Sunday, August 22, 2010

Comfort of modern life

I think it's fair to say many of us go about our day without giving much thought to life before endless convenience. Partly because, depending on your age, the conveniences have always been there and partly because our lives are so busy.

I won't lie, modern conveniences really help me out and I do rely on many to keep me sane and my kids happy but not all conveniences are created equal. The 24 hour drive-thru on just about every other corner is a perfect example. Food produced for the fast food model is neither health conscious nor environmentally friendly. The biggest problem is how much we underestimate the impact. Whether it's denial or a lack of understanding of how the fast food system works, the masses continue to eat food ordered through a speaker and handed to them through a window.

I'm just going to come out and say it - fast food is not good food and we shouldn't eat it and more importantly, we should not give it to our children. As easy as I know it is to make a quick stop at the drive-thru on the way home, we shouldn't. I'm familiar with the hungry and tired toddler, screaming for food. It's a piercing, worthy of being used as a torture technique, out of control, gonna jump out a window sound, I know, I've been there. Putting an end to the screaming lunatic(s) in the backseat becomes your one and only concern. Okay and maybe fulfilling your now intense need for a McSundae (hello stress relief!) BUT take a deep breath and keep driving.

I'm also familiar with being so tired and broken that the last thing I feel like doing is making dinner. I think it's these occasions that I'm the most vulnerable to giving in to crappy food. But again, skip it! And hey, once upon a time, not too long ago, I stuffed items of the fast food variety down my throat once in a while (one handed, while driving - can we say heartburn?) so I'm not perfect and most definitely not writing from a soapbox. I am only suggesting we think twice before giving in to the fast food convenience for convenience sake.

Taking a few minutes out (kids screaming or not) to pack some snacks for each child AND myself prior to leaving the house is the only way I was able to eliminate the need to stop for substandard eats. I find that bringing more than seems necessary is key, translation: more than one snack per child and not underestimating what I need for myself to get by. Adding a separate lunch bag to my already full arms isn't easy but I've managed to make it work even with carrying a baby, holding a three year old's hand, diaper bag on one shoulder, purse on the other, keys in hand, while walking down stairs. Yes, I'm a sweaty mess by the time we get to the car but that's what deodorant is for, getting my monies worth I suppose.

By the same token, having easy meals in the freezer or fridge for those nights that are sans energy will save you from resorting to (un)happy meals full of mystery meat and "natural flavor." I'm not the most organized person so some nights I struggle but a decently stocked pantry gets me out of trouble on those occasions. A 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, some olive oil and garlic make for a quick and easy red sauce. Add some whole grain boxed pasta and you have a great meal. Ideally, I dream of having homemade casseroles and other homemade whole meals in my freezer that I can just transfer to the oven or microwave. I'll get there.

Bottom line is good nutrition is important and so is the environment. Any steps we can take to eliminate eating low quality fast foods will make a difference.


  1. yes, this is so tricky! We've pretty much cut fast food out of our diet (thank you Food Inc. for making me never want that stuff again!) but we still fall prey occasionally to the "what's for dinner?" nights...

  2. Food Inc. made me want to stop eating food all together! Not possible of course so here's to making the best choices possible. And I am so familiar with the "what's for dinner?" nights - too familiar.