To Eat or Not to Eat?

Dear Reader,

Do you ever make rules for yourself? After reading the “The Four Tendencies,” (a book about personality types, which literally changed the way that I think about people — more here), I’ve learned that “Upholders”, like me, commonly make up rules to guide one’s own behavior. One rule that I established for myself as a teenager, for example, was — NEVER eat at McDonald’s.

Growing up, I absolutely loved fast food. Every Sunday, I would look forward to pulling into the McDonald’s drive thru just after 11am (when the breakfast menu switched to lunch) and getting a happy meal. For me, it wasn’t about getting a small plastic toy (although, yeah, I enjoyed the toys), it was about biting into the mouthwatering McDonald’s cheeseburger. Full disclosure as a child, cheeseburgers were my favorite food.

Fortunately, for me, in my public education, I learned the dangers of trans fats, cholesterol, and an unhealthy diet early on. Particularly, in middle school, we watched the documentary “Super Size Me,” an exposé about the fast food industry, which had many of us scared straight. Ever since then, I became more and more put off by fast food. Finally, one day in the midst of angst-filled teenagerhood, I declared a personal fatwa against McDonald’s (note, just McDonald’s — Wendy’s was okay for the time being…). Ever since then, I would avoid McDonald’s at all costs.

Naturally, there have been a few expectations. Once on a bus trip, the dinner stop was McDonald’s and McDonald’s only. I can’t remember what I ordered (if anything), but given my stupid rule, the experience was stressful for me. In contrast, I also have a few pleasant, albeit weird McDonald’s memories when I studied abroad in Russia (McDonald’s was one of the only places open into the wee hours). But again, I can’t remember if I actually ordered anything or whether I just tagged along with friends.

Today, years later, I still don’t eat fast food, however, my adolescent rage against it has subsided into mild distaste.

Recently, on a trip to the suburbs I found myself contemplating a stop at McDonald’s. This day was an extraordinary circumstance to say the least. Without a car and beholden to the train schedule and a tight appointment time, I had only 20 minutes (tops!) for a meal. On the map, I saw that there were only two options that I could feasibly reach — Starbucks and McDonald’s. To me, the answer was easy — Starbucks obviously! Without so much as a second thought I walked straight passed the McDonald’s dismayed to find the interior of the Starbucks was vacant. A sign propped up in front of the door read “Drive Thru Only; 4am – 4pm; No Mobile Orders.” I couldn’t believe it. How dare a Starbucks close to pedestrians!? Dejected and running out of time, I changed course and jogged back to the McDonald’s that I had passed.

With just under 15 minutes to spare, I entered the restaurant and approached the cashier counter. Flustered, I asked the woman working behind the counter whether there were any meatless breakfast options available. She listed the options, and I chose an egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin with a coffee. In under five minutes my order was handed to me in a paper bag, and I sat at one of the empty tables. Side note — the tables were covered in lighted dots, which changed from red to green when touched, pretty cool….

The food was warm and tasted good. I’m very, very glad that I had the McDonald’s to fall back on on this occasion. While I cannot ignore the unhealthy factor (McDonald’s bread has added sugar in it, FYI), I also must recognize the value that McDonald’s has to offer — flavorful food, quick service, and a cheap price (under $7 for my order!). I won’t make a habit of going to McDonald’s, but I also won’t allow one trip to cause me agitation as it did when I was a teen. Additionally, let’s be real — Starbucks is also fast food, it just gets better press 😉

Every once in a while, it’s good to rethink the “rules” we set for ourselves and reevaluate our perspectives. If we don’t, we run the risk of becoming too “stuck in our ways.”

For today, I’m (begrudgingly) lovin’ it 🙂



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