Fast Food - Friend or Foe?
By Emily, age 19, Newfoundland
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
I know how it is. When we want something quick, whether we're in a hurry or just don't feel like cooking, we run to a fast food place and order our favorite. Mine is the 6-piece Chicken McNuggets.
But have we ever stopped to take a look at the amount of calories, fat, and salt in this food? No, not really. I know I didn't. That was until I watched Supersize Me.
This documentary really opened my eyes to everything that I'm putting into my body.* When I looked it up, I discovered my favorite chicken nuggets have 290 calories with a whopping 17 grams of fat. That's without the medium fries and drink. A medium order of fries has 450 calories and a whopping 22 grams of fat. That comes to a total of 740 calories and 39 grams of fat. That amount of calories is nearly half of what someone my size, height, and weight is supposed to take in during the course of a day.** Not only is the fat content of fast food enormous, but the amount of salt is as much as you're supposed to eat in a couple of days.
I know, you're thinking, Well, that's just McDonald's. There are healthy options now! Well, let's take a look at Subway. My favorite, the 6 inch Chicken Bacon Ranch on whole wheat bread, has a calorie count of 580 and 30 grams of fat. Let's look at a Veggie Delite. There's a total of 230 calories and 3 grams of fat. Not bad at all, but realistically, who's gonna order one of those when you have all those other sandwiches in front of you? And then there's the issue of the sides that come with the combos. They have a wide variety of sides now; I'll give them that. Instead of the basic choice between cookies and chips (which is still all we have at the Subway in my area), now there's a choice between apple slices, Baked Lays, cookies, Dannon yogurt, Doritos, Lays Classic, and raisins.
Now I don't know about y'all, but when I go to a restaurant I'm always very tempted by the "not so healthy" choices, as I always have healthier choices at home. So I certainly hope that people are taking advantage of the healthier choices that Subway is offering.
Anyway, I've gotten away from my original point. Health experts suggest that never eating fast food is your best bet. However, if you're anything like me, the wonderful greasy smell of Chicken McNuggets and fries tempts you more than once a week. The same health experts say that if you must eat fast food, you should exercise as well. I try to make up for my consumption of fast food with exercise, which I try to do 5 days a week for at least 40 minutes each day.
So your best bet really, if you have to eat the food, is to eat as little as possible and to exercise regularly. After all, do you really want to end up as one of those parents who sues McDonald's because your child is obese?
Editor's Notes* I had exactly the same reaction as Emily to Supersize Me!! For more about what's in your McNugget, read the scary list of ingredients in the footnote at the bottom of my "Mood Food" article (SDM, April '08). - Stephanie Lynn
** The average female teen should eat about 1,500-2,000 calories a day, though height, build, and physical activity (sports & exercise) are factors to consider in choosing a target number, and limit herself to 35-55g of fat a day. (Remember, the nuggets and fries alone totaled 39g!) If you're numb to numbers like these, just remember, they translate directly into pounds and dress sizes.