Confessions From A Former Fast Food Junkie

My friend Leslie (check out her awesomely amazing blog here) asked me to write about what exactly changed my attitude towards food and made me start liking/craving healthier things. She specifically asked me “What made it all click in your head?” Sadly, I wish I had a straight-up answer for her, but the truth is I don’t. It was all a very gradual, weird change in my mind (and tastebuds); but I’ll give explaining it a try…

I guess I should start by telling you a little bit about my eating habits pre-op: they were awful. I never ate vegetables, and my diet consisted of over-processed food and TONS of fast food. I’m not exaggerating, it got to the point where the people at my near by Burger King already knew me, ok? I was a very emotional eater (still dealing with that, actually) and I loved to eat and snack on very unhealthy things. Fast food, chips, frozen food, diet coke, pizza, Chinese food, really mostly just restaurant food. Anything that required me to make any effort in cooking it was not an option. It was sad, really, I felt lousy all the time not only physically but emotionally as well, which made me keep eating and it was all just a vicious cycle. Needless to say, this style of eating (and my very sedentary lifestyle) led me to be over 300 lbs. After a lot of consideration I decided to have gastric bypass surgery, thinking that would automatically fix things for me. Well, everything changed but the surgery didn’t “fix” me. I still wanted to eat the same things as before, only now I got super sick from it. The first 4-6 months after surgery was basically a lot of trial and error with food that I used to eat a lot, and then eventually since I got sick of feeling crappy, I decided to start trying other foods and see what happened.

I started slow, some spinach here, a little Cubanelle pepper there and little by little I started adding different, healthier things to my diet and finding out that you know what? They were kind of awesome. It was around that time that I started dating my current boyfriend Mark, who is a total vegetable lover and amazing in the kitchen; so I got to try a LOT of different ways of eating vegetables and found out that they can be so, so delicious. Really, it’s all about how you prepare them. Perhaps growing up my parents didn’t really do vegetables right (my mom mostly overcooked them until they were bland mush) and that’s why I didn’t get into them, and as an adult I fell into the trap of “easy eating” and never gave them a chance (I wouldn’t even have tomato or lettuce in my burger!). Now I’m so glad I did. I also noticed that when you start eating healthier, home-cooked meals you feel a lot better physically. I no longer feel sluggish and heavy and gross all the time, but have a lot more energy to exercise, which I’ve also come to enjoy. It’s still a struggle with my emotional eating, when I’m upset or hormonal I still crave ice cream and pizza, but slowly I’ve been coming to terms with that and I’m doing a lot better. It’s okay to indulge sometimes, it’s just finding a balance that’s right for you. Over-indulging leads to feeling crappy, I just have to remind myself of that and make better choices.

A very important thing I’ve learned to do: read labels. You’d be surprised at all the additives they add to “healthy” or “diet” foods; it is so, so scary! High fructose corn syrup hides everywhere! Seriously, that stuff is pretty bad for you, so I try and stay away as much as possible. I can’t really avoid artificial sweeteners (splenda, equal, nutrasweet) because too much sugar makes me super sick still, so that’s one thing I use frequently (much to Mark’s dismay). I’ve been recommended Stevia which is supposed to be healthier but I’ve been kind of a wuss to try it out (if anyone has tried it, let me know how you like it).

I still have a long way to go, I think, until I’m totally a super-healthy eater; but I have come a long, long way. I won’t sit here and say that it’s easy to completely change your eating habits but I will say that it’s not impossible. It’s a daily battle and sometimes it’s just as simple as picking a banana or apple to snack on instead of a candy bar or chips. And mostly it’s just thinking before putting food in your mouth; ask yourself “Do I really need this right now?”, “Am I actually hungry or just bored?”, “Is this the best thing I can eat?” and so on; it really helps a lot. So, that’s my story; I hope this helped in clarifying how I changed what I eat and how it has totally changed my life.

How about you? Have you always liked healthy food or were you a fast-food junkie like me? What helped you start eating healthier?


10 thoughts on “Confessions From A Former Fast Food Junkie

  1. Thanks for the post amiga! I’ve never been a fast food junkie, but I survived on frozen meals all throughout college. It was easy and fast since I worked and went to school full time and although they were vegetarian and organic, I knew that they weren’t all that great for me.
    I still have an occasional frozen meal, but I keep fresh fruits and produce at work. I have always breads and tortillas, so I can make a quick sandwich, a wrap or a salad.
    When I changed the way I saw food, I started eating fresher and healthier. Food is fuel and I wanted to provide my body with quality meals. We spend so much money on material objects and skimp on how we nourish ourselves.
    I’m so proud of you for changing your lifestyle!! Keep it up!

  2. I’m still a fast food junkie. I just eat WAY less of it now. And I also eat the great stuff, fresh everything, too. Life is everything in moderation, baby. Don’t feel deprived. Build a wagon that you can’t fall off. 🙂 Have a chicken tender or three. But no 20-piece chicken nuggets! I used to eat one of those with a large fry. How disgusting! The commercials where a mom serves that to her whole family crack me up. Suuure, that’s how they’re marketed. Suuuuure.

    • I’ve eaten fast food a handful of times post-op and it makes me feel very lousy. I just get this icky feeling in my stomach that’s not quite nausea but almost. It’s not fun and it’s hardly worth it. The one thing I still love is pizza but it has to be uber thin crust and not with a bunch of greasy things on it, I mostly just prefer pineapple.

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  4. This is an awesome post and I can’t help but feel like I influenced it 🙂
    Talking about CORN…You should watch ‘FOOD INC.’ it’s information about the corn in our food.
    Also, I’ve changed my eating habits. I think it’s been about 3 years or so where I’ve tried to eat more vegetables than meat. I think every week or so I add a different vegetable or even a different way of cooking to my diet. Cooking with veggies forces you to look outside of the box and boring chicken, rice and beans. Nowadays, I can’t really eat out that much since restaurant food is greasy and just plain nasty it makes me sick to my stomach.

  5. You sound just like me! In the last few years though I have improved my eating because I just wanted to eat better stuff. I got addicted to the Food Network and that helped me realize that cooking at home isn’t as hard as it sounds. The 20 minute trip to the drive thru is the same as the 20 minutes of prep time for something homemade and yummy!

    Stevia is actually really good. I just switched to it recently and it smells and tastes like cotton candy. I haven’t had mass quantities put into anything yet, but I can’t complain.

    I also agree with grandmother’s comment above, watch Food Inc!! It tells you about how corn is in EVERYTHING you eat, no matter what you think!

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  8. I was wondering what you think about this article that talks about after surgeries, the sometime unintended psychological place patients can be in with their body image issues
    You mentioned the cyclic behavior you had recognized prior to the gastric bypass surgery. how do you feel you are facing the issues that initiated this life transition for you at this point?

    • I’m facing them one at a time, to be honest. Writing about them helps a lot, as does talking about them. I’ve gotten to a much better place mentally and emotionally than I was before surgery, when I was over 300 lbs and just felt invisible and kind of worthless. I sometimes have crappy days now but I can tell you that I definitely don’t feel invisible or worthless anymore.

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