mexican or Asian food. I do remember an occasional trip to Pizza Hut, but wasn’t a normal thing. A treat. 

I spent eight years of my growing up in Haiti where fast food, at that time, was not an option except in the capital city, and we rarely went there. Then, we moved to bush Alaska for my last two years of high school. Again, there weren’t any of the traditional fast food restaurants. There were mom-and-pop restaurants that served hamburgers and french fries for a hefty price, but I don’t know if I ever ate a hamburger and fries while I lived there, or even a pizza. What we did eat was Chinese food. We ate out a little more, still not a lot, and I always got Mongolian Beef. (I was not an adventurous eater, I found one thing I liked and then stuck with it.) When I went to college in Southern California, I didn’t drive and so I only visited the fast food that was in walking distance, a Taco Bell and a little Chinese Restaurant. I did not have a lot of spending money. Two dollars and some change got me two little tacos at Taco Bell that did not fill me up. But, two dollars and twenty-five cents at the Chinese restaurant got me a huge serving of Fried rice and a huge serving of sweet and sour pork. I went for the Chinese. It became my Friday night treat. After two years of college I spent another year overseas where, again, fast food was not available, or I didn’t have a lot of extra money to be spending on it. 

So, it wasn’t until I was married that fast food even became an option. I remember driving around with my husband one day, and he suggested we stop in at Mcdonalds for some food. And I remember feeling this shock, like, wait, we can just go there whenever we want? At the time I was pregnant with our first, and we were taking birthing classes at the hospital. It became our ritual to stop at Mcdonalds afterwards for cheeseburgers, fries, and my favorite, Hi-C Orange Soda. 

Fast forward to the present day. Fast food has become a convenience. The thing to get if I am in a rush and don’t have time to cook. Or, a way to give a special treat to the kids. We probably gets pizza once a week, and I make occasional runs to Mcdonalds, but not that often. My husband and I go out a couple times a month, our favorite kind of food we look for is Mexican and Thai. Since I started this new diet plan I have been trying to avoid fast food. 

This week I was out, I had plans to stop at a restaurant and get a big salad and sit and enjoy myself. Then, my plans changed, and I needed food quickly. I remembered getting salads at Mcdonalds in the past, so I got in a busy drive-thru lane and waited a really long time. When it was finally my turn to order, I found out that Mcdonalds no longer serves salads. (I guess it’s been a while since I’ve ordered a salad.) I was on the spot, hungry, but not wanting to blow my diet. I ended up getting a regular hamburger (250 calories) and a small fry (220 calories) and a diet coke. I ate, it tasted good, I was full, and I didn’t want any more. Victory! 

Then last night I had to run out with my son to handle a broken phone emergency. My husband was home, it was getting on supper time, so he ordered pizza. I came home, hungry, and there was yummy pizza. I got one slice of pepperoni, ate it, then went and got some tomatoes from the kitchen to finish off the meal. It tasted good, I was full and I didn’t want any more. Victory! 

I am so used to letting my cravings and appetite control what I eat, so this has been a big deal to me to see that I can eat the occasional fast food and keep it within a reasonable amount. Self-control. 

In the past, when I was trying to be healthy, I would just avoid all fast food, no matter what. And eventually, that method would fail. Because fast food is everywhere and it’s a part of our eating culture. And it tastes good and it’s very tempting. I still don’t plan on eating very much fast food, but it’s good to know that this is another situation that I can handle if I have to. 

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