Thursday, March 6, 2008


Everyone knows McDonald's is bad for you. Everyone, right? Is there anyone out there that doesn't know that fast food is really bad for you? Really, really, really bad. In the movie SuperSize Me, when they asked a bunch of doctors how often it is okay to eat fast food, the majority of them said NEVER. If I ever become a nutritionist, I do not want to use that word with people--never. Partly because it makes things forbidden and therefore more desirable, but also because I don't think it's true. You can eat fast food, yes, like everything! Just in small quantities and very, very sparingly. The problem doctors see, however, is that if they give even this much of a green light, people take it and run with it too far.

Nutritionists, doctors and anyone treating people for diseases/conditions related to over-eating are up against an insatiable, tenacious machine that is marketing. They can't give anything up to it--anything. My nutritional philosophy is simply, "everything in moderation" (I call it an Aristotelean approach). This doesn't exclude foods, therefore making them more tempting to me, but also I advocate mostly eating fruits and veggies. The problem is being able to give advice to people that has the potential to make them think they can still eat anything or to make them understand how little "little" is and how truly sparingly "sparingly" is. Perhaps these things need to be quantified for my approach to work.

I went to McDonald's at lunch today in Lower Manhattan and sat there for an hour. I feel like there could be so much happening at McDonald's, because it is this high-energy, strategic gathering place for an immensely diverse crowd. Young old, businessmen, construction workers, nannies, kids, teenagers, young professionals, you name it, everyone is there! In that regard, it is amazing. There are truly not THAT many attractions that can gather such an interesting mixed mass of humanity.

Unfortunately, people are just there to stuff their faces with horrible, horrible foods.

To their credit, people are really up against it when they are trying to figure out what's good for them and what's true and what to believe on boxes, trying to disregard the constant inundation of tempting advertisements, all the while attempting to afford the right foods. It's overwhelming. It's easy and cheap to just forget and give up and give in, what with so many things to worry about already. It's easy to ignore the prospect of much later onset, long-term affects on one's health, much like smoking.

What's extraordinarily hard is for the man next to me in line to deny more quantity for less money. Here is what I mean:
Guy in Line: I'd like two hamburgers and a small Diet Coke, please.
McDonald's Employee: Do you want the 99 cent double burgers? They're cheaper.
Guy in Line: (Hesitation, probable confusion) Yes.

We ended up sitting next to each other and I watched him eat twice as much hamburger as he ad originally intended, because it was, in fact, CHEAPER.


My Mom said...

I'm curious, Erika: what did you order?

As you know, I walk past McDonald's in the skyway on my way to work every day! My usual breakfast at home is oatmeal, a piece of fruit, and a small quantity of toasted walnuts or pine nuts (this is part of my Chinese medicine eating plan). This morning I was out of oatmeal, fruit, and nuts - as well as bread. And I needed to get to the office. I walked into McDonald's and asked the counter person what was the healthiest thing on the breakfast menu. She kind of smiled at me and before she could answer, I saw the Egg McMuffin and had a fit of nostalgia! I hadn't had one for years! I ordered it with orange juice before I could stop myself! As the clerk handed my BAG to me, she said, "You've got to splurge yourself once in awhile! Enjoy it!" That pretty wells sums up your point, Erika. I admit was delicious and I won't have another one for a few years. Sigh.

frogfotog said...

oh poor, poor guy in could he resist twice the hamburger for LESS money? Heartbreaking. I read somewhere that working class men (esp. construction workers) actually use the nutrition information postings at fast food joints not to find the healthiest item, but to figure out where they can get the most calories for their money (because they expend so many on the job). So there was a battle for a while between BK and McDs to make a sandwich that packed more calories (I think it peaked somewhere around 1500 calories). They also found that those customers were often looking to get the maximum value for $1, so BK decided to start selling the Whopper at a loss for $1 a piece, in order to draw that segment of customers away from McD's similar Big Mac. But I think ultimately BK couldn't sustain the loss and the Big Mac still reigns supreme in that demographic.

frogfotog said...
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