You deserve a break today, so get up and get away …
If you were alive in the 1980s, you know the tune, and you know the advertiser. That jingle was voted as the most effective jingle in advertising in the 20th century. And it was brilliant! Don’t sell people on the product. Sell them on the lifestyle. You deserve to have what you want, when you want it. You’re busy! You don’t have time to do things like cook. And when you watch the following TV ad, you can see that McDonald’s painted its customers as healthy, popular, and good-looking.
Those same kids that grew up eating fast food in the 1980s now comprise the largest group of human beings ever to live on this planet who suffer from unprecedented levels of obesity, high cholesterol, type-II diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and cancer. And it’s no secret that much of it is caused by the food that we are eating, as well as our sedentary lifestyle. But I’m not going to talk about the food today. (I talk about them at length in my first two books, and if you didn’t know that there are more than two dozen ingredients in almost every fast food item, most of which you cannot pronounce, check out the online ingredient lists for your favorite.)
Most people know that fast food is not good for them, so why do they keep eating it? Other than the fact that it is highly addictive, it is also about attitude. Anyone who is willing to sit in a drive-through lane behind six other cars cannot honestly claim that they don’t have time to cook. It takes less time to grill a fish filet and steam some broccoli than it does to get take-out. In listening to people over the years, it is pretty clear that they eat fast food because they feel they deserve it. They shouldn’t have to cook. When people start talking about their food choices, it obvious that many of them feel they are making a choice between enjoyment and deprivation. They don’t want to deprive themselves of something that tastes good. They don’t want to deprive themselves of being catered to. “Have it your way!” Remember that one?
And I don’t think anyone has ever permanently changed their way of eating as long as they had those feelings. Unfortunately there are billions of dollars of advertising devoted to making sure that you continue to feel that you deserve to eat out; you should have it your way! It is a well-known fact in advertising that many purchasing decisions are made based upon emotion. As long as you feel like you’re depriving yourself by not eating fast food, there will always be that voice in your head telling you that you deserve a break today.
But do you really want to be consuming a hundred or more ingredients in every fast food meal you eat? Do you want to eat a bunch of things you can’t pronounce? Do you deserve a side serving of high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease along with your lunch?
I write this as someone who used to drink two liters of soda a day and went through college eating convenience foods and fast food burgers … and was sick all the time. I did not give up the fast food or soft drinks overnight. Over the years, I gradually drank fewer and fewer soft drinks, and now I don’t think I’ve had one in several years. I have not set foot in any fast food establishment whose claim to fame is hamburgers in at least a decade. (Yay for Chipotle when I’m traveling!) Do I feel deprived by not drinking soda or buying fast food burgers? Absolutely not. In fact, I feel quite the opposite.
The longer I went without those things, the less I wanted them. Sounds just like any other addiction, doesn’t it? And in fact, today, I have absolutely no desire at all to have a soda or fast food burger. Rather than feeling deprived when I choose not to eat some artificially-colored and flavored food item that I come across, I feel repulsed. Why would I want to put that in my body?
Rather than thinking no, no, no all the time, I’m thinking I only eat and drink things that are nutritious and good for me. I recently went on a cruise, and the average person gains a pound a day, but I gained nothing. How? I made conscious choices when faced with the dizzying array of foods and asked myself, will that nourish my body? when deciding what to eat. It is not about depriving yourself; it is about loving yourself and taking care of yourself. Because that is what you deserve!