Friday, October 29, 2010

Healthy Fast Food? *Guest Post*

I'm not going to lie to you.  Even I'm a bit shocked that THE Charlie Hills is going to post on my blog today.  I started reading Charlie's blog "Back to the Fridge" THREE years ago when I started blogging.  Roni recommended him, and since at the time I thought she was the gatekeeper to all things weight loss, I checked him out.

Turns out, she was on to something.  

Charlie Hills is a wonderfully witty guy.  If you like Jack Sh*t, you'll love Charlie.  He's the only *actual* person I know (ish?) who's written a book. 

He's delightfully funny, wonderfully entertaining, while still sharing his weight loss struggles.  And oh my word, he knows how to make a grilled PB&J that I still salivate thinking about.  It *may* not be weight loss friendly, but you can look at the pictures and drool for 0 calories.  Trust me, it's worth the click.
Healthy Fast Food?

I realize that putting these particular words in this particular order immediately forms an oxymoron. You remember oxymorons, right? Words or short phrases containing contradictory terms: like jumbo shrimp, authentic replica, or delicious rice cakes. When one thinks of fast food, "healthy" typically isn't one of the top adjectives that springs to mind. (In fact, many probably think "fast food" all by itself is an oxymoron.)

So imagine my surprise when publishes, "America's Top 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants." This sounds intriguing. I'll bite. (Heck, I'll bite just about anything, which is probably the root of this weight problem of mine.)

They kick off the list with Panera Bread. First, let me say I love Panera Bread. When I want to spend fourteen bucks for a bagel and a smoothie, I know it's the first place I go. So to find out that it's also healthy it like icing on the cake. (Mmmm . . . cake.) The judges loved the fact that you can buy soup and sandwiches there. Oh, if only more restaurants served soup and sandwiches! Think how healthy the whole world would be!

They zeroed in on a "Turkey Artichoke on Focaccia" with "Black Bean Soup" as one example of their healthful offerings, qualifying that they did mean the half sized sandwich. I've never been one to assume that cutting something in half automatically makes it good for you. I can't count the number of times I've eaten half a deep dish pepperoni pizza and didn't feel the least bit healthy for it. Anyway, I checked out the nutrition information for this combo: about 500 calories. A cheeseburger and small fries at McDonald's is 530 calories and probably carries one-third the price tag. While most of you cry "gross!" at the mere mention of McFood, the point is when it comes to weight loss, your body, at its lowest functional level, really doesn't care where the stuff comes from.

But that's fine. The article has officially sucked me in. I'll move on to the second item on the list.

Oh no. It's Jason's Deli.

Everybody knows how I feel about Jason's Deli: the home of the 42-ounce, 2,300-calorie "Plain Jane" baked potato. They immediately declare that Jason's bags the number two spot due to its heavy "organic" bent but then proudly states that one-fifth of its ingredients are organic. I'm no mathematician, but to me that looks like eighty percent of its menu is not organic. They then say that the judges applauded Jason's for offering reduced portion sizes for $1 less (specifically calling out the aforementioned potato, no less).

I'm sorry, but I simply can't applaud the fact that for $6.19 I can buy 2,300 calories but oh, if I'm really concerned about my caloric intake, then they'll be gracious enough to put only 1,150 calories on my plate for $5.19. Call me old school, but when someone gives me half the food, I think it should be half the price. Just do yourself a favor folks: spend the extra dollar and then spread the potato out across four or five meals. That way your body and your wallet will both be happier.

And the judges' highest compliment? "Being able to build any sandwich on an organic whole-wheat wrap." Ah yes! I forgot all about that! All you have to do is put something in a freaking tortilla and it magically becomes health food. How silly of me. So I checked out a few of their wraps: about the same number of calories as a McDonald's double quarter pounder with cheese. Yes, I'm serious.

At that point I had to put the web site down and take a walk around the block. It suddenly hit me that this wasn't "America's Top 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants" but more likely "Ten Fast Food Restaurants Who Paid Us For This Advertisement Disguised as Journalism." It made me depressed that people who try so hard to "eat healthy" and make the right choices can be so easily led astray by the very industry they turn to for help and advice.

In fact, I think I'm just going to head back to the fridge, pull out the second half of that deep dish pepperoni pizza and throw it in the microwave. But don't worry, I'll put it it a whole-wheat wrap first.


Jennifer said...

Ha ha, excellent post!

Gina said...

That article is beyond ridiculous! Thanks for doing all that research & giving your audiance some truth to their advertising. All I can think is WOW!

Lanie Painie said...

yeah, i think those healthy fast food places are in the pockets of said "journalist" all right!

Mind Over Fatter said...

Nice post, seeing it and saying it like it is...

LauraLynne said...

*standing ovation*
Thanks for the clearly written, honest, and eye opening post. It's amazing what gets labeled as "healthy" these days - when you compare X to Y and declare X healthy - you have to ask what Y is. yes, a quarter pounder is healthy compared to a double quarter pounder (or whatever they're called, I don't eat there). But compared to something that's ACTUALLY healthy...

Lesia said...

Too funny and oh how true!

Dani said...

love it

SkippyMom said...

Besides the ridiculousness of the calories I would love to see what the sodium content is on those things. Sureeee it's healthy. You cracked me up with the line about half the food shouldn't it be half the price/ EXACTLY! It makes no sense.

I love grilled pb&j - glad someone else knows about this treasure :)

Great post!

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