Jennifer Aniston made headlines on July 1, 2013 when, during an interview with New York Magazine, she recalled being stuck on a road trip and unable to find a healthy eating option. Said Aniston, “The only thing around was McDonald’s. I think I ordered a Big Mac. Wow, my body did not react well to that! It was like putting gasoline in a purified system.”
Finally, Jennifer Aniston and I have something in common!
My body does not react well to fast food anymore since I’ve been on a fast food fast for the last five years. You’d think that finding out my cholesterol was through the roof after routine blood work at age 44 would have been the catalyst for changing to a healthier diet, but no. I got my prescription for Lipitor filled and carried on eating fast food. I only grabbed a burger or a burrito three or four times a week after all. I didn’t count breakfast tacos as fast food (wrong). I never ate hot dogs. I don’t drink alcohol.
Then I read an article that listed the fat contents of fast food items and there it was – my beloved Ultimate Cheeseburger from Jack-in-the-Box in all its glory and 49 grams of fat. I had no concept of how much fat 49 grams of fat is. I found out that 4 grams equals 1 teaspoon of fat1. So the 49 grams of fat2 in a Jack-in-the-Box Ultimate Cheeseburger is just over 12 teaspoons of fat! That’s just gross. I pictured me pouring 12 teaspoons of fat over that burger. Then I pictured myself pouring 12 teaspoons of fat over anything. That mental image is what began my breakup with the fast food industry.
Since I work from home and have lived in a small town with exactly two fast food restaurants for the past three years, staying away from fast food is easy. But I still worked in an office building and lived in Austin, Texas when I was weaning myself off fast food and temptations and excuses were plentiful.
Luckily, I didn’t eat fast food for dinner. Lunch and sometimes breakfast were the meals I grabbed through the drive-through. Rather than set myself up for failure, I allowed myself two visits to a fast food place a week for two weeks. Then one visit a week for the next two weeks. Then I allowed myself one visit every two weeks and finally one visit a month. I still allow myself one visit a month, I just haven’t taken myself up on my own offer in five years. And I’ve been off cholesterol medicine for four years.
I told myself I couldn’t go to sleep unless I had figured out my healthy, non-fast food lunch option for the next day. I took leftovers to work for lunch. If I didn’t have leftovers I made myself a sandwich the night before. I told people at work what I was doing and they supported me and stopped offering to bring me something back from whichever artery-clogging drive-through they were visiting that day.
I researched the nutrition information for the foods I used to eat at fast food restaurants and was horrified. Fast food now equals poison in my mind. I don’t crave it. I don’t wish I could eat it. I just see those 12 teaspoons of fat dripping, dripping, dripping.
- 1. 1. Purdue University Facts on Fat Intake http://www.four-h.purdue.edu/foods/facts%20on%20fat%20intake.htm
2. Jack-in-the-Box Ultimate Cheeseburger Nutrition Facts http://www.jackinthebox.com/food/burgers-and-more/ultimate-cheeseburger