For me, it was a quarter-pounder with cheese, large fries, and a chocolate shake. There is just no telling how many times I made that order, but that was a long time ago. I swore off fast food years ago and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Not too long ago, I decided to give fast food a try again, just to see if I was missing something. It was absolutely dreadful and after a bite or two, I threw it all away. I had to ask myself how people can eat something that tastes so bad? I drive by a popular fast food place almost every day and it is always packed. I just don’t get it. What has happened to America’s pallet?
I read an article recently in Methodist Magazine titled “Are Your Taste Buds Sabotaging You from Eating Healthy?” and it explained a lot. The fast food companies make a great effort trying to make foods highly palatable, in fact, they have become experts at overwhelming your pallet with a combination of added sugars, salt, and saturated fats. It’s a lethal combination. The writer quotes Angela Snyder, a wellness dietitian at Houston Methodist, as saying, “They pour a lot of time and money into researching how to create foods that are multisensory, resulting in processed foods that can absolutely manipulate our taste buds and trigger the reward centers in our brains.”
But I’ll take it a step further, by manipulating your taste buds, they dramatically change the way you taste your food. I promise you, that if you quit eating fast food for a few months (do you shutter at the thought?) and then go back to your evil ways, you will have to ask yourself, “How in the world could I have thought that burger was so good?”
You may think I am being cynical, but I assure you that the fast food companies could care less about your health. All they want is your money. How bad is it? I was talking to a young lady a few years ago that worked at one of the big chains. She told me she had customers that eat there three times a day. A diet that includes only fast food? It’s hard to believe.
Going back to the Methodist article, it quotes the American Heart Association as recommending limiting yourself to 24 grams of added sugar per day for women, 36 grams for men, 2,300 milligrams of salt per day, and 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat per day (for someone eating a 2,000-calorie diet). I assure you that if you eat fast food on a regular basis, these goals will be impossible.
As a food writer, and an avid home cook, I am appalled to think that there is a significant percentage of people out there that are just not capable of tasting really good food. What a pity!