Hold the Mayo: How I Broke My Fast Food Habit
Before I received a kidney transplant in 2003, I really didn’t have an appetite, as dialysis pumps so many chemicals into your body, cleaning your blood that your kidneys can’t. Foods taste bland and you’re limited to what you can have, eating becomes a chore, one that you don’t look forward to. After the transplant, suddenly the restrictions were lifted and I discovered “Hey, Food really does taste good!”
Luckily for me, there were six fast food joints right in my neighborhood. It was fast food mecca! There was a Burger King, Runza, KFC, Taco Bell, McDonalds and a Pizza Hut, all within walking distance! I enjoyed the food so much, that over the next year, I gained 70 plus pounds, going from 135 pounds on dialysis to 205 a year later. My health did suffer: I could not walk a whole block without losing my breath or getting pains in my chest. My joints hurt and my waist was a 44. When the Dr’s threatened to remove the kidney if I didn’t lose weight, I began a change.
MAKING THE CHANGE
There were dieticians, nutritionists, food specialists and they all said the same thing, to eat low-carb, low-starch vegetables, low-fat and lean meats, stay away from fried, fatty foods. I began buying and reading vegetarian, low-fat and healthy cookbooks. I read the introductions, food buying and preparation hints and tips. I was buying parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, eggplant and enjoying them! Gone were the double extra-large burgers with two-tons of fries, instead I was mixing my own low-fat burgers, meatloaves and casseroles. Vegetables became a main course and a mainstay at my table.
Walking is the best way to start an exercise program. It’s low-cost, available to anyone and can be done anywhere. I started by walking around my block, which was 1.25 miles. Of course, I didn’t walk the entire distance the first time. I remember I couldn’t even walk a whole block without my knees buckling, clutching my chest with pain in my lungs. I set goals, ‘walk to the lamp post this week’ and then “walk an extra two feet today’. I set tiny, achievable goals.
THE BIG FINISH, ISN’T
This is a lifelong lifestyle change, it isn’ta ‘diet’ or ‘crash course’. Eating healthier meals, exercising daily with both aerobic and strength exercises to live healthier should be your goal.