Fast Food Dangers: You Should Be Very Afraid…

May 20, 2008 · 16 comments

FAST FOOD FEAR

If you fear fast food and what it does to our bodies, that’s great, because you should. If not, then I’m hoping some of the disgusting information I have to share might help you along.

I love America and am truly thankful to live here, but there are some aspects of what America has become that I’m not proud of. We (myself included) are all so stuck on convenience, the fast and easy way to do things, that we’re getting too lazy and/or too busy to think ahead a little and cook nutrient-dense, delicious meals at home for our families. I have to admit, I’m just as frazzled as any busy Mom on any busy evening, but since I know now that fast food isn’t an option, it’s amazing what other quick meals I can come up with. (Check out this post with our versions of fast food these days – with healthy and super-quick meal ideas.)

Do any of these excuses for eating fast food sound familiar?

  1. It’s cheap and it just tastes so good!”
  2. “I don’t have time to cook.
  3. It can’t really be that bad for us.
  4. “I’m too busy, how else am I supposed to get everyone fed on our crazy evenings?!”
  5. “I work hard/I had a crazy morning/It’s going to be a crazy afternoon/I’m so tired/I just got a promotion/I didn’t get my promotion/the kids are driving me nuts… I deserve something easy and hot for lunch”
  6. “I don’t have time to pack a lunch”

If you’ve used any of these excuses recently, keep reading…

FIRST, I’LL FESS UP

As I’ve shared in my “food conversion” story, we used to eat fast food a lot. When our oldest son was little we’d think nothing of eating fast food 2-3 times/week! I pray he isn’t harboring some nasty festering condition in his body from all the years we were so lazy and ignorant about the dangers of eating out so much.

If you read about My Dark Secrets, then you know that these days we might still order a pizza now and then from a local place when we have friends over, and if we’re out of town, we may hit a Subway, but this is rare. (However, I’ve been on their site to look up nutrition information and know that none of their breads have trans fats, and I also know to ask for the shredded cheese, not the “American” slices.) Thankfully, I can’t even remember when we were at a fast-food join last.

Read an excerpt from a book written a while ago, “Fast Food Nation, The Dark Side of the All-American Meal” By Eric Schlosser:

OVER THE LAST THREE DECADES, fast food has infiltrated every nook and cranny of American society. An industry that began with a handful of modest hot dog and hamburger stands in southern California has spread to every corner of the nation, selling a broad range of foods wherever paying customers may be found. Fast food is now served at restaurants and drive-throughs, at stadiums, airports, zoos, high schools, elementary schools, and universities, on cruise ships, trains, and airplanes, at K-Marts, Wal-Marts, gas stations, and even at hospital cafeterias. In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music – combined.

photo by rensenbrink78

SANTA CLAUS, JESUS, & RONALD MCDONALD

According to the book above, Fast Food Nation, only Santa Claus is recognized more than Ronald McDonald, and the golden arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian cross – what a great job McDonald’s marketing department has done through the years. (I even found some McDonalds play food in our kid’s toys the other day…I threw it away.)

Is it really cheap?

A 99 cent burger may seem cheap, but when you get your pop and fries to go with it, and you do it very often, it adds up fast. Add in the future health care costs and the price becomes much higher. Is that short-term fix really worth it? When you’re done your stomach may be full, but don’t you ever think, “I paid how much? I don’t even feel so good. And I wonder how many pounds I just put on or how much closer I am to cancer, diabetes or heart disease after ingesting all the chemicals preservatives, pesticide toxins, vegetable oils/trans fats, MSG and high fructose corn syrup? Nothing but a bunch of empty calories!” OK, maybe you aren’t thinking that, but that’s the kind of twisted thoughts in my head these days. (I’m beginning to sound like a food snob after all…OK, only when it comes to fast food!)

How much is too much?

Personally, I think anything more than rarely is too much. Once you are educated about what crap fast food is, then it’s not so difficult to drive right on by those joints. When you start eating healthier foods and start to enjoy the taste of real food, then the junk isn’t even appealing anymore. Besides, it’s not like you’re getting it for FREE, you’re PAYING people to feed you food that will make you fat and unhealthy! It doesn’t make sense. I try to train our kids early – when our daughter was 2 or 3 and we’d go by a fast food place, she’d say, “Dats bad for our bodies.” What a proud Mom I was! :) (Too bad our teenager doesn’t say the same things!)

NEED MORE CONVINCING?

If you still aren’t convinced about how gross fast food is, you’ve got to rent the movie, “Supersize Me“, and be sure to watch it with your kids (only the PG version). It will surely help you even more to fight the temptation for a “quick fix” on the dinner problem. I learned a lot from watching it, but here are a couple of the more disgusting tid-bits:

  • One fast food burger could easily have meat from 1000 different cows
  • They did an experiment and set out a few different foods out to see how long it would take to mold and get all nasty; after a couple days most things started to mold and by a week or two the sandwiches were almost all black, but the McDonald’s poison sticks (french fries) looked EXACTLY the same, even after MONTHS! That is how nasty and full of chemicals they are and how much they are not even REAL FOOD! (Be sure to click on the link below to watch the french fry experiment on YouTube.)

photo by ElektraCute

WHEN IS YOUR TEMPTATION THE STRONGEST?

For some they’re most tempted on busy nights when running the kids around, and for others it’s during their workday. Whenever you’re biggest temptation occurs, start trying to think ahead more – I know it’s not always easy, but it IS ALWAYS WORTH IT!

“I DON’T HAVE TIME”

How much extra time and energy would it take to grab a few more healthy lunch items while you’re at the store and take 10 minutes before bed to put them into a lunch sack? If that doesn’t fit into your schedule, is it really a time issue? Could it be a lack of self-discipline or a need to re-examine your priorities? It’s true that we make time for the things that are important to us. If you don’t the have time now to think ahead a little, think of how much more time it will take when you’re old before you need to be and it takes triple the time to get up a set of stairs than it should because your pumper can’t work like it used to, or because your arthritis is so bad. All the years you sucked down pops with high fructose corn syrup or fries and buns with nasty vegetable oils and trans fats really does catch up with you.

LET’S ALL STEP UP TO THE PLATE

Who doesn’t enjoy instant gratification? But we need to have the mental maturity to look ahead a few years for our family’s sake – they will be the ones caring for us when we’re too unhealthy to take care of ourselves. We don’t have to feel 20 years older than we are, it’s not just something we have to accept. Let’s commit to leaving the next generation better off than we are. It’s not our parent’s fault that they were fed so much bogus information for years, but now look at us! Many of us are overweight, we lack energy, we’re depressed, our joints hurt, our digestive systems are messed up, we’re infertile, we look much older than we are, and we’re on all sorts of medicines.

Let’s make it stop!

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  • { 12 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Nicole B May 21, 2008 at 5:18 am

    My husband and I learned about the ‘evils’ of fast food before we married. It has been 7 years since we went to a McDonalds. Before we had kids no one would believe we wounldn’t take our kids there after all everyone does, right?
    Now if someone talks about going to McDonalds our four year old asks “why do you want to eat there?! It is YUCKY!” The first time she blurted that out to another mom we had a talk about being polite with our opinions! LOL
    Many times other moms want to go there to take their kid’s to play. More to lure the parents in. It is really sad how well recognized their brand is and how poor their product is.

    Reply

    2 Kelly the Kitchen Kop May 21, 2008 at 9:32 am

    7 years – wow! That’s impressive! You wouldn’t believe all the junk I was still giving my kids 7 years ago. :(

    Thanks for commenting!
    Kelly

    Reply

    3 Crystal of Natural Balance May 22, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Kelly, thank you for sharing the information on fast food. There is no question that McDonaldsm Burger King, Taco Bell and Starbucks (and the others) are masters at the marketing game. Additionally is is frightening to me how much junk is purchased at the good ole grocery store… but I could go on forever. I just wanted to share a couple of helpful hints. I find that if I have plenty of healthy food at home already prepared, my family is much less likely to stop at the “death traps” to get their meals. To help me save time, I do much of my cooking (food preparing) on one day. It only takes me about 1 hour longer to prepare 5 meals as it does to prepare 1. Generally on Sundays… I prepare a large green salad, fresh dressings, a large fruit salad, a soup, and some other sorts of dishes that can be prepared and either frozen for later use, or stored for a couple of days. This generally gives the family ready food for much of the week and reduces the chances of eating out due to lack of time. Additionally now that the weather is getting warmer, I find a renewed energy for “live” or raw foods. They are light, healthy and quick to make. One of my favorite raw food cookbooks is…Living Cuisine.

    Keep up the good work!

    PS. Have you heard about the new film coming out at the end of June called “Food Matters”? The trailer looks tremendous!

    Reply

    4 Kelly the Kitchen Kop May 22, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Crystal,

    Thanks for your great tips. And also THANK YOU for letting me know about that movie! I watched the trailer and it looks SO GOOD! The only thing that worries me is that I hope it isn’t going to be all “politically correct” when it comes to the nutrition part of it. A couple scenes showed food on a plate, as if that food is what is killing us, and it had pictures of meat and eggs – grrrrrrrrrr.

    I’m doing a post on this movie soon to get the word out!

    Kelly

    Reply

    5 Kathleen July 4, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    My husband works as a Supervisor for 3 McDonalds restaurants. We are committed Christians. McDonalds was never meant to be a staple in people’s diets. It is also a misunderstanding that food’s mere existance makes people fat. People are undisciplined with food choices, usually, and that makes them fat (as well as a lack of exercise, or depression, etc.), unless there is some other kind of metabolic reason.

    If you were to meet me and my husband face to face, would you be so condescending to us about my husband’s gainful employment? Especially in an economic downturn? My husband also has a Bachelor’s of Art in Theology at Multnomah Bible college, and an IT degree. The economy did not allow him an opportunity to become employed in a high-paying job, therefore, we do not eat high-priced organic produce, free-range meats and eggs, expensive raw milk, etc. We eat from a gleaning organization we pay to participate in, for the most part, that gives us a variety of canned and non-organic foods.

    Matt. 15:11

    Reply

    6 Kelly July 5, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Hi Kathleen,

    I think most people realize that in no way do I think those who work at McDonald’s are bad people, and you’re right to be thankful for your husband’s job! I also completely agree that McDonald’s HAS done something very good with the Ronald McDonald House.

    I actually have relatives who own a few McDonald’s restaurants, and we’ve talked openly about my opinions on the food served there, and that’s where I disagree with you. I do not believe McDonald’s provides a quality fast food meal. I know your husband likely has no say in this, but I do wish McDonald’s would take a look at some fast food restaurants who are providing more quality food (Chipotle for one), and start making some positive changes. While it is each person’s choice as to what they eat, as you said, many are so taken in by the slick marketing by McDonald’s (and not just them, other fast food places, too), that they don’t know any better. (Which is why I write this blog, hoping to help people make good food choices.)

    We also agree on the fact that the Kingdom of God is about much more than what we eat and drink, but I do firmly believe that the Lord wants us to take care of the bodies He’s given us. Not that I always do great at this myself, but if I can share more knowledge with my readers that helps them make better choices, then I feel like I’ve done a good thing.

    You quoted: For

    Reply

    7 Jen July 6, 2009 at 1:48 am

    Hi Kathleen and Kelly,

    I have been working to transition my family totally away from all processed food, including fast food, for about 8 months now. It’s hard, and I’m not there yet, but when I look back I am proud of the progress I’ve made. The bottom line is that after becoming educated about real food, there is NO other option for me.

    I have several close family members (mom, sister, cousin, aunt) who in the past or present, have worked at McDonald’s for years. I also have a daughter (who died in 1997 at the age of 7) who had a severe genetic syndrome. I stayed in a few different Ronald McDonald Houses during those years, and they are wonderful places to be in such a time of need!

    However, none of that makes the quality of food that McDonald’s serves good in any way! Loving family members who work there (or at any fast food restaurant), utilizing and being thankful for the Ronald McDonald House, and believing the product is terrible for consumer’s health are not mutually exclusive beliefs. I’m proof. :)

    There are MANY helpful suggestions and articles out there about how to feed your family real food on a budget. I’ve seen great articles here, at The Heavenly Homemaker site, at The Nourishing Gourmet site, at the Frugal Granola site, and I’m sure a lot of others that I’m forgetting at the moment. It’s all about priorities. My first and highest priority is that my husband, my 1 1/2 year old son, and myself are healthy and happy enough to enjoy our lives together for a long time.

    Best of luck!

    Reply

    8 Jeanne July 6, 2009 at 9:32 am

    I have to comment on the ability to feed a family real nourishing food on a strict budget. My husband worked as a project manager for the automotive industry and we live in Michigan– need I say more? There were major plant shut downs from Thanksgiving thru the end of Feb. (we had a total of 5 paychecks during this time) and his contract was up in March (no renewal). During this time my grocery budget went from $800. + a month to around $400. I am feeding 3 children (2 teenage boys). I have had to make a few compromise along the way with what we buy organic. But we continue to eat whole real food. It takes more time to eat this way — practically everything is made from scratch. You have to spend time finding out where the best deals to buy organic and whole foods. Find a local farmer that sells real pasture eggs. Many things end up being the same cost or even cheaper if you take the time to research and compare shopping. For example at my local meijers the organic vanilla is the same price as the mccormick pure vanilla (that has cornsyrup added). Of course neither are as cheap as the imitation vanilla. But as with other aspects of life, you have to decide when to compromise and when not to.
    I say thank you everyday that my husband provided well for our family for many years. I am thankful that we had the foresight to prepare for these times. I have no idea when my husband will be employed again or if he will ever be able to return to a career he worked hard to build for 20+ years. But I will not let this be an excuse to not feed my famiy real nourishing food.
    I also have family members that have made a career with another fast food chain. They have managed restaurants for their entire career. We joke that who would have thought that they would have the best job security.

    Reply

    9 Robert January 12, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Here’s a little idea, never eat or buy food your grandmother
    would not know…

    Reply

    10 earthygirl79 January 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    This article is interesting. I just started keeping my eye on a fast food experiment done by dad. It is on: fastfoodexperiment.com He is doing it for a year to see if the food really does have all of the preservative chemicals or not. What floored me is one of the meals had mold growing underneath the fries after a week! It does take more work but I do agree with Jeanne, if you do a little investigating at first, you can find places to get your healthy produce, eggs, etc. and even some organic.

    Reply

    11 Joe Scholar June 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    What Kelly the Kitchen Kop had said is very true… Fast food should be avoided at all costs…

    I hate to admit to this but I almost died about a year ago because of my former love for fast food… Or to put more precise, it had been because of my addiction to fast food. I almost died of cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure because I used to eat fast food… Eating fast food is no better than being addicted meth or crack… Like meth and crack, fast food will kill you sooner or later…

    I now eat more vegetables and fruit… I eat fish, seafood, veggie products, almond butter, and whole grain products… While my diet is not perfect, I do not eat fast food junk anymore…

    I also get as much exercise as I reasonably can…

    The overall point that I am trying to make is if I can change, we all can change…

    Reply

    12 KitchenKop June 29, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Good job, Joe!!!

    Reply

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