- Food and Cooking
How Your Family Can Kick the Fast Food Habit
Fast Food Addiction is Real
Many times, people will say things that really don't actually mean. For example, when I was in college I was addicted to a certain type of burrito sold at local 7-11 stores.
I had to have at least one every day and would go out of my way to get one at any time. OK, so I wasn't actually addicted. It's been at least 30 years since I have had one of those delicious burritos.
Even though my "burrito jones" was real it was more likely a craving, not an addiction. Fast food on the other hand may be something to which everyday people can indeed become addicted.
A recent study conducted by the Archives of General Psychiatry discovered that certain foods may affect the brain in a way similar to cocaine's affect on the brain.
The research revealed that High-fat and high-sugar foods may take over the brain's normal craving response and turn it into something closer to an addiction.
People addicted to fast food actually feel like they need it - must have it. In this sense, addiction to fast food is possible.
Find out more about the symptoms of fast food addiction in this article - click here.
The Ultimate Guide to Breaking Your Family's Fast Food Habit
If you think your family may be in the habit of eating too much fast food, there is something you can do about it. Some of these things may be easily accepted, others not so much. I'll tell you right up front that kicking the fast food habit will save you money, but will also require more time for meal planning, shopping and food preparation.
If you are concerned about your family's health, here are some things you can do to kick the fast food habit.
Take Advantage of Readily Available Fully-Cooked Foods.
Grocery stores and markets everywhere are aware that more people want to eat at home. The trouble is that most people are simply just too busy to shop and prepare meals for their families at home. With pre-cooked foods available at most stores, this is no longer a problem.
Now it's simple to pick up a fully-cooked rotisserie chicken, some frozen vegetables and bread on the way home form work. The chicken is ready to go so all you have to do is steam the veggies in the microwave and set the bread out - instant meal at home without all the fat, sugar and sodium found in most fast food.
Discover the Magic of Pasta.
The great thing about pasta is that it stores for a long time and is ready when you want it. All you do is boil some water for the pasta and add a few simple ingredients to make a delicious dinner at home. In the cupboard, you need to stock tapenades, pitted olives, sun-dried tomatoes, various types of bruschetta, pine nuts and pesto.
You can also easily add some of the pre-cooked chicken from the previous day's meal. Pasts is very versatile and you can add just about anything to it - including vegetables, salted meats like pepperoni, ground beef - anything really.
Prepared Sauces for a Quick Meal.
Combine pasta with marinara sauce for an easy spaghetti type dish. Add pepperoni or frozen, prepared meatballs for more variety. Don't forget the easy garlic bread.
Another quick and delicious meal can be prepared with vegetables like frozen peas, sliced or baby carrots, cauliflower, canned garbanzo beans all combined together in Masala Simmer sauce. Add some cubed, pre-cooked chicken and serve on rice or noodles to make the perfect main dish.
Take a look at the huge selection of prepared sauces at your local market - I think you will be surprised how easy it is to make a variety of different main dishes for your family. With a little creativity, you should be able to make hundreds of delicious main dishes for your family.
Bagged Salads Make Meals So Easy.
The bagged salad is one of the greatest things to happen to working people who are trying to prepare wholesome, nutritional meals at home. Have you noticed how many different varieties are available?
Just grab a few of these different varieties and add some simple items like cranberries, almonds, french-fried onions, croutons or pine nuts - the possibilities are virtually endless. To keep calories down, use a simple combination of balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dressing.
Stop Tipping the Pizza Guy.
Better yet, stop ordering delivered pizza altogether - save some money and make better pizza. If you knew what went into most of these greasy delivery pizzas, you would probably never eat them.
Instead, buy a pack of ready-made pizza dough at the store and top it with your own favorite toppings. Bake your homemade pizzas at a high oven temp (500° F) using a good pizza stone for the absolute best pizza crust. Once you try this, you'll never go back to those other pizzas.
Desserts Make the Meal.
Desserts that are simple and easy to prepare are best. We have a simple cobbler recipe that we like to make every once in a while. It involves stirring up a cake mix and pouring it into a cake pan, then adding our favorite can of fruit.
Toss it in the oven for 35-40 minutes at 375° F and bake until golden brown. Sometimes we'll add a bit of ice cream on top - delicious! Other easy desserts include cookies, apples with caramel sauce, or a pound cake with fresh fruit, a bit of chocolate syrup and whipped cream. For a lighter version, use angel food cake.
Set and Forget Crock Pot Cooking.
One of the best things we have come across for preparing a homemade meal easily is the crock pot. It is SO simple - for most dishes, we literally just add the ingredients, turn it on and go. The food cooks all day long and is ready when everyone gets home for dinner that evening.
The wonderful thing about crock pot is what they do to meat - some of the most tender roast, chicken and pork we have ever eaten came from our crock pot. I have an App on my iPhone that contains about 100 different crock pot recipes. If you haven't yet tried this easy way to prepare wholesome, delicious food, I highly recommend it.
Remember, processed foods will typically have unwanted - even unhealthy amounts of preservatives, sodium or other additives. It's always best to make things at home using the most basic ingredients. Before you go shopping, make a meal plan - remember to keep meals simple. Get a good quality set of pots, pans and utensils. Finally, get more time with your family by including them in meal preparation and planning.
Break Away From Fast Food Gradually
If you are trying to get away form eating so much fast food, let me suggest that you make any changes slowly. If you're eating fast food about 6 or 7 times a week, try cutting that down to just 4 or 5 the first week, then 3 or 4 the next week, etc.
Any abrupt change is likely to be stressful on family members and will probably not be welcome. Make sure you try out or use time-tested recipes for these first meals. You what your family to prefer the taste of these homemade meals more than the overly-processed, high-fat, sodium-laden fast food fare.
Best of luck to you!