: "My addiction to Big Macs almost made me infertile" (w/pics)
My addiction to Big Macs almost made me infertile
FAST FOOD is a guilty pleasure for most but for one woman it became a four-year obsession that nearly ruined her chances of becoming a mum.
Stephanie King was a healthy size 12 when she took up a job at her local McDonald’s.
The 16-year-old used her meal allowance given to employees at the fast food chain to feed herself more than 4,000 calories a day — eating breakfast, lunch and dinner there.
She piled on a staggering EIGHT STONE and says she became addicted to burgers and chips, rocketing to a size 24.
Last year, at the age of 20, she weighed a whopping 19st and when her periods stopped, she was forced to admit that her obsession with Big Macs was out of control.
A doctor told Stephanie her diet was to blame for her severe mood swings, her obesity had caused her menstrual cycle to stop and that she was at risk of becoming infertile.
That frightened Stephanie, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, into taking action.
She embarked on a fast-food detox and has since lost an incredible 8½st and is a svelte size ten.
Now 22 and a student nurse, she says: “People need to be aware that eating a lot of junk food can be dangerous. I nearly lost my chance to be a mum. Thankfully, I managed to change.”
After completing her GCSEs, Stephanie had gone to college to study business but a year later decided the course wasn’t for her and left.
At a loss over what to do next, she applied for a job at McDonald’s.
She says: “I needed to earn some money and it seemed like an easy job with reasonable hours.”
One of the perks was a daily meal allowance.
Stephanie had always had a healthy, home-cooked diet before she began working at the fast food chain.
She says: “A takeaway or fast food meal was a treat and I only had one about once a month.”
Soon Stephanie was tucking into burgers and fries three times a day, starting at breakfast time.
On a typical day she would consume almost 4,000 calories — double the recommended amount for women.
She says: “I could choose whatever I wanted off the menu.
“I loved the Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets so I’d choose these with a McFlurry dessert, washed down with Irn-Bru, the fizzy drink sold in some McDonald’s in Scotland.”
A typical breakfast would be a sausage and egg McMuffin with large fries and for elevenses she would have an ice cream cone with a flake. Lunch would be a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with fries and a Coke.
During her second break, Stephanie would enjoy a McFlurry ice cream.
She says: “Even when I wasn’t working, I’d ditch Mum’s home-cooking and pop in to buy a Quarter Pounder meal.
“Nothing tasted as good as a burger and chips. Within a few months I was completely addicted to junk food.
“Sometimes I’d sit down to dinner with my mum but still crave the taste of fast food so I’d get chips later in the evening.
“I just couldn’t stop myself.”
And with every portion of chips, the weight piled onto Stephanie’s hips.
In July 2007, just over a year after she began working at the fast food giant, Stephanie met Fraser Lawson, 25, a nurse.
While Fraser didn’t care about her size, the more weight she gained, the more insecure Stephanie felt about their relationship.
Stephanie recalls: “I was so unhappy with how I looked it really knocked my confidence.
“Because I was so miserable, I’d eat junk food for comfort. It was a vicious circle. After two years, aged 18, I was made manager but I’d piled on 5st and had to wear the men’s uniforms in an extra-large size because the ladies’ uniform didn’t fit.
“It was so embarrassing but I couldn’t stop eating.
“I would crave the salty chips and burgers as soon as I woke up.”
Stephanie feared she’d never be able to leave McDonald’s and says: “I didn’t get any jobs I applied for because my lack of confidence came across in interviews.”
In January last year things came to a head when Stephanie’s periods stopped. Her doctor said her obesity had interfered with her cycle and her unhealthy fast food diet was contributing to her overall bad health.
She says: “When my periods stopped I never thought it would be down to the fast food but when the doctor told me I could be infertile by 20, I was terrified.
“He also explained my mood swings had been caused by the constant surge and drop in my blood sugar levels caused by eating so much junk food. It was the wake-up call that I needed to change my lifestyle.
“Fraser and I had talked about having children one day and I wanted a family more than anything.
“I really put my mind to the dieting when I joined Scottish Slimmers. By my 21st birthday in July 2011, I’d lost 2½st.”
To add to her joy, Fraser took her away to a lodge for a long weekend — and proposed.
Stephanie says: “It was really romantic but the best part was, during that weekend my periods came back so I knew we could have a family.”
Eating a well-balanced healthy diet, Stephanie’s sugar highs and lows disappeared.
She says: “I felt happier, healthier, so much more confident. I was finally ready to leave McDonald’s and try something new.”
In August last year she did just that and enrolled on a nursing course at a local college.
Stephanie says: “I’d wanted to be a nurse for ages but hadn’t had the courage before because of my size.”
Now Stephanie weighs 10st 7lb, wears a size ten and is looking forward to a bright future. Stephanie, who admits she was naive not to realise the toll her fast food lifestyle would take on her body, says: “I haven’t had a McDonald’s meal since I left. And I have no desire for one.
“After being told I might not have kids, the thought of eating another McDonald’s doesn’t appeal to me at all.
“I still can’t believe I allowed myself to get into that state and gain more than 8st. It’s worrying how quickly you pile on the weight eating junk food.”
Now Stephanie can’t wait to have a big white wedding to Fraser and the couple are excitedly planning to tie the knot in the summer of 2014.
She says: “I would never have planned my wedding if I was a size 24 as I would have hated squeezing into dresses.
“I don’t have to worry about whether I’ll be able to find a dress that fits.
“Now I’m excited instead of petrified about walking down the aisle on my wedding day.”