Enjoy your Big Mac and DQ Blizzard today? The fast food may have made you feel better for the moment, but psychologists indicate that there may be a link between fast food consumption and high stress levels.
Fast food is quick, easy, and energy rich. The problem is, according to Psychology Today, is that all that quick energy comes in the form of fat and sugar.
Never mind that a fast food diet is likely to lead to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The high consumption of fat, sugar and combined calories in fast food is driving the nation’s stress level even higher.
Fast food meals deprive you of the fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health and that help your body control and handle stress appropriately.
You are also more likely to eat highly processed foods grown with high levels of hormones and pesticides when your diet consists of large amounts of fast food. The effect of such diets is not completely clear, but it appears that the consumption of hormones and pesticides may lead to a plethora of health problems.
The recent article in Psychology Today, Nature’s Bounty: The Far Reach of Fast Food, by Hara Astroff Marano, indicates that the impact of fast food diets goes beyond health issues to have a behavioral impact on stress.
You may not even be eating fast food and may still be impacted by its effects, reports Marano. There appears to be a link between the fast food culture and the time-stress individuals feel when they are exposed even to fast food signs, icons, and symbols.
Just seeing the “Golden Arches” may help elevate your stress levels and put you in a slightly frenzied state because of the time-consciousness and pace associated with fast food. It has been observed to speed up the rate at which people read, eat, and make decisions. All of which result in added stress.
Research indicates that the reactions to fast food and its symbols are automatic, making the stress inducing feelings difficult to escape. They have become a part, Marano says, of living a lifestyle the past 50 years that has been impacted by a fast food culture and immediate gratification.
Fast food restaurants and symbols, not to mention fast food breaks, cause us to want things quickly. It impacts our thinking to become oriented to saving time and money, which, you may have guessed, is a stress inducer.
So, fast food environmental cues may drive up your stress level. How are we to handle what seems an inevitable conditioning of our behavior. As always, recognizing the truth is one of the best ways to combat the impact of a fast food nation and fast food icons on your decisions and behaviors. Because the fast food culture is so pervasive this will be a challenging shift if thinking and behaving, but those who are strong and wish to reduce the stress in their life must recognize and reduce the stressful impact of the fast food mentality.
It may be best to minimize the impact of fast food and fast food icons in your life in order to stave off the “have it your way, right away” mentality, that leads to a sense of urgency, and builds stress.
Slow down, and realize that everything doesn’t have to be fast. The speed at which we think and operate will affect our own stress levels. I challenge you not to give fast food that much control of the stress in your life.
Marano, Hara Estroff. Nature’s Bounty: The Far Reach of Fast Food, Psychology Today