Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fast Food and Calories

I don't eat fast food. I've never tasted Wendy's or Burger King or Taco Bell. Have only had McD's a few times because that was my kids' favorite when they were young. Never been to Arby's or Carl's Jr. Can't say that I don't like the food because I've never sampled it. Just never liked the way the food smelled so was never tempted.
A new fast food burger restaurant from California opened up near our house this past week. I knew my husband wanted to try it. Since I was busy watching the Emmys, I suggested he bring some food home from the place. Before he left, I checked the web site for the menu and also clicked on the nutrition info tab.
Whoa. Burger, 470 calories. French fries, 440 calories. Chocolate shake, 820 calories. What! So one meal could add up to more calories than I should have in a day. And, honestly, wasn't that much food in quantity. Holy #*%.
I know. I'm a dietitian. I should know how many calories are in these foods but when it comes to restaurants (whether fast food or traditional), I have no idea how they prepared the food so I can't guess how many calories are in the dish. Take the burger from this new place: thin, didn't look like it weighed more than 3 ounces. The bun? Just an ordinary white bun, a little too large for the burger. A smear of mayo, some lettuce, one slice of tomato and two pickle slices. The fries. Well, okay. Fried in oil. I get it. The shake? What do they put in the shake? I didn't have one so I don't know how thick it was or how big but that's a lot of calories for one drink!
Pretty shocking.
A while back when NYC was getting ready to start posting nutrition information in fast food restaurants, I gave an interview to a journalist about the impending posting. I didn't think it would make any difference to the ordinary consumer who was making choices based solely on taste (and maybe also price). I thought  an informed consumer (like I am), might, however, be swayed by calorie counts. I never would have been a repeat offender at this place because I'm not a fan of the food but the calorie information certainly did keep me from ordering that shake!
I gotta admit, though, that right now I could use some thick and creamy and cold like a chocolate shake.


MurphysLaw said...

It is a law in NY now, that chains MUST list calories on their menus. & believe it or not, it doesn't stop a lot of people from ordering that 800+ calorie shake with LOADED fries on the side! & don't forget, a diet coke to balance it out!
Also, if you ever look up the sodium content of most chain restaurants and fast food places you would then know the reason so many people in the country have heart disease, suffer from heart attacks, high blood pressure among other nasty things.
Sadly, fast food isn't even considered cheap anymore, so I find it is not an excuse to eat it. It is based purely on convenience and laziness.
This country would be much healthier if they went out to a grocery store and bought lean ground beef or turkey breast and threw that on the bbq instead of pulling up to the drive through and feeding the kids and themselves all that grease that seeps through the paper bag.
I was raised on fast food, and i gave it all up over a year ago, tried to have it once since then & got VERY sick from it. Cooking yourself is the best way to go & I'm not even a dietitian!

Anonymous said...

Yep, even dietitians can't estimate calories when we don't know how the food is prepared. Unlike the author, I've tried most fast food joints and am still surprised that such lackluster food can cost so many calories. Thanks for the reminder!