Monthly Archives: September 2015

Your Body on a Big Mac – Why It’s Called Junk Food





Have a yen for a Big Mac? Here’s some information that may dampen the urge.




McDonald’s lists these Big Mac ingredients on its McDonald’s USA Ingredients Listing for Popular Menu Items:

100% BEEF PATTY: 100% Pure USDA Inspected Beef; No Fillers, No Extenders. Prepared with Grill Seasoning (Salt, Black Pepper)


PICKLE SLICES: Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Alum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Natural Flavors (Plant Source), Polysorbate 80, Extractives of Turmeric (Color)

PASTEURIZED PROCESS AMERICAN CHEESE: Milk, Cream, Water, Cheese Culture, Sodium Citrate, Contains 2% or Less of: Salt, Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Lactic Acid, Acetic Acid, Enzymes, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Natural Flavor (Dairy Source), Color Added, Soy Lecithin (Added for Slice Separation). CONTAINS: MILK AND SOY LECITHIN

BIG MAC SAUCE: Soybean Oil, Pickle Relish (Diced Pickles, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate [Preservative], Spice Extractives, Polysorbate 80), Distilled Vinegar, Water, Egg Yolks, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Onion Powder, Mustard Seed, Salt, Spices, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Mustard Bran, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Vegetable Protein (Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy and Wheat), Caramel Color, Extractives of Paprika, Soy Lecithin, Turmeric (Color), Calcium Disodium EDTA (Protect Flavor). CONTAINS: WHEAT, EGG AND SOY



Enriched Bleached Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Soybean Oil, Contains 2% or Less: Salt, Wheat Gluten, Sesame Seeds, Leavening (Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate), May Contain One or More Dough Conditioners (Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, DATEM, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Mono and Diglycerides, Monocalcium Phosphate, Enzymes, Calcium Peroxide), Calcium Propionate (Preservative). CONTAINS: WHEAT


I’ll point out a few other things McDonald’s doesn’t mention about their ingredients:
  • The beef they use in their “100% beef patties” and the dairy products mentioned in their list come from factory farmed animals that have been fed on GMO grains and loaded up with antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticides. See Factory Farming Makes Us Sick and Factory Farming Produces Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria for how factory farming of animals is harmful to us, the soil, and the planet.
  • The wheat, onions, cucumbers, corn used to make high fructose corn syrup, soy derivatives, spices, and lettuce they use are all made from genetically modified crops so you’re also getting a dose of glyphosate (a toxic, broad-spectrum systemic herbicide) when eating any McDonald’s menu items. Glyphosate has been banned in many other countries. See Moms to EPA: Recall Monsanto’s Roundup for the dangers of GMO crops and glyphosate.
  • McDonald’s uses highly refined table salt in its menu items. See The Healing Properties of Unrefined Salts for how processed salt is harmful to our bodies.







This description of what happens in your body within an hour after you consume a Big Mac comes from (2015):

First 10 minutes–Our brains prefer high-calorie foods

Our brains evolved during a time when food was scarce, so we became adept at choosing high-calorie foods. A regular Big Mac (with cheese and sauce) contains 540 calories and raises your blood sugar to abnormal levels.

Junk food triggers your brain’s reward system by releasing a surge of ‘feel-good’ chemicals – such as the neurotransmitter dopamine – which induce feelings of pleasure. This process works in a similar way to that of drugs such as cocaine and contributes to the likelihood of compulsive eating.

After 20 minutes–Addictive sugars

Did you know that a Big Mac bun contains high levels of high-fructose corn syrup and sodium? Both ingredients are addictive and therefore make your body crave more of them. These ingredients are also harmful and can cause obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

After 30 minutes –Sodium attack on your body

A Big Mac contains 970 milligrams of sodium. This huge amount of salt can result in dehydration. With symptoms that closely mimic those of hunger, it’s easy for dehydration to trick you into thinking you need to go back for another helping of food.

Ingesting too much sodium makes it hard for your kidneys to excrete salt. To try and flush the excess salt out of your system, your body then draws water from surrounding tissues. This fluid buildup means that your heart must work harder to pump blood. This causes high blood pressure and can ultimately lead to heart disease and stroke.

After 40 minutes –Craving more!

Do you ever still feel hungry after just having eaten a Big Mac? This is because you have lost control of your blood sugar, making you crave even more fast food.

The first time you consume a high-calorie meal, your insulin response can reduce your glucose levels making you want to eat more. The high-fructose corn syrup in the Big Mac bun is quickly absorbed by the GI tract, causing insulin spikes and even greater hunger pangs.

After 60 minutes –Slow digestion

Normally the body takes about 24 to 72 hours to digest food. However, hamburgers take a lot more time to digest because they are greasier. It can take more than three days to fully digest a Big Mac.

Also, it takes approximately 51 days to digest trans fat. A Big Mac contains 1.5 grams of trans fat. Different studies have proved that trans fats can be linked to heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes.















Nutrition Information: McDonald’s Big Mac













From the Big Mac Museum




REFERENCES (2015). What Happens One Hour After Eating A Big Mac? See:

Hardin, J.R. (8/2/2014). The Healing Properties of Unrefined Salts. See:

Hardin, J.R. (9/25/2014). Factory Farming Makes Us Sick.

Hardin, J.R. (4/14/2015). Factory Farming Produces Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria. See:

Hardin, J.R. (5/30/2015). Moms to EPA: Recall Monsanto’s Roundup. See:

McDonald’ (9/26/2015). McDonald’s USA Ingredients Listing for Popular Menu Items. See:



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Inner Silence – Thich Nhat Hanh

Updated 9/5/2015.




Silence is something that comes from your heart, not from outside. Silence doesn’t mean not talking and not doing things; it means that you are not disturbed inside. If you’re truly silent, then no matter what situation you find yourself in you can enjoy the silence. There are moments when you think you’re silent and all around is silent, but talking is going on all the time inside your head. That’s not silence. The practice is to find silence in all the activities you do.

 – Thich Nhat Hanh
From his book: Your True Home: The everyday wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh








Information from the Plum Village Mindfulness Practice Centre website:

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist, revered throughout the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace.

His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment—the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh has published over 100 titles on meditation, mindfulness and Engaged Buddhism, as well as poems, children’s stories, and commentaries on ancient Buddhist texts. He has sold over three million books in America alone, some of the best-known include Being Peace, Peace Is Every Step, The Miracle of Mindfulness, The Art of Power, True Love and Anger.

Thich Nhat Hanh has been a pioneer in bringing Buddhism to the West, founding six monasteries and dozens of practice centers in America and Europe, as well as over 1,000 local mindfulness practice communities, known as ‘sanghas’.

He has built a thriving community of over 600 monks and nuns worldwide, who, together with his tens of thousands of lay students, apply his teachings on mindfulness, peace-making and community-building in schools, workplaces, businesses – and even prisons – throughout the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh, now in his 88th year, is a gentle, humble monk – the man Martin Luther King called “An Apostle of peace and nonviolence.” The media has called him “The Father of Mindfulness,” “The Other Dalai Lama” and “The Zen Master Who Fills Stadiums.”




In November of 2014, Thay, as he is affectionately called, suffered a major stroke. He has made great progress in regaining his strength, balance, and posture.  In July of 2015 he flew from France to the US to begin an intensive rehabilitation program under the care of a team of distinguished neurologists specializing in stroke and cognitive rehabilitation at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. (Plum Village, 7/14/2015)
He is now 89 years old.


See the Plum Village site for more information about Thich Nhat Hanh.







Hanh, T.N. (2011). Your True Home: The everyday wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh – 365 days of practical, powerful teachings from the beloved Zen teacher. McLeod, M. (ed). Shambhala Publications. See:

Harding, H. (2015). Thich Nhat Hanh has Made “Remarkable Progress” in Stroke Recovery”: Thich Nhat Hanh’s Determination and Strength of Will Has Been Both Amazing and Important As He Has Worked to Regain His Strength, Posture and Balance. See:

Plum Village Mindfulness Practice Centre. (2015). Thich Nhat Hanh. See:

Plum Village Mindfulness Practice Centre. An Update on Thay’s Health: 14th July 2015. See:




© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.