Stop Blaming McDonalds and Your Childhood

I started writing this post on June 29th, but have been avoiding writing it for awhile because once I publish it, I am accountable. It’s scary for me because it means that I’m going to have to commit to changing my lifestyle for the rest of my life. But it’s also liberating because now that I’m acknowledging what traps me in my automatic behaviours, I can finally stop blaming my lack of willpower and lack of readiness.

Since the last post I’ve been on summer vacation for a few months, and I’ll be honest, McDonald’s (along with A&W, Pizza Pizza, Tim Hortons, and others) have collectively won no less than 20 times. But it wasn’t exactly a battle all of those times. Most times it was because I was out for the whole day and didn’t pack lunch/dinner/snacks, so cheap convenience made sense. Other times, it was because I either didn’t have enough groceries, or creativity to use what I had to make something I would actually eat. Yet, there were also those times when I did plan ahead and made a recipe that seemed as though it would be delicious, but just was not palatable.

How did I even arrive here though? I really thought that way before now I’d be able to have what I eat in check, especially after starting my program to become an ND. Yet, I never really took the time to thoroughly accept where this habit came from, nor did I appreciate that it would take serious time to overcome it. Instead, I tried going cold turkey, and found myself sneaking McDonald’s meals into my room during the school year…although I bet most people could smell the pungently delicious fry odour as I passed by.

Baby-Eating-McDonalds     So where did it begin? My upbringing of course…that’s where everything begins*! I don’t remember many days when I was younger where I didn’t have junk food for dinner…no plethora of vegetables, no encouragement of drinking 8 glasses of water a day, no inclusion of physical activity aside from the mandatory (how many minutes?) in gym class. And if you sense an undertone of anger as I write this it’s because I am upset – I do wish that I was raised with better habits, because the ones which deplete my health (ie. poor eating, erratic sleeping, being stressed just because) have stuck with me, and I know that if I were raised with the reverse of these same habits, I’d be a very different woman today.

     This new year, improving my eating habits (amongst sleep, regular physical activity, and stress management), became a top priority for me. A milestone I had finally achieved since my first of many attempts in 2009 was to commit to the elimination diet for at least 3 weeks (mainly to try to identify food triggers of my migraines). I was able to do it for a month because I was not as overwhelmed with school as I had been in the semester prior, I was very self-motivated, and my intern inspired me to take ownership of my health.  Yet, midterms, familial, and relationship stress triggered the first migraine since  stripping my diet, leading me to crave exactly what I was trying to stop ingesting…you guessed it (McDonalds :P). Ever since, I’d feel guilty everytime I’d eat it, and continued to be full of excuses.

A new urgency to take action struck me on my 24th birthday this year, as though my last year before I become a quarter of a century in age (and thereby no longer a baby according to some of my older and wiser friends), are opening my eyes to my familial, genetic, cultural, and ethnic predispositions: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, neuro-muscular disorders, etc.

no-fast-food     Another widening of my eyelids took place when my honest, non-people pleasing “radical friend” called me out on my endless excuses. We were at the beaches after I had shadowed an acupuncturist for the day, and the last meal I had eaten was 7 hours earlier. My choice of nourishment to break the fast was a DELICIOUS poutine and SATISFYING milkshake from Hero Burger (omg, pure satisfaction in my mouth!). “Radical friend” made it a point to mention that I eat junk food a lot…aren’t I studying to be a Naturopathic Doctor?…who’s going to take me seriously?…if I know about the inhumane treatment of the animals and workers which occurs within the fast food industry, why do I support it? (not necessarily by eating Hero Burgers, but moreso fast food in general). The phrase that hit the spot for me is something his brother always says: “don’t TALK about it, BE about it”

Needless to say, I am a sensitive individual, so I left our evening-long conversation feeling misunderstood, unheard, and really wanted more sympathy from my dear “radical friend.” Yet, I actually called him a few days ago to thank him because that radical character, though painful at times, is strikingly honest with nothing short of good intent. And I thought about it, I don’t want to eat 1000 different cows in one burger; I don’t want to show that I condone the irresponsible, greedy motivations and consequences of the fast food industry by providing financial support and consuming it. I really do want to change for my own health, but I also hope to be another person who accepts personal responsibility.

But I also know that I can’t stop cold turkey. I’ll fill you in on my method of change in a future post 😉

*I was raised based on what my family thought was best at the time and I am grateful for their love behind their actions, yet I am at the stage in my life where  need to take responsibility for myself, and release them by acknowledging that the past has impacted my automatic decisions to this day.