“Change your thoughts and you will change your world.” These words are true and meaningful because after changing my thoughts about eating fast food for lunch I was able to change my behavior which led to eating a healthy lunch and excising, ultimately resulting in a healthy lifestyle. Cognitive Restructuring was vital in changing my thoughts, beliefs and attitude towards my behavior of eating fast food for lunch.
My attitude towards eating fast food for lunch was my denial to admit that at my age it can lead to various unhealthy conditions. I also thought being young will give me enough time to gradually start eating a healthy lunch and exercising. Another attitude that favored this behavior was eating in moderation. I knew that eating fast food leads to some of the medical conditions like obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol to name a few. Since I mostly ate small size meals only at lunch break therefore I thought neither will I get these unhealthy conditions nor will I be addicted to it. My family believes in certain values like eating should be enjoyable. A meal should always generate happy mood and it should be satisfying. Therefore, I too believed that it was perfectly fine to eat fast food as long as I was satisfied and enjoyed it.
Due to the hectic work, I believed that eating fast food for lunch was easier because it was less time consuming, readily available everywhere, convenient and it was relatively inexpensive which was an added benefit. I also believed due to my busy work schedule it would be difficult to stop eating fast food and switching over to eating a whole healthy lunch. Most of the times I ate lunch with my older colleagues. We often visited the same restaurants and ended up eating the same type of fast food. So I had this irrational thought that since they were older and had been eating the same lunch for a long period of time and were still healthy, therefore my body will definitely not suffer from any ill effects of fast food. My attitude, values, beliefs and irrational thoughts had me convinced that the fast food I ate for lunch would not make me unhealthy.
But after a few months I was diagnosed with gastritis and was prescribed medicines. The weight gain and mood changes that I had developed made me feel unwell. Author Ann Pietrangelo in the article The effects of fast food on the body (2014), writes in detail about the diseases it causes like hypertension, increase in body weight, insulin resistance, headache depression to name a few. In an article Break the fast food habit, author Kristin Ohlson (2008) tells about how fast food is not only unhealthy but also addictive. Just like drugs it also has all the addictive properties and even has withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, early acceptance regarding addiction and then reforming the habit is important. After reading all these articles it became clear to me that my thoughts of being young, eating in moderation and never getting addicted to fast food were all wrong. During the same time my grandfather passed away because of a heart attack and both my parents were diagnosed with hypertension. Along with my unhealthy status these health conditions diagnosed in my family members put a fear in me and I became determined to change my behavior.
Cognitive restructuring helped me change my way of thinking and my behavior from eating fast food to eating a healthy lunch and leading a healthy life. Just like Alia Hoyt mentions in her article Break your junk-food addiction (2014), I too started to change my behavior step by step. First, I tried to cut down my fast food intake for lunch and started taking salads, whole grain sandwiches, a set of home cooked rice, lentils, vegetables and one serving of fruits. Then, I completely stopped eating fast food, increased my fruit intake to two servings and drank one liter of water each day. After one month I combined my healthy eating habit with jogging for thirty minutes every morning. Initially, it was difficult because I did not like the taste and had a craving for fast food. Also, because of my hectic work schedule it was challenging to follow the healthy lunch diet. But gradually I made it a habit to follow these changes. The result was evident in my weight loss and I felt happy and good about myself. Just like we humans our taste buds are also very adaptable that’s why now I not only like healthy food but also enjoy it. Now-a-days I enjoy cooking too. The advantages of cooking are I eat healthy homemade food and it also relieves stress. Now, my new goal is to follow a healthy menu for an entire day so that I get the required calories and nutrients for an entire day instead of just lunch. I also want to increase my exercise regimen to moderate level of workout along with jogging.
My initial belief of having difficulties in changing my behavior because of various reasons was wrong. Once I realized that I too can get unhealthy as a result of eating fast food and with a family history of hypertension and heart attack the fear of suffering the same in the future motivated me to change my thinking and ultimately my behavior. My priority now is to happily enjoy healthy living.
Hoyt, A. (2014, March 27). Break your junk-food addiction. Retrieved from cnn.com: http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/27/health/upwave-junk-food-addiction/
Ohlson, K. (2008, May). Break the Fast-Food Habit. Retrieved from experiencelife.com: http://experiencelife.com/article/break-the-fast-food-habit/
Pietrangelo, A. (2014, October 22). the Effects of fast food on the body. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com: http://www.healthline.com/health/fast-food-effects-on-body