Archive | March, 2012

Why so appealing?

28 Mar

Fast food is undoubtedly one of the most marketed products out there.  I would challenge anyone to watch an hour of television that doesn’t contain commercials for fast food.  Ever watch late night television? Viewers are bombarded with ads during the late night hours.  Resisting the temptation can be a difficult task.  I know I have given in on more than one occasion.

Picture the scenario:  it’s hours past dinner, your stomach is starting to rumble as the pre-bedtime hunger is beginning to creep up on you.  You’re on your third episode of The Office when it cuts to commercial break and there it is, a perfectly crafted hamburger calling out your name.  Now, you’re really hungry.  As is typical for a college student, you have no food in your apartment.  The nearest Burger King is only a short five minute drive away.  You check your wallet… $4, perfect.

The reality of the matter is that the fast food industry spends a lot of money on advertising.  In 2009, the industry as a whole spent more than 4.2 billion dollars on advertising.  That figure includes television ads, radio, magazines, billboards, etc.  Compared to 2003, teenagers viewed 39% more television ads for fast food in 2009.  It really is impossible to avoid the constant in your face advertising.  And in a country that has been struggling with an ongoing obesity and weight problem, this is quite the problem.

What can you do?  Watch DVDs.  In all seriousness, it is best to just have some healthy snacks lying around.  For me, my go to snack is a big glass of skim milk.  Milk is both satisfying and nutritious, and perfect for a late night snack.

Resource: http://www.fastfoodmarketing.org/media/FastFoodFACTS_Report_ExecutiveSummary.pdf

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Are there healthy options?

22 Mar

You don’t want to stop, you feel guilty even thinking about it.  However, you’re on a 7 hour road trip and want to keep up the pace.  You need something quick and convenient.  The rest stop along the highway only has a McDonalds and a Burger King.  What do you do?  If you’re stuck in a situation like this there’s no need to worry.  Believe it or not, there actually are some healthy options when it comes to fast food dining.  In fact, most fast food restaurants have some sort of healthier options.  The trick is knowing how to find them.

The first thing to keep in mind when ordering is that smaller is better.  There are typically 3 or 4 serving size options but the smallest size serving usually packs the most appropriate amount of calories.  This will even keep your costs down!  Secondly, water is your best friend.  Choosing water over a soda will instantly make your meal much healthier and lower the calorie count.  Salads can be a good option if remember avoid the dressing, it can be a hidden source of unwanted calories and fat as it is not included in the nutrition labeling.

Other tricks:

–          Order sandwiches without the dressing.  For example: ask for no mayonnaise on your chicken sandwich.

–          Avoid the larger “value” meals.  You will be full after the smaller versions, I promise.

–          Check the nutritional values before ordering.  Most websites of the larger fast food chains list all the nutritional values of their foods and most restaurants have them on hand, just ask.

–          Grilled over fried whenever possible.

For example, let’s look at this the nutritional composition of a Hamburger Happy Meal from McDonalds with the healthier options selected.  A Hamburger Happy Meal with apple dippers (without caramel) and with milk or 100% juice contains 385 calories.  If you take the same meal and replace the apple dippers with fries and the milk with a soda or other sugary drink, the meal boasts a much higher calorie count at 600 calories.  Unfortunately, the latter of these two meal versions is usually served because that is the default version.  A customer must specifically ask for the apple dippers and the milk.

Resources:

http://www.helpguide.org/life/fast_food_nutrition.htm

http://www.fastfoodmarketing.org/about_facts.aspx