Getting Out of the Fast Food Routine

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Have you ever been going along, minding your own business, and the smell of your favorite fast food restaurant hits you? You can’t escape it and now you’re stuck craving that food for hours. You decide you’re going to get it for lunch. I worked out a couple of times this week, I can afford this. For me, it’s always McDonalds and it’s always when I’m in my car. Something about driving around running errands (i.e. hitting up HomeGoods 3 times in a row) makes me hungry for the one thing I know I shouldn’t get.

I try and talk myself out of it. My internal dialogue looks something like this:

Me: I have food at home that I meticulously prepared on Sunday.
My Fast-Food Alter Ego: But that food can’t taste as good as McDonalds. That food is SAD.

Me: I don’t need to spend any money. Why bother with the drive thru?
My Fast-Food Alter Ego: $5 won’t break the bank! Comeon! Why work if you can’t even live a little?!

Me: I’m almost done running errands and I’m on my way home.
My Fast-Food Alter Ego: There’s a McDonalds on the corner! MAKE THE TURN NOW!

Then somehow I find myself at an order window rattling off my favorites (1 McDouble, 4 McNuggets and a medium fry). For a second, I’m like, this is great. What a treat. I can eat and continue with my errands. Maybe now I’ll be able to finish that one last item on my “to do” list! 

But, what I’ve realized over the last few months is that I don’t actually like what I’m ordering. In my mind it’s a favorite meal of mine. But when I’m actually eating it, and right after, I feel like… why did I just order this? I’m not even enjoying it. My stomach hurts and in 45 minutes I’m hungry again.

After doing this over and over, I’ve started to ask myself: why am I repeatedly going through the drive thru? Why am I ordering something that I know I won’t actually enjoy. And I think I’ve finally narrowed it down: it’s a habit. 

People can do almost anything habitually. I became so accustomed to responding to my hunger with the easiest, closest solutions possible. If I was traveling for work, I would go to the fast-food joint at the next available exit, or if I was home, I would walk down the street to get a bite to eat… even though I had prepared meals the day before. It didn’t matter what I was doing because I kept going back to my old routine. There is nothing easier than doing something you’ve done 1,000 times before.

“There is nothing easier than doing something you’ve done 1,000 times before.”

Listen, I’m not against you eating something you enjoy. I’m not even against something you eating something that you perceive as a “cheat meal”. If you really love eating pizza every day for lunch, go for it. There is no #lunchshaming here. But it might be time for you to ask yourself if you REALLY enjoy eating take out ‘za for lunch every day. Do you walk away from your lunch saying “I feel satisfied and full!” or do you think “I feel bloated, tired, and cranky”. 

If you don’t feel satisfied and full after your favorite go-to meal, it’s time to start asking questions. 

That’s exactly where I am. I noticed an unhealthy habit and I’ve started to ask myself questions to solve it. I am trying to make healthy eating options easier than the drive thru at McDonalds. *que the laughter* No, friends. I’m serious. I have started to make meals that I know I will eat (I will never happily eat a salad for lunch) and I’m making them more accessible during my busy work weeks.

It’s different for everyone, but for me, I plan ahead. That means that I might have this Quick & Easy Vegan Lo Mein on days that I can use the microwave at work, an on-the-go Veggie Lentil Burrito for days on the road and this the Roasted Tomato & Pesto Pizza on Friday night when I’m craving a “cheat-day” dinner. 

When you find yourself driving up to your favorite drive thru, I don’t want you to feel guilty. Food is food. But it might be time to ask yourself, why am I ordering this and do I feel good afterwards? I call this doing a gut check! 

I promise that once you start listening to your gut, you will start to realize that your body prefers foods that are rich in nutrients. The tricky part is taking time to find those foods and make meals you know will satisfy both your body and your mind. 

So try it out. This week I am challenging you to do a gut check. Follow your normal routine and think about (or journal, if you’re an overachiever) how you feel afterwards. After your first week, try swapping out one “cheat-meal” for a Sweet Pea Living recipe. Start with something you know you’ll love, like the pizza. Then ask yourself, how does this change make me feel? How is this different from my typical routine? 

You might find that this small, almost insignificant perception change can make all the difference for you and your health goals!

About Meghann

I’m just like you. My life can be hectic and cooking, cleaning and getting that workout in are sometimes the last thing on my mind. But, I’m here to share my tips and tricks on how to make adulting a little more enjoyable.

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