Matthew Gates 12m 2,979 #guiltypleasures
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Eating Without the Guilty Pleasure: Is It Possible?
When I was younger, when it came to food, the only thing I cared about was how great it tasted; the sugar, the sweet, the salt, the satisfaction. It did not matter the calories, the carbohydrates, the fats, because I had no idea what those were. My mother never educated me on what calories were, because she did not even know herself what they were. To this day, she still does not know much about calories and does not seem to care what she eats. While I had wanted to blame her for her ignorance of food, it was not all her fault, and I realized as I grew older, it was my own responsibility to take control of what I put into my mouth.
I had paid a huge price and still pay for it to this day, for never understanding proper nutrition, and just the rewards of the taste of food, as it is food that eventually would define what my body frame and size would be. I run from a L to an XL in my shirts and a 38-40 in pants size. These sizes have stayed with me from the time I was eighteen and I am still these sizes without much change.
A few years ago, when I moved out of the house and went away to college, I began to learn about eating healthy. It helped that I had a body builder room mate for almost a year and he taught me a lot about what I should be eating. He taught me about carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. I wish I could have had him as my personal trainer for life. He used to be over 300 pounds and when I met him, he was down to 210 pounds.
I had put my full trust in him and looked to him for guidance, but also, I never wanted to disappoint him. When I ate certain foods that he disapproved of, I felt bad. I felt like I had let him down. He had probably been one of the greatest influences on my life and I will always remember him for what he taught me. By the time I had met him, I had already been working out and had lost around 35 pounds. His influence helped me to lose another 10 pounds.
He had told me that if I desired to lose weight, I had to give up carbohydrates. Bread. Rice. Cereal. All the food that I had been used to eating for so long would have to be eliminated. In its place, I could still eat beans and vegetables. I found several things that I could eat and I ate that way for several months.
Mornings were when I consumed most of my calories and I would then go work out. Often times, I would switch up. Sometimes I would go work out before I even woke up, only consuming a half of a protein shake, and then coming back and making the other half of the protein shake. With that protein shake, I ate at least two to three eggs, two egg whites and one whole egg. I would mix the eggs with tuna, salmon, sardines, or beans. Sometimes I would just mix the beans with any of the fish and eggs. I ate this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for almost a year.
I had gotten used to it and it helped me to lose weight and feel great. Of course, I can’t say I was completely strict about it. I would say 80% of the time, I kept to the strict diet, but opportunities arose where I had to break the diet at times – being in college, there were invites to go out and eat with friends, or there would be special events at college that involved food. I was not shy to enjoy the food.
After all, college is the place of opportunity and when it comes to food and being a poor college student, you take advantage of the food you are offered. So this was the other 20% of my diet, which consisted of carbohydrates and fats. I loved this lifestyle and enjoyed it for almost two and a half years.
That was a few years ago. My knowledge of eating healthy has since improved, but unfortunately, I have not been able to workout like I did when I was living with my body builder room mate or when I was in college. This is not to say that I have less time – in fact, I probably have more time. I am just less motivated to go work out. I cannot even use gym fees as an excuse, as there are so many gyms in competition with each other nowadays, you can probably get a gym fee for $20 a month. I am hoping I find the motivation to go work out again. I miss it. I still exercise by biking and working out at home, but this is only enough to keep active and exercise.
So that was one point I wanted to make of this confession. The other point I was getting at, as I mentioned in the beginning: food. There is so much food in the world, so many different kinds, so many things that taste good, so many sweets, so many meals, so many things you could eat to enjoy. But how many of these foods are healthy?
Considering the fact that I spent almost 2 years eating mostly eggs and fish, I notice the eating habits of others greatly. I notice how much people are not eating healthy and how many people actually fall prey to the bad habits of eating, including myself. More specifically, to the bad habits that American consumerism and Capitalism has caused.
McDonalds, Wendys, Burger King, Arbys, White Castle, Dairy Queen, Taco Bell, Sonic, Carl Jr., Krystals, Panda Express, Popeye’s Chicken, Chipotle, Subway, In-N-Out, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Boston Market, Checkers, Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme, and the list goes on and on. This short list only covers some of the franchises in the United States and does not take into consideration minor chains or any other fast food place in other countries. These are just some of the major chains.
These restaurants are known as Fast Food Restaurants. Each of these places has at least ten or more different varieties of meals to offer. The majority of these meals contain over half the recommended sodium, fat, and carbohydrates that you would need in a single day. The meals usually include some type of sandwich, a side dish, usually french fries, and a type of soda beverage. The sandwiches alone are enough to be considered a meal, often reaching upwards of 400-1000 calories. Add in a large soda and large fries and you have added an extra 400-800 calories and you have your daily requirements for food for the entire day.
For grown men, that is about 2000-2500 calories. For grown women, the calorie intake should be around 1800-2000 calories. If you want to lose weight, it is actually less. What will you have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
More and more Americans are falling prey each year to these unhealthy fast food restaurants and easy microwaveable meals, which boast of healthy meal plans, which are untrue. Some salads coming from these places contain over 500 calories. A healthy salad should probably be no more than 100 to 200 calories.
The healthiest piece of meat you could probably find at a place like McDonalds is the grilled chicken sandwich – using the lettuce as a bun and getting rid of the white bread bun and mayo completely. These places claim that they have healthy items on the menu, even introducing fruit such as apples, that come in a pre-packaged bag. Really? That’s healthy? Go find an Apple tree and take an apple from there. Open that packaged apple. Then side by side, compare the two tastes. I guarantee that you will find that the apple that tastes better and is healthier for you is the one you got from the tree.
You might argue otherwise, but you should not be trying to justify a fast food restaurant. Fast food is fast food for a reason: get your food in minutes and go. There is nothing healthy about that. Healthy food does take some time and preparation, but the time and preparation is worth it.
Americans are consuming these meals every single day, feeding themselves and their children as if this has no consequences on their health at all. Most of our sickness, illness, and bad health leads right back to its roots: What are you putting into your mouth?
The reality is that Americans are getting fatter and unhealthier because of their unhealthy eating habits, and so are their children. Children are getting obese earlier, and this is leading to a series of health problems including depression due to being larger or fatter than other children – and trust me, I know about this personally, it takes a huge toll on the mental health on any child during their childhood.
I was teased about my weight throughout my childhood. It is always great to see old high school friends who have now gotten fat, while I have actually gotten skinnier; the bittersweet revenge of not doing anything but waiting, working out, and eating right, though I am not really holding any personal grudges.
Who is going to put an end to bad eating habits? Who is going educate people on what they are actually consuming? Nothing good is coming from the way things are now. Companies that boast about organic are not all organic, while other companies that are actually organic are charged more by regulations and therefore, sell their products at a higher cost.
The only good that comes from the way things are now is to those who own those Fast Food Restaurants and chains, which are billion dollar industries. None of these places care about human health at all. Why should they? They are businessmen and women, and they are only catering to the supply and demand of their food products. They have no reason to care whether it is healthy or not, as they have millions of customers who keep coming back for more. They seek ways to make the food more addictive and cheaper, so that they can convince people to keep buying and buying everyday.
I cannot tell you how guilty I feel when I eat at any of these fast food restaurants. First of all, I am an anti-consumerist, or at least, I try to be one. I also live Voluntary Simplicity: I try and live simple and I do not buy many things. If there is a chance for me to save money, I will do my best. I would rather go to the store and buy the individual items to make a sandwich coming to about $5 or $6 that can be made throughout the week, rather than buying a sandwich at a food restaurant, which comes out to be around the same price.
One time, on a road trip with my brother, it was a late night, my brother and I were headed to New York, and we both had not eaten dinner, so we decided to stop. I ended up ordering about 4 or 5 items off the menu, letting my hunger, eyes, and thoughts get the best of me. I ordered at least 2 hamburgers, 2 snack wraps, and a french fry. All off the dollar menu. I felt guilty and hated myself afterwards. I also calculated the calories for what I ate:
2 junior bacon hamburgers: 800 calories
1 french fry: 400 calories.
2 chicken snack wraps: 860 calories.
Total: 2060 calories.
I skipped the drink. I hardly order drinks anymore, unless it is water. Add in a soda and you have another 200-600 calories which would count as another meal. I technically had 3 meals for about $6-$8. If I had a soda, I would have had enough calories for 4 meals.
I love the fact that I could eat so cheap. But really? I ate that many calories? I felt sick the next day and I ended up eating only a yogurt the entire day because I felt nauseated. The feeling subsided as the day had gone by, but those feelings of nausea come back to me every time I see people ordering from Fast Food Restaurants.
How many calories are they consuming each day and every day? Remember that 3500 calories is 1 pound. In order to gain a pound, you must eat at least 3500 calories a day, multiple times a week. In order to lose 1 pound, you must burn off 3500 calories a day. When it comes to dollar menus and fast food restaurants offering all these cheap meals, it is very easy to add up the calories and gain weight extremely fast, especially if you do it more than once a week.
Now imagine all the time you have to spend in the gym to actually burn those 3500 calories off. Hours and hours to do that. It is unfortunate, but that is life. Humans were not meant to consume easy calories, but have come up with a way to create them. Therefore, we suffer, our health suffers, the human race suffers, and all for what? To satisfy and enjoy our taste for sweet and salty foods?
I worry about the future of the human race because as far as I am concerned, these billion dollar industries bring in money and they are not disappearing anytime soon. If anything, they are only going to continue to be as popular in a hundred years from now as they are today. And one day, “healthy food” will only be something that you read about or have to grow yourself, which may be illegal.
A good healthy meal can take anywhere from a few minutes to prepare up to an hour, depending on how you have prepared it. There are many websites that offer healthy recipes, but everyone claims they have no time. If people made the time to cook healthy meals, they would not have to spend so many hours at the gym, or eventually, in the hospital due to bad health.
Salads. Wheats. Brown Rice. Eggs. Fish. Meats. Vegetables. Fruits. There are many different combinations of foods to eat that are very healthy. If you cannot eat 100% healthy, it is worth the effort. When you go shopping, you have to be very picky about what you are buying and what you are eating. Many of the things you buy in a grocery store are just as unhealthy as what you eat when you go out to a Fast Food Restaurant.
You need to be very cautious and aware of what you are eating. It may become annoying, but turn it into a lifestyle: Count calories. Teach your children about counting calories and what they are eating. If you do not want to do the calorie thing, than know what portion size and portion control are when it comes to food. Educate yourself on what is healthy and what is not. You do not have to become neurotic about counting calories, but just be aware of how much you are consuming! (Men: 1700-2000 calorie max. Women: 1600-2000 calorie max.)
Do yourself a favor and do your children a favor: Learn how to read the nutrition labels. Learn to eat healthy. Learn to take care of yourself. You may be lazy or struggle to find motivation to exercise, but you must do things to make yourself exercise. Trick yourself into doing it! For example, if you like going for walks, go for longer walks. If you like to dance, than join a dancing club or class. Make an attempt to not eat out as much and to stay home and cook more often. Cook family meals. Cook food together. Do anything you can to prevent yourself from going out to eat all the time. If you have a desire to go out and eat, than do it once a week.
I am not here to tell America what to eat. Truth is: America has no idea what to eat. The government does not care about the health of America. The government only cares about the money it makes from all the taxes that these Fast Food corporations are bringing in. The government and FDA keep their mouths shut while food continues to get saltier, unhealthier, but tastier and cheaper.
A search of the Internet will show you how fat Americans have gotten in the past 50 years, all because the government has told Americans what to eat, eating less fat, and more carbohydrates, and completely disregarding and downplaying the amount of protein we should be eating in our diets. The government obviously has no clue about good nutrition.
All I have to say is: Good luck to the future of America. But I do not think we are in good hands at all. It is very sad. This is just one of the many disappointments that has been an issue for years in United States. The United States government has refused to educate Americans on how to eat properly, even attempting a food pyramid that was awful, and then changing it again, only for it to be a complete failure.
Further advice I have for anyone who reads this: Be a leader, not a follower. Do not let commercials and advertisements control you. Learn to eat healthy. Learn to exercise as a lifestyle. Stop letting your hunger convince you that you need salty unhealthy food because that is what everyone else is eating. Once you develop a healthy habitual lifestyle, stick with it, introduce it to your children, and continue it for your life and convince your children to continue it in theirs.
You will be much happier overall! To your health!