When The Average Person is Bombarded with More Than 10,000 Ads For Junk Food Every YEAR, Is It Possible For You to Beat the Odds and Stay Healthy and Fit?
Last week I watched the movie, "Super Size Me" and was really shocked by some of the things I learned in an hour and a half.
I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty details on the movie (you can rent it at your local Blockbuster store) but I'll give you the rundown:
It's a story of this guy who decides (for reasons I won't outline here) to see exactly what would happen to HIS health if he ate nothing but McDonalds for a whole month. Apparently there are a few people who think it's the fast food companies fault that they ate there, then gained hundreds of pounds.
Before embarking on his 3 times daily trips to the golden arches, he paid a visit to three different doctors in New York who weighed him, took blood, checked his cholestoral levels and ran every test imagineable on him to get an accurate picture of his health. All the doctors told him he was in perfect health. They also told him they didn't "believe anything would really happen to him" as a result of the 3 x daily trips to the golden arches, other than maybe his triglyceride levels going up.
Well a LOT more ended up happening to him than that, including damage to his liver, with liver enzymes off the charts, extremely fast weight gain, depression, headaches and an actual full fledged "addiction" to fast food.
The 30 day trip started on day #1 with this man at 11% body fat, weighing in at 185 pounds. He is 6' 2" so he looked average. Not thin, but definitely not "fat". He ate breakfast, lunch and dinner there. And it was easy for him because on his way to work and home he passed no less than 3 different McDonalds restaurants, in each direction. That's a total of 6 times he walked by the doors of a fast food restaurant every day.
Have you ever counted how many fast food restaurants you pass on your way home? I bet if you count all of them, Burger King, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, Hardees, Dominos, Subway, Quiznos, Wendys, etc. then try to count the number of health food stores or grocery stores, the fast food restaurants will outweigh them 10 to 1. Maybe even more. Maybe 20 to 1. Or 50 to 1. It'd be an interesting thing to actually count them one day.
Fact: There are 86 total McDonalds restaurants in Manhattan, (where Morgan Spurlock, the person in the movie) so it's really easy to find one. I imagine you can turn around and see at least 1 in every direction. What I learned from the movie is that Manhattan has MORE McDonalds restaurants than anywhere else in the world in the same size area. (And for those of you that don't live in New York or the USA, Manhattan is SMALL, 2 miles wide by 13 miles long.) Now think about those 86 golden arches again. Does it seem extreme to you? It really makes sense then when you think about it, how those people don't even have half a chance at making it home without at least thinking about pulling into the drive though.
In the United States there are McDonalds restaurants on the street, in every Walmart store, at airports, grocery stores and, if you're lucky enough to live in Manhattan, they will actually DELIVER the food right to your door, free.
But that isn't the most troubling thing. The most troubling thing was that in the movie, it showed us an actual hospital with it's OWN McDonalds. It was a hospital in Harlem, and it had it's own McDonalds restaurant.
Okay so back to the guy in the story...
On the 2nd and 3rd day, the guy in the movie started feeling ill and on one occasion, after his first Super Size meal he did get physically sick. I guess that's what happens when you try to cram Big Macs, 2 pounds of fries and a 1/2 gallon of soda pop into your body when you're not used to that amount of food. But as part of his "regimen" he told himself he had to eat EVERYTHING on the menu at least once and that included all sizes of the food so that meant not only did he have to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at McDonalds, but that included the SUPER SIZE options too. But he could only get the Super Size options IF he was asked to "upgrade" his meal by the people taking his order. Unfortunately, he got offered the upgrade more often than not. But I guess that's just like in real life, isn't it? "Would you like fries with that?" "Would you like a drink with that?" "Would you like the combo?"
Fortunately, three weeks after the movie came out, McDonalds abolished the Super Size option and it's good they did.
I was shocked to actually see what a "Super Sized" version of soda pop really is. And if you don't know, it's an actual HALF GALLON of pop in this massive cup. (If you live in Canada, that's 2 litres!). In the half gallon of pop are 48 teaspoons of sugar.
The super size version of the fries was TWO pounds of fries in a really, really big fry holder. It looked like a dust pan or something, as far as the size goes. I don't remember how large the burger was and frankly, I don't want to know. Just imagine it's really, really big.
By day 5, Morgan, the man in the story, had gained NINE pounds. By day 7 to 10, he got past the inital shock to his system (having eaten pretty well, what with the Vegan chef of a wife making the meals) and what he found was that he started to CRAVE the food. When he explained these strange "cravings" to the doctor, they told him in return that it's no wonder. Like smoking or drugs, fast food makes you "feel good" because it "tastes good" and anytime you have those two things going on, it's easy to form an addiction.
I believe, but am not 100% sure that by 2 weeks in, he was going to McDonalds MORE than 3 times a day. But you'd have to watch the movie to confirm that. I'm quoting this from memory.
By day 10 to 14 the doctors started telling him to get off the crazy McDonalds diet and do it quick, or else he had a real risk of facing irreparable damages to his heart and liver. He didn't listen though and plodded on through the menu day by day, carb by carb.
By day #30, sadly, he had gained 28 pounds and his health was horrible. He went from being average to gaining 28 pounds in one month and his cholesterol levels were extremely high. When I thought about it after I decided that he chose to go on this diet and he chose to eat there 3 times a day, every day. He made a decision to do it and he did. But do most people?
The disturbing fact of the matter is, you may be eating at fast food joints not from a specific desire to taste the food, but from a multitude of other factors. And you may not even realize why you're going there OR how often.
Here are 6 reasons why you may be eating too much fast food too often:
1) Not enough time to cook
If you get home from work late or are too busy during the day, or just really don't feel very energetic it's easy to slack off on making dinner and just grab something really quick.
2) It's quick
Nothing to say here. We're all in such a hurry to get everywhere, do everything, eating this food is instant, quick. Enough said.
3) The kids really like it
Of course the kids want to go grab Happy Meals. It's probably the only place around their house with a new, colorful, nicely painted FUN PLAYGROUND. Especially if you live in big cities and may not have a playground anywhere close to your house. Or maybe it's not safe to go out in your neighbourhood. But it's always safe at McDonalds, right?
4) You're passing by these fast food restaurants so often
Back to the fact that in a 2 mile by 13 mile area, there are 86 McDonalds restaurants. And it's not even just that. You get Burger King, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, Hardees, Dominos, Subway, Quiznos, Wendys, etc.
5) You're addicted to it and don't know it.
Maybe you're addicted to the delicious taste and don't know it.
6) They offered to deliver it right to your door
Pizza, sure. Chinese food, okay. But getting Big Macs delivered to the door? I never thought I'd hear that!
I am glad to hear that the Super Size options have been abolished by McDonalds -- but is THAT ENOUGH?
Is eating smaller amounts of fast food a good idea? If so, how often can you risk going?
Every person is different and everyone has their own opinions so that's why I found this next part to be so interesting.
Let's see what the experts have to say:
Take this quick test: (don't cheat and look down)
Out of 100 nutritionists living in New York, when polled, how many do you think agree that it's "okay to eat fast food"?
I guess it's no surprise that the answer was either 3 or 5. I can't remember the exact number but they showed this graph and there were either 3 or 5 on one side and 95 or 97 on the other. (Watch the movie for specifics.)
From 100 nutritionists, 3 or 5 said, in their opinion, it was okay to eat fast food. But only once a month.
Now take this test:
How often in the last 30 days did you eat fast food?
30 - 20 times
19 - 10 times
9 - 7 times
6 - 4 times
3 - 2 times
I thought about how often I did and didn't recall going out for fast food but later on, after hours went by I remembered that last weekend I was in the mall and after shopping and walking for 4 hours straight, I grabbed an A&W Teen burger. It's funny I didn't think of that right away. I guess my brain thought it didn't count because I hadn't gone "through the drive through" or "into the fast food store" to order.
To wrap it up, at the end of the movie it took the guy something like 6 months to lose the weight he put on and longer to get his liver functions back to normal. The doctors are saying he's lucky he survived, but I think maybe that was a little extreme.
What I don't think is extreme is the number of people who are overweight and the fact that gastric bypass surgery has topped the list as the #1 surgery in the United States. More people have that surgery than any other kind in the USA right now, according to news sources and articles.
I know it's hard to keep that weight off, especially when you may be the only one who's carrying extra weight. Especially during the holidays. Especially when, in the average year, you see 10,000 sugary sweet junk food commercials. Especially when, in the USA, there is ONE SODA VENDING machine for every NINETY SEVEN people in the nation.
Maybe all your friends are thin and you're not. Maybe you've tried everything and nothing really seems to work. Maybe you've spent hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on diets that don't work, pills that don't work, or other gimmicks to lose weight. Maybe you don't know what to do or where to get advice from. Maybe you need more than average help to stay on track.
What a lot of people find to be really helpful is more of a group effort. That's why support groups are popular, but if you just need to stay on track and eat right, a support group may be more than you need.
So what about a group of people just like you and I to exchange healthy recipes with, exchange exercise tips with and talk to about your recent weight loss or your future goals? Did you cook a really great tasting, low fat meal that you'd like to tell others about? Did you run, walk or stroll a marathon lately? If so, congratulations! Tell us about it. Share your recipes. Share your exercise tips. Share your goals and experiences.
If you want a way to stay on top of your health and be part of an entire online community of like minded people with similar ideas then check out my Milcers Private Membership Site.