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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Is fast food addiction all in the head?

Why is fast food so addictive?

What is it about carbs and sugar that tempts us even when we’re adamant we’ll never touch the stuff again? I guess you could get very philosophical about the nature of temptation and also how the way we live our lives means we are in need of rewards. But I am really wondering why fast food, food on the run and even grazing is so hard wired into contemporary life. How did these changes come about?

Is it too hard to ignore constant prompts and reminders?

I guess we all understand the nature of sugar addiction and fast food joints seem to provide plenty of that. After a while it is extremely easy to become totally hooked on sugar and it appear everywhere from fries to bread to ketchup/ Anyone who has attempted to give up sugar will know that it provokes great cravings and withdrawal can be very hard to manage. In addition we love convenience. We pass the golden arches wherever we go so always seem reminded that fast food is a part of our lifestyle. How often do we plan to eat fast food and how often is it an impulse? Temptation is always so hard to resist isn’t it?

Photo chuttersnap

How many people still sit down and take time to eat a slow breakfast?

However, there was a time when most meals were eaten at a table with a knife and fork and were served on a china plate. There was a ritual of food preparation, communal dining and then washing up. Friends have told me how they can still remember how the dining table was set out for breakfast as well as evening meals. Others have said that tablecloths, proper napkins, sugar tongs and milk in jugs were always part of the everyday routine. This seems like another world. Who has time to sit down for a family breakfast? It would be interesting to know just how many people take the time to have a proper breakfast these days.

Meal times have fallen into step with the ‘on demand’ culture

We have seen this concept develop over time but really explode since the turn of the century. The world revolves around what we want and when we want it. That may be a bespoke taxi service, streaming entertainment or food delivery. It strikes me that consumption and pretty egocentric approaches to life have lead to our addiction to fast food and perhaps an inability to regulate just how much we eat in a day. I’m not sure.

What does the fasting fad say about our relationship to food?

But the fasting trend does demonstrate that many people are thinking hard about what they eat, when and how the consume food. We’ve also seen a shift towards healthier fast food After all, who said that burger and chips was the only fast food option? Leon has seen great success by embracing what might be termed ‘casual dining’ where you don’t have to devote hours to eating well. I think we have to acknowledge that 21st century life is hectic. We do expect to pack in far more in 24 hours that people did in the past. Therefore the ability to find innovative and healthy food quickly is a prerequisite to contemporary living. We want nutritious fast food that is innovative and nourishing for body, mind and soul. Interestingly Leon’s CEO John Vincent is passionate about providing fresh ingredients that will promote gut health and adhere to Mediterranean food principles. This is very different from the fried fast food mantra.

I think we are on the cusp of a real sea change.

If people are fasting they are likely to want to make the very best of the time and calorie allocation they allot themselves. Already one fast food drive thru in California is now a vegan take out joint and I can’t help feeling we will be seeing some really radical meat free alternatives to traditional fast food. What would be your fast food take out heaven? Is it time for a complete overhaul of fast food or is it all about a little restraint? A strange word to choose at the start of December perhaps, but let’s see what happens when I step on the scales after Christmas.

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