In 1919, A&W was the first fast-food restaurant to be opened, and White Castle followed soon after in 1921. Now, fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, KFC, and Sonic rule the world of fast food, but they are also the unhealthiest places to eat, yet we still eat there often. So why is fast food so popular when we all know it’s bad for us?
In a study conducted by Rydell and published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2008, 600 participants were asked to rate eleven statements according to the ones they agreed with the strongest. They were asked to do this right after they had eaten at a fast food restaurant. These are the top five reasons people still eat at fast food joints, and how you can stop eating at these places.
#1 It’s Quick
92.3% of the study’s participants rated their reason for eating at the restaurant as being ‘it’s quick.’ Let’s face it; between the kid’s sporting events, dance recitals, your job, and the emergency vet visit that day, you don’t have the time to cook a delicious, healthy, homemade meal, right? Wrong; you do have the time.
If you plan out your day ahead of time, and you realize that any little thing is going to ruin your meal preparation plans, you can begin your dinner that morning. Every dieter who wants to continue on their diet should have a slow cooker or a pressure cooker on hand. These two tools make it very simple for you to make dinner, but in very different ways.
First, the slow cooker is something you want to set up ahead of time, preferably over the weekend. Gather a few ingredients together to make a healthy meal in your slow cooker and freeze them. Then, when you know you’re going to have a busy day, pull out the slow cooker and your frozen meal, and dump it in. These are niftily being called Dump Dinners, now.
Second, your pressure cooker is a device that will cook foods that normally take an hour to bake in about half the time.
If all else fails, make a raw dinner of a salad and some leftover chopped chicken and call it a night. It might not be as glamorous as eating two greasy burgers and a serving of fries, but it’s a lot healthier.
#2 It’s Easy to Get To
This is a really terrible excuse. 80.1% of participants said the fast food restaurant was easy to get to, so they just went there. Well, your home is pretty easy to get to, and if you’re going to be far away from home that night, you should plan ahead and pack some healthy snacks to eat until you get home. If you have children, pack some fresh fruit that won’t spoil.
If you happened to forget the fresh fruit and other healthy snacks for yourself or your kids, then try stopping at a place that’s known for having a salad bar or some other healthy options. There has to be one around you somewhere. Whip out your phone and search for something quick before you end up stopping at a fast food restaurant that’s unhealthy!
#3 The Taste
69.2% of participants said they like the taste of fast food. Did you know there is corn syrup in the buns you’re eating, saturated fat in the fries, and tons of sugar in almost any product you get at a fast food restaurant? There’s no wonder people are craving these foods all the time!
There’s no doubt that the flavor of fast food is delicious to our bodies because it contains ingredients we wouldn’t normally have found in high quantities a few hundred years ago. However, you can overcome these cravings for fast food by substituting them with something healthy, such as a salad with some fruit and nuts in it, or a cup of 100% fruit juice.
There are healthy alternatives for these foods, so find them, and then stock them in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. That way, when you feel a craving for fast food coming on, you can overcome it with something right away.
#4 It’s Inexpensive
63.6% of people state they went to fast food restaurants because they are inexpensive. This is an excuse, and it’s a bold one, at that. Fast food is actually much more expensive, when you think about it, compared to preparing a meal at home.
Purchasing fresh ingredients to cook with at home costs the average American family anywhere from $4 to $10 per evening, but eating out at a fast food restaurant costs the average family $15 per evening. For an extremely unhealthy meal that’s rather inconvenient to get to because of lines and having to wait for it, an average of $5 more per night seems a little unfair.
If you’re dieting on a budget, stop thinking you have to purchase organic ingredients all the time. For some, your bank account can’t handle that, but both your bank account and your body can’t handle eating out every night, either. Purchase reasonably priced ingredients and make your meals at home if you want to diet on a budget.
#5 I’m Too Busy
53.2%, a shockingly low number of individuals said they were just too busy to cook. Most probably thought this would be the number one reason why people go to a fast food restaurant, but it’s pretty low on the list.
This is where meal preparation and planning comes in. Choose the day when you’re not at all busy and sit down with your family members who are involved in meal preparation. Then, come up with meals that will be healthy, easy, and quick to make. Seasoning some chicken and frying it on either side for four minutes each takes about ten minutes total. Heating up some frozen vegetables and seasoning them takes about ten minutes in the microwave. You have a home-cooked meal that’s healthy in less than thirty minutes.
And the real question is – are you too busy to live a healthy lifestyle? Will you be too busy when you’re suffering from a chronic illness due to obesity?
Your health is your life, and getting serious about healthy eating and planning out your meals will help you stay away from fast food restaurants.
Rydell, S. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, December 2008; vol 108: pp 2066-2070