If You Eat at McDonald’s, You’re Not Even Trying

ZoesQuinoaSaladYesterday at lunchtime I was sitting on the patio of my favorite fast casual Mediterranean restaurant enjoying a quinoa salad (no feta) with a little grilled chicken and a Greek-style dressing. It’s my go-to lunch and it’s delicious, filling, and healthy.

As it happens, the patio at this particular Zoe’s Kitchen is adjacent to a McDonald’s drive through. As I sat there soaking in this gorgeous Phoenix afternoon, I watched as car after car came through the drive through picking up their Big Macs, fries and sodas. The line never slowed during the 30 minutes or so I sat there eating my salad.

I know it’s not politically correct to fat shame people, but maybe it’s time we held some people accountable for their lifestyle choices when it comes to food. It wasn’t lost on me as I sat there that just a few days earlier the headlines across America announced that American adults are getting fatter. Here’s an excerpt:

New data shows that nearly 40 percent of them were obese in 2015 and 2016, a sharp increase from a decade earlier, federal health officials reported Friday. — New York Times

40 percent of American adults are now obese. Let that sink in for a second. More than one in three of us! How can this be the case given everything we now know about diet and health? What kind of person says to themselves it’s lunchtime, I think I’ll go to McDonald’s for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and a shake?

There’s no logical reason for a grown adult to eat at McDonald’s. I realize there are some extenuating circumstances that have led us to become among the fattest people in the history of the world. Yes, food is addictive. Yes, some people have low metabolism and are susceptible to gaining weight. Yes, there are socioeconomic determinants of health.

But W-T-F America, stay the hell out of McDonald’s. There are so many better choices, several right there in the same shopping center. Time is not an excuse — you can get in and out of a fast casual restaurant like Zoe’s with a to-go order in 10 minutes.

I guess it bothered me so much because I’m trying so friggin’ hard to stay healthy. I have never had a weight problem, and I never smoked, yet I had a heart attack at 45. I try to limit the pity parties in my head, but when I see people eating at McDonald’s I get angry. The same thing happens to me when I see a morbidly obese person. I know it’s not right, but when I see huge people I think to myself how is it possible I had a heart attack and they haven’t?

I also get pissed when the local baseball team promotes their newest “food” item and they seem so proud of themselves for offering fans a Funnel Cake Chicken Sandwich or a Churro Dog, which is a cinnamon churro inside a chocolate-glazed doughnut, topped with frozen yogurt, caramel, and chocolate sauce. A few years back they offered a $25 18-inch cheese filled corn dog that came in at a whopping 3,000 calories. That’s 500 more calories than a healthy man is supposed to eat in a day. And I’d go to the games and see otherwise normal looking people eating this disgusting display.

I’m not suggesting you don’t binge once in while. Have a dog and a beer at the ballpark. But for fuck’s sake don’t eat a deep fried chicken sandwich with funnel cake in place of bread. Have some restraint.

The New York Times story about obesity immediately brought to mind the Pixar film Wall-e in which the human race has gotten so fat they can’t walk anymore so they ride around in movable chairs and the food comes to them. They drink cupcakes in a cup (coming soon to a Diamondbacks game near you no doubt). I thought this film was supposed to represent a dystopia, not a glimpse into the not-too-distant future.

Am I bitter? Yes. Yes, I am. Maybe you’re thinking to yourself Len, chillax, have a Double Double once in a while, it won’t kill you. Easy for you to say — you probably don’t have three stents holding open your left anterior descending artery.

But beyond bitterness, I’m flabbergasted. I honestly can’t understand what would make someone walk into a McDonald’s. And don’t give me the “McDonald’s has healthy options” diatribe. I call B.S. on that. The fruit and yogurt parfait has 22 grams of sugar. The Low-Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing has 9 grams of sugar and 400 mg of sodium. And seriously, who eats a salad at McDonald’s? Maybe as a side dish for your Sweet BBQ Bacon with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken sandwich (1,760 mg of sodium, 18 grams of sugar, and 79 grams of carbs). Don’t forget your large Dr. Pepper (73 grams of sugar).

Why are 40% of Americans obese, according to the New York Times article?

While the latest survey data doesn’t explain why Americans continue to get heavier, nutritionists and other experts cite lifestyle, genetics, and, most importantly, a poor diet as factors. Fast food sales in the United States rose 22.7 percent from 2012 to 2017, according to Euromonitor, while packaged food sales rose 8.8 percent.

To paraphrase political pundit James Carville — It’s the food, stupid!