March 19th, 2009

The Real Way To Stop Eating Fast Food

“How you could you eat that junk? It’s so bad for you!” (nag, nag). “Don’t you know those fries will give you a heart attack?” (nag, nag). “You have to stop eating all that fast food, it’s going to make you fat!” (nag nag). “You have to eat more healthy food like fruits and vegetables – they’re good for you!” (nag, nag). Your friends nag you, your family nags you, your doctor nags you, the health newsletters, websites and magazines – they all nag you, and of course, your personal trainer nags the heck out of you, to stop eating all those BAD FAST FOODS. But does all that nagging you and bad-mouthing the fast food industry really help anyone stop? It doesn’t look that way…

no_FAST_FOOD_250The fast food industry is thriving, even when the economy is bad.

The Chicago Tribune recently said that McDonalds is “recession proof.” As one of only two companies to turn a major profit during the recession (the other being Wal Mart), McDonald’s is laughing its way to the bank.

I was driving down Route 95 a few weeks ago and pulled over to use the rest room at Mcdonalds on a Saturday morning (there’s a McDonalds conveniently located immediately off almost every exit up and down the full length of Interstate 95).

The parking lot was full, it was standing-room only inside and the lines snaked around into the seating area!You’d think Brad and Angelina were there signing autographs or something. Nope. Just a regular weekend at breakfast-time.

I was shopping in Wal Mart the same week and I almost passed out when I saw (smelled, actually) a Mcdonalds…INSIDE THE WAL MART! Also, with lines.

Yep. It looks like your friends and family’s nagging you to stop eating fast food, and all the messages of the health and fitness industry to get people eating more “health food” are not working!

So what does work? What’s the REAL way to stop eating fast food?

obesity_coverThe results of a new survey from the behavior and psychology section of the journal, OBESITY provide some answers:

Researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public health surveyed 530 adults about their attitudes towards fast foods.

They found that people already know fast food is unhealthy.(like, no kidding!)

The primary reasons they eat it anyway are because of the perceived convenience and a dislike for cooking!(I’d add another: they think fast food is always cheaper than healthy food).

So, said the authors of this research paper, nagging people to eat more health food and warning them that “fast food is going to make us fat and kill us” is not the best approach.

What’s the right approach?

Focus on teaching people how to make healthy eating fast, convenient and easy, because those are the reasons people are choosing fast food in the first place.

So what’s holding us back from implementing or taking this healthier eating advice?

Well, I think that most people can’t get over the ideas that they “just cant cook” or that cooking is “too time consuming” or that healthy food “tastes like dirt” (as if Mcdonalds is gourmet food!)

That said, I’m not going to nag you, scold you ortry to scare you out of eating fast food. I’m not going to lecture you about health food (not today, anyway). Nor am I going to bad-mouth the fast food restaurants.

I’m going to lead the new charge by showing you just how easy and convenient it is to eat healthy and nutritious food and make it delicious.

Here’s a few meal ideas (for starters) to provemy point.


* natural oatmeal (like Quaker old fashioned rolled oats)
* natural (unsweetened) applesauce
* cinnamon
* for protein stir 1-2 scoops of vanilla protein powder into the oats for 3 minute meal (scramble eggs on the side when you have more time)

I eat this almost every morning. It’s faster, easier and cheaper than going to the donut place or getting sausage,cheese, bacon breakfast muffins at the fast food joint! (you don’t have to wait in line, either!)


* Brown rice (I like basmati)
* frozen oriental vegetables
* chicken breast, grilled (try foreman grill)
* bragg’s “liquid aminos” (or light/lo-sodium soy sauce)

This takes 30 minutes, however, if you get a rice cooker and make a giant batch, you can have your rice on standby for instant eats and this will take less than 10 minutes.

It doesn’t get much easier than that. (I like those Chinese veggies that come with the little mini-corn-on-the-cobs… reminds me of that Tom Hanks Movie, BIG)


* black beans (15 oz can)
* Medium or hot salsa
* 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic or chopped garlic to taste
* salt and pepper to taste

This one takes you all of 2 minutes to make. No cooking required! And it’s good! It’s vegetarian as listed above, but if you’re a high-protein muscle-head like me, just add chicken breast or lean ground turkey.


* 1 Plain Greek yogurt
* 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
* 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
* 1 packet noncal sweetener (stevia, etc)

I apologize in advance for getting you addicted to this “chocolate peanut butter heaven.” It’s spot-on fat-burning, muscle-building nutrition, but it tastes like dessert!

Best part: this is all inexpensive food! Oats, rice, beans… doesn’t get much cheaper than that – buy your healthy staples in bulk and the cost per serving is probably less than mickey D’s! (yes, even the “Value” meals)

I’ll share some more recipes in future newsletters,and will compile my recipe project into a book or ebook one of these days. Plus I’m already publishing all my recipes for my inner circle members one by one as I create them.

Every one of these recipes is compatible with my Burn The Fat program

This means that my way of eating makes you more muscular and leaner… so you can look hot wearing very little clothes this summer… and be healthier…and save money too.

Train Hard, Eat Right, and Expect Success!

Tom Venuto,
Author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle
Author of The Body Fat Solution
Founder & CEO, Burn the Fat Inner Circle

About Tom Venuto

Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder, fitness writer and author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat Burning Secrets of Bodybuilders and Fitness Models (e-book) and the national bestseller, The Body Fat Solution, which was an Oprah Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine pick. Tom has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Oprah Magazine, Muscle and Fitness Magazine, Ironman Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine, as well as on dozens of radio shows including Sirius Satellite Radio, ESPN-1250 and WCBS. Tom is also the founder and CEO of Burn The Fat Inner Circle – a fitness support community for inspiration and transformation

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37 Responses to “The Real Way To Stop Eating Fast Food”

  • Jenn

    Fantastic newsletter. Thanks for the recipes! It’s just what I needed.Jenn

  • Charlene

    Tom,I agree with you! It’s taken me 30 years, but I now eat healthy and don’t miss thefa(s)t food. Fortunately, I actually like raw cauliflower and broccoli. I eat whole, raw cucumbers for snacks (it doesn’t get any more convenient than that). If I absolutely HAVE to eat fast food (lack of planning, emergency) I buy an El Pollo Loco chicken breast ala carte!And the more protein and less bad carbs (sugars) I eat, the less hungry I am. I am sure I spend 1/3 the amount on food now than I did when I was eating unhealthy. I lost 60 lbs. and for the first time in my life, I am confident that I will keep it off forever!Love your Newsletter!Charlene

  • anthony

    Tom,Am hooked on your oatmeal pancakes with my own twist. Oatmeal, raisins, bananas, whole egg, cinnamon, and ground flax seeds cooked in coconut oil. Have it almost every am and it is not expensive and many ingredients are organic. People who eat fast food are doomed for a short life and cancer. They know it but won’t change. Excuses and more excuses. The hardest part of this lifestyle is not staying clean but is to show others the light.Anthony

  • Kenneth

    Hi Tom,You are on the right track there. I am a divorced guy and I do my own cooking nowadays, and although I mostly stick to the stuff I should eat, I do find cooking more time consuming than I would like. The girlies have all their short cuts that I don’t have, so anything that makes cooking easier and quicker is welcome.Recipes welcome; keep ’em coming mate!!Best,Kenneth

  • Suzanne

    I LOVE RECIPES! Thanks Tom!

  • Karen

    I routinely do wellness presentations in which I’m raising awareness about the importance of eating whole foods, including much more fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.About a year ago I attended a presentation by another distributor which featured a ‘show and tell’ item…it was a McDonald’s cheeseburger Happy Meal, which had been purchased two and one half years ago and stored at room temperature–it was not moldy, rotten or really much different looking than a fresh one!!! Possibly just a bit dried out looking, but the colors, everything, perfect. My presentations now feature a Happy Meal that is over a year old and when not making personal appearances, resides on top of a fridge, at room temp. Nothing will eat this happy meal, so why should we humans?I’m a mom of seven, and I’ve been as guilty as the next of eating fast food and feeding it to my kids. But after a health crisis of my own, I have totally changed the way I and my loved ones eat. Unfortunately, for most people it takes a wake-up call like mine, something pretty high on the richter scale, to convince one that it is worth it to eat healthy today and every day. Another thing I learned with my own crisis is that working out and eating to look good isn’t really the loftiest goal–eating and working out for health and longevity is more important…longterm over shortterm thinking. Of the fitness conscious people I know, so many are concerned about what they look like in a bathing suit over trying to avoid cancer or heart disease.Would also like to take this opportunity to say that I’m a fan of your newsletters!Karen

  • Cindy

    Tom,Check out Kashi’s 7 Whole Grain Pilaf. It’s delicious and a super carb when you want a starchy carb. I like it for breakfast with an egg over it! (My husband finds this repulsive but it’s deeeeelish!).Love your newsletters and am still reading and re-reading BTF and your new book, Body Fat Solution. Yours is the best, most pratical and “in your face” honest literature on weight and fat control I have ever read — and I’ve read a LOT being now a menopausal 50 year old who was formerly a yo-yo dieter for the better part of 35 years. Now there’s a nice run-on sentence.Anyway, my thanks. I hope some day to attend a lecture or seminar that you might offer (or a personal training/consult — do you do this?) BTW, hit the “meathead” row today using the 35 dumbells for a couple of exercises w/my trainer. Gotta love it!Cheers,:)Cin

  • dave

    Dear Tom,Thanks for the newsletter. I’ve found it informative. Yet I just wanted to chime in a bit on this latest letter you sent. I really think you are missing one very important factor as to WHY people choose McDonalds over eating healthing. Besides the convenience, or the price, people just PREFER eating a juicy burger and greasy fries with a soda, over the healthy stuff.(health warnings be damned) I personally like to eat healthy, and I do for the most part, but to be honest, I would take the Big Mac and fries over your 2 minute black beans or any of the other recipes you offered as an alternative in your letter. They just don’t sound, well how shall I put it……very TASTY. Even for me, and I am committed to eating healthy at this point in my life, yet I could go for a Wendy’s triple at just about any time of the day or night. Healthy has to BEAT the MAC on all three frontiers before people will truly switch.Thanks for you letters,Dave.

  • Dave, thanks for your comments.Im sure some people love the taste of faste food – at least they do at the moment.However, according to this latest research, “I eat fast food because its delicious” was not one of the primary reasons given.the two primary reasons given were conveneince and a dislike for cooking.I agree completely – your food needs to taste good for you to stick with your nutrition program as a lifestyle.however, tastes are highly subjective and personal, and they can and easily do change over time.The last time I had a fast food burger was about 19 years ago. I remember it to this day. I vomited it up all over the parking this day, when I think of fast food burgers, I can only think of vomit. In fact, i make it a point to re-play that vomting episode in my mind every time i see a burger, see apicture of a burger, or think of a burger.I havent got the slightest urge to eat a fast food burger. there is no temptation. food burger = vomit. Vomit doesnt taste good.the taste of food is very much a cognitive / psychological phenomenon. Sure, Im playing “mind games’ in my own head to change my urges, cravings and tastes, but who says that isnt exactly what you should do?Also ,sweet tooths are acquired and strengthened by indulging in them.Today, I find myself craving fruits and vegetables, and frankly, some the recipes in my recipe library, I enjoy far more than i could or would any other junk food.Of course, to each his own.. but if someone has the desire to change eating habits (some people do, some people dont), then it CAN be done with a shift in thinking and perception and by gradually weaning yourself off the artificial stuff and onto the natural for the recipes — try em… you might like em… and the longer you keep trying them, the more you may keep liking them even more.Anyone else any thoughts?Thanks againtom

  • Marc

    I’ve recently started eating a lot healthier than I have in the past. I now try to have 5 smaller meals a day, and I try to include some healthy carbs and protein in every meal.I eat a lot more fruit now than I ever have before, usually something like 1 banana, an apple or two, and an orange or two every day – I just stock up on fruits every weekend and bring some to work with me. They are quick and nutritious snacks, and not terribly expensive depending on where you shop.I never used to even think about fruit, but now I can’t even imagine not having my daily servings of fruit. I’ve really grown to like them and I don’t seem to ever get tired of them… They definitely satisfy my sweet tooth. I still have the occasional cheat cookie, but it does feel more and more as time goes on that I actually prefer good fruits over the artificial stuff.

  • I can whip up all kinds of blender smoothie in under five minutes from scratch, including CLEAN-UP, from good stuff like cottage cheese or yogurt, berries/apple/banana, fish oil, nuts, spinach, oats, protein powder, flax meal, etc… and they keep me satisfied for hours. And taste GREAT!I can make a couple quick fish salads in under 10 minutes.Burgers, grilled chicken… all fast stuff. Heck, just pan frying (in a non-stick pan) some ground turkey or shrimp with veggies does NOT take long! And it’s pretty darn easy to cook up quantities of rice or beans or lentils or other grains and store.Fast food isn’t half as fast as much of what I make for myself. Admittedly, the veggies are expensive here, but then there’s the long term outlook on health. I’d rather pay a little more and eat a LOT healthier! And the taste is so much better!

  • You are right on here – once you kick the habit though, it’s easier and easier to start eating healthy. The biggest factor is time – it appears to be much faster to eat junk. I always have hard boiled eggs and chicken breasts at the ready (in other words, I precook a bunch of chicken breasts and pre-boil a dozen eggs) so that when I’m pressed for time, I don’t resort to junk. Another idea – I eat green and red peppers whole, like an apple – they are so good and convenient.

  • Paul R.

    Tom your comment regarding the sweet tooth and indulging in sweets is right on target. The other angle on this subject has to do with addiction. Fat, Sugar, and salt are highly addictive and I believe it has more to do with the addictive nature of these foods than it has to do with the flavor or tastiness of them. I think the need for fat and the storage of fat is a very basic and primal human need. Of course in our modern world we are not out chasing a buffalo for dinner or gathering seeds and berries. Our food supply is readily available and we have not adapted very well to the excesses that we have in this world. We can get our “3 squares a day”. Sugar is an instant source of energy. A body craves these foods until the habit or addictive dependence is broken. Cold turkey is the only way to go. I think over time the habit of crap food can be broken. It does take effort and I agree with the earlier comment from the mother of 7. It has more to do with the health and longevity and the quality of life than looking hot in a swim suit. It is a sad state of the human condition to continue to eat un real food, smoke or overindulge in alcohol even when they know it is bad for you.Good topic…thanks TomPaul R.

  • Victoria

    Thats a great way to get people motivated to eat better – give us easy recipes that don’t look like hard work!

  • Amy

    Hi Tom Venuto!I don’t think that’s the only reason people still eat fast food, I think it’s not only convenience but also lack of education.My mother never knew how to cook growing up, so she would take us out, thinking that having a different fast foods would be better for us? how her logic came to that I don’t know! Now I am 29 and I wont touch the stuff!I think we are not being educated enough on how much we should eat the are many people out there giving misleading data, that no one knows these days,Now I know I now It is me who controls this, I want this fat loss, I want to be 80kg, You have given me the motivation I need to lose by showing me the truth and that has made me try it, to success, and I want it now (I have a passion to get there), I know it wont be quick, that was not what I wanted I just wanted to be thin.Your BFFM program is the first lifestyle eating plan that makes sense. the first week I started your diet my boss had a birthday. I sat down to a table with 3 different white flour cakes, lollies, my favorite the tim tam, chips, etc, chicken wings fried, etc.I have will power I didn’t touch any of it, I grabbed a bowl of oats and sat down!My body thanks you, I have energy, my cramping in my legs from my body eating the muscle is gone, I have more flexibility, So I know I am getting results, even if the are big ones that I only see small fat loss from, I feel healthier then I have ever!Amy

  • Kevin

    Tom,Great article and recipes. Like some others have said, junk food is faster. At least until you get in the mindset of preparing food beforehand. I almost always have lentils and brown rice in the refrigerator, ready to be reheated in the microwave. A mix of lentils. brown rice, salsa and turkey burger is one of my favorite meals now.

  • Tom:Thanks for another great post. although I don’t have a problem avoiding the fast food joints, I’m always stuck trying to choose between flavor and high nutritional value. It’s great to able to step away from the chicken & sweet potatoes every once in a while and take in something that’s both nutritious and tasty.

  • Personally, I don’t know how people eat that stuff. And you’re right – convincing people to cook is nearly impossible, and I don’t see why. I rarely spend more than a 1/2 hour to make a meal, and it tastes so much better. Why would you want to eat something that tastes like greasy cardboard and chemicals?I put brain dead simple recipes on my blog, and still have friends and family that tell me it’s too hard. But they’ll make hamb. helper – which to me is a pain in the rear and tastes really bad. Go figure…And Dave- what’s wrong with chicken and sweet potatoes? They’re both good for you. Well, depending on how you make them I suppose….

  • ruthalicious

    i would add a scoop of NUTELLA and some frozen raspberries to that yoghurt mix, drool rating of 1000% 🙂

  • Scott

    The thing is you don’t have to give up your favorite foods like tacos, hamburgers and pizza—you just need to learn to make a healthier version of them that is calorie controlled. For example, I make my own version of a soft flour taco using a wholegrain tortilla, chicken, nonfat cheese, spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, and salsa. I weigh all of the ingredients so I have a pretty good idea as to the calorie intake for the meal and then will enjoy two of them at a time. They taste so good!

    My favorite decadent food of all time would probably have to be pizza. I used to eat more pepperoni and mushroom pizza than I care to admit and would not want to give it up so now I just make my own version using a wholegrain crust, pizza sauce, nonfat cheese, sliced mushrooms, chicken and broccoli.

    As long as you don’t eat the whole thing in one sitting and carefully weigh all of the ingredients, you can enjoy a few slices from time to time and not gain weight.

    Eating healthy doesn’t have to be bland or unimaginative—you just need to learn how to cook and be willing to experiment with various recipes. I’m now looking forward to trying Tom’s pancake recipe since I’m also a pancake enthusiast.

  • Great newsletter, i like your recipes, gotta try some of them out.

  • Ray

    I love the 3 minute apple cinnamon oatmeal recipe. Thanks Tom

    • Tom Venuto

      Ray- one of my favorites – have had it almost every day for years. so fast and easy and tastes pretty darn good too!

  • T Bennett

    In your e-mail that linked to this column, you discussed the growing evidence that fast food is addictive. And yet here, you say nothing about overcoming that addiction. People say that they eat fast food because it’s fast or cheap, but in reality it is neither. For some, the appeal is sheer convenience, and cooking at home and carrying food around is not convenient. But many people eat fast food because it’s addictive, and breaking that addiction is very difficult. I have found that increasing my levels of omega-3 fatty acids helps to fight the addiction. I would love to have more suggestions.

    • Tom Venuto

      thanks for your post. Actually i have written about this at length before a few years ago. Its in the archives. in summary, I agreed that there was evidence that food addiction has similarities with drug or alcohol addiction with regards to the brain neurochemistry, however, i did not agree with the claims such as junk food is as addictive as heroin or crack and I felt those claims were journalistic sensationalism that is not helping anyone. The question is still being debated among researchers. There is a new paper in the peer reviewed scientific journal obesity reviews (january issue) 2 articles actually – one about neurobiological overlaps beteween obesity and addiction and another looking at the pros and cons of the validity and usefulness of the concept of food addiction. It is controversial and while there ARE similarities between drug and food addictions and MANY many people feel that food is addictive, the science behind whether food addiction is a valid concept is discussed and debated. I could write up what these cambridge researchers found in an upcoming post. I also just read sugar fat salt by michael moss btw and could discuss that as well, along with his NYT article. In my previous article i made a few simple suggestions, all of which are supported in cognitive behavioral psychology – avoid highly restrictive diets, know your bingeing triggers, create a supportive environment (clear junk and food cues out of your kitchen and house), use stress control techniques, and get social support. In the recent article also provided suggestions: learn how to make delicious healthy food that is itself addictive… try that chocolate peanut butter yogurt pudding and say its not addictive… well, at least I cant stop eating it, LOL. Thanks again, cheers!

      • T Bennett

        Excellent suggestions. I’ll check out the other article. Thank you so much.

      • Karina Cerda


  • Tom, excellent article. I liked how you focused on teaching how to make healthier meals is really the way to go instead of bashing the food industry. Looking forward to more recipes!

    • Tom Venuto

      Thanks monique – I’ll share more recipes here one at a time on this blog soon… and (one of these days!!!!) i will get that recipe book done! Cheers! tv.

  • My parents used to nag at me to eat healthy but I loved my junk food. Convenience and money drive the fast-food industry. Instead of nagging at people to eat healthy we need to show them the true cost junk food and how convenient it is to eat healthy.

    • Btw I started eating healthy even though I have no clue how to cook. My meals taste great and are easy to make. Best part…I’ve lost 22 pounds in the last 10 weeks.

      • Tom Venuto

        “THE TRUE COST” of eating junk food… indeed – good way to change perspective. congrats on the great results: 22 lbs in 10 weeks while eating easy meals that taste great – what could be better than that! Keep up the great work!


  • Great article! I love peanut butter so when I saw the CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER YOGURT PUDDING recipe, I had to try it! Let me tell you all that it. is. GREAT! Im addicted! LOL

    • Tom Venuto

      there we go! Addiction works both ways!!!

      now, lets all get addicted to training too, and then we are GOLDEN!



  • Hi, Tom. You are on the right track.
    This is exactly what I need.
    I just needed this motivation to stop eating fast food so thank you so much 4 that.

  • Dawn

    What do I do as a diabetic that can’t eat oatmeal, rice and beans? I love to cook but am getting tired of egg dishes for breakfast every morning and lean meat and salad for the other meals.

    • Karina Cerda


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