Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm Obese and I Don't Blame McDonald's

Screen shot of McD Nutrition Network
I've been mostly preoccupied with meeting my immediate academic deadlines these last few weeks when I haven't been jetsetting, but I made time to go to a Latinos in Social Media (LatISM) Tweetup on 5/31/12 

This Tweetup, was an In Real Life (IRL) meeting at a McDonald's in Manhattan to hear about the McDonald's Nutrition Network (#McDNN) initiative and the ways it wants to involve the community.  You can apply to receive funding for projects promoting responsible eating choices--> download application here.  Deadline for applications has been extended to June 15.

Hey, I'm all for this initiative because:

  1.  I'm a McD's Kid in that it has always been a go-to for me and my family growing up. 
  2. As an adult it has continued to be a go-t0 (search "McDonald's" on this blog and I'm positive a few posts will come up)!   I have made good and bad food decisions along the way!  
  3. If I know what might be a better choice nutritionally and has a yum factor to it, it is likely I will pick it!
  4. I actually am technically "obese" and I know McDonald's didn't cause my obesity.
McD's is not the enemy.  I'm not the enemy.  You're not the enemy.  We are part of a system- a large network of moving parts.  We each play a part.  In this system, in our American (USA) society we are hard-core unrelenting insatiable consumers.  We are consumption whores!  We want more bang for our buck, we want big bigger and HUGE, and we want more more MORE! 

Psychologically, there's this kind of latent paranoia too, that there isn't enough, you need it now, and you must have it!  

Enough what?  You name it, there's not enough of it, so you think.  Many of us are afflicted and we don't even know it.  We believe there really isn't enough to go around.  This deprivation of resources paranoia (or lack mentality)  makes us eat as much as we can, buy as much as we can, take and keep as much as we can.  Our American obesity problem is a symptom of this.

Will our resources run out one day?  I firmly believe the Earth will keep us humans around here for a long time.  If we can take care of the planet and the people on this planet (initiatives to end global poverty and hunger are crucial) then I think we'll be okay.  There is actually enough money in the world to feed and care for all the people on the Earth as there is enough food.  The problem is the actual system of distribution of wealth and subsequently resources and the beliefs around who deserves what.  

We do see people in various levels of poverty and we see working class people desperately trying to hold on to what they have. This is probably true for every level of income- trying to hold on to what you have (because there isn't enough to go around).  It's not surprising to me that the obesity rate is rising even more in this country and has been for some time.  Especially, in the last few years and now, the United States is actively in an economic depression.  People are more uncertain about their financial stability and sustainability.  Food is used for comfort and a sense of control even if for many, it can serve as an "addiction" and creates chaos (health-wise or other). 

Is McDonald's to blame for causing the obesity in this country?  I don't think anyone would say that McD's has singlehandedly made the United States fat!  Still, isn't it a little bit responsible?  Only as much as every other fast food restaurant is!  

Aren't the American people who want to have fast inexpensive and tasty food served hot, to blame too?  Can we take the whole fast food industry to task?  Targeting McDonald's is a good strategy, but when what this fast food giant is wanting to be and do is become a nutritionally sounder place to eat, then I'd say, pick another target or work to change things from the  inside!  Actually, join McD's effort to build nutrition into their product lines or make an effort to affect their bottom line.  Oh yeah, that would mean taking all the people on who want (demand) fast food as part of their lives due to the nature of their work schedules, life schedules, and personal demands.  That's right, take those people on.  Take me on.  I know late nights at school would have been unsuccessful had I not had the option of quick and dirty fast food.  Oh wait, now there's so many better nutritional choices at McD- well all the better for me.  I'm still in school.  So there are times, I need quick and cheap options in my life.  That is my actual reality.  

The McDNN Latism Tweetup in NYC
@Laliquin, @UrbanJibaro & Me @DocSabia
I am obese.  I like to think of myself as a sexy and empowered curvy girl.  I'm your thick girl next door!  Yeah, I want to take steps to better health and in part I am already.  Now, as I move through my full agenda, school demands, and my attempts at fitness, I don't have to feel guilty that I picked up some McDonald's since it won't necessarily mean I had a fatty burger and greasy salty fries!  It just might mean, I had an amazing and nutritious chicken sandwich with a tasty 200 calorie Berry Chiller!  Not bad at all!

There's no need for disclosure here, but I will just so the record is 100% straight.  I am not writing this for McDonald's.  No one is sponsoring my post.  I felt called to write about my experience as a regular gal who happens to always have loved McDonald's all her life.  And I'm kinda digging that I can say that with pride now, because it isn't just quick and dirty anymore!  George Torres' (@UrbanJibaro pictured above) post on the McDNN on Sofrito for Your Soul inspired my writing flow as well.  Not only that, but I felt strongly pulled to at least bring about the complexity of the social and medical obesity issue, the psychological, political, and economical parts at play here.  

I say this to make it clear that the monster we are dealing with is way bigger than McDonald's.

Wishes of happy and healthy eating.


  1. You really added more depth to this conversation. The complexity of the social and medical obesity issue is big... but I promise you if we all supported McDonald's (or any fast food restaurants) healthier options and made them profitable... that would become a priority for them to continue to build a healthier menu.

    By boycotting / complaining about what they are not doing (and sneaking a big mac ever now and then) and complaining about how they sell nutritionally void food and not supporting the heathy menu... you continue to make that nutritionally void food the core product and eventually they will limit that offerring as consider it a niche.

  2. Really Great Article girl....really!