I Ate Fast Food – I must confess!

tuscan chicken panini

I know, I know, how could I? Especially after everything I’ve been going on about all this time, including writing a book on healthy eating. I’m a little ashamed, but what’s done is done, and now all I can do is let you know why it happened, share the experience and make sure I don’t do it again.

We all fall from time to time, and we almost all have a guilty pleasure or two. I know I do, but fast food is not one of them. For me, it’s just too guilty and it’s simply not a pleasure. It was a senseless act…

So, why did I do it?

Because I thought I should eat something. I was on the road, hadn’t eaten much since the light lunch and a snack or two much earlier in the day. It was now past dinner and I was still two hours from home. I had a bag of almonds in the car but had already eaten a good share. I wasn’t terribly hungry but didn’t want to wait until I got home, which wouldn’t be until almost bedtime. So I chose what I hoped was the best of the fast food options. Is there such a thing? It was a family fast food restaurant, not that that really fooled me.

What did I do that was so wrong?

Pretty much anytime you eat a fast food meal, there’s a good chance that you’re also taking a taste of the following:

1. Animal cruelty (including mistreatment, inhumane living conditions, poor diet, etc.)
2. Hazardous fats
3. Highly processed and refined ingredients
4. Mystery ingredients
5. GMO corn, soy and canola oil
6. Lack of nutrients
7. Extremely high sodium
8. No fiber to speak of
9. All sorts of other enviro and eco concerns

Eating fast food is generally a lose-lose situation in one meal. I actually wouldn’t have such a problem with a few of these slipping into one’s diet on occasion – particularly if the diet was otherwise healthy for the large majority of the time – but numbers 1,5 and 9 on this list, I’m just not okay with.

Was it a tasty experience at least?

No. This particular meal, a chicken panini which supposedly offered me a taste of Tuscany, was a bland processed substance doused in salt. The processed cheese bore no resemblance to actual cheese, just runny salty stuff. The processed mystery chicken (the type that makes you wonder, “What exactly is this?” was utterly flavorless. The only marginally redeeming factor was the veggies: a slice of tomato and a few scrawny shavings of onion. I have to say I liked the tiny bit of onion—flavor finally and a wee crunch.

Then what happened?

When I finally did get home, the panini was a lump in my stomach, just sitting there with no apparent intention of digesting. I pulled the sauerkraut from the fridge and ate a large spoonful. With one of the important missing ingredients—enzymes—now added to the meal, panini digestion began and the stagnant, heavy feeling soon lifted.

Note: If you’re used to eating mostly home-made whole food and then you throw a processed meal into your system, you can usually notice the difference in how it makes you feel. If this should ever happen to you, you can count on fermented food to come to your rescue. Sauerkraut, kimchi (and other unpasteurized fermented vegetables), or kefir can all tackle the job. Buy these at your local natural foods store and keep refrigerated. A raw veggie salad eaten with your meal would also assist with digestion.

So what should I have done to save myself from this bad experience?

Well, I could have remembered these few simple tips I usually follow for eating well on those days or long drives, when you just don’t have time for a proper meal:

– Keep a container of healthy snacks (nuts, seeds, fruit, dried fruit, healthy baked goods, etc.) in your vehicle, at your desk or in your bag.
– Bring a large thermos of water or herbal tea with you. Perhaps even a healthy smoothie.
– Plan ahead if you can. A day or two in advance, stock up on nutritious meals-to-go, for when non-junk food options may be few.
– For long days or long trips in the car, bring a small cooler or thermal lunch bag, filled with nutritious food that keeps well.