I’ll have Death with that, on the side.

That is a lot of money.

Can you name an industry which went from $6 billion to more than $120 billion in less than 40 years? How about one whose primary advertising target is children who will grow up to be parents whose children will also be consumers?

In 1970, hungry patrons spent $6 billion on the convenience of fast food. Forty years later, fast food is a more than $120 billion industry. From where is all that money coming?

  • 30% of children’s meals on any given day are fast food.
  • 24% of high schools offer brand name fast foods.
  • More than $10 billion are spent each year on fast food advertising.

Getting What You Pay For

Fast food is high in carbohydrates and fat, the two things which make the body feel full and full for longer. This explains why people are willing to eat what they know is bad for them. What is that getting you?

  • 20% of children between the ages of 6-17 are overweight.
  • Overweight adolescents have a 79% likelihood of adult obesity.
  • Serving sizes are double and triple the recommended daily allowance.

Large portions are a lure for fast food. The gimmick is “Look how much you are getting for such a low price!” To a large extent, it is true.

When you choose to save money by super-sizing your meal, you are ingesting more than the daily recommended amount of carbohydrates, salt, cholesterol, sugar and fat in a single sitting. Depending on your choice of entrée, you can exceed 1,500 calories of the suggested 2,000 per day in one meal.

 What are you really saving?

Any idea what these cost...each?

If you are not putting the money you save into a MSA, you are not saving anything. Americans spend more than $8 billion on cholesterol-reducing medications. This figure does not come close to the amount spent on heart disease and diabetic medications, cardiac care (after heart attack) or weight loss.

Undoing the damage fast food does to your body is expensive and time consuming. Do you want a better way?

Take Action

1. Do not eat fast food today.

You may not be one who goes through the drive-thru daily. But are you one who would pour a bowl of dry cereal for breakfast or a snack? Would you grab a “healthy” granola or snack bar? Is luncheon meat with mayonnaise, hold the salad, on your white bread sandwich? Did you open a can of soup, which is really 2.5 servings? Do you need that afternoon chocolate and peanut bar to make it to five o’clock?

For today, say no. Then, do it for a weekend.

2. Not So Much

That is a big sandwich.

On the days when you are going to have fast food, ask for a small. The small sizes of such items as French fries, soft drinks, shakes, chips and dressed salads are closer to the recommended serving size for a 2,500 calorie daily diet. Rather than loading up on things you do not need, order the small.

Skip the cheese. Melted cheese confuses your body and takes an additional two hours to break down. By the time your body is trying to figure out what to do with the pieces, you are eating again. Your body breaks it all down into fat to store for a time when you are not eating. Be honest. Is that time coming?

Do not ever “super size”. You really do not need three times the serving size. Ever.

Eat more slowly. Your body will realize you are not hungry enough to pack away 1,500 calories in one sitting.

3. One a Week

This is not a good choice.

Trade one fast food meal to a more healthful solution. Even if you are not going to cook or prepare your own food, choose a restaurant with whole foods, non-fried meats and non-fried vegetables. If you cannot pretend to be a rabbit, try better choices like low fat chicken or tuna salad served with wheat bread or lettuce. Order a piece of char-grilled salmon.

4. What about Thursday?

Plan your meals at least three days in advance. This will keep you from getting hungry with no immediate plan. If you know you have a meal planned, you can rationalize being hungry for the extra 30 minutes it will take to fix something far better for you. You will also be less tempted to drive through.

5. Not in MY car.

Stop eating in your car.

  • It is dangerous.
  • You need two hands to drive.
  • You are not watching the road with your hand putting food in your mouth.
  • Crumbs attract vermin.
  • The trash.
  • The smell.

6. Spend wisely.

For the price of a typical fast food meal, you can buy eight to ten servings of fruit or vegetables or three to five servings of meat. How much money can you save by shopping?

7. Brown Bag

Brown Bag Better

Pack your lunch. You can control the foods and the amount you eat. Did you make something delicious and healthful for dinner last night? Leftovers are a great lunch.

8. Dinner Bell

Spending meal time across the table from someone you love can make you eat both better and less. Dinner conversation makes you eat more slowly, which makes you get full before you can overeat. The food has enough time to travel down the esophagus and trigger the CCK reflex, which sends the message to your brain to stop eating.

Cook dinner and eat with someone. Children are someone.

This is easy math.

9. Live Longer

The minutes you save by not preparing your own food are shaving years off of your life. What do you really want to save? Do you want to trade the 30 minutes of meal preparation for 10-20 years worth of prescription intervention or a three-week intensive care hospital stay? Would you like a calculator?

10. Fewer Dishes

Throwing away a fast food wrapper may seem like the easiest way to have fewer dishes. You are looking at it the wrong way.

When you eat at home (or cook at a friend’s home), you can stop eating before your plate is clean. Once you learn how much less you really need to eat to feel full, you will stop wasting the food by cooking less. You can make a meal with far fewer dishes.


Can you make a difference? Which one of these steps are you already using? Which one will be the easiest for you to implement? Do you have the exercise routine of placing hands on the table and pushing? Name your favorite substitute for fast food. Can you make a difference in your health?


(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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  1. I think one problem is that even though fast food is bad people see it as good or a treat, people love it, they can’t get enough of it. We have a McDonalds down the road only a block away & every evening coming home from work the drive through is packed with people getting McDinner. Same in the mornings with the Mcbreakfast crowd & MClunch time it’s packed. I was guilty in the past but now my only fast food is a nice Subway sandwich crammed with yummy salad.

    • There are enough evidence supporting the theory if you stop eating it and return to it, you will be sickened. It is the predominant reason the marketing is for children. Establishing the tolerance for the food is necessary at a younger age. The key to breaking the cycle changing the “convenience” ideology. Weighing the “savings and convenience” against the long term health implications is a shock jock method which is based entirely in fact.

  2. I gave up on Mc Donalds many years ago, preferring a nice omelette at the local diner.

    Even so the cheapest supermarket foods were frozen pizzas and I massive over-ate as a comfort thing – and everything is made for two people, so to save waste I ate the lot…

    Now I’m on a diet, my weight is falling steadily and I feel better for it! 🙂

    Unfortunately my Cholesterol has been deemed uncomfortably high, so I have to alter my diet still further, but I don’t have a supply of fresh fruit and salad that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, so it looks like I’ll be on statins next…

    Sometimes what’s on offer is all there is…

    Love and hugs!


    • Do not discount the offering of frozen vegetables to help you combat the cholesterol. It is a budget changer, but not breaker. Making the switch is very worth it.

  3. We eat fast food no more than perhaps once a month. NO processed foods, and virtually no soft drinks (pop). We make soups and bread and pizza at home and control what goes IN and ON it, we also specifically use LOTS of cheddar and mozzarella . We eat lots of eggs and red meat and sausage….and also use lots of vegetables, onions and garlic.
    We eat breakfast first thing, and dinner early in the day and eat whatever we want (homemade pies, cakes, cookies, anything for snacks , ie popcorn ) (without fast food). We also walk a couple of miles a day…and have no weight problems, period.
    It seems to me the extreme levels of obesity have developed mostly because of laziness, weakness of mind, and don’t forget “stupid is as stupid does” Drink lots of soda pop with stupid eating habits, and you get fat, guaranteed.

    • The shame of it is this, Ray. While everyone wants to pick on the obese people, I am an example of the deviousness. I have never been more than 30 pounds beyond my “ideal weight”, including pregnancy. My outer appearance said nothing for the massive illness within. Until we recognize the damage being done is not apparent to the naked eye and stop the overt judgments involved in condemning someone for their size and recognize human-to-human we have the solution to implement…and then DO IT, we are worshiping at the altar of convenience.

      So, my question becomes, who is really the stupid one?

      • The stupid one is clearly the one that doesn’t take responsibility for abuse of their own body regardless of what ‘shape’ they are, fat, skinny, tall, short, alcoholic, smoker, druggie, whatever.
        Massive illness within is not always easily recognized, should one flagellate herself over that? No. If you KNEW there was a problem and merely and conveniently ‘avoided’ the issue, that’s a different thing entirely.
        People must accept responsibility for their own wellness and recognize that carrying around a hundred lbs of excess fat is a problem out of control,,,,, should they not? If people don’t feel well, they should find out why. Smokers, druggies and alcoholics must be realistic and accept the fact there are consequences. This is not about condemning people for their ‘size’ at all, merely an observation of logic. Maybe a previous post about “stupid can’t be fixed” is more applicable in this subject too…people are eternally stupid, get out the duct tape…….? ..”:))

  4. But I like fast foods it makes me feel good. LOL I can’t believe were related!

    • Yes, but the sign clearly says…Do not feed the Bears fast food. I gives them indigestion.

  5. “Dad, Dad! if I tidy my room can we go to McDonalds?” is the oft heard cry in my house. I reply that Mr Tummy would prefer that you eat some fruit instead. That doen’t work very well. But Fruit becomes part of the deal. I trade off badness for goodness. Fortunately, I manage to not take them through the Golden Arch more than once a month.

    What kind of world is it, that we reward our children with the worst food in history?

    • Sickening, really. I am amazed at how much they make every year when we all know it is horrible. And you need to leave a link to your blog in the Green Room! Red.

  6. Life would be so much easier if we all had personal chefs. Oh….and endless budgets to buy healthy delicious food.
    Fast food is so yucky, for a better word. A grilled cheese sandwich with turkey bacon makes me feel like I’ve been bad and used not so many dishes.

    • Fast food does bite back. We have the guilty (and guilt-free) cheese sandwiches. Fortunately, the children know how to operate the sandwich maker. I vote for a personal chef.

  7. I have a personal chef – my husband. We do eat out too much (restaurants) because it is our one ‘get out’ thing. Spending the week (for how long now?) down at my dad’s chasing paper, I am so sick of fast food!!!!!! UGH! My chef cannot come with me.

    McDonalds – I have had an addiction to McD at one point – when I eat it, it makes me hungry for carbs! Chocolate does the same thing. So if I stay away from these two things — no problem. Chocolate comes a visitin’ on a semi-regular basis, however ;] I do often take my gks to McD when they visit – more for the playland than the food they pick at and don’t eat. I like Chick-fill-A better, though.

    I too struggle with weight problems, Rachel, for an entire lifetime. The things people say/think amazes me. If anyone chooses to be fat, I have never heard of them. Instead they kill themselves trying to get thin. Of course many people over-eat (no matter their weight), but there’s much more to it than that in many people’s life. I could go on here, but I won’t 🙂 I have learned to accept myself, and as I do, others tend to accept me more as well. You’ll always have those idiots out there that think they’re cute by putting you down, though. TIme to look for a husband who apprecates you instead of putting you down – deal breaker!

    Thanks for the info Ann Marie! Angie

    • It is one of the only places I could care less if my children eat what is served.

  8. I agree there are far too many easy to prepare fast food meals on the market and like you say they are stacked with sugars, fats and added this and that, all bad for the body, health being the target for those companies but do they care? Not a jot and obesity is just waiting to happen should anyone choose this lazy type of eating.

    I prefer to steam vegetables I mean how hard is that? The varieties of foodstuffs as alternatives are always the best choices, vegetables are easily prepared and chicken is a much healthier choice compared to greasy fish and chips or the pizza offerings that some parents thrust in front of their children every night of the week, why do they not take some time out and make a healthy decision for a change, after all their kid’s only eat what is put in front of them so it is hardly their fault when they become overweight, lethargic and unhealthy.

    To be honest I rarely eat any fast foods, yes the odd hot dog, beef burger or pizza but on the whole I only ever eat wholesome foods that are not high in fats and sugars, which overall is a better idea for everyone I think 🙂

    This is a great posting Red 🙂

    Andro xxx

    • Any idea how much I love the fact I often must beg the children to eat the meat after the veggies are all wiped out? The little ones fought over the last serving of broccoli. I go through more pounds of carrots per week than I do meat. Since I have been making small pizzas for them, they will eat pepperoni, but they absolutely refuse the slimy, fat pepperoni on prepackaged pizza. I use turkey sausages. 🙂


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