“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” –Ann Wigmore
I wanted to write this under the term “The Fast Food Diet”, but funnily enough, there’s a lady that actually made a diet with that name, and I want to respect her by not hijacking the name. Fortunately, I think I’ve found a better name for the problem plaguing the West today, and so I will dub this the Fast Food Lifestyle! This is the article covering not only the Western Diet, but what makes it possible and how it affects your body. Strap in; it’s a wild ride!
What is Fast Food?
Simply put: It is food you can get very quickly, and what your body can process quickly. As far as the mainstream definition of fast food goes, you can get thousands of calories, not to mention hundreds of grams of sugar and veggie fats from them. Just focusing on the McDonalds’ version of fast food, You’d get more calories from just one Big Mac Value meal (just checked: including the fries and coke, it’s over 1,3000 calories in one meal!) than you would getting, say, a good steak and frites, which not only is far more fulfilling and satisfying in the long run, but with far far less added sugar, refined wheat and veggie oils added, which will kill you! (for more on this, go to my article on the 3 ingredients that ruined fast food). There are many good options for getting at least decent healthy options at a fast food place, but the vast majority of people that go to fast food restaurants tend to not only not know much about nutrition (or worse, educated about the opposite of nutrition, as most people are), but are also in a hurry to get to their place of employment, or home to take care of the kids, etc. In short: they’re not likely to be the people that will weigh the best options that bests impacts their health, but rather their budget and their time. It’s been 40 years now, and we can literally see the results at your local Walmart. Speaking of….
Packaged Foods: for the purposes of this article, this refers to anything you can buy that’s precooked, that you can eat behind the wheel or at your desk at work, because you unfortunately have a desk job. In my world, that comes in the form of jerky, but for your average westerner, that not only means candy bars and popsicles, but also packaged foods that resemble what you’d get at a fast food place or your own kitchen, like hamburgers. We know now how dangerous a pack of Skittles are, but might not think of what’s in a packaged burger, which not only is mostly bun that’s refined wheat and veggie oil, but the meat itself is half soy. You can find packaged food that is fairly healthy for you, but again, for the average westerner, it’s going to lean towards the more economical, and therefore unhealthy side of things.
Cooked food at home: Side story: I do remember my dear late grandmother’s recipes, some of which I helped her with and that live on through me to this day. She made a lot of meals from scratch, with whole ingredients. Unfortunately, most westerners (am I seeing a pattern here?) end up using things like Hamburger Helper, or Uncle Bens, or Stouffers, to save time on the meals for their families because both parents work and can’t take time to do it right. Nothing wrong with pre-packaged meals to help, but they also aren’t the healthiest options. Why is that? Well, to answer why the above 3 points are unhealthy, look below…..
Your Body On Fast Food: Most of the above foods are usually the highly processed kind, designed to to not only be cheap to make, but also easy for your body to break down. For example: processes American cheese is far easier for your body to break down than a slice of sharp cheddar, to say nothing of cheez whiz. This is relatively new for our bodies to deal with in regards to evolution: for the last hundred thousand years, the food we got, if we got it, was fairly hard to process and get nutrients from. You had to get a significant amount of mass, not to mention a significantly nutrient dense form, in the best way for your body to get what it needs; this is why human brainpower, which is about a third of your bodies’ energy expenditure, was able to grow and thrive, because we learned to cook both veggies and, particularly, meat, which is the closest full meal for your body that you can get. Calories were very hard to get, in short, in the olden days. These days, as you can now see, they’re almost impossible to avoid; not only are the fast food meals you get far more calorie loaded, but those calories are far easier for your body to process and store as fat or, concerning fructose, stuck in your liver, giving you the same effects as drinking a handle of vodka without the fun blackouts, and none of the other mitigating effects you can get that helps with ethanol but not fructose (another article). In other words: the foods listed above are almost specifically designed to make you have all of the modern medical problems you see today, explained by metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic Syndrome: Basically speaking, it’s the underlying issue to the majority of the medical issues facing the West today, particularly the U.S. It stems from, to put it very simply, chronic inflammation throughout the body, and contributes to lovely diseases such as type 2 Diabetes, Chronic Heart Disease, Cardiovascular Disease, Stroke, Fatty Liver Disease (both kinds) and others I’m not thinking of at this time, likely the ones that are considered mental illnesses. There are certainly other causes, none of which are worth mentioning here due to their ineffectiveness. Most of the causes of metabolic syndrome are dietetic in origin, with the other cause being a sedentary lifestyle. That said, learning a good diet will help mitigate, if not avoid, getting metabolic syndrome.
Availability: The short reason a lot of this is happening is because calories got cheaper. In particular, alongside of the demonization of saturated fats and the replacement of it with Crisco and veggie oils, corn syrup came along. Short story: corn syrup isn’t all that much more dangerous than regular table sugar. The difference between the two is that corn syrup is far cheaper, and therefore much easier to add into any product, let alone any mass produced ones. This, amongst a few other reasons highlighted here, is why the calorie count of your average food has gone up, and why your body retains more of them. Same deal with refined carbs, particularly modern wheat; your body processes it quickly, much like sugar. Finally, as mentioned above, veggie oils (corn, canola, peanut, shortening, etc.) have far more damaging effects than even what your average vegan will tell you butter does. This is roughly explained here: http://thegoddamnbacon.com/the-3-ingredients-that-ruined-fast-food
Short story: I grew up on more or less this diet, and for a while during my personal trainer days, I advocated for some of what I am now preaching against. Nowadays, I obviously know a lot more about nutrition and fitness, and am working towards building a better body for myself, mainly so I can be happy with myself, live a long nice life (if I don’t get myself shot before then), and I can stay attractive… well, even more so. However, as I said before in another article, despite my own physical abilities, I don’t know if I will ever be able to look like a body builder. Part of that is because the stipulation is to not give up on the lifestyle of having cheesecake every once in a while and having delicious beer and wine; the other reason, the one I think is the most likely, is that the diet choices I had during my childhood and early adulthood have had permanent effects on me; it’s likely I will never get the body I want, even though, small as it is, it’s right below the layer of fat I still wear to this day.
It is my hope, dear reader, that you will avoid the fate I am cursed with. The good news is that most of the “diseases” afflicted upon people today is one they brought upon themselves; you don’t have to be one of them. I have caught my diet in time to stop most of these issues, so while I won’t look like my instructor anytime soon, I’ll be O.K. healthwise. Hopefully you will as well. What’s wrong; did you want to live forever?
Picture Credit: https://www.memecenter.com/fun/244126/american-fat-ass