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"Exploring the Purpose of Food: Fuel or Fun?"


 


We often find ourselves wondering what the best diet is and if it will work for us. While it can be useful to know what the current Hollywood diet trend is, that is not the purpose of this article. As many of you have heard before, the best diet is the one that you will follow. Unfortunately, this is an oversimplification and can leave too much room for serious mistakes when developing your eating habits. I recently saw a video of an individual, claiming to be on a salad diet. However, they were using a processor to turn a burger and fry combo from their friends at the local fast-food distillery to make the salad. While I know the term salad can be rather broad, I think most of us can agree this is not typically what is meant by the term salad when we are considering choosing healthy eating choices. Now, I like to hope that the person making this video was trying to simply increase their fan base and draw in more followers, this is dangerous. Humans are easily impressionable, especially when they are trying to find ways to improve and there is a shortcut presented. This is shown consistently throughout many facets of society and food is no different. Since it has been proven that processed food is more likely to degrade the nutritional quality of food, it is easy to recognize that eating unhealthy food and processing it, does not create a healthier option. If anything, you run the risk of breaking down some of the very minimal nutrients that are in the food and making it less healthy or beneficial.

 

Now to dive into this a bit deeper let’s look at why someone would want to eat fast food or other unhealthy food choices in the first place. We know it is “bad” for you, yet it is still a common part of the American diet. In a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2020, it showed that one-third of children consume some type of fast food on a given day. The study further showed that in 2018 there was an increase in how often adolescents and children were eating fast food. While this is from a few years ago you can further see how this trend has not changed when looking at the annual consumer spending reports on Statistica.com that highlight how consumers in the United States spent over 300 billion dollars on fast food in 2023.

 

It is scary what we are looking at with our current population and how many people are developing health issues caused by unhealthy diets. Fast-food restaurants have created a lethal cocktail to draw in customers and keep them coming back for more. Anyone who has driven past a Chik-Fil-A during lunchtime can attest that something is going on with their chicken because their customers are more than willing to wait in a line no matter how long it is to get their “fast food fix”. The combination of sugar, salt, fat, caffeine, and additional additives makes the food at these restaurants insatiable. Even though we all know someone who has developed high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease many still fall victim to the allure of a fast-food meal.

 



Aside from the list of devastating disorders and diseases customers can develop from eating this type of low-nutrient-dense food, there is an undeniable reduction in energy production that is associated with consuming it. This in turn will lead to a low level of life satisfaction and has been tied to depression and even anxiety as individuals commonly develop low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in the way they look while their health steadily declines. So, the real question is “Why would someone even want to eat fast food when they know what it can do to them?”. While this is going to vary from person to person there are going to be some common reasons that are worth taking a moment to discuss. The primary reasons are quite obvious and understandable and that is people want food that is well “fast”, and it is seen as being convenient and affordable.

           

Fast is an interesting word to use as many of us have been stuck in a fast-food drive-through line during shift change or during a busy time when speed seems to be the last concern of the employees. The interesting part of this fast concept is that times have changed, and we no longer have to rely on drive-throughs to have our food fast. With new applications for ordering food ahead of time, you don’t even need to make a phone call to make an order that will be ready for pick up before you know it. Then to make it even quicker for people to get their food many restaurants will either bring the food out to you if you contact them when you pull up or they will have the food on a shelf tagged and ready to go when you arrive. There is also always the option to have food delivered or already have it prepped at home so that you do not need to leave your office to purchase it. This makes the concept of fast rather obsolete as fast-food restaurants are not always fast and they are often not the quickest option.

 


 

Now let’s look at convenience, which tends to be rather synonymous with the word fast, but some distinct differences are worth bringing up. Aside from fast food restaurants popping up on nearly every street corner across America, there are the constant temptations that are presented when walking into your local grocery store. While most of the food options in your grocery store are arguably not food they are promoted relentlessly and displayed in the perfect locations with the catchiest discounts, coupons, and promotions to get you to make a purchase. Since companies are paying for their products to be highlighted and shelved in easy-to-see locations with heavy foot traffic it is challenging to determine what is going to be healthy for you. Not to mention the term sugar is consistently tied to the concept of energy even though it is far from the best option to fuel your body to create sustainable energy.

 

For those visualizing their local grocery store right now you will notice that once you pass the vegetables and fruits you might dabble in the dairy or deli section for a moment, but then it is no holds bar. You are quickly thrust into the heart of the store, and it is rich in sugar, additives, and preservatives, to keep food looking fresh, tasty, and appealing to purchase. Not to mention all of the bright-colored boxes that our eyes are instantly drawn to. This is where preparation and planning will need to come into play when trying to adjust your diet and control how you shop at the store. Making a list ahead of time of what you need is useful even if it feels like a waste of time. It will save you time once you get to the store and you will save yourself money instantly. To ensure you stick with your list, plan out your route through the store and avoid aisles that will cause you temptation. It took me a while to be able to walk down the ice cream aisle without reaching for a pint of cookies and cream or confetti cake ice cream. We all have our cravings, and you must recognize yours so that you can use your awareness to make better decisions.

 


 

Now for the third reason, we Americans decided to eat fast food and unhealthy food from the grocery store. You guessed it, affordability, and the concept of saving money. Now this is an interesting one for me because if you’ve been to a fast-food restaurant lately you would notice that it isn’t the same as it was a decade ago. There was a time when you could go to a McDonald's with $10 and buy enough food for you and a couple of friends, but those times have passed. With a simple search on the good ole Google machine, you will see that the most popular meal options with tax cost over $10 and that is only for one meal. Then when looking at their most expensive meals, which are simply a burger or chicken sandwich with fries and a drink you are looking at upward of $13. I don’t

know about all of you but that is not affordable to me.

 

Not only are you paying for food that is going to cause you digestive discomfort, inflammation, lethargy, and not keep you full for long, but you are starting the process toward those medical conditions mentioned earlier such as diabetes that are going to cost your health and wallet much more than you’ve likely bargained for. Now let’s say you enjoy a good hamburger and that is your go-to meal for lunch on Sundays. Rather than going to McDonald's or another fast-food restaurant, plan and get the supplies and food you need from the store to make your meal at home. Let’s put this into perspective; in Texas, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese costs $10.57 plus tax. Now let’s see what our local Wal-Mart or Target can do for us. Since you’re likely not going to eat alone, let’s plan for a family of 4 to eat.

 

·       Organic Grass-Fed Ground Beef, 85% Lean/ 15% Fat 1LB:

$6.36

 

·       100% Whole Wheat Buns, 8 Count:

$4.24

 

·       Sliced Natural Cheddar Cheese, 11 Slices:

$2.97

 

·       Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Soda Pop, 2L Bottle:

$2.68

 

·       Fresh Whole Russet Potatoes, 5lb Bag:

$3.27

 

Total: $19.52 = Food For 4 People + Vs. 4 Quarter Pounders with Cheese Total: $42.28



 

Now I’m not a mathematician, but it looks to me like you can save a significant amount of money purchasing your burger from the grocery store, and not only that but you will be able to have healthier solutions that are more natural, organic, filling. You will help promote a healthier lifestyle to keep you away from the doctor. Also, let’s take into consideration the family that eats fast food daily or for more than one meal. This can get devastatingly unhealthy very quickly. Now the grocery store is also going to have unhealthy options that are less expensive, however, you will get right back into the realm of eating products that are barely classified as food as they do not offer many nutrients and are often highly processed and modified from their original form, if not completely created in a factory. Our bodies are meant to eat real food, that comes from the ground, and other animals, not from a caldron in the local processing plant (*Slight Exaggeration of Course).

 

If what you’ve taken away from this article thus far is that you are not supposed to enjoy your food and indulge in a guilty pleasure on occasion, I want to assure you that is not the intended message. If you have a diet that you truly detest or don’t enjoy at all it is going to be nearly impossible to maintain it for a long time. It may only take one cupcake to get you right back onto your old habits that put you in your current position. However, if you start making incremental adjustments to your current diet to find the “Sweet” spot for what works best for you, there is a much better chance of success and compliance. Since many foods, especially those high in sugar have been proven to create similar effects in the brain to many addictions it is important to create a safe and healthy plan to improve your diet.

 

It is understandable that on occasion you may decide to have a slice of pizza or an ice cream on a hot day, however, it is important to set limits for yourself and plan accordingly. If you are going to a movie and you know that you always buy an unnecessary amount of popcorn and candy, maybe you can eat dinner before you go to the movie, so you won’t be as tempted to eat. With this same concept in mind, when you go to the grocery store, you can plan to go after you’ve eaten or at a time of day when you normally don’t eat so that you aren’t craving foods that are high in carbohydrates, sugars, and fats. Your future is determined by the decisions you make every day and with the right focus and drive you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Your diet is only one aspect of creating a healthy lifestyle and it is a very important one. If you need assistance holding yourself accountable, nutrition tracking, nutrition advice, or help coming up with some healthier recipes let us know at bk-healthandfitness.com and we will do our best to ensure you have the tools and resources needed to support you on your journey. Let’s make food Fuel and Fun together.


 



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