Is “Fast Food” Really Food At All?

This should be obvious to you but if you need to hear it one more time, here it is: Fast food is not healthy for you. It is questionable whether fast food is really even food at all.

Many video examples have been publicized showing time-lapse photography of fast food hamburgers and french fries sitting on a counter for weeks and even months. Surprisingly (or not), this “food” did not look any different after three months than when it was first purchased.

The reality is that Fast food is cheap food. It is convenient and quick and it tastes good. But Fast food hides 100’s of extra calories and is very high in fat, sugar and salt. Fast food is making this country sick and obese.

If convenience is the major reason you buy fast food, then make Sunday a day when you do the food shopping for the week and when you prepare meals for the upcoming week. This way you will have foods around and ready to go when the busy week gets underway. You will have chicken and fish on hand and veggies cut up in advance so you won’t have the excuse of “it’ll take too long to cook dinner tonight so I’ll just pick something up on the way home.” Having foods prepped in advance makes cooking the meal take just about as long as it takes for you to pull off the road, place an order and go through the drive-thru.

The same reasons why Fast Food has become so prevalent in our culture are also why frozen, packaged and processed meals have become so popular. Our overachieving, overworking, overwhelming lifestyle habits don’t leave us enough time to cook our own meals anymore. Instead of slowing down, we’ve created frozen meals in boxes that can be microwave ready to eat in 3-5 minutes.

These highly processed foods are depleted of any nutrients, are full of fat and full of salt. Then we use microwaves, which further destroys our health. New mothers are now taught not to use microwaves to warm their breast milk. Studies show that the microwave breaks down the proteins and antibodies the baby needs to grow healthy. So if microwaves destroy the nutritional quality of food rendering it unfit for a baby, why would we think it doesn’t destroy the food we eat as adults? Not only has microwave cooking been shown to alter the molecular structure of food, it is also now being associated with increased anemia, elevated cholesterol and exaggerated immune response.

Packaged meals usually full of chemicals, but there are more and more natural and even organic packaged meals on the market now. So if you absolutely have to, stock these healthier ones in your house. That way you have real food on hand as a quick alternative to making a fast food run.

Your meal isn’t something to rush through. Mealtime can be a great bonding time for family. Cooking together can be fun and educational. You can teach and empower your children with healthy cooking skills for when they are eventually out on their own.

Have meals together at the table rather than in front of the TV. Use dinnertime as a time for your family to bond, to discuss what is happening in each other’s lives, to listen to each other and to share with each other. Even dish washing can become talk time and hang out time.

Remember, our meals are meant to enrich us as well as nourish us.

While on topic of speed when it comes to our food, it is also time to slow down when we are eating. We are eating too fast.

In Europe, people spend hours sitting at the table eating their meals. They really enjoy their food and take their time eating it. Americans are so used to being served quickly, eating quickly and moving on to the next that they think European service is bad because it is so slow. It is more that they are not in the same rush as we are.

Take your time eating. Chew your food completely and put your fork or spoon down between bites to slow you down. It is better for your digestion and it shows better manners if you are not wolfing down your food. Take smaller bites so if had to answer a question from someone just as you placed the food in mouth, then you could answer reasonably well. I am by no means advocating talking with food in your mouth. This is certainly a disgusting habit. But if you absolutely had to answer, you wouldn’t have to move a huge chunk of food around in your mouth and worry about it falling out when you reply “Yes, please” to the question “would you like me to pour you some more wine?”

When you eat quickly, you also tend eat more than necessary because the food has not had time to feel like it is “hit bottom” yet. It takes time for your stomach to send the proper signals to your brain that you have eaten enough. Slow down, eat reasonable portion sizes, and if you still feel hungry after finishing, wait 10 minutes before getting a second helping. Give your body and brain time to register what you have eaten and chances are you will feel full enough in a few minutes.


*Exerpted from the Being Well Lifestyles Home Study Course by Dr. Jay Warren.

Drawing on over two decades of experience as a hands-on holistic practitioner, Dr. Jay Warren is a primary healthcare provider and licensed chiropractor in the San Diego area. He has spent tens of thousands of clinical hours helping his patients achieve their optimal health potential through holistic approaches bolstered by years of personal experimentation, education and research. Dr. Jay creates customized plans integrating exercise, nutrition and stress management strategies to overcome a myriad of health challenges. For more information, email or visit

About the Author

Dr. Jay Warren has been a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor for 17 years. He is also the Wellness Care Coordinator at the CAP Wellness Center in San Diego, CA where 90% of his practice is pregnant or postpartum women and babies under one year old. Dr. Jay is a proud member of the ICPA and APPPAH (the Association or Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health) and the host of the podcast “Healthy Births, Happy Babies” in iTunes. His online program, “Connecting with Baby” guides pregnant women through processes to strengthen maternal bonding for a happier pregnancy, gentler birth and easier post-partum experience. Dr. Jay is also the proud father of his 3 year old son, Niko who keeps him very busy (and happy) outside of the office.