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August 4, 2011 / Roy

Can Fast Food and Fitness Co-Exist?

How can you work at a health and fitness company, but then write about Fast Food?

People often ask me this question, in some form.  How can I eat fast food, and be taken seriously as a someone in the health and fitness sphere?  How can I possibly eat a Big Mac knowing what I know about McDonald’s and the Nutrition Facts?  Haven’t I seen Food, Inc.?

I think it helps to take chronology into account.  I wrote about Fast Food long before I started working at a fitness company.  Between June ’10 and December ’10, I ate fast food approximately once per week, as I was writing about one column per week.  And in that time period, I gained weight.  In January ’11, I started writing around twice per week for Serious Eats, and thus eating fast food twice per week.  And my weight went down.  Why? I paid very close attention to what I was eating the other 90% of the time.

In the half year from June ’10 to December ’10, I became much more involved with Serious Eats.  I attended review dinners, I visited their offices, and I was the recipient of many doggie bags.  Consequently, a large percentage of the food I ate came from restaurants — generally very rich food — and it was primarily free.  That took me to a point where I was the heaviest that I’d been in my entire life.  From January ’11 to May ’11, I almost doubled up on fast food, writing two columns per week.  But, I cut out things I used to eat and drink: Oreos, BBQ ribs, Hamburgers, and Miller High Life.  I added in Spinach, Tofu, Chickpeas, and a lot of salad.

I don’t pretend that Fast Food is healthy.  In fact, I know it’s not, and I know why it’s not.  But I am a pragmatist.  It’s there, and we eat it.  Some of us eat too much fast food, and ought to reduce that amount.  Some of us eat a harmless amount of fast food, and a harmful amount of other rich foods that don’t carry the same negative stigma.

Yes it is a hypothesis.  I haven’t done nearly enough research.  But, my diet experience made made me think that fast food becomes a scapegoat for deeper, systematic issues with the American Diet, and that notion prompted me to want to work in the health and fitness sphere.

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