If Fast Food Is Your Weakness, We Have the Solution
We’ve all been there one time or another, starving and in desperate need of a quick snack, lured in by the speed and convenience of a quick 5-minutes through the fast food drive-thru. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally making a smart indulgence at your favorite fast food chain, making a habit of fast food on a regular basis is devastating. Not only will your waistline suffer, but your overall health will be affected by the lack of nutrition. For many people, it’s not even the taste that gets them but the time-saving convenience: the average fast-food stop requires a mere 189 seconds1.
Overcoming a fast food habit is just like overcoming any other habit: out with the old, in with the new. Replace the old pattern with a new one, and you’re on your way to healthier living. So what secret is there to learning how to avoid fast food permanently? Simple: PACK SNACKS. Really, that’s it! Armed with this simple, game-changing strategy, you can position yourself to resist temptation every single time.
Implementing this plan is as simple as following these 7 tips:
1. Plan ahead. Meals typically happen every day at the same time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you know you’re going to be out around a mealtime, strike hunger preemptively by having an early dinner or a snack to hold you over until you get home.
2. Always pack snacks.
Keep an emergency stash of healthy snacks in your purse, car, office, or wherever you spend your time. Resolve to never leave the house without something – preferably high in protein to more effectively satisfy your hunger – to eat in a pinch. A cooler (or even mini-fridge for the office) can expand your options to more easily include fresh fruits and veggies. >>> Get ideas from our 30 Days of Healthy Snax calendar
3. Create a list of pros and cons. While there are a (small) number of pros about eating fast food, if you really stop to think about it the cons far outweigh them. Consciously taking the time to think about and write down the negative implications can really help keep you from justifying your way into satisfying that Taco Bell craving.
4. Make a friend. When grabbing a burger and fries sounds oh-so-tempting and easy compared to making dinner, call a friend (or plan with your spouse) to meet at the grocery store and come up with a healthier plan together. Accountability is a great strategy!
5. Avoid it at all costs. Habits are hard to break. If your routine is swinging in Chipotle every night on your way home from work, you might need to drive ten minutes out of your way to avoid driving by for a while. Eventually the temptation won’t be so bad, but at first, it might be smart to just not put yourself in a place you might easily compromise.
6. Keep a food journal. This is a sometimes brutal form of accountability, but it’s effective. Something about seeing in stark black-and-white the reality of your eating habits provides great motivation to change. Add on calories counts (and even the financial cost!) every time you eat out, and you’ll fuel your motivation to break up with the drive-thru.
7. Brainstorm alternatives. While we don't promote ever stopping at fast food joints, if you find that you have no other option, opt for lean meats, low-carb options, and skip the condiments, which tend to have a higher calorie count than you could even imagine. That being said, we have to recommend that instead of heading to a fast food chain to get in and out in 189 seconds, opt for a meal replacement shake instead. They only take a few minutes to prepare and you don't have to think twice about whether or not you're making a healthy choice. With so many tasty options to choose from, why would you ever want to choose a stomachache inducing meal, anyway?
Ending the drive-thru cycle is possible! You really can avoid fast food by thinking strategically and proactively about the food you eat.