Barbara’s Bulletin: Fast Food Fad Diets
Are you trying to eat better this year, but don’t want to give up dining on the dollar menu? What if you could lose weight by eating McDonald’s for lunch and Taco Bell for dinner? The fast food dieting trend popularized by Jared and the Subway Diet, critiqued in Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Super Size Me, and pushed by fast food companies as legitimate doesn’t seem to be fading away anytime soon. In fact, the New York Times reports this week that Taco Bell has recently unveiled a new ad campaign touting the “Drive Thru Diet,” encouraging Americans to lose weight by eating items on their Fresco menu. Although it’s great that fast food restaurants are offering lower calorie options, surviving on fast food still might not be the best option to slim down.
Often fast food fare featuring lower calories and fat has higher amounts of sodium to offset flavor losses. As discussed in my blog last week, consuming a high-sodium diet can lead to increased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and stroke. Also, studies have shown that calorie counts for fast food items may not be completely truthful. The Journal of American Dietetic Association found that 29 chain restaurants in Boston had on average 18% more calories than reported. Still, for individuals who frequently dine at fast food restaurants because of income level or fewer healthy food options in the neighborhood, chains providing a few extra meals with fruit and vegetables or healthy proteins like grilled chicken is a step in the right direction.
So, if you find yourself at a fast food restaurant on occasion, try to stick to the healthier menu items. And be aware that cooking your favorite healthy meals at home is an easy and cheap way to stay on track this year
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