fast food industry


I came sooooo close to OVEReating last night! Thanks to God’s marvelous grace I was able to remain faithful to following my food plan — as written — during and beyond the “crisis” (e.g., the period of over 30 minutes when I wanted BADLY to eat more out of obsession than actual physical hunger).

The “crisis” involved my mental obsession to eat a medium size Ice Cream Cone dipped in Chocolate that I wanted to purchase at the Dairy Queen located around the block from the laundromat I was using. Because I ollow Weight Watchers POINTS Food Plan, NO food is “off limits”.So the three questions I pondered that helped to convince me to NOT eat the DQ treat were…

  • Do I have enough POINTS remaining for this day to “cover the cost” of the DQ item?

Since I didn’t know the POINTS value of the item I was obsessing about, I figured that (based on what I had already ate yesterday) I probably did NOT have enough remaining POINTS to cover the amount needed.

  • Was the likely amount of POINTS a “good investment” for a food item that has almost NO nutritional value?

Of course not! In general DQ food (both hot and cold) is pretty low in nutritional value and such is the case with the item I was craving last night.

  • For the number of POINTS I had remaining to consume yesterday, didn’t any other food appeal to me that wouldn’t cause me to spend more POINTS than I had?

YES!!!  It came to me what I could eat (a food I really liked, but wasn’t nuts-o about like I was the DQ item)…a Baked Potato topped with some 7/16 oz. of a fat-free sauce I had with me in my minivan was what I choose. The nutritional value of a potato is pretty impressive: they are a great source for Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Iron and Niacin, Thiamin and Folate! So yes, potatoes have carbohydrates, but what’s wrong with that? We ALL (even us diabetics) NEED carbohydrates to live. The DQ cone I was lusting after had lots of carbs, but NO significant nutritional value.

I  thank God for the ability to STOP AND THINK BEFORE I eat insanely. I was able to THINK SANELY last night, instead of acting out. I know that it was God’s grace that gave me the ability to both think and act sanely!

Carbohydrate phoics will disagree with my choice of eating a baked potato. My comment: Who cares! It’s a choice my food plan allows me to make AND I ended up STAYING on my food plan just fine yesterday.

Apart from the foods involved in last night’s “crisis”, the more significant issue for me is HOW EMOTIONAL I GET WHEN IT COMES TO  FOOD!

  • The mere though of consuming DQ treats gets me aroused to the point of making me feel (sorry, I don’t know any word to describe the power of the obsession for some foods) what I call “horny”!
  • Thinking about NOT eating some foods (like DQ foods) can cause me to feel deep sadness (almost like it becomes a grief issue).
  • The guilt and shame I’ve known over the years associated with OVEReating has (past tense, thankfully) been very intense at times.

“Earth people” (= non-addicts) surely don’t experience this broad range of INTENSE emotions when it comes to food that we addicts experience! To the “earth people” food is JUST food. To we addicts who’s drug of choice is food, you would think food was our lover and best friend!  It isn’t?  😀

In any case,  Once again I want to thank God for the grace to eat sanely — despite the “intense crisis” I faced (and survived) last night. Here’s a video clip that expresses my gratitude for God’s grace that “carry’s me” when my own strength is weak (or even non-existent). As Alcoholics Anonymous literature reminds us, “God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

In order to honestly follow the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan, I read lots of nutritional information in order to calculate the Point value of what I eat and drink.  A Point is determined by the calorie, dietary fiber and total fat content contained in a particular serving.  These values are usually easily found on either the label of the food items I buy at the grocery store, or in the nutrition guides provided by many restaurants.

It makes me a little anxious when a restaurant – especially one that is part of a national chain – fails to keep nutrition guides on hand for customers.  Its one thing for a restaurant to run out of guides to give to it’s customers from time to time, but it is another thing when they either don’t have at least one copy on the premises that they can “loan” to customers concerned about nutrition, let alone refuse to keep them on the premises at all.

skylinechili-logoYesterday I ate lunch with two friends at a Skyline Chili restaurant here in Louisville.  On a couple of pervious occasions when I’ve dined at Skyline, my request to see a nutrition guide was met with a refusal to provide one followed by an assurance that “You can find the guide on the Skyline Chili website.”

I finally got around to downloading and printing the Skyline nutrition guide after lunch yesterday (www.skylinechili.com), only to discover that what I thought was a “healthy” item that I chose for my lunch was in fact OVERloaded with calories, fat and sodium!  The Southwest Chicken Wrap (NO dressing included) contains 670 calories, 30 grams of fat and 6 grams of dietary fiber.  This translates into a whopping 15 Points!  The sodium amount? A whopping 2,040 milligrams, which is nearly ALL of the amount of sodium a person consuming 2,000 calories per day should eat for the WHOLE day!  So just because a menu item contains the word “Chicken” does NOT necessarily mean it is sound nutritional choice!  The Chili Cheese Fries at Skyline Chili I would expect to be oozing with calories, fat and sodium.  But surely NOT one of their chicken items!

If a restaurant doesn’t want to make it easy for it’s customers to access it’s nutrition guide, it leads me to believe that they are serving food that they are NOT particularly proud of.  Then again, I’d be ashamed too if my food was high in calorie, loaded with fat and oozing with sodium!  Such is the case of much of the food served by Skyline Chili.

Skyline Chili is hardly the only fast food restauarnt service nutritionally-challenged food!  Hard to believe I’m sure (HA!!!), but McDonald”s sells it share of crappy food as well.

bigntastyhamburger1

When it comes to “delicious-but-nutritionally-crappy” fast food, have you heard of the Big N’ Tasty hamburger at McDonald’s?  The fast food giant considers this sandwich  competition to Burger King’s Whooper hamburger.  The Big N’ Tasty is a “Whopper” alright, weighing in with 460 calories, 24 grams of total fat and only 3 grams of dietary fiber.  The sodium content is also fairly high: 720 milligrams – which is 30% of the daily recommended amount of sodium a person should have if they are consuming 2,000 calories per day.

The Points value for Big N’ Tasty hamburger: 11.  A 12” Veggie Delite Submarine Sandwich from Subway, complete with two slices of cheese, lots of fresh vegetables, one ribbon of lite mayonnaise and two ribbons of Sweet Onion Sauce (or another fat-free condiment) is also worth 11 points.  If I have a choice between burger on a round bun or a foot-long submarine sandwich, if I have any sanity I’ll choose the submarine sandwich anytime!  It is much more filling and a lot lower in total fat and sodium than the burger.

The biggest problem I have with the Big N’ Tasty hamburger is the five tons of MAYONNAISE they load on the sandwich (which is why I think McDonald’s should re-name it “The Mayonnaisebuger”)!  A fellow Weight Watchers member pointed out that the mayonnaise content of the sandwich alone probably accounts for at least 25 percent of the sandwich’s calories (and the Point value).  But does McDonald’s provide nutrition information on the value of the same sandwich withOUT the mayonnaise?  Of course not.  So figuring the Points value of a mayo-free Big N’ Tasty hamburger would be rather subjective since I don’t have the nutrition values for this healthier version of the sandwich.  I’m sure the volume of mayonnaise dumped onto the sandwich will vary from burger to burger.

My point to all of this rambling?  I’m finding that for myself restaurant foods (especially those sold by fast food restaurants) often lack substantial nutritional value and are usually larded up with total fat (even though they may boast of being “trans-fat-free”) and contain a level of sodium that verges on being dangerous (remember that excess sodium contributes to high blood pressure).

I’m embarrassed to admit that my ability to “estimate” the Point value of the foods I eat (when I am too lazy to read the nutrition information) is pretty pathetic.  Examples: for nearly two years I’ve estimated the Points value of the Big N’ Tasty hamburger to be 7 (NOT 11) and if you would have asked me what I thought the Point value was for that Southwest Chicken Wrap (hold the dressing) that I had for lunch yesterday at Skyline Chili. I  would have guessed it to be no more than 8 – 10 (as opposed to 15 Points).

Ya' Just Gotta' Love Those SUPERSIZED Veggieburgers...with CHEESE!!!

Ya' Just Gotta' Love Those SUPERSIZED Veggieburgers...with CHEESE!!!

I should have known that it would happen sooner or later! Sure enough, during a recent visit to the drive-thru lane at a local Burger King restaurant the employee waiting on me asked if I “wanted cheese” on my VEGGIEBURGER! When does the suggestive selling stop?!? Calgon, take me away!!!

As mentioned elsewhere on OveractiveFork, I have little patience for suggestive selling!!! I find it rude, disrespectful and have observed that it reduces the chance that my order will be correctly prepared.

Please note that I am NOT a “cheese-phobic” individual! Indeed, I eat at least two slices of cheese every day. The issue here is one of getting ripped off by greedy fast food restaurants that charge almost as much for just ONE SLICE of cheese that I can pay for a WHOLE PACKAGE of it at the grocery store (OK, that was just a slight exageration). The point is that if I wanted cheese on my sandwich (hamburger, veggieburger or otherwise) I sure would NOT pay an outrageous sum of upwards of 50 cents for JUST ONE SLICE of cheese!!! If I wanted cheese on my veggieburger I’d take the cheese from home and add it myself.

Thankfully, I did not go postal when asked if I wanted cheese on my veggieburger. It just struck me being strange, especially if I were a vegetarian — since some of those folks don’t eat dairy products (and cheese IS a dairy product). Nothing against ’em, but I’m NOT a vegetarian.

I don’t think I’m being odd just because I like the option of occasionally choosing something healthier than a traditional hamburger when dining at a fast food restauarnt (hence the selection of a cheese-free veggieburger). I’m wating for some fast food employee to ask me if I would “like cheese” in my Diet Coke! <eyes rolling>

Why is it that fast food restaurants take an otherwise healthy sandwich like a veggieburger and ADD 5 POUND OF MAYONAISE on top of it?!? Kind of DEFEATS choosing a veggieburger over a hamburger, doesn’t it?!? Oh wait, why wouldn’t they since these geniuses do the same thing to veggieburgers that they do to GRILLED chicken sandwiches?!? What was I thinking of? <blush>

Oh yeah, why not add a big slab of BACON to that veggieburger for an extra 50 cents?!?

And now a blog entry that might remind y’all of my previous gem titled, What Part of “HAMburger” Don’t They Understand?”

Now This Is What I Call SUPER-Sized!!!

Some food addicts choose to completely abstain from caffeine, One Day At A Time. More power to those good folks!

My truth is that I feel best when I limit my caffeine to no more than two small servings per day. “Small” means 16 oz. or less of Diet Coke, tea or some other caffinated beverage. This is what works best for me, ODAAT. This approach is based on the fact that I’m NOT trying to be “perfect”, and instead am working at being “gentle” and “moderate” in most aspects of my recovery process. Oh how hard it can be some days to be a “Recovering Program Fundamentist”! <blush>

Well wouldn’t you know it, but fast food mega-giant McDonald’s is being ubberly-generous with it’s customers this month by offering ALL soft drinks in ALL SIZES for just $1.00. So no matter how many times I specify that I ONLY want a SMALL size Diet Coke their dear employees try to insist on giving me the SUPER-SIZED version of my beverage-of-choice! What part of “small” don’t they understand?

You probably wouldn’t believe the looks and comments I’ve had to endure the past couple of weeks when attempting to set a boundary (which is my right to) regarding the size of the Diet Coke I want to purchase. Thanks, but NO thanks! “Small” works best for me, Just For Today!

Could McDonald’s seemingly “wonderful generousity” of one price for all sizes of soft drinks be a way of encouraging sugar and/or caffeine addiction? Probably. <shocked look> But that’s McDonald’s issue to live and deal with.

My issue is to 1) set and then 2) respect my boundaries regarding all sorts of things — including the serving size of the caffienated drinks I put in my body.

Jared FogleY’all know who Jared Fogle is, right?  Jared, pictured at right holding his pair of “before” jeans, is the guy who lost 235 pounds while eating Subway (submarine) sandwiches EVERY day (while he was losing weight). Rumor has it that that he is STILL eating Subway sandwiches on a regular basis, while maintaining his ideal weight!

Jared not only achieved his weight loss goal, but he has been at his goal weight for just over nine years. He has been CONSISTENTLY 
losing/maintaining his weight for over TEN years!

It is widely known that Jared has been eating BREAD virtually EVERY day of his inspiring weight loss journey (GASP!!!). The “bread” Jared has been eating is the BUN that comes with each Subway submarine sandwich he consumes. Those BUNS contain several ingredients, including SUGAR AND FLOUR!!! <I think I just heard the sound of a H.O.W. food plan devotee just passing out from shock — and/or carbohydrate deprivation!>

My point to this rant? Well, other than to salute Jared on his impressive success, I wanted to point out that at least some of us food addicts CAN eat bread (e.g., CAN eat sugar and flour) and still remain in recovery — not to mention achieve long-term recovery.

With Jared having been some 235 pounds over his ideal weight, would you not agree that he probably/likely qualifies as a food addict? If not at 235 pounds overweight, then at what degree of obesity would you consider him to likely be a food addict (given that he has no known health problem(s) that would cause him to be morbidly obese)?

So the next time some devotee of one of those UNbalanced, INsane and rigid “no sugar, no flour” diets (they may call them a “food plan”, but honey those things ARE a “diet” in the worst way!) tries to tell you that you MUST avoid ALL sugar and flour or you can’t/wont be successful in your recovery journey, feel free to point out that at least some food addicts (e.g., Jared Fogle) ARE long-term successful WHILE STILL EATING sugar and flour.

Maybe some folks really have to avoid ALL sugar and flour (that is their choice — even if they can’t find a doctor or dietician to sign off on it due to the increased risk of health problems caused by low-carbohydrate diets)…but their choice does NOT have to be yours or mine…and your success does not have to come while attempting to follow a CraZy diet that is based on (at best) highly controversial scientific theories.

I probably should mention that ALL carbohydrates break down into SUGAR in our bodies!!! So NOT “ALL sugar” is bad or (in one sense) is any indivudal TOTALLY sugar free IF they eat ANY amount of carbohydrates. 😀

I’ve found that “ALL food is just food” — an INantimate object. It does NOT magically force me to eat it. Sure, I crave and enjoy some foods more than others. But I don’t have to give any food I like some sort of magical power. I work the 12 Steps and work on other aspects of my reovery (One Day At A Time) so NO food (not even sugar and flour) scares me like they do some carbohydrate-phobic addicts.

BTW, Jared is not the only food addict who has achieved and maintained a significant weight loss while eating sugar and flour! Just view the Subway corporate website and you’ll find LOTS of “friends of Jared” who eat sugar and flour while achieving tremendous physical recovery.

Care For Some Fast Food?

Before anyone sends me hate mail because I’ve posted yet another picture of REAL FOOD on my blog (yes, I actually got a message from some guy recently who was all shook up over seeing the picture of a man holding a fork — NO food on the fork, just a fork — in the masthead at the top of this page!), allow me to explain why, when I deem them appropriate, I choose to post such photographs.

Allow me to do a reality check: Just SEEING a picture of food canNOT force any food addict to overeat compulsively!!! If I posted a picture of dog poop would you HAVE TO eat it?  Nope!  The same is true when you see, smell or (gasp!) even think about food.  We addicts are powerLESS over food, but NOT over our elbows!

I used to fear the sight, smell and thoughts of food. But my atttitude toward food has been radically changed by a couple of passages found in Alcoholics Anonymous, the basic text of that fellowship. One of those passages (pages 84 and 85) reads:

“”We have ceased fighting anything or anyone — even alcohol (food). For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in (food). If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We can now react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that this new attitude toward liquor (food) is really a gift of God.

That is the miracle of it.  We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation.  We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality – safe and protected.  We have not even sworn off.  Instead, the problem has been removed.  It does not exist for us.  We are neither cocky nor are we afraid.  That is our experience.  That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.” (pages 84-85)

So you might as well get used to seeing pictures of FOOD within the entries of OVERACTIVE FORK, because I’ll continue to post them when/if they fit the topic I’m writing about! Oh yeah…you might want to consider working the 12 Steps so when you do see “recovery-threatening pictures” you wont CHOOSE to eat whatever food is pictured on my blog! 😀 Working the 12 Steps, not just mentally masturbating about them, is how one gets to the “position of neutrality” discussed in the AA Big Book passage listed above. Hiding from food is NO substitute for working the 12 Steps. Being afraid of food is, in an of itself, NOT a hallmark of authentic 12 Step recovery from food addiction. On the other hand, being afraid of what acting out with our addiction can do our health and physical well-being IS something to fear, IMHO.

We now return to the subject of this entry…

I’m pleased to report that this week, my second week of back-to-back food sobriety and exercise sanity this time around, is going very well. Thank you, God!!! Thank you, fellow addicts and others!!!

Occasionally I hope to write about “little but important experiences” I have along this “journey known as recovery”. This is the first such entry.

* To help remind himself that he really is NOT the center of the universe, a good friend of mine in the AA and OA fellowships is fond of saying, “I may not be much but I am ALL that I think about!” What? An addict with an OVERinflated ego? Say it ain’t so! 😀 I don’t know about you, but I can certainly relate this  line (at least occasionally). <blush>

One of the ways that I’ve finally figured out that my ego is getting OVERinflated is when I find myself REALLY ANGRY (then ultimately resentful) for the seemingly smallest things that other people “do to me” To paraphrase another AA member , “The bigger the target, the easier it is to hit”. So true!

One of the things that would (normally) send my anger level into the stratosphere is when fast food drive-thru workers would get my WRONG. I just knew that they “were out to sabotage my excellent recovery efforts”. If you go thru many a fast food drive-thru lane you know how (if you are lucky) one in ten of your orders comes out wrong. So I’ve had LOTS of occasions to get pretty mad over the years — Once last year I even managed to use the terrible “F Bomb” when a fast food worker tried to INSIST on giving back to me the WRONG food ALONG WITH the food that I (finally!) had actually ordered (“Just give me the f—ing food that I ordered!” I yelled). <still blushing>

FINALLY, earlier this week, I “got it”!!!

At last I realized that NObody was trying to mess with my recovery (REALLY!!!) when I was handed a food item that I had NOT ordered.  When I went back to thru the lane I was given the CORRECT item that I ordered and was told to KEEP the item that was given to me INcorrectly…And yet I did NOT explode! It may not sound like a big deal, but for me this IS progress!!!

I’m so very thankful that someone finally told me that Health Department regulations PREVENT restaurant employees from serving food that (for any reason) has been returned to them. So when they say, “Go ahead and keep it (the WRONG food item)…” they probably would rather I eat it (or that I give it to someone else to eat) because the only other option is to throw it away.

Even if I feel “terribly weak” in my ability to NOT eat something that I was given in error, it is MY responsibility to take care of myself and NOT eat it. This really is NOT about what other people are doing to mess with me and sabotage my recovery efforts!  I (yes, me) CAN choose to throw away something BEFORE it enters into my mouth (“I may be powerLESS over food, but I’m NOT powerLESS over my elbows!!!). <amazed look>

And really, NO food is my “problem”…My “problem” is the DISEASE OF ADDICTION living INside of my body…NOT an INantimate piece of food that exists OUTside of my body. I have a program of recovery with LOTS of tools that CAN (and HAVE) help(ed) me defuse tense interactions with food.

A Little DIET COKE Goes Great With A BIG Meal!!!

Persons involved in 12 Step recovery are quick to point out that if we don’t remember all the pain, misery and outright INsanity of the last time we acted out with our “drug(s) of choice” we probably will act out with them again. For me as a food addict, I translate this thought as follows: If I can’t remember my last food binge, I haven’t probably haven’t had it yet. In other words, I probably have at least one more binge inside of me just waiting to pop out and make a train wreck out of my recovery.

While it wasn’t my last binge, one of the most bizarre ones from around 1985, came to mind when I found the picture posted at the top of this entry while recently cruising the Internet.

Drinking a little Diet Coke makes our OVEReating all OK, right? Not hardly.

It certainly didn’t make it “OK” the night that I ate 19 pieces of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Cole Slaw, Baked Beans, Biscuits, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy and who knows whatever other “KFC sides” I inhaled along with the GALLONS of DIET COKE I had with my “dinner”.

BTW, real addicts might eat 20 pieces or more of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but I STOPPED AT ONLY 19!!! Such moderation is something to be truly admired!

No way that OVEReating is a form of INsanity. Right. <blush>

After all, drinking Diet Coke probably IS a little bit healthier than drinking regular sugary soft drinks, right? And drinking DIET Coke is an “incremental step” toward living a healthier lifestyle, right?

Heck I recall one Weight Watchers leader quoting a news article about “lifestyle changes” that claimed it was possible to lose nearly fifteen pounds over the course of one year if you just drink one less 12 ounce cain of sugary soft drinks each day (Do the math: 365 days X one 12 oz. can less per day = 15 pounds weight loss).

We food addicts are sooooo incredibly sane, aren’t we?!?

You see, drinking Diet Coke alone is not the same thing as following a balanced, moderate food plan and moderately exercising, one day at a time.

Just for today, I have a plan of recovery (food plan, exercise plan, support network and life philosphy) which includes/allows Diet Coke (and other sugar-free soft drinks) to be consumed. But Diet Coke alone is not what has allowed me to now lose nearly 81 pounds.

But I have to admit, Diet Coke does taste great with chocolate!!!

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