My childhood friend and neighbor posted this picture of us at his 6th birthday party on Facebook recently. There we are, happily celebrating his 6th birthday, circa 1982 over Happy Meals at McDonald’s. I’m standing on a chair, towering over the group of goofy boys. I have since asked my Mother why I was dressed up like a junior flight attendant and also why it appears I am THE ONLY girl in attendance at the party. But I digress…
The photo made me think of how much of a treat it was to eat at McDonald’s when I was young. The Happy Meal Box, the thrill of opening the toy inside, the French fries…yummy! Although we enjoyed the party (as evidenced by the photo) McDonald’s was NOT a staple of my diet as a kid and I can’t remember the last time I dined there as an adult. Without knowing about the dangers of Trans fats, processed food, and added sugar my parents seemed instinctively to understand the importance of fresh foods prepared at home, keeping meals from McDonald’s at a minimum. It was the foundation for my own understanding of how to nourish myself and I consider myself lucky to have received that education early on in life.
Today, fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and others are a mainstay of the American family’s diet. This is a BIG problem as fast food is one of the major contributors to the obesity epidemic and rise in chronic illnesses such as type II diabetes, heart disease and liver damage. There are also the environmental impacts of fast food – did you know it takes 16 lbs. of grain and 2500 gallons of water to produce one, 1 lb. burger???
If the American family shifted gears toward a plant based diet, enjoying home cooking of fresh fruits and veggies as well as whole grains and small portions of organic locally raised meats, we could dramatically change the growth rate of obesity amongst adults and kids, as well as slow the explosion in chronic illness rates that are crippling our medical system, not to mention have more produce foods and water to feed the hungry.
Treat fast food as a treat! NOT a mainstay of your daily diet. Instead, focus on whole foods, home cooking and health for you and your family.