I think that there is a general consensus that most fast food is not particularly healthy. There also seems to be a general consensus that fast food, on occasion, is ok. The problem, as I see it, is when people eat fast food regularly but trick themselves into believing that what they are eating is healthy. I see people doing this same thing in their personal lives and it is just as problematic.
Here are some elements of fast food:
- It's cheap ($6 meal)
- Pretty easily accessible (drive through, walk up counter)
- Fast (max 5 minute wait?)
- Overall, it provides instant gratification with little time, money, and/or effort
Here are some ways that you may feel after consuming fast food:
- Full! For awhile
- Depending on what/how much you ate you may have regrets
- Not completely satisfied
Are there any situations or things (including people) in your life that mimic fast food? I'll give you an example that I see often: dating. I wrote a blog post on January 14, 2013 in response to an article written about the "hook up" culture. The hook up culture is a lot like fast food- instant gratification. And if that's what you want, then you've gotten exactly what you wanted. But, if you are wanting a more significant relationship, you are likely to be dissatisfied by the hookup culture. And it's particularly problematic if you trick yourself into thinking that the hookup culture satisfies you. A person who wants a more significant relationship might want something more akin to eating at a restaurant or cooking.
Let's look at eating at a nicer restaurant vs. fast food:
- It's more expensive ($10+ meal)
- If you're driving you have to park your car
- May require seated service
- You have to wait for the food to be prepared (10+ minutes)
Here are some ways that you may feel after eating at a restaurant:
- A little lighter in the pocket- but wasn't it worth it?!
Finally, let's look at cooking vs. eating out:
- You've got to plan the menu- or you'll make an old favorite
- Expensive initial investment ($50+ on groceries)- but likely cheaper overall per meal
- Takes time to prep and cook (30+ minutes)
- It's fun (generally- again, I like cooking and eating)
- You know exactly what went into your meal
And here are some ways you may feel after cooking:
- Satisfied- plus there may be leftovers!
Following the dating example, finding a partner who is a good fit takes more time and effort than it might if you were looking for a hookup partner. It requires openness, patience, and creativity. But the idea is that the outcome will be what you want rather than a poor excuse for what you want. Ultimately, the job, relationship, or other life situation that you want will likely take more time and effort to realize. Taking shortcuts may provide instant gratification but likely will not produce long-term satisfaction.
Think about situations you might want to change in your own life- what will it take to move from fast food living to restaurant or cooking living?
- Dr. Stanley