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Distracted Dining: Let’s Talk Fast Food

In this D&D, Nancy relates experiences with the fast food industry
Distracted Dining with Nancy Revie

Fast food joints are not places that I frequent, but if I’m going — I might as well get enough for both hips!

You’d be hard pressed to find a low calorie meal at a fast food joint that satisfies. Even the high calories meals can leave us feeling full, possibly bloated and a little bit guilty for indulging.

I still think of some of the big names as a real treat, but was disappointed this week with my fast food indulgence.

I was running late and thought lunch might not be an option. I found myself in a large department store that has a fast food chain inside. I grabbed what I needed and thought, ‘Hey — why don’t I pick up one of those awesome burgers with the special sauce that I used to love’ — so I did.

Granted, it was lunch time, but the line-up almost made me rethink my decision. I should have listened to my inner voice. I ordered the succulent delight from the past and waited beside several other patrons who were saddled up to the counter and sides of the ordering area as there was no other place to go. I’m not a patient person and was thinking of the many things I could be doing while I waited for my order s to be called. I quickly moved to the counter, but by the time I got there, there was no need to say thank you as the happy server had already literally thrown my bag on the counter and walked away. Well then.

I was raised in the era where manners really counted and this was not a stellar display. I picked up my bag with my head held high and walked out to the sanctuary of my car. In the parking lot, I unwrapped the delectable treat and with lips watering bit into the squishy offering.


It was not what I remembered. Either my taste buds had matured way beyond fast food or memories have a way of embellishing things to the max. I had my fast food treat but was left feeling disappointed.

What is fast food anyway? Fast food is a type of mass-produced food prepared and served very quickly. The very quickly part is sometimes a matter of opinion.

Typically — and I stress typically — fast food is less nutritionally valuable compared to home made and other restaurant dishes. The term fast food refers to food sold in a restaurant with preheated or precooked ingredients, served to the consumer in packaged or take-out/take-away form. Often these restaurants have a drive-through option.

Fast food restaurants have standardized foodstuffs shipped to each restaurant from central locations and are quick alternatives to home-cooked meals. They are the meals that are high in saturated fat, sugar, salt and calories. Many chains are working hard to change this reality.

These days fast food establishments are being plagued by a new breed of restaurants. “Fast-casuals” are sprouting up everywhere. These joints market themselves as serving better food and ingredients than traditional fast food. They may cost a bit more money, but consumers are spending like they’re worth it. Mucho Burrito is an example of this type of chain and is related (read owned) by Montreal’s MTY Food Group who also own Thai Express, Mr. Sub and others. Mucho Burrito has sprouted more than 24 shops in recent years in the Toronto area alone.

The fast-food industry is still led by the bigges — Tim Hortons and McDonalds, touting a 23 billion dollar industry in Canada.

My favourite fast food restaurant starts with A and ends with W. Maybe I just like the slightly chubby; home-grown guy who stars in their very effective marketing campaign. I like his smile; his enthusiasm and I buy into the fresh, no hormones everything he has to say. I like their website and the myriad of coupons we receive in the mail; online and on my phone. It’s like a constant hammering in my head when I need a fast-food fix. It’s also geniously close to the movie theatre in the north end of Guelph. How convenient!

Eating fast food once in awhile won’t hurt you. You gotta remember – most fast food contains too many calories, too much salt and that nasty artery-clogging cholesterol. A single meal at a fast food restaurant can equal a full day’s worth of calories. Fries, burger and a vanilla shake from a fast-food restaurant can add up to approximately 1,600-1,800 calories. Compare that to a home-cooked meal of one-half of a roasted chicken breast, a baked white potato, peas, an 8 ounce glass of 1 per cent milk and a cup of unsweetened applesauce that comes in at approximately 550 calories. That almost gives you enough room to go for a fast food treat later. Almost.

If you’re going to indulge, go for it and enjoy. Find a fast food item you love and treat yourself — once in awhile. Hopefully you will have an enjoyable experience and savour the hastily prepared and packaged meal. All things in moderation.

Nancy Revie is a Guelph author, motivational speaker, fitness instructor and entertainer. Visit Nancy at​​. Her column appears every other week.