Saturday, May 22, 2010
It's Fast But Is It Food?
Yesterday on my way back from Atlanta where I was giving a presentation on children and vitamin D, I stopped at Hardee’s for lunch. That’s a picture of my actual meal from yesterday after the first bite. I don’t eat fast food often but when I do, I relish it. My relationship with fast food is one of dependence and a grudging acknowledgment that it tastes good. Yes, I actually like the taste of fast food despite being a foodie. I love the phony charred taste of the burgers, lackluster buns, and the fries shiny with grease. At least I usually do.
Yesterday, after eating my 1/3 pound cheeseburger and curly fries, I didn’t get the same sense of satisfaction I usually do after a fast food meal. I sat down with great anticipation of this rare indulgent and - nothing. The burger was fairly flavorless and the fries, though plenty curly and tasty, seemed to be missing something. I left feeling full but at the same time, empty. Had my relationship with fast food changed? I could always count on it for a quick flavorful meal that felt indulgent and a little dangerous – as though I am testing the limits of my body to withstand the assault of cholesterol, fat and salt.
But yesterday – nothing. No rush. No great taste. No feeling of triumph that my body could withstand the onslaught of artery hardening, blood pressure pumping nutrients. And as I drove away, trying to analyze my experience, I realized that my disappointment wasn’t just that it didn’t taste as good as I remembered. It was my sneaking suspicion after all these years, that fast food isn’t real food. It’s as though it tricks us into thinking it’s food. But it’s really just a clever cloaked facsimile. Will I eat it again? Probably. Sometimes fast food is truly an act of desperation. But I won’t expect much the next time around.
Beth Kitchin, MS, RD
Assistant Professor, Nutrition SciencesUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham