Do you want to go to Hawaii? Is there some other fun place you would like to visit? Do you think you can't afford it?
Maybe you can.
Let’s look at how much we are spending on fast food. One study reports that the average American spends $1200 a year on fast food. 70% of us eat at fast food establishments three times a week and seven percent eat out every day.[i] Other studies show a correlation between the rise of obesity in the United States and the increase in the availability of fast food[ii].
Why do we choose fast food?
Consider that the majority of fast food options are processed foods. They are high in fat, sodium and sugar and are often called highly palatable foods (meaning we like them). These foods cause cravings that make us desire them. Have you ever craved a Big Mac or an order of fries? Sure, most of us have or do but do we crave vegetables? Not likely. We can easily get sucked into fast food but we have to make a conscious effort to train our brains and palate to want vegetables.
We pick up fast food when we drive home from work. We grab a taco for the kids (and ourselves) to hold them over until dinner as we carpool them from school to soccer practice. We order pizza on the weekend. We head out for lunch when we are working instead of packing a lunch. One study shows that Americans spend $936 annually just on lunch! [iii] More than one third of our kids eat fast food every day[iv]. It is an interesting correlation that one-third of our kids are also overweight[v].
Does this mean we should never eat out? Of course not. You can find some healthy options at some fast food establishments but realize that the portions and calorie count may be enough for 3 meals and not just one!
When I first became involved in working with individuals who are addicted to certain foods or to compulsive eating, my husband and I decided to decrease our eating out. We made a decision to dine out only once a month and decided that every time one of us suggested eating out we would take the amount of money we would have spent and put it in a jar marked “vacation”.
So we started our little experiment. It wasn’t long before we were both amazed at how often we had been eating out and learned how much we had actually been spending. At first it was hard. The highly-palatable foods produced in fast-food establishments nearly screamed our names but we kept at it. Soon, we felt excited as we watched the jar fill and our motivation increased. At the end of our 12-month experiment, we took the money we had saved and went together on a great and memorable road trip to Arizona where we visited friends and hiked our way around some beautiful sites in this country.
In 2014 Americans spent $198,000,000,000 on fast food. Count the zeros. Projections are that by 2020 that amount will be in excess of$232,000,000,000[vi]
Maybe our money could be better spent somewhere else…
… like Hawaii.
[i] 2016, How Much Money Do Americans Spend of Fast Food. https://www.reference.com/food/much-money-americans-spend-fast-food-597cd336a3c818fb?qo=contentSimilarQuestions#
[ii] What are the statistics behind obesity and fast food consumption? https://www.reference.com/health/statistics-behind-obesity-fast-food-consumption-4db9523946f8e64e?qo=cdpArticles
[iii]2013, Lunchtime: Americans Spend Nearly 1k Eating Out for Lunch. http://www.forbes.com/sites/halahtouryalai/2013/09/25/lunchtime-americans-spend-nearly-1k-annually-eating-out-for-lunch/#5af86bcd3b19
[iv] Newsweek (2015). More than one-third of American kids eat fast food everyday. http://www.newsweek.com/fast-food-obesity-americans-national-center-health-statistics-373091
[v] Overweight and Obesity Statistics https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx