Avoid Fast Food
“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. ”
― Michael Pollan
What’s In & What’s Out
- No fast food. Fast food is typically mass-produced food that can be prepared very quickly.
- Some examples of forbidden fast food restaurants include but are not limited to: Essen Slow Fast Food, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Bonchon Chicken, Burger King, Carl’s Jr, Dairy Queen, Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts, Hardee’s, Hungry Jack’s, Jollibee, KFC, Krispy Kreme, Long John Silver’s, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Quizno’s, Sonic Drive-In, Starbucks, Subway, Taco Bell, TCBY, T.G.I. Friday’s, Tim Hortons, White Castle, WingStop, WingStreet, Pei Wei, Au Bon Pain, Baja Fresh, Panera Bread, El Pollo Loco, Boston Market, Bojangles, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Checkers, Cinnabon, Del Taco, Five Guys, In-N-Out, Jack in the Box, Johnny Rockets, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Mrs. Fields, Pita Pit, Popeye’s, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Sbarro, Shake Shack, Umami Burger, Whataburger, Qdoba, Chipotle and Bruegger’s Bagels.
- Eating a salad at a fast food restaurant is still considered to be fast food and is not allowed. Fast food salads often contain as many calories, chemicals and sugar as other fast food menu items due to fatty dressings with inferior ingredients. Note: if you are in a bind, eating a fast food salad without the chemical-laden dressing is the better option.
- Not all food that is fast, is considered to be fast food. There are restaurants that are quite quick that are also nutritious and sustainable, and are allowed and encouraged! Examples include but are not limited to Dig Inn, Sweetgreen, Everytable, and Pret A Manger.
- You can often distinguish allowed quick restaurants from other not allowed fast food restaurants due to their changing seasonal menus, and their use of sustainable, local, organic ingredients. Feel free to ask an employee about the ingredients. If they know their food is sourced locally and seasonal, it’s safe. If they don’t, go somewhere else.
- Telltale signs of fast food: menus that include burgers, fries, pizza, fried things and soda.
- Telltale sigs of good quick restaurants: menus made up entirely of salads, whole grains, vegetables, and sustainable proteins. Good quick restaurants do not serve soda.
- If you slip, no biggie. Slipping means you’re trying, which is what counts! You can get back on track for the rest of the day.
Why This Is A Good Idea
Fast food is designed to be incredibly cheap, addictive, and identical at every restaurant. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use poor quality ingredients (often sourced from far away), chemicals, and lots of bad fats, added sugar, and salt—all having negative health and/or environmental consequences. These “food” items are typically highly processed, and highly refined such that ingredients have been stripped of their natural fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Sticking to a low sugar-added, whole foods diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is best accomplished by avoiding fast food, and can significantly decrease your risk for obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, and much more.
Over 70% of strokes and colon cancer can be avoided, as can at least 80% of heart disease and 90% of type 2 diabetes, and diet is a significant factor. Along with exercise and not smoking, developing good eating habits (less animal products, less processed food and more veggies and fruit) can help cut your risk of diabetes by 95%, your risk of heart attack by 80% and risk of a stroke by half.
Basic Tips & Useful Hints
- Be sure to check in after every meal or snack; it’s more effective than waiting till the end of the day. Draw a check mark if your meal or snack did not include fast food, or use a free pass if your meal or snack did include fast food. You can check in multiple times a day.
- If you need a meal on the run, stop in a nearby grocery store and make a salad at the salad bar, get a sandwich at the deli, or find a freshly prepared item with limited, recognizable whole food ingredients.
- Prepare breakfast at home. Yogurt with fresh fruit and muesli, two eggs on whole grain toast with a piece of fruit, and overnight oats are all fast, portable options.
- Prepare for snack time when it’s easy to grab something processed. Carrots and hummus, or an apple with nut butter are both portable options.
- Stash nuts and fruit in your bag for emergencies—bananas, apples, grapes, and berries are all convenient and easy to eat.
- Raw veggies are also a great on-the-go snack—cut up cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, and/or carrots, and put them into a container to take on the road.
- If you’re going to be away from home at mealtimes, research healthy options before you leave so you’re prepared.
- If you’re traveling, pack nutritious snacks such as nuts and fruit (and a cooler if you’re traveling by car!), and evaluate the least offensive option on the road or in the airport.
- Make a salad at home to take with you, and pack your dressing in a separate container so the lettuce doesn’t get soggy (unless it’s a kale salad, which only gets better the longer it’s dressed.)
- Try a portable, assembled antipasto lunch with hummus, carrots and cucumbers, cheese, olives, artichoke hearts (from a jar is great), rice crackers, sliced tomato, roasted nuts and a piece of fruit. No cooking involved, and everything can be eaten cold.
- Eat regularly. When you let yourself get too hungry, you’re going to grab whatever is closest—often fast food.
- Stay hydrated. You might think you need a sugary afternoon snack, when really you’re just thirsty.
- Get support! Tell your friends you’re avoiding fast food so they can help you stick to it.
- Visit the produce section of your grocery store to stock up on fruits to keep on hand. Fruit is portable and full of fiber, making it the perfect on-the-go snack. Bananas, apples, pears, berries, and grapes are all easy to keep in your bag.
- Veggies too—particularly ones that can be eaten raw as a snack, dipped in something, or cooked for dinner on hand—like zucchini, cauliflower, green beans, bell peppers and carrots.
- Hummus, for the veggies.
- Nuts, to pair with the fruit.
- Be sure to stock up on leafy greens like kale, swiss chard, spinach, and broccoli—these guys are the kings of nutrition, and they are easy to cook. If you don’t have time to chop during the week you can chop all at once over the weekend and store your produce in a vented or perforated bag in your fridge. Or buy pre-chopped in a pinch, and let the grocery store do the heavy lifting for you.
- Hit the bulk bins, the mothership of protein-rich, nutritious beans and whole grains like amaranth, bulgur, brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa. These grains can all be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge to grab on the go. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, and pile high with roasted veggies.
- Your favorite proteins—sustainably-sourced fish, free-range chicken, organic grass-fed meat, etc. Cook them ahead of time and store them in the fridge to eat with the whole grains and veggies. Simply assemble in a to-go container and pile in your bag.
- Eggs. They cook incredibly quickly and are good with almost anything.
- Nut butter and rice cakes
- Plain popcorn
Fast / Portable Recipes
Smart Things To Read
- Why Is Processed Food So Bad For You?
- Why aren’t all calories the same?
- These Disturbing Fast Food Truths Will Make You Reconsider Your Lunch
- Eliminate Most of Your Chronic Disease Risk in Four Steps
- Harvard’s The Nutrition Source: Added sugar in the diet
- 20 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Eat Fast Food
- Think fast when kids want fast food
- Bento Box Lunch Ideas
- What the World’s Top Health Experts Pack for Lunch
Note: Foodstand is not focused on the number on the scale. Weight loss can be a byproduct of developing healthier eating habits, but if you have questions about your weight, please contact your physician.