HomeQ&A WednesdayQ&A Wednesday: I Work In Fast Food And Want To Lose Weight! Help!

Q&A Wednesday: I Work In Fast Food And Want To Lose Weight! Help!

Don’t get me wrong, here – I most certainly don’t have all the answers… but it’s very rare that a loudmouth like me will have no answer…

Q: hi erika i love your blog but i have a question i work in the fast food industry(mcdonald’s) please don’t roll your eyes. lol! and i am a manager there i am 26 years old 4’11 and about 280 pounds so i know i am extremely overweight . i get ALL my meals free when i’m workin and i find it incredible hard to resist the food. i know to resist temptation i should not have it around me but this is my job for right now i have been employed for six years and make a good amount of money to provide for my household. what are some things i can do to start my weight loss journey? anything words you can offer would help. thanks in advance:)

I’m not even going to give the answer I want to give. I’m just going to remind myself that we live in a recession.

What I do have to contribute is whether or not you find it “hard to resist” the food because you’re literally only eating that hyper-processed and nutrient-devoid food, or if you’re stress eating because the restaurant industry is stressful and fast-paced. If you’re stress-eating simply because you’re on the job, and the fries and sweet bun are giving you a temporary release, then finding a more acceptable coping mechanism will help you cut the calories immensely.

Remind yourself that people choose to refuse the food from the restaurant they work at every day, and it’s time for you to start turning into one of them.

If it’s a money issue – subsisting on free food instead of stuff you have to pay for – then it’s a matter of priorities. The point where your [and your household’s] health start to matter more than the most frivolous thing on your priority list is the point where you’ll start carving space in your budget for the fresh (or frozen) stuff. And until you get to that point, make it happen with those salads, girl. We all know they’re there. We saw ’em in commercials where they tried to lure us veggie lovers in. Eat those instead of the fries and the McWhoppers.

That being said, I’m turning this over to y’all. There are brilliant folks who hang out in the comments section who are handling situations like this every day, and we all could stand to benefit from how you make it happen. Who’s going to help our girl out with some advice, here?

By | 2015-03-06T22:12:35+00:00 March 6th, 2015|Q&A Wednesday|19 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and crtified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because lol why not.


  1. Jubilance September 21, 2011 at 10:02 AM - Reply

    McDonald’s was my very first job, when I was 16. I remember those free meals very well.

    My advice is to turn down the free meals, one meal at a time, one shift at a time. Employees still get a discount on everything else right? Opt for a grilled chicken salad. Opt for the grilled chicken sandwich, no bun. Opt for the apples instead of the fries. Opt to bring in your own healthy food – there’s no rule that says you MUST eat the food there.

    It will be hard, but it can be done. You have to take it one day at a time, one meal at a time.

  2. Reecie September 21, 2011 at 10:26 AM - Reply

    hmm. let me try. I worked at McDonald’s when I was in high school. and while I wasn’t really health conscious then I’m trying to think back as to what I would do now, if I still worked there.

    definitely not eat all my meals there. depending on the shifts, I’d probably make sure dinner was home cooked.

    bring fresh fruits, nuts. etc. for snacks in between the work day.

    only drink water, no sodas/coffee at all.

    take some time during my break to walk if possible (not sure where your store is located, but mine was near a dentist office that had a nice park/pond area). if you could even walk or bike to and from work that would be nice–maybe not feasible, esp with winter approaching depending on where you live.

    and of course take advantage of the salads, oatmeal, apple slices, fruit smoothies and whatnot that they do have there.

  3. KChloeee September 21, 2011 at 10:29 AM - Reply

    A few years ago, during my freshman year of high school through my sophomore of college I worked at a large, highly populated drugstore. I was surrounded my all of my fave snacks and could not resist, there where restaurants with great tasting food, ranging from pocket friendly to omg, it cost how much? every single working day I would walk on over to one of these places excited to try new food, and taste all that I could. After my first year there I gained a whopping 30 lbs! When I went to the doctor and the scale said 245 (I’m 5’11) I cried, I have never been that heavy in my life and I knew that I would no longer continue to be. I stayed at that job and lost 35 lbs within 4 months. I started exercising and eating healthier, often walking up and down the aisle searching for the more safer options of my fave snacks. I chose yogurt and a fruit cup over a muffin in the mornings, I had lean cuisine rather than chipotle for lunch, and I walked home/school from work every night. I get it, it’s hard to resist, but you have to put your health first, you do not want to get to a point where it will be physically impossible for you to stand for hours at work.

  4. Jewel September 21, 2011 at 10:35 AM - Reply

    That was a great answer Erika! One of the runner’s whose podcast I follow, brought her own food to work when she worked at McD’s in high school. I would suggest bringing her own food or finding more suitable work.

  5. Stefanie September 21, 2011 at 10:53 AM - Reply

    I will admit, you do have a challenging situation on your hands, but the fact that you wrote to Erika asking for help lets me know that you can overcome this. So, you work at McDonald’s and most of the food their is processed/high fat/etc…but know that you are NOT McDonald’s. You only work there. Manage your health as good as you manage the restaurant (smile). Erika gave you some good tips and if I may add:

    (1) Pack whatever meals you need for the work day. Pack even more than you think so you won’t run out of food and feel tempted to grab some of that free Mickey Ds food.

    (2) I don’t work in the restaurant industry, but I do work in an office building where sweets are around me a good amount of the workday. It is hard (sometimes) to say no. But it is what you have to do if you are looking to change your lifestyle. And remember you are saying ‘no’ more to yourself, not to the people who offer you the food. And why are you saying ‘no’, because you have a goal to reach.

    (3) When you think of eating the Mickey Ds, maybe ask yourself ‘will this help me get closer to my goal?’ ‘What health benefits does this food offer me?’ (I saw someone else on this board provide that advice and I thought it was really cool)

    (4) If possible, if the temptation is great, step away and go outside for 5 or 10 min and recollect yourself. It may seem drastic, but you have been doing this for a while and every day will not be easy. So do what you need to do to get to your goal.

    (5) Don’t beat yourself up for mistakes made during this journey. Remember, every day is an opportunity to do better. If you do something you preferred not to do one day, don’t kick yourself down, just keep going and make better choices the next day or at the next meal.

    That’s all I really have now. I hope this information can be useful for you. God bless you on your journey!

  6. MMM September 21, 2011 at 12:35 PM - Reply

    I think you have to decide if you are ready to lose weight. Try to bring in your own meals when you work. Bring bananas or nuts to snack on instead of fries and cookies at your job.

    I know once I looked up the caloric value in my favorite fast food meals, I stopped getting it so often. I get fast food every other month or so.

  7. Tricia September 21, 2011 at 12:45 PM - Reply

    In considering my own struggles with resisting temptation to eat poorly I’ve learned how important it is to fill your environment with as many healthy choices as possible. That being said, my heart goes out to you! It’s tough but you can be healthy even while surrounded by Big Macs and french fries. Erika makes great points, including the choice of healthier options at McDonalds like the salads, the apple slices, the bottle of water, etc. Before you get to work, make a plan to choose the healthier (and free?) options instead of the ones you know aren’t good for you. Controlling your environment is helpful if you can control your environment. But if you can’t, walking into the challenging food environment with a plan of how to face the challenges may be what you need.

  8. Cherished September 21, 2011 at 12:48 PM - Reply

    She should definitely up her excercise routine. Drink only water not the sodas. Eat the kids meals with fruit for the side instead of fries and on other days bring snacks and lunch.

    Six years work experience and management experience does make for a great resume. She should explore other work options. At least find out what’s out there.

  9. Abenadiva September 21, 2011 at 1:38 PM - Reply

    One thing is to try and eat only the “meat” leave off the bread! That helps. Only drink the water… make sure to choose the apples and other healthy snacks. of course the fries are HARD TO RESIST… but just to start throw away the top bun! Then as you advance go bunless!

  10. PhDreezy September 21, 2011 at 2:32 PM - Reply

    I worked at McDonald’s for ten years, finally quitting in 2009, so I’m very familiar with this. Also, while working at McDonald’s, I gained around 70 pounds. While working there, I also became a vegetarian because I just wanted to stop eating their meat. McDonald’s is the devil. We all know that.

    However, I would charge this woman to begin to create healthy food options from the ingredients available at McDonald’s. As someone who used to be very familiar with the McD’s kitchen, I know how possible this is. Use the potatoes and the chicken and the onions to make a hash. Or get some apples and put them on the grill to caramelize them and then eat freshly grilled apples. Take the grapes and apples eat those as a snack with some peanuts instead of a sundae. Grill a piece of steak and then eat that with a side of McSkillet potatoes without the cheese and bagel sauce. If you can stay away from the creamy sauces, cheeses, fried foods, breads, sodas, flavored coffees, smoothies, ice cream, and shakes, you might be okay. Use McDonald’s as your test kitchen and create things. Make yourself a soup in the microwave using a bunch of veggies and then some grilled chicken. Or make a piece of grilled chicken and then top it with lettuce and tomato and eat it as a sandwich. You have lots of options.

    I used to make quesadillas and salads and all types of creations. Be creative to accomplish your goals. Also, before your shift, walk around the building a few times to do your floor plan and a walkthrough. Every little bit helps.

    • UK mcds worker July 16, 2016 at 6:44 AM - Reply

      I love the idea of using the ingredients to make something new unfortunately if we did that at my workplace you’d get written up by a manager cos they can’t put it in the system for your meal not to mention we are a busy store but a small one so you’d also get told off for Messing around in kitchen! As for the caramelised Apple… I wouldn’t do that unless they’d just high temped the grill! Too much fat left from the burgers, even when they are cleaning it off as often as they should.

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