November 4, 2010

Five Tips for Breaking the Fast Food Habit

Fast food, as general rule, is bad for you and yours - we all know it, and still you drive by any fast-food joint, and there is at least one car there at the drive through window.  Not to mention those cars setting in the parking lot, with families inside eat bad stuff.  Again. 

Simplifying your life means changing your life style, to live more abundantly at less expense in time and money.  One way to do that is to cut that fast food habit.  Here are five tips to help you do that:

1.  Limit Where You Will Buy Fast Food

Some fast food is healthier than others.  El Pollo Loco, Bill Miller BBQ, Luby's Cafeteria are three local options that include healthy and fresh items on their menus. 

Avoid the golden arches and their progeny -- which reminds me, check out this May 2010 Happy Meal Rotting Experiment by a Chinese college student, where the meat did succumb to mold but the french fries simply hardened into something akin to petrified wood?  Check out how the fry is holding up the free weight, wow.

2.  Declare Fast Food to be a Weekly Treat, Give It a Theme

Make Friday night family time, lotsa folks do this already.  It's the end of the week, the beginning of the weekend.  Perfect time to have fast food for dinner: but return it to its origins of yesteryear. 

In decades past, fast food was not part of the daily menu; instead, families looked at fast food as a special time.  Mom didn't have to cook that meal, kids got to get little toys or play in the playyard. 

Get the pizza.  Extra thin crust and lots of veggies, you aren't going to be doing too badly nutrition-wise.  Get Chinese, ask that they skip the MSG.  You get the idea. 

Add a movie or a game, and presto, it's Family Movie Night, the Gang's Game Night:  a good family tradition and you've put fast food back in a corner.  (Though it's like bamboo, you gotta keep cutting it back, because it will always want to take over.)

3.  If you gotta buy fast food, skip the drinks. And the fries.

If you gotta have your burger / taco / chicken fix, then don't let them push the combo (much less the super-sizing of the darn thing) upon you.  You can buy just the sandwich, just the tacos, just the chicken.  The fries and the soda aren't mandatory.  Skip them.  There's nothing good in there for you.  Get bottled water, take the food home and drink the tea you've made and stored in the fridge. 

4.  Cook at Home, But Use Paper Plates, Plastic Silverware, Disposable Glassware

No, this isn't the greenest idea - but it's a good tip for transitioning away from a fast food habit.  Breaking down the fast food dependency sometimes means that avoiding clean up after a long day is just as enticing as the idea that you're avoiding cooking. 

Over time, maybe you will wean yourself from the disposable option; until that happens, buy the biodegradable stuff and forgidaboutit.  And don't ponder that you're spending a little more here that is unnecessary since you've got glasses and plates and things.  Sure you do; but this isn't a recommendation to swear off your pretty stuff. 

I'm recommending using disposable stuff as something you tell yourself you get to use when you're driving home and you're tired, and the drive-thru is oh so tempting.  Plus, if you keep on hand the plates and things with your kid's favorite movie theme or cartoon character (bargains here at DollarTree and PartyCity) then you may get your picky eater to eat a bit more veggies if he's got a special plate. 

5.  Have 2-3 Meals That are Five Minutes or Less to Get on the Table Always Ready to Go

Know in advance that you are gonna want to buy fast food, and prepare for battle.  If you're buying fast food because you don't want to cook, and well, it's just plain FAST, then there's the key. 

You need a few fast and easy at home meals ready to go.  Here's a couple of suggestions - all from stuff you should keep on hand, once you go to the grocery in preparation for your Fast Food Fight:

a.  Breakfast at Dinner - I have a friend who is a single mom and this is one of her standbys.  She scambles some eggs, pops toast in the toaster, lets the kids slam their own jam on the toast (big deal for these little ones), and she has dinner on the table in five minutes.  Literally.  Almond milk to drink, and she's done.

b. The Tray - The goal of a meal is to get nutrition - FUEL - into your body.  No one says that it has to be a formal June Cleaver dinner every time.  Get a platter and remember the Italians are so, so smart.  Have your own version of antipasto (cheese, meat, bread or crackers, olives, pickles, etc.) as your meal.  Or have a fruit and cheese selection.  Throw some nuts in there, and you're all set.

c. The Smoothie - Forget forks and go for the liquid meal.  Juice stuff together. Blend protein powder and whatever.  Yogurt, fruit, whatever.  You've probably got stuff in your kitchen that you can pulverize into a nice frothy drink right now.  Fast, tasty, and good for you.

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