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Kicking the drive-thru out.

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If you're like me, you don't have a diet laden with fast food, but you still make frequent trips to the drive thru that end up costing more than expected in both the wallet and health departments. In addition to this, there's often guilt and regret associated with these trips I make.

My most common incident occurs when I get hunger pangs and feel too lazy to whip something up real quick. On my way home from whatever activity has conjured this hunger, I'll swing by a fast food joint and usually order the unhealthiest things on the menu. The food is often of low health, taste and value quality, but it's quick and there and I don't have to worry about cooking and cleaning up messes. This has been something I do every now and then, but these kind of greasy food joint trips are becoming more common and threatening.

I realize my first problem here is laziness, but I'm willing to get around this. In fact, I've already started to choose healthy and economical meal and snack alternatives to fast food. My problem is with being consistent with my more healthful diets for longer than a week or so. After a week and a half or so of avoiding fast food, I'll cave and end up getting fast food three nights in a row. It drains my wallet and my confidence. I realize it's probably unrealistic to be so torn up over eating it every now and then, and while I have higher goals of kicking fast food out of my life for good, I'm trying to approach the situation with more realistic baby steps versus cold-turkey leaps of faith.

If anyone has any similar experiences or any advice, I'd greatly appreciate it. I don't know if I'd consider this issue of mine a heavy eating disorder, but it's caused some trouble since it's linked with feelings of remorse, low self-esteem, and tormented confidence, so I've decided to reach out about it.

Just a note - I'm not overweight/underweight and I'm fairly healthy, but this doesn't mean my health isn't at risk on both mental and physical levels. I am not bulimic or anorexic, and don't believe my symptoms of guilt and such fall in line these conditions. My work out habits are beginning to pan out better than expected, and I'm staying moderately to highly active on a day to day basis, but I'm still not where I'd like to be. So, there's a lot of improvement I'd like to make. Kicking the drive-thru out is one major issue keeping me from reaching my goals.

Thanks for reading, by the way.

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I lost a lot of weight while allowing myself the occasional fast food splurge. I just had to practice portion control. I love McDonalds and I just had to eat cheeseburgers and not Big Macs or other big sandwiches. The other thing is that fast food joints are by far not the worst offenders in terms of unhealthy food-- sit down restaurants, especially mid-priced chains, are far worse.

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Hey -

You say that you are making your diet healthier, but have you considered pre-preparing some meals and snack foods that you can just grab quickly, above and beyond keeping healthy ingredients in the house to prepare when you're hungry? For example, something non-perishable that you can stick in the car and maybe a few meals ready to eat in the fridge or freezer? I make easy stuff like pasta sauce, chilli, stuff that is easy to make in big batches, and I freeze portions so that I can grab them quickly if I need a meal and I don't want to cook. Carrot sticks or nuts or crackers are examples of good snacks that you can keep on you for a while before they go bad. Because it seems like easy access to prepared food is one issue in this behavior, and that's not soooooo hard to get around if you're willing to stock up in advance. And if it's prepared in advance, the cleanup is minimal.

It seems like another aspect is a sort of impulsive aspect, where you want to stop doing this but you can't seem to. Now, I'm a binge eater, which is impulsivity galore. And one thing that I've learned that really helps me is that total deprivation is a HUGE binging trigger. I don't know if this is how it is for you, but if I completely go on a healthy diet and I never allow myself to deviate, I start to feel deprived and hard done by. Then I feel justified in eating something I shouldn't. And at that point, I feel so justified that I WILL binge and find myself back to square one. Perhaps it might make more sense to reduce your fast food habit, and make healthier choices. For example, limit yourself to once a week, and have a look at nutritional info and try to find something that is still tasty, but is less bad for you.

You also say that you go on a diet, and then you end up having fast food like 3 nights in a row. Is this because if you slip up once, you think that there's no point in continuing, so you may as well just go whole hog? Because that's an issue I have. It can be important to be aware of thoughts like that, to try to limit slip-ups and quickly get back on track, rather than just wallowing in whatever behavior you slipped up with.

You could also consider more stringent approaches, such as bringing only enough cash to do what you need to do, and leaving your plastic at home. Can't hit the drive through if you don't have any money. This can be more or less possible depending on what it is that you need to do while you're out.

One thing that I am working on is trying to make a distinction between impulse and action. Just because I WANT to eat a whole bag of potato chips, doesn't mean I have to do so. Even if I REALLY want to. It's not going to kill me to not do it. Sometimes I can say to myself "Okay, I am going to wait now, and if I still want to do it in five minutes, I will". And then in five minutes, I wait five more - wash, rinse repeat.

Anyway, these are various strategies that I use to try to manage my binge eating. I don't know if any of it will be helpful for your problem.

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yeah, binge eating can be kind of difficult to manage. I tend to be a binge eater, and once I have "fallen off the diet wagon" it can be hard to get back on. that said, a diet that allows me a certain amount of "normal eating" or 'non-restricted eating" is important. i eat fast food maybe once a month? It's not a huge big deal for me now that I've accepted that i can have the occasional fast food meal if I want it. In fact, i've found the more I try to not focus on what i CANNOT have, the easier things get. And the less guilt I have over 'falling off the wagon" the easier it is to get back on.....

a therapist might help you with some of these strategies and working on the guilt and shame issues, definitely, and I think tryp and muriel do have some good suggestions here.


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Thank you, everyone. I really feel like I've gotten some legitimate, useful advice.

tryp, I get what you're saying about trying to "reduce" my fast food trips versus eliminating them altogether. This makes much more sense and comes off as much more rational. After all, I don't want to risk caving after a week or so of being free of fast food. My life is quick and busy at the moment and I don't always have the time to whip up nutritional meals.

However, I'm loving your advice about keeping pre-prepared meals on hand and non-perishable snacks in the car, and believe these ideas will help me to have more nutritional and cheaper choices in the future. In fact, I've already practiced this by preparing a couple things that lasted me quite longer than expected. It helped me avoid driving through the curve of shame, that's for sure. Preparation took a little time, but there was no shame in zapping and even eating directly from the fridge a couple times the healthful whole grain, vegetable, and vitamin-rich meals I prepared myself.

Sometimes a trip to the grocery store is what's needed. Of course it may take longer to shop, but the rewards are far higher than zipping through a fast food drive thru. I've found there's a lot of stuff that can be found in the grocery store that can be prepared just as quick, if not quicker, than a value meal can be thrown together and handed through a window. Salads, lean lunch meats, vegetables, fruits, peanut butter, bread, etc, etc. There's a lot I believe I've been using on a day to day basis but have been neglecting to give credit to in the availability and quickness departments.

I'm feeling good about what Anna said, too. Focusing on what I can't or shouldn't be eating is going to make me crave it more. This is something I've probably been leaving unaddressed. Obviously, fast food isn't all that bad if one doesn't constantly consume it. I believe I need to stop looking at it as a death sentence for my arteries and thus me, and think a lot more realistically about the situation. I tend to catastrophize like this daily. This should also help in the guilt department and such. Making healthy choices while eating fast food is also there - portion size, calories, sugar, fat, etc. are all things I'll keep in mind when turning to the drive-thru. Not to mention the fact that I should eat meals for nutrition and when I'm hungry, not to drown emotions and whatnot.

I suppose that's something I never mentioned in my last post. Time to time, I find myself turning to food for comfort. I believe I can still turn to food for comfort, but in more healthful ways. Who's to say that a piece of sweet, fresh fruit or a bowl of whole grain pasta and vegetables can't be as comforting as a grease-stained cup of fries or a giant milkshake? I need to keep my options open...and my appetite. laugh.gif

Thanks again everyone! I really appreciate the advice and responses.

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