By Deanna Minich

These days the fast-food industry has become desperate. Recent ads suggest that they'll try anything to sell their products. It's become a seductive dance of enticing, luring, and mesmerizing people through the sensory impact of the perfect ratio of salt, sugar, and fat, and through tempting ads of glamorous, half-naked models devouring their unhealthy food.

What the fast-food companies fail to disclose in fine print on food packages or on food ads is that you don't get those perfect bodies or vibrant lives by eating those foods.

In fact, far from it.

Instead, eating foods laden in grease and piled high with sugar and salt will only lead over time to gooey, plugged arteries, fat, bloated bellies, low energy, lackluster, sagging skin, depression, and lack of sex drive. Does it still sound sexy to shovel the burger in? What about packing in the fries? Guzzling down the soft drinks? (Burp)

Not only are the food constituents horrendous, but then there's the lightning speed at which the food is prepared - they don't call it "fast food" for nothing. It's prepared without the essential ingredients of mindfulness and attention, slapped together in haste. Potatoes are flash-fried in hot grease at high temperatures, doused in a shower of salt, and meat is shipped in from faraway farms where stressed cows are treated like commodities and forced to feed. We then gorge our daily happy ("stress") meal behind the steering wheel of our cars or while basking in the glow of our computer screens at work. The energy of fast living is a hefty side order that comes along with the energy of fast food. How do these "fast" signals change our internal relay race of communication between our cells? Any chance that eating stress leads to internal stress? That eating "fast and in a hurry" becomes a "hurried, haggered" body? Hmm...think about this one next time you're caught in the grips of the golden arches.

How do we turn the tide and shift our thinking and buying by taking our life by the reins rather than having us being dragged by the fast-food wild horses? How can we move from fast to medium to slow - along the continuum of eating which parallels the continuum of health?

The way to start to travel the path of creating a meaningful, nourishing relationship with food instead of one that depletes us and keeps us begging for more is to first start to become aware. Become aware of what we are putting our energy - are we choosing to eat fast food, live a fast life, die a fast death, or are we willing to savor the experience of eating healthy food, of becoming mesmerized by the dazzling colors of fresh, whole vibrant food, and living a quality life rather than one that is ragged and worn and soon to pop?

After all, you are in the power seat - you are the one with the potential to create health or disease in your body. Here are some ways to get more from eating than just the nutrients (or lack of!):

Listen to your body, not to the television or ads

Many people are simply out of touch with what their body needs and requires. What happened to connecting with our "instinct" about what we need? How did "instinct" become replaced with "inundation"? The media messages we are becoming inundated with are overriding our ability to tap into our instinct about what we need. Eating "junk foods" over time will even further skew our relationship with our body. Instead, we will be feeding our body "junk" information that will make our internal communication cluttered and chaotic. The situation gets worse until finally the body has to start communicating its needs through signs, symptoms, and, ultimately, disease. Push the inner reset button - know where you stand on your body's needs and don't let yourself be swayed by slick selling through glitzy, glossy ads. Otherwise, you just might find yourself on a slippery slope!

Eat from a place of power, not from a sinkhole of stress

One of the reasons why we so easily find ourselves mindlessly moving in the direction of fast foods is because our lives aren't in balance. If we are off kilter, it's easy to be sucked in through a clever commercial or a beefy billboard. People are living the fast life these days - working one or more "full," full-time jobs, trying to multi-task so they can chisel away at their never-ending, ever-growing to-do list, and doing more but feeling increasingly drained. It's a vicious cycle without an end if we are not aware of what is happening. If we go to the grocery store with the mindset that it's just another thing on our to-do list and we've got to hurry through so we can rush on to the next event, then we are apt to speed our way through some important information. We won't be reading labels, we won't be listening to our bodies, and our senses may succumb to some seductive marketing. Instead of falling prey to your local grocery store and its laden messages within, enter it from a place of power. Become pro-active in knowing what you are buying, meditative in connecting with your body, and keep your senses geared to choosing foods that you instinctually and intuitively know to be best for you.

Love yourself more than the taste of foods

When it comes to eating, it is best to think long term health and wellness rather than short term pleasure. If we keep caving into a sugary sweet or a juicy fat food, chances are that our health will be affected. Studies have shown that a one-time, high-fat meal has been shown to provoke immediate detrimental changes in blood pressure and blood fats. If we keep this pattern up, eventually the "snowball" of a meal becomes an "avalanche" of a response - a disease. Veer yourself away from the "slow suicide" of eating poor quality meals. Love yourself and your life. And when you start eating good foods, you'll feel much better about yourself and life. Lose the drive for the quick satisfaction on the lips and cultivate the patience and perseverance of true health. After all, it's not about how long you live but the quality of the years. It's no fun to drag your life out in reams of years having a debilitating chronic disease when you can be in your late life, being active, and one night, die in your sleep.

Deanna Minich, PhD, CN,is an "out-of-the-box" nutritionist who sees more to food than calories. Instead, she teaches that food choices and how we eat are ways to dive into the inner reaches of our being and to heal deep issues connected to how we live life. Her approach is unique, as she uses a base of science, a sprinkle of spirituality, and a dash of practicality to help you create a meaningful relationship with meals. Her cutting-edge ideas to nutrition and health are captured in her latest books, Chakra Foods for Optimum Health: A Guide to the Foods that can Improve Your Energy, Inspire Creative Changes, Open Your Heart, and Heal Body, Mind, and Spirit (Conari Press, 2009), and An A to Z Guide to Food Additives: Never Eat What You Can't Pronounce (Conari Press, 2009). You can find her at www.foodandspirit.com.

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