March 1st, 2010


LJ Idol week 16: breaking the fast

I have not eaten any fast food in a month.

The thing is, I like fast food, and always have. In recent months I made stops at least once a week at Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr, Wendy’s, Long John Silvers, and McDonald’s. It’s hard for food to go wrong when it contains large helpings of fat, salt, sugar, and cholesterol. The convenience is also a huge plus; being able to hit a drive thru and eat in the car between two destinations adds time back into my day. And it’s cheap.

But I know it’s not good from me. Watching the movie ‘Food, Inc.’ last month reinforced the knowledge that not only is fast food not good for me, but it’s not very good for food in general. So I decided to set myself a challenge. I wouldn’t eat any fast food in February.

I actually set myself several February goals having to do with fitness and healthier eating. February goals seemed easier than New Year’s resolutions. This way I was only trying to do something for 28 days-- four weeks exactly. That seems reasonable, right? Having an end in sight made a few of the more difficult things, like giving up fast food, well - palatable.

The first week was easy. I was newly committed to the idea, and still mostly at home so preparing my own meals was easy. I did go out for one really good cheeseburger at a little neighborhood restaurant to remind myself that I was giving up fast food, not all burgers and fries.

The second week still wasn’t bad. I went back to work, and had to plan for the few meals I wouldn’t be eating at home. I was still resolved, but the Jack in the Box across the street from the rehearsal hall was starting to look better.

The third week rehearsals started, and for the first time I worried I wasn’t going to pull this off. Being in full time rehearsal means I eat at least nine meals a week away from home. This requires a lot of planning, and is usually accomplished by some combination of frozen dinners, leftovers, and eating out. The little strip mall across the street has several restaurant options, but you have to walk past the Jack in the Box (and that smell of french fries) to get to any of them. I found myself looking longingly at drive thrus and wanting to detour, even though I already had food to eat, or even if I wasn’t hungry. I kept reminding myself that the cheeseburger I had eaten at the neighborhood restaurant was so much better than anything I was going to get fast, that it was worth it to wait. The habit of fast food was more ingrained than I realized.

Now I’m at the end of week four, and I did it. No fast food for a month. Yay me! When I started this I thought I’d celebrate by heading to a restaurant with a drive thru on March 1st, just because I could.

But I’ve realized that I’m craving the convenience of a drive thru more than I’m craving the food. Having spent a month looking for other options I found out that everything I regularly eat at fast food restaurants I can get somewhere else, and while it may cost a bit more it also tastes so much better that it’s worth it. Even my boyfriend has lent a hand and twice made pot roast in the past few weeks so I’d have particularly yummy leftovers to look forward to instead of more fast food.

I won’t say I’ll never eat fast food again. I’m sure some day my schedule will be crazy and the convenience will be impossible to resist. But I’m going to continue my fast food fast for as long as I can. My month without drive thrus taught me that the value menu isn’t the most valid choice.

***This is my entry for LJ Idol this week.  Special thanks to my boyfriend for his editing assistance.  I'll post a link to the poll when it goes up (if it goes up) later this week.  Thanks for reading.***