Today, McDonald’s unfolds a new initiative: the All Day Breakfast Menu. Now, by popular demand, their 27 million daily U.S. customers can enjoy many of their trans fat laden, high sodium and syrup infused breakfast delights any time of the day. I will not be one of them.
Each morning when I leave my local gym, I see the same thing: the line. At 6:15am, the McDonald’s drive-thru line reaches around the building. Every. Day. My heart sinks at the sight of all of these people- my neighbors, members of my community- beginning their morning with essentially the worst food available to them.
In the time it takes to idle in that line, they could have stayed at home and, in less than ten minutes, whipped up an assortment of healthy, energy-producing alternatives. Instead, they chose to fill their stomachs with heavy, greasy “food” which will only sabotage the rest of their eating choices for the day. Because, once we open the door to an addiction, be it caffeine, sugar, or salt, our minds and bodies will not stop craving it. The more we give into those cravings, the less productive we become.
TAKING A STAND FOR HEALTH
In the book of Daniel, it is recorded that, after Daniel was taken captive to Babylon, he was chosen by the king’s chief officer as one of Israel’s brightest and finest young men who would be trained in the history and culture of the Babylonians. As part of their three year training regimen, these young men were commanded to eat of the richest food from the king’s table. However, Babylonian fare did not line up with God’s dietary commands for the Israelites. Here is how David and his friends dealt with the situation in chapter one:
8But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. 12Please test your servant for ten days; Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see. 15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.
BEGINNING AND FINISHING WELL
It is so important to begin our days well. When I decide to go to the gym, no matter how tired I am and how hard it is to drag myself out of bed, the minute I step inside, I am committed. Just being there energizes me, and seeing all my fellow, dedicated gym members working out week after week inspires me. By the time I have finished working out and followed that up with a refueling, replenishing breakfast, I have an energy boost that carries me through to lunchtime.
On the other hand, when I don’t make myself go, I struggle to complete my morning routine in an efficient, focused manner. I get easily sidetracked, usually stay in my pajamas too long, and never quite get that same energy rush that moving my body first thing in the morning provides.
(Now, my husband works out at night. He’d be nearly useless at the gym first thing in the morning, and he’d probably hurt himself:) But, after a long day at work, he is itching to get in there and take care of his broken-down contractor’s body. Working out also helps him to sleep because he exhausts what energy is left with healthy activity, enabling him to fall asleep easier (something that is not typically the case for him).)
A CULTURE OF CONVENIENCE
A lifestyle of convenience does not equate to a healthy lifestyle, especially in the case of consuming McDonald’s fare. I am sure many of the people lined up in the drive thru realize this; perhaps they even feel a twinge of guilt knowing they are not making the best choice for their bodies or their families. This excerpt comes from Bloomberg Business:
McDonald’s is, of course, much more than an ordinary fast-food chain. It is a cultural mirror. The changes at the burger company reflect the evolution of American eating habits. Traditional meals are getting pushed and pulled into nontraditional hours as longer drive times and hours on the job combine with busier after-work schedules to take up more and more of the day. The idealized vision of a family gathering for a home-cooked dinner seems as dated as Father Knows Best. These days, with the typical American eating out five times a week, according to market researchers at npd Group in Port Washington, N.Y., the dining room is likely to be a car seat in the family SUV. “People don’t sit down and have an organized meal today,” observes Marlene Schwartz, director of research and school programs at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University. “Eating is something you check off.”
To think that 27 million people in our country rely on McDonald’s each day to feed them and their families is truly heartbreaking. It is indicative of so much more than poor eating habits; it’s really a reflection of our too busy, anti-family society.
PLAN AHEAD FOR BUSYNESS
As a mom of five kids, I understand busy. Right now, two of them have soccer practices at 5:00pm two nights each week and we all attend church on Wednesdays at 6:00pm, in addition to other activities. What do I do on those days when “the schedule” interrupts our dinner hour? I plan for our dinner to be ready earlier, so we can all eat together at home before we have to be somewhere. If the kids are hungry when they return, they can have more dinner (or a piece of homemade bread or a banana). I intentionally plan for these variations in our daily life. I choose not to take the path of convenience.
Since I stay home, I can begin preparing a meal at 3:00, but for working moms, the crock pot can be your best friend. Imagine coming home after a long, exhausting day, to the aroma of a succulent pot roast or a hearty vegetable soup all ready for your family to sit down to and enjoy together. Even fifteen minutes at the table makes a world of difference for your health, your relationships, and your stress level.
A BETTER WAY
With the exception of the occasional 49 cent cone in the summer, our family has chosen not to frequent McDonald’s. Once we learned what the “food” we were eating really consisted of (this goes for store-bought items, too) and what our bodies needed to thrive, we began pursuing a more mindful, nutritious diet. There are many great approaches to healthy eating; my personal favorite is nutritarianism (coined by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.) You can read more about it here. Also, in this post, you can read more about how we implemented healthy eating habits into our diet.
Providing my body with life-building health and food choices allows me to serve my family with joy and energy, because, as Reese Witherspoon taught us in Legally Blonde: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!” So, as long as I keep going to the gym, I guess my husband is safe:)
TIME FOR CHANGE
My hope is that, as my neighbors pass my brightly lit gym and see people running on the treadmill, lifting weights, or consulting with a personal trainer at 6:15am, they will think to themselves, I want to do that, too. I hope that it will be their last stop at McDonald’s and their first step into the gym (or onto the bike path or that treadmill in their basement).
In fact, my gym, Anytime Fitness of Cedarburg, is offering a $1 membership today and tomorrow only (October 6 &7). Forget scoring a free Egg McMuffin for showing up in your pajamas, and sign up for a lifetime of health today. (I am not an affiliate, just a member.)
Do yourself a favor and get off the treadmill of bad eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle. Jump into health with both feet and discover all that a healthy life has in store for you.
(Featured image credit: http://dayandadream.com/2013/04/28/mcdonalds-breakfast-all-day/)