The other day I wrote an entry about a crazy woman at the local Chipotle. I witnessed her insanity because I was standing in line behind her to get some tacos. As I wrote that entry I began to think about when the last time was that I actually went to a fast food place. Chipotle uses all organic materials to create their food, so I don’t count that as your typical “fast food” joint.
It turns out that I haven’t been to a fast food restaurant in a little bit over 12 years.
There are some caveats to that statement, though. First, I do go to Dunkin’ Donuts for bagels with cream cheese and I do go to Chipotle for tacos. In the last 12 years I have gone to places like Baja Fresh (until it almost killed me) and sub shops like Quiznos and Jersey Mike’s. More than those places, though, I frequent local delis, pizzerias, and sub shops because I like helping small business owners with the few bucks that I allocate to eating out each month. I also go to local restaurants including the chain restaurants like Ruby Tuesday’s and the Brick House Tavern and Tap.
In the last 12 years, though, I haven’t had any McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, or any of that type of fast food. For some reason after my junior year of college (back in 2002), I made the decision to stop eating fast food. I distinctly remember driving by the local McDonald’s and thinking about how the burgers that they serve weren’t really burgers at all. Rather, they were mashed together meat parts formed to look like a burger. It made me sick just thinking about it – and this was before all of the stories and books came out about how eating that fake food is substantially worse for you than our society originally thought.
It was around that same time that I stopped drinking soda, too. I used to love drinking Diet Coke and eventually started drinking Diet Sprite (this was just before it became known as Diet Sprite Zero, which is the same formula as Diet Sprite). And then I just randomly stopped drinking the stuff altogether. I didn’t really miss drinking soda since I’m one of the rare people who loves drinking water regularly. Although, just like I have caveats to the comment above about not eating fast food, my one caveat here is that after my gallbladder surgery in July 2005, my doctor did suggest that I drink a little bit of a carbonated beverage each day for a few weeks so the bubbles would float around my stomach and help things move around. With that recommendation, for about a month after my gallbladder was removed I probably drank a shot glass worth of Diet Sprite Zero each day. It wasn’t much at all and most people don’t consider Diet Sprite Zero to be a real soda since it’s essentially carbonated lemon water, but that’s a different discussion.
Over the last dozen years, I have never missed fast food or soda. I have, though, from time to time (once every 3 to 4 years) wondered whether or not it would make a difference if I started consuming this not-quite-real-food again. In the 12 years that I stopped eating this garbage my weight has remained relatively the same give or take 5 pounds, I became diabetic and am on a ridiculous number of medications to control it, and my gallbladder had to be removed. When you experience these negative medical results years after you stop consuming garbage, it does make one wonder what’s the point of it all.
I understand why I should continue to stay away from fast food. There are both ethical reasons (the way that the animals are treated before they’re processed into food) and biological reasons (let’s face it – most of that “food” is really just comprised of chemicals) to stay away from that stuff. However, when it comes to Diet Sprite Zero – I have to believe that drinking that stuff won’t hurt me any more than not drinking it has hurt me (i.e. my becoming diabetic, not losing much weight, and losing my gallbladder).
That is a question that I’ll continue to ponder since I really don’t have a craving for soda and thus I have no real reason to act to find a final answer. I suppose it doesn’t really matter whether it would hurt or harm me. In fact, I might go another 12 years without drinking any soda before I find out.