…………… Fear Fast Food? Media leads us like the Pied Piper to Fast Food Joints around the world and simultaneously slaps us on the wrist for eating at these “sugary,” “caloric,” “fatty,” greasy spoons. We are not only told that these foods are bad—but that we are indeed bad for eating them. How do these messages affect our teens? Rebecca Tishman, our resident teen writer who brought you this popular article, (Are Schools Helping Kids Down the Path of Eating Disorders) provides her view…not just as a teen but as a teen who has been recovering from an eating disorder. Let her tell you why fearing Fast Food is bad for our health.
The Rub with Greasy Grub
By: Rebecca Tishman
If you are anything like I was a year ago you may not even being able to step foot in a fast food restaurant. I mean, most people think that fast food is either the root of all evil or it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I was definitely leaning towards the former, so it might surprise you to know that after spending less than 24 hours in a Eating Disorders treatment facility last January, I was confronted with the big bad F words- Fast Food.
Wednesday nights are restaurant challenge nights at the Klarman Center and even though I had just arrived the day before, I was no exception to the rule that you eat or you replace your meal with CIB (Carnation Instant Breakfast). Well let me tell you, eating Burger King as my fourth meal in months was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. I’m sure that sounds funny to some of you out there—but its true. After not eating for so long and certainly not eating “THOSE foods” it takes a lot out of you to do something that seems “out of character.” But I did it and I’m so glad I did.
As soon as we were allowed to use cell phones that night, I called my mom and in between sobs of glee I was able to choke out “I feel soooo normal! I can eat like a normal person and go to fast food places without having a panic attack!” Well, I was far from recovered but I was on the right road.
I finally got it through my brain eventually that I was actually scared of eating Fast Food. But there is no need to fear fast food joints. Why should I? Why should you? Some argue: “it’s fatty and greasy; you’ll get heart disease and be obese if you eat it.” While they are right in some respect: it can make you obese if you eat it EVERY meal of the day and supersize each order and some of the foods do contain high fat contents, there is no reason to cut it out of your life entirely. Supersize Me is oh so very convincing in saying you should never allow yourself to eat fast food because Morgan Spurlock develops such awful health problems-well duh! That’s the consequence of eating “supersized” meals everyday for a month! Do we really need a documentary to tell us that? Isn’t it common sense?
I’m not asking people to eat fast food for every meal; that would just be absurd; I’m saying let’s embrace fast food and eat it when we want to without the worry that OMG this burger and fries is going to kill me in my sleep tonight. Obviously one order of burger and fries every once in awhile will not do a single thing to you other than perhaps save you a few dollars here and there.
The atmosphere at Klarman the night of the fast food dinner was tense. You could cut the air with a knife-pun well intended! And that is just what we did- we used forks and knives and every other utensil in our possession to band together and help each other through what we, at the time, saw as an excruciating activity of eating a meal from Burger King. Yes…I say excruciating because many of us had been conditioned for years and years to never take another bite of this food. It’s amazing, but it takes eating a food that we labeled “evil” to help us reach recovered and healthy status.
Yes, I was out of my comfort zone. But yes, I now know that I can eat Burger King without dying and I know how to fit the foods offered at these kinds of Fast Food places into my regular diet. While I haven’t yet gone out and gotten a big Mac (mainly because I’m a vegetarian and that falls way outside my realm of possibilities) I know that if my friends and I are running late for a concert in New York we can grab a quick (and might I add- cheap!) meal at a fast food restaurant and eat it on the go, saving ourselves time and money.
For me, incorporating fast food into my meal plan was a process. I don’t want to push anyone to eat something they don’t agree with, but I do want to encourage people to step outside their comfort zones and realize that no food is evil. We can’t live in fear and we shouldn’t have to—we have to send the message to children and to ourselves that we can eat Fast Food every once in a while and you know what? We can enjoy it too.
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