I went to Carl’s Jr. the other night.
Worse, I took my whole family…indoctrinating my children to high fat, high carb, high calorie fast foods. And, I showed little restraint. It was like a multi-day Roman festival to the God of Girth. Yep…not just chicken strips and maybe a grilled chicken sandwich for me. It was fries, milkshakes and BURGERS.
And I loved it. Felt like I ate real food for the first time in about 2 years.
As a family doc, I’m constantly trying to convince people to give up their addictions, vices and bad habits. Chief among them is smoking, of course, but I’m also trying to get people to eat less, exercise more and watch things like cholesterol and lipids. Then look what I go do.
Let’s break it down:
Based on the awkwardly-named “Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies”: The average human of my body size and activity should consume the following in any 24 hour period:
-total daily calories = 2884
-fat = 20-35 (let’s just go with the full 35)
-carbohydrates = 130
-protein = 56
-cholesterol = as little as possible (the geek-ball science freaks actually put this in their report)
-sodium = 1300 mg
Here’s what I ate, in one 30ish minute tribute to whimsy and sensual overload in the form of a burger, fries and chocolate milkshake:
-calories = 1830
-fat = 90
-carbs = 198
-protein = 51
-cholesterol = 185 (for the record, there is ZERO cholesterol in the fries)
-sodium = 2720
This means that in one meal I ate all but about 1000 of my alloted calories for an entire day. Furthermore, those remaining calories could be composed of no fat, no carbs, absolutely no sodium and approximately 5 grams of protein. IF I managed to gnaw at some cowhide for my last 5g of protein, I would still have gone over in fat by an eye-widening 55g. I’d also have blown out the carb-O-meter by 68, never mind the cholesterol, and I overshot the sodium by, oh, let’s just round to 1400 mg.
This is unreal. It’s so unhealthy I’d advocate placing automatic defibrillators in these restaurants before airports and hotels and malls. Heck, forget seatbelts, helmets and all warning stickers of any kind. This whole building needs to be wrapped in one giant warning sticker.
But the truth is, it isn’t just about hunger (for me). It’s also about fun, and diversion and some deeply-housed food enjoyment gong that hasn’t rung for nary a moon. It’s an emotional thing too, because 80% of everyone in the place was from California, where the chain got started back in the ’50’s. I was re-living my days along the central CA coast, all tired out from surfing until my arms were rubber and then chilling with my best friends, eating great food at a Carl’s Jr. It brought back the memories, and that alone nearly justified the visit.
I realize, after times like this, that I’m just as much an addict as smokers, drinkers, sexers, stealers, the overshoppers, overspenders and druggers. My substance is food. I’m not especially fat – yet – but that doesn’t matter. I use food as a stimulus, an emotional emollient..as entertainment. There are times I pretty much can’t say no to it, even if there is ample evidence that it will shorten my time on this earth with my friends and my beloved children.
So, what can I say to my patients, most of whom are battling one addiction or another? I suppose nothing more than that I know the struggle. And that I lose my own sometimes, just like they do.