Tag Archive for fast food

I Got Super Sized!

The Wife and I finished our food-oriented flick mini-festival with Super Size Me this evening. Like Food, Inc., I think it’s well worth watching. On the surface it may look like a condemnation of McDonald’s, but if you’re paying attention you’ll find it’s as much a condemnation of the way we eat as it is the companies feeding it to us.

Like he says in the end, if they weren’t making millions, these companies wouldn’t be making this food.

Some people are saying the movie’s crap because eating nothing but that garbage for 30 days will make anybody fat, and nobody really eats like that. Maybe they’ve bought into the “it’s your own damn fault you’re fat” attitude, or they just don’t want to feel bad about their own trips to fast food restaurants. Either way, it’s the wrong attitude. I ate fast food a lot in my four years in retail management over a decade a go, and I packed on eighty pounds in that time.

Every manager did. With long hours and no time to get away for a real lunch shift, we ate whatever was close at hand. Driving in to work, it was whatever drive-through was open. Lunchtime, we’d hit another drive-through or have something delivered. Long commute home? Sometimes that meant another visit to a drive-through. We’d try frozen meals, but those aren’t really any better, and bringing lunches was a pain because you never had time to finish the prep of leftovers and cold sandwiches got old fast.

That’s a big problem the movie doesn’t address: fast food is cheap and convenient.

It’s cheap because of all the crap that’s crammed into it. Consider Taco Bell beef, which is allegedly less than 40% beef. Look at an ingredient list for McDonald’s fries and you’ll see it’s not just potatoes and salt. These companies are like a drug dealer cutting his coke with baking soda. Sure, the fast food people are doing it for flavor and preservation, but the end result is the core ingredient goes further and costs them less.

The convenience is why we keep buying it. These restaurants are everywhere, they’re fast, and you know exactly what they have. And before you say “No, Mike, I go for the taste!” sit back and think about that. Take time, cost and effort out of the equation. Would you rather have a McDonald’s burger or a 100% ground beef patty you just fried up on the grill? It should be a no-brainer.

I can address the cost side. The Wife and I just hit a local grocery store and bought what we needed for suppers for five people the next two nights, plus some extras, for about thirty bucks. Two suppers at any given fast food joint would run us $40-45, easy. People look at a pound of beef and cringe, thinking they can get a Whopper for that, but don’t realize that pound of beef is part of an entire sloppy joe meal for my family and leaves leftovers.

As for convenience, well, I don’t know what to tell you. That’s going to take some strategy and planning. I’ve been making sure I eat breakfast again, but unfortunately I sometimes run to the local Casey’s gas station/convenience store and grab one of their breakfast croissants. They’re not near as good as the scrambled eggs & cheese I make at home when I have time, and they’re probably as bad as any other fast food with their grease and preservatives. My only fix? Get up a little earlier and make that time to cook breakfast before work.

I’m still heavy, but at least my heart’s in good shape (verified by a stress test last year), I don’t have any blood sugar or blood pressure issues, and while I do have to take a small dose of statins, my cholesterol is in check. How? Diet and exercise. I’m far from a perfect eater, but I avoid fast food when I can and I’m in karate classes at least six hours a week.┬áNow that I think about it, it’s probably time to reacquaint myself with The Abs Diet (stupid name, great program) and see if I can’t readjust my eating. Their smoothies are fast and tasty.

You get one life, folks. Do you really want to live it couch-bound and dependent upon a fistful of pills?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

That's Why I Don't Eat It

Take a few minutes to browse through this fast food nutrition chart provided by A Calorie Counter. You can click the charts to sort the various columns, essentially ranking foods and restaurants by calories, fat content, trans fats, and so on.

I played around with it this morning, and man, it’ll curl your hair. If you consider the alleged average person’s daily intake of 2,000 calories, one meal at Mickey D’s could kill your day. For example, a Big Mac and a large fry come to a total of 1,110 calories, and that’s without the 42-ounce soda they try to upgrade you to (which, by the way, is damn near half a gallon, and I know someone who says she drinks 2-3 of these a day because she works for the Evil Arches).

It’s also a good reminder that even chicken isn’t safe. When I go to Hardee’s, I like to get their charbroiled chicken club sandwich. I don’t always get the fries, but let’s assume I did (and use the large info, because medium isn’t provided). That comes to 1,170 calories. Hrm. Maybe the difference is in the fat?

Nope. McD’s comes to 59 total grams and Hardee’s to 58. Hardly enough to give chicken a definitive edge. Trans fats? 9.5 grams at McD’s. Hardee’s? “Unknown.” In the end, if you’re going to eat fast food you may as well stick to your favorites, because they’re all going to kill you the same way. You may be able to pick and choose based on fats and trans fats, but the calories are still what adds up around the waistline.

If I run a Basal Metabolic Rate calculation, I should be able to take in about 2,200 calories a day and maintain my current weight. A Hardee’s lunch gets me halfway there. My wife is quite a bit smaller than I, and the BMR calculator says that same lunch is 75% of her daily calories. By the way, that’s without the bucket of soda they serve you. Ever see a Hardee’s medium? It’s a large at most restaurants. Sure, I get iced tea instead of soda, but if it comes out of the same Syrup of Death machine, it can’t be much better, can it?

I guess Hardee’s is fine if I want to eat like a rabbit the rest of the day. But wait a minute, what about subs?

I like Jimmy John’s. I think their sandwiches blow Subway’s away, and I like that I can say “Give me this sandwich, no tomatoes” and they have it to me in 17 seconds or less. My personal favorite is the Italian nightclub sandwich, usually on their whole-grain wheat bread which makes the whole package look like a Dagwood special. It’s a deli sandwich, so it’s got to be better than that McD’s crap, right?

Not so much, actually: 1,011 calories and 57 grams of fat. That’s for the sandwich alone, no side of chips. I guess that’s the end of giant clubs. The good news, at least, is if I can limit myself to the 8″ sandwiches, I can cut that calorie count in half: the Big John, a basic roast beef sandwich, weighs in with 558 calories and 27 grams of fat. Good if not great, and certainly filling.

Unfortunately there’s not a convenient Jimmy John’s around, so let’s look at Subway. I like the Italian BMT, untoasted, on wheat bread, with pepperjack cheese. That’s 450 calories and 21 grams of fat. Throw on mustard, mayo, vinegar, oil, lettuce, and onion, and it’s probably in the Big John’s neighborhood. I can also get mik instead of soda, but I give Jimmy John’s the nod for having a bigger sandwich (8″ vs 6″ and having tastier bread).

Now let’s make it a little more fair. Even at the delis, you’re probably going to get a side item. Subway doesn’t have lists for their chips (probably because the selection varies by franchise), but the Jimmy John’s house brand jalapeño chips have 150 calories, so let’s call that a chip average. You’re still topping out around 700 calories of food at a deli shop, saving you a good 400 calories over their fry-pushing cousins.

Notice I didn’t say burger-pushing. For sandwiches alone, the burger-based fast food joints don’t do too bad. A Wendy’s spicy chicken fillet sandwich is 440 calories, which puts it neck-and-neck with Subway in the sandwich battle. No, it’s the 540 calories in their fries that does the real damage.

Consider the fact you can’t get out of spitting distance of a McD’s in a big city, and half the time you can find a Burger King and/or Wendy’s right across the street. They all have their snazzy combos, they all push those mega fries and super-sized drinks on you for just a few cents more, and most people consider that a full meal. They bombard us with commercials, and at lunchtime you can find their drive-through window lines backed up to the street.

Is it any wonder we’re staring down an obesity epidemic?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.