If there’s one main cause of the rapid decline in the health of Americans it’s the need for convenience. We have placed more importance on busyness than health and peace of mind, and our bodies are showing it. We know, without having to read the slew of studies done in the last 30 years, that the fast food lifestyle is unhealthy. We know why it’s called “junk food.” And yet, we continue to justify these choices because of convenience. There are two ways to turn a thoughtless lifestyle into one of conscious health: avoiding fast food restaurants and eliminating fast food at home.
Some of the healthiest people I know never eat at fast food restaurants. They don’t accept the old excuses of, “I don’t have time to get something better,” or “My kids won’t eat anything else,” or “I can’t afford better food.” The truth is that many food options are healthier, tastier and even cheaper – if only we choose to look. This takes a change in behavior – something that can be uncomfortable at first. Making new habits can be difficult if there is no personal support, as we often see when someone is trying to quit smoking or go on a diet. Conscientiously healthy people do not think of fast food as food at all and will drive right by those places to find better options – even when travelling. For instance, even gas stations and general stores are offering more natural options to their customers. Planning ahead and packing food from home is also a better and often cheaper choice.
At home, the microwave is the appliance of convenience. I haven’t owned one for 18 years now, and I still consider that the turning point for healthier eating choices for me. Without a microwave, I had to cook and reheat meals the old fashioned way – with heat. And while many still debate whether or not microwaving food is dangerous, there is no denying that you are more likely to eat more consciously without one. It made me think of the way I cooked at home with more care and love. In fact, there are many people who are part of a return to traditional and local food, not only for health, but for local economic growth as well.
Supporters of the Slow Food movement argue that the more we buy fast food from multinational chain restaurants and groceries, the more we hurt our own health and our local economies. Most illegal immigrants find work in giant food factories or farms – thanks to our own demand for cheaply produced food. When we avoid fast food, we do so much more than feed our own need for convenience, we help our own communities grow.