Where’s Burger King? I Want A Whopper – Now!
Do you know why you can all of a sudden get an irresistible urge to visit a fast food restaurant?
Well, for one thing – these eateries are all over the place.
Everywhere you look – there are one or more fast food restaurants close to gas stations, or supermarkets, or drugstores, or shopping centers. Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Arby’s, Starbucks, Popeye’s, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Baskin Robbins – it’s an endless list of restaurants trying to lure you into their den of iniquity so they can overwhelm you with their latest and tastiest addiction-creating foods and drinks.
If you’re tired from a long day at work – or, pressed for time – or, just depressed and don’t feel like cooking – it is so quick and easy just to swing into a drive thru and order your “taste good”, “feel good” dinner.
Your rational mind may try to reason with you – and tell you that the junk food isn’t very healthy, but, chances are, you’ll ignore that sound advice – and opt for a quick “fix.” Kinda like taking drugs, huh?
Why It Is So Easy To Get Addicted To Fast Food?
Most likely, if you make even occasional trips to some of the many fast food restaurants you will become obsessed with their offerings. And, the more often you make those trips, that obsession can turn into a fanatical, fixated drive to acquire your menu favorites.
Junk food studies done by Yale and the University of Michigan agree that some fast foods are consistently in the top ten most addictive foods you can eat. They are: cake, cheeseburger, chips, chocolate, cookie, French fries, fried chicken, ice cream, pizza, and soda.
If I say “cheeseburger”, you may immediately think of Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or a popular local burger joint.
How about if I say “pizza?” Does Pizza Hut or Dominoes come to mind?
And, does “fried chicken” give you visions of a smiling Colonel Sanders – of KFC fame?
All of these places have learned to jam pack their foods with combinations of high fat, refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, and sodium (salt) – then, they smother everything with an unhealthy dollop of MSG (monosodium glutamate). MSG radically enhances food taste – to the point of making it so mouth-watering and tantalizing – that you just gotta have some of that! NOTE: KFC uses more MSG in their foods than any other fast food restaurant.
All of these ingredients are designed to zap your body quickly –generating a high dopamine output. Dopamine is a mood elevator – a “feel good” hormone – and, chowin’ down on fast food is the quickest, most effective way to make your body’s dopamine levels skyrocket.
That’s it – in a nutshell! That’s why, once you’re hooked, they gotcha! These “fast food drug pushers” know that to satisfy the cravings for heightened dopamine levels, our decisions will be based mainly on “stupidity overcoming intelligence.”
We crave refined and processed foods the most – and these are the unhealthiest foods we can eat. The underlying characteristic is their quick absorption by our body – leading to a dopamine high.
A Little Trivia
Cocaine, an illegal recreational drug, is made from coca leaves. But, if you chew up a coca leaf, you won’t become addicted – in its natural state, it is only a mild stimulant. But, refine the leaves to extract the cocaine – and poof! You now have a highly dangerous and insanely addictive drug!
That’s the same way these refined junk foods work – unprocessed and in their natural state, the foods are healthy and “do a body good” – but, process them and refine them – and it’s like taking a bullet to the gut! No way, José!
Each year National Junk Food Day is celebrated on 21 July – which is also, coincidentally National Ice Cream Day. This is a day that folks are “allowed” to pig out guiltlessly on their favorite high calorie, unhealthy snacks.
National Fast Food Day comes on November 16 every year – and, on this day, everyone has “permission” to visit the drive thru of their favorite fast food hangout and order whatever they want.
Do you see a pattern? Maybe the junk food and fast food “pushers” created these special “national” days to increase their sales, don’t cha think?
Breaking Away From Fast Food’s Iron Grip
Want some tips and tricks to repel those junk food urges?
Keep your favorite fruits handy. This will take care of your sugar cravings. I may have apples or bananas riding with me in the car – and, I try to keep some at home. I also have a penchant for strawberries, blueberries, and the all time summer favorite – watermelon.
For salt yearnings – at home, I always have almonds or walnuts – mostly – but, I might keep a pack or two of beer nuts in my glove compartment.
Eating plain yogurt – with some fruit and nuts added – is a powerful deterrent, too. If I have a hankerin’ for a milkshake, I throw some yogurt, skim milk, and fruit into my Ninja blender – with a touch of vanilla extract – and a load of ice. I now have a healthy alternative to those unhealthy fast food shakes – plus, I know what ingredients are in my concoction!
When I hunger for a hamburger, I pull out the 80% lean hamburger meat I purchased from the local supermarket – add some eggs, a little ketchup or Worcestershire sauce, a bit of onion and bell pepper, a dose of Panko, a few shakes of red pepper and garlic powder –then toss the burgers into a frying pan or, preferably, stick them on the grill. I double-dawg guarantee you that these hamburgers will taste better and be healthier than anything you can get from a fast food burger place! Hands down!
The same holds true for hot dogs. I only eat “all beef” dogs – at home – and, they’re usually topped with my homemade chili or the standard mustard, chopped onions, and relish routine. Hot dogs sold by restaurants have everything under the sun thrown into them – you really don’t know what you’re eating – trust me. If you’ve ever seen them made, you probably would never eat another one!
Lastly, when you need something crunchy, go with carrots and celery. It can get you through a “potato chip attack” in short order. You can even use a little salt or dip with them – just as you would with the chips – but, remember, “All things in moderation.”
Use your imagination – and come up with some of your own alternatives that can successfully fight against fast food addiction. You may be surprised at how inventive and innovative you can be!
The longer you can stay away from junk food, the easier it is to “just say no!”
Some Books About Steering Away From Junk Food
Stop Binge Eating, Food Cravings and Night Eating – This paperback by Anthea Peries, has 4 sections: 1) Reveals how to triumph over sugar addiction, dependence on junk food, and the obsession to binge eat, 2) Talks about the reason people eat to fall asleep and how to stop the compulsiveness to eat at night, 3) An analysis of food cravings and lists tactics to deal with those sugar and junk food cravings, and 4) Daily quotes to engender confidence in beating these habits.
Breaking the Stronghold of Food – Michael and Nancy Brown divulge their personal story about going from obesity to slim, trim, and healthy. This is a must read for folks with a bulging belly who need encouragement to end the repeating cycle of yo-yo dieting and the nasty habit of eating junk foods.
Overcoming your Addiction to Sugar, Junk Food, and Binge Eating – Another Anthea Peries book that drills down deeper into how to be victorious in the quest to “say no” to sugar, junk food, and binge eating. This paperback is also a must read for weight coaches – giving advice to family and friends – helping them to understand and support anyone trying to drop all those unwanted pounds.
Stop Bingeing, Start Living – This author shares her knowledge and strategies culminating from 10 years as a psychotherapist treating eating disorders – using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and re-establishing a much needed connection between the mind, the body, and the soul.
I hope you enjoy Larry Groce’s 1976 hit novelty song, “Junk Food Junkie!” The lyrics are a “winner, winner, chicken dinner!”
What do you do when you get the itch for junk food? Any tips or stories to pass along?
Comment below or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.