I was on my way to work the other day, it was early in the morning and while I was on the highway, I passed by the bright shining beacon known as the “golden arches”.
I was hit by the thought that I instantly knew the entire menu of that fast food restaurant and just how weird that was, and probably not that great. I mean, I’m sure we all know what we like when we go to McDonald’s, or any other fast food joint, but why?
Why is this something that our culture is obsessed with, and on a personal note, why did I let it take over my life? There was a time when my mom and I would go to McDonald’s almost every day. I would say that we were definitely there 3 days out of every week for years on end. We were always within a few minutes of one, and it was impossible to resist.
I always got a full combo meal, and ALWAYS got it “up-sized”. I always wanted more, more, more. Sometimes large wasn’t large enough. On a regular day, I would be eating:
Big Mac – 520 Calories
Large Fries – 560 Calories
Large Root Beer – 340 Calories
A total of 1420 Calories, and this meal usually didn’t last long for me. This would just be the regular lunch, any old day of the week, sometimes followed up by even more snacks within an hour or so of eating. Or immediately if I decided to get my beloved Oreo McFlurry, for another 500+ calories, meaning I would have just eaten an entire days worth of calories within 30 minutes.
When I finally started counting calories and realized that fast food was not going to help me, I tried to change and get away from it, but I had a real problem in that my mom always wanted it. It was comfort food for her as well, and I tried so hard to say no. But when she would make me stop by McDonald’s for her anyway, it made it incredibly difficult to avoid having anything at all.
Eventually I used the anger and hatred that I had for myself and my body to win the argument and finally stop going to get fast food. I told my mom that if she wanted it, she would have to go get it herself.
This worked for a while, long enough for me to begin making changes in my life and start losing weight, but my battle with McDonald’s wasn’t quite over yet.
There were times when I was heading home from work or from seeing my girlfriend, or just being out with friends, and I’d see those beautiful golden arches in the distance and suddenly be overcome with hunger and a longing for the things that used to be part of my every day life.
When this happened, I would make a split second decision and I would swing into the driveway and promptly order the biggest, most calorie heavy foods on the menu.
I would get the bacon cheddar Angus burger, large fries, and a large milkshake for somewhere around 2500 calories. That’s more than I’ve been eating in an entire day for about two years now, and that was just an impulsive snack.
I would never dare to tell anyone, and there were many times when I went out of my way to hide the evidence that I had eaten there. I felt overwhelming guilt and shame each and every time.
These days, I’d call it a binge, and to be completely honest, I’m not over that yet. Writing this has made me crave these foods and all I want to do is drive straight over to McDonald’s and eat until I explode.
My relationship with food is complicated and messy, and I think that as far as fast food goes, McDonald’s will always be a cornerstone landmark in my journey through obesity.
On the plus side, I will say that McDonald’s is one of the better fast food places in terms of calories, quality of nutrition (if you make the right choices), and being upfront about what is in the food. I do appreciate that they have made an effort to provide all the information for people who want to access it, because many restaurants are not so forthcoming.
Thankfully it’s been a long time since I had a fast food binge, and I feel a great source of accountability in wanting to be completely honest in my writing. I find it interesting, confusing, and also a little troubling that I started off wanting to write about the odd way in which we all know the fast food menus, and yet I’m ending it by having to resist the urges that I thought I had overcome.
Why is this such a huge part of our culture?
Am I alone in this? Does anyone else have trouble resisting the fast food temptation?