Cheap & Easy

… and not as good as you think!

It’s simple, it’s cheap, and it’s plentiful. Take it easy, I’m talking about food, fast food to be exact. Just walking down Bank Street this afternoon I am inundated with inexpensive meal options, just begging me to take a look and see exactly how much food I can get for one low ridiculous price. Me being a student and more apt to spend my hard earned money on clothing and shoes and the occasional book am instantaneously attracted to this, knowing that the less I spend on food the more I can save or more likely spend at the mall. However, me being a student of life sciences, I also know better… or at least I know to know better regarding what I put into my mouth. And yet I still find myself oddly attracted to the fast food nation, McDonald’s specifically, thinking that every time I eat there will be different, I won’t feel sick to my stomach afterwards, and I’ll be just fine. Obviously I am wrong, but hey, it’s the prerogative of youth to act our age once in a while.

I admit, I used to frequent McDonalds on a semi-weekly basis, whether it be a quick breaky with my roommate, an inexpensive dinner and hang-out place with Angelica and another one of my friends, let’s call her “Christie”, or a late night or early morning snack with my clubbing and McDonalds friend, let’s call her “Kelly”. An ex-boyfriend of mine used to chastise me (among other things) about eating at McDonalds as often as I did. At first, well now even, it really pissed me off. I mean, I’m 21, don’t you think that’s a little too old to baby-sit what I eat? Especially someone who is studying life science, I’m pretty sure I have a better idea of health and wellness than my ex who… well, wasn’t even in school. Apparently watching Oprah and Dr. Phil gave him license to “fix” whatever was “wrong” with me, including my selection of eats. Anyway, back to my point: I ate at McDonalds knowing full well that it is bad for me, I saw “Super Size Me” and loved it, but immediately following headed for McDonalds. Afterwards, and every other time afterwards, I couldn’t help but begin to speculate as to why I continue this obvious self-destructive behavior of eating bad food while understanding the consequences.

Cheap food is bad for you, but it’s bad because it’s so cheap to make… and knowing how cheap it is to make, it’s just gotta be bad for you. It is a vicious cycle that nobody had quite yet figured out how to completely break free from, and I mean absolutely no cheating whatsoever: not on birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, stagettes…

The funny thing is, and I can’t for the life of me figure this out, is that the diet “pill” phenomenon makes millions of dollars a year selling us … well, crap. Crap that either doesn’t work, works momentarily, or works so well that it kills you. So we’ll shell out the 30,40,50$ for a bottle of “miracle” weight loss, and yet when it comes to purchasing food that is already healthy, won’t make us fat or won’t clog our arteries we’re suddenly skittish, even shy and sometimes downright resentful for having to spend that little extra on those “healthier” choices.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on those so-called “healthier choices” one can find in today’s vending machines. Last time I checked, diet Coke is still Coke, except we’ve replaced sugar with aspartame. Oh ok, give me more chemicals rather than something that exists naturally. There’s the ticket to everlasting health! Something else that I find amusing is that those “healthier choices” are more expensive than the usual crap… which doesn’t make much sense. You’re charging me .25 cents more for a bottle of water that contains 2 hydrogens and an oxygen molecule, plus some sodium, maybe potassium… and yet for a bottle of soda that contains considerably more ingredients/chemicals/dyes/whatever, it’s cheaper?

I mean after these fries I really don’t have to eat for the rest of the day, or hell maybe even the rest of this week! But I will; I have to. My body, although currently in the 21st century, still believes it’s back in the days of famine, of starvation, of hunt or perish, kill or be killed, so it will hoard most of this “energy” I’ve consumed and save it just in case all the grocery stores sink into the earth and I am left stranded with the little food I currently have in my fridge… if I even have food in my fridge. My body doesn’t know any better, but that’s ok. That’s why I have a mind. That’s why I can think, because I can, and I should. I should really think about what I’m putting into my body if I am going to demand optimal performance out of it. Maybe I should stop fueling it with crap.

It’s not like my body doesn’t know the difference between healthy food and unhealthy food. Oh, it does, and I sure as hell paid for my choice of fuel the day I wrote this. On Thursdays I venture to the gym for a 2 hour cardio session; 1 dance and 1 kickboxing. Under normal (read: healthy) circumstances I love to dance and can let the music move me until I can’t move anymore… only to recharge with Powerade or whatever and kick-box/karate chop my way through another hour of high intensity exercise. Last Thursday after my 4$ meal at McDonalds I could hardly move. I was sluggish, inconsistent, tired and just plain awful when I glanced into the mirror to check my form. It felt as if my body was actually punishing me for eating garbage for lunch by making my limbs that much heavier, my heart more sluggish and unwilling to beat quicker, my mind wander into the blissful peace of sleep… in the middle of a loud and sweaty dance studio?

That being experienced, I’ve learned my lesson. It’s a misconception that if one works out, one can eat whatever the hell one likes… but that’s not true. My athletic body is slowly but surely rejecting junk food, at least for lunch, and if I plan on keeping this active lifestyle as I age then I’d best learn what it means to eat healthy or more plainly, to follow my own advice. Drink lots of water; eat fruits and veggies and lean sources of protein, whole grain carbs and the occasional sweet treat. I mean, what is the point in spending all my money on hot clothes and shoes if I am too fat or too skinny to wear them well and do it justice?

But if you’ll excuse me, my breakfast coffee is getting cold. D’oh!

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~ by Carrie on August 10, 2006.

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