It’s a New Year and you may have made some resolutions, like losing weight or eating healthier. And maybe you’ve decided that to do it right, you need to make drastic changes. What frequently happens when someone decides to go this route is that they get overwhelmed and they give up shortly after they begin.

Just over a year ago, my baby brother, Mark, decided to give up fast food. This was a shocker to me. Mark has always been tall and thin and able to ‘eat whatever he wants’. Although, as a side note, I believe this term is misleading. It implies that someone can eat non-stop all day long if they so choose without gaining weight. In rare cases, this may be true, but for most people, ‘whatever they want’ is likely less than you think.

I didn’t find out about my brother’s decision to give up fast food until months later and I was pleasantly surprised to hear it because I always felt he didn’t pay too much attention to health or nutrition, but rather he concentrated on eating what he liked. Mark’s also a graduate of The Culinary Institute where he was taught to cook with butter and heavy cream and there’s no denying that the dishes he cooks are fabulous.

Why was I so happy he gave up fast food? Here are my thoughts on why I believe fast food is anything but fast (or healthy):

Manufacturing - To me, making fast food seems like a lengthy process. As described by Michael Pollan in the Omnivore’s Dilemma, a Chicken McNugget contains 38 ingredients that include many corn-based substances, soy, and several synthetic compounds that have no business in our food. This sounds like a complicated recipe for what could be a simple breaded chunk of chicken. I’m suggesting that the manufacturing process is way more work than it should be – and hence, a slow process.

Lack of fiber - Most fast food is devoid of nutrients and importantly for my point, fiber. This suggests that it takes the slow route through our digestive systems. There are so many reasons why we don’t want food overstaying its welcome in our intestines, including constipation, damage to the lining of our intestinal wall, and an increased risk of colon cancer, to name a few.

It’s contribution to obesity - Because a diet of fast food is nutritionally lacking, it leads to obesity, which slows us down, leading to a lack of energy and vitality, and disease, which makes us sick and can stop us in our tracks.

Eating out Takes Time - Mark Bittman wrote last year in a New York Times article, “…in the time it takes to go into a McDonald’s, stand in line, order, wait, pay and leave, you could make oatmeal for four while taking your vitamins, brushing your teeth and half-unloading the dishwasher.”

If you’re in the habit of dining on fast food on a regular basis, try making your own meals for a change. Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated and the more you do it, the more you may actually find that you like your cooking better than anything served up at the drive thru. In fact, over time, your palette will change and prefer the fresher, less salty, and real flavors of home cooking. In addition, believe it or not, you will also save money by cooking at home because for the cost of taking a family of four out to a fast food restaurant, you can cook a highly nutritious meal with leftovers for lunch the next day.

This past December 27th was Mark’s one-year anniversary giving up fast food. He says he feels much better without it and is cooking more at home. In addition, in late October, he joined the gym and is now regularly weight training and getting in a cardio workout. Another surprise to me and further proof that when we change our eating habits and begin to feel better, we’re more motivated to want to reinforce our healthy diets, and exercise is one of the best ways to do that.

Author's Bio: 

Linda DiBella, Ph.D., is a Holistic Health Coach who helps clients gradually change their diets and lifestyle habits so that they can lose weight, eliminate their dependency on stimulants, increase their energy, and improve their mood. She works with clients in person, over the phone, through Skype, or email. For more information, visit her website at and receive her free report: "Have You Got the Guts? Why gut health is so important to overall health." You can also email her at