Subscribe

http://www.wikio.com

RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

There is "Nothing" at McDonald's? I disagree.


So, yesterday, I was directed to Dave Soucy's website via Josh Hillis' Twitter Feed. I've never seen "DaveTV" before, but I was interested in this particular post. Dave is a personal trainer, and was asked by one of his clients what would be a good choice to eat at McDonald's if, for some reason, they had to eat there. His answer? Nothing. Some quotes (and I should mention here that I also hate video blogging. You can't skim, you can't search, and you have to sit and wait for the person to talk to you. You have to have headphones or speakers. Text blogging makes a lot more sense). Anyway, quotes:
I had a hard time answering her question of what's better there because honestly, I haven't been a McDonald's in maybe ten years. There's no reason to ever need to go to a McDonald's. If there's a McDonald's, there's something else next to it, ok, that's got better options and real food, as opposed to the crap that's at McDonald's.
Go to a gas station and buy a bag of nuts and an apple, and you're better off than anything that you're going to have at McDonald's.
I have zero tolerance on this... The politically correct thing is to say "oh yes, you can enjoy that. Just go and eat their healthier choices." That's crap. Just don't go to McDonald's. You really have no reason... you should have planned better, and not put yourself in a situation where you're wondering what the healthy food is at McDonald's. Why didn't you bring your food with you? Why didn't you plan to be somewhere better?

I disagree, and I think his response is arrogant and narrow-minded.

First of all, as he stated, he hasn't been to a McDonald's in ten years. Has he looked at a menu? Did he bother to check and see if there were healthy options there? Did he attempt to even answer her question? Not really. He wrote her off and gave her "zero tolerance." I hate that sort of all or nothing attitude that suggests complete failure if you go to a forbidden restaurant or eat a forbidden food. This is the kind of thing that keeps people from eating right. Next thing you know, that person will end up discovering that they're in a situation where a McDonald's is the only option (I'm not stupid, I can figure out reasons why this would be the case), the person will make a bad choice, and suddenly one bad meal turns into one bad day and frustration and disaster will follow.

Second, I disagree that there is "nothing" at McDonald's. And it's not that I think that everything is great at McDonald's, and it's not that I eat there all the time. But to suggest that you cannot choose a single item on the McDonald's menu if you are trying to eat healthy -- that is just stupidity and ignorance. Let's give McDonald's some credit where credit is due. They indeed DO have some healthy things on their menu, and I think they deserve to be given a pat on the back for it. After all, if the market is demanding these healthy things and people are buying it, then they'll make more healthy things and add them to their menu.

McDonald's Healthy Menu Item #1:
Fruit & Walnut Salad. This was reviewed by the Center for the Science in the Public Interest in 2005, and is still on the McDonald's menu today. Since CSPI reviewed it, it's been reduced from full size to snack size, but still has only 210 calories, is low in saturated fat (1.5g) and sodium (60g), and includes 2 grams of fiber, and over 100% of your Vitamin C for the day. If you are out and need a quick snack (in the mall perhaps?), I think this is a pretty great option, and certainly just as tasty as the gas station nuts and apple that Dave suggests.

McDonald's Healthy Menu Item #2:
Side Salad. Dave makes it sound as if you'll just get iceberg lettuce and a piece of shredded carrot. Not so. According to their ingredients list, McDonald's salad mix contains iceberg, romaine, spring mix, carrots and grape tomatoes. And that is what you'll get in the basic side salad -- which is 20 calories, almost no sodium, 1g fiber, 45% of your RDA of Vitamin A and 25% of your RDA of Vitamin C. McDonald's features Newman's Own Dressings, which include a Low Fat Italian or a low fat Balsamic Vinaigrette, with between 40 and 60 calories each. Sounds pretty good to me, and a pretty great alternative to fries.

McDonald's Healthy Menu Item #3:
Other Salads. They offer a Southwest Salad, a Bacon Ranch Salad, and a Caesar Salad. I admit, they're not sinless, since before dressing (I'm assuming that the nutrition info is before dressing is added), they have 800-1000mg of sodium, but so do a lot of things. Beyond that, if you stick to grilled chicken, you're looking at a maximum of 320 calories (for the Southwest, which also includes southwest vegetables -- roasted corn, black beans, tomatoes and peppers, cheddar cheese, cilantro lime glaze, and chili lime tortilla strips). The Southwest Salad is the highest in calories, but contains 6 grams of fiber, 130% RDA of Vitamin A, 50% RDA of Vitamin C, and 15% RDA of Calcium and Iron. That's a great meal if you're pressed for time and have fewer or no other options, and when combined with one of the Newman's own dressings mentioned above, you've got a meal for under 400 calories.

McDonald's Healthy Menu Item #4:
Egg McMuffin. This is the one you'll most likely see me eating. I love my McMuffin's and consider them a pretty good breakfast that will stick with me. I don't ever get hash browns with them, and I will sometimes have them with an orange juice. 300 calories, 2g fiber, 18g protein, 30% RDA of Calcium and 20% RDA of Iron. It does contain 5g of saturated fat, but if you were to order it without cheese, you could likely get that down. I like the cheese, though.

McDonald's Healthy Menu Item #5:
Fruit n' Yogurt Parfait. It's yogurt, berries and strawberries and has been a favorite of mine since it premiered. 160 calories, 2g fat, low in sodium, and gives you a bit of Calcium and Iron. Not only that but it's delicious. It makes a nice breakfast, or a nice dessert that isn't too sinful. Opt for that over an ice cream cone any day.

McDonald's Healthy Menu Item #6:
Vanilla Ice Cream Cone. But, let's talk about their ice cream. 150 calories, 3.5g fat, 10% calcium, not bad for something that would make a nice treat instead of something worse.

And I didn't even go into the sandwiches, mostly because they contain so much sodium. However, the classic McDonald's Hamburger does only have 250 calories, 520g sodium (the least of all of the sandwiches), 2g fiber, and 15% of your Iron for the day. Even two of them, paired with a side salad and balsamic dressing is less than 600 calories, makes you feel a little bit sinful and probably won't make you have a heart attack right away.

To say that McDonald's has "nothing" is dismissive. Dave doesn't see that there are moms out there with little time, there are times when things happen and you just need to have an extra option, and that there are definitely times when it's possible that McDonald's is the only option. I'm sorry, it's true. Dave is out of touch and loses sight of this because his job is to be healthy and to not eat at McDonald's. He misses the point that not everyone is like him, and not everyone can make the perfect selection 100% of the time. Get with the program and have the respect for your clients to at least look up the information before dismissing it. And please, give McDonald's a little bit of credit. They deserve it and should be rewarded for their efforts with sales. And no, I'm not saying that there aren't horrible choices at McDonald's, but there are horrible choices everywhere. Some people eat out. Deal with it.

And a note to Dave's client who asked the question: Don't use a personal trainer who won't understand or take into account your lifestyle. Don't use a personal trainer who thinks it's his way or no other way. Don't use a personal trainer who dismisses your questions. And don't use a personal trainer who doesn't even do any damned research before posting your question on the Internet.

Want more info? Cooking Light published a list of healthy options at various fast food restaurants. CSPI also published an article on fast food back in 2005. It's a little dated, but a lot of it is still available today.

Image Courtesy of McDonald's, Inc.

15 comments:

Lacey said...

i love CSPI. and i totally agree with you. you can get skim milk, everything you listed, ... it's just a matter of makign it work. i wouldn't generally order a meal there and expect to be set, but if you need something fast and now, there are options!!!

very good points here.

Mary said...

Well stated, Kim. Clearly, this dude has never driven through Virginia where your only food options for MANY miles are McDonald's, Waffle House, or Cracker Barrel.

And seriously, who are these people who think it's realistic to bring your own food everywhere?

Kim said...

I will *sometimes* bring my own food to places, but it's pretty rare. That's the kind of stuff that I started out doing when I was first on Weight Watchers years ago, but it became too much of a headache, too unrealistic, and made me feel psycho. There comes a point when you want to feel like a regular person and you need to act like a regular person. It's just like the fact that I hate sitting in a restaurant with a 10-item laundry list about how special my meal needs to be. I'd rather start out with a better choice of restaurant in the first place, or just suck it up.

There comes a point, too, when you just HAVE to be able to have a cheat day or meal and not let it ruin your entire body and healthy lifestyle. That's called being an adult and being responsible. There are people that eat at McDonald's every day -- one meal will NOT kill you, especially if you stick to the healthier stuff. It's not true or realistic that every single meal needs to be flaxseed and omega-3s and super-beneficial healthy stuff. I like EATING FOR FUN, too. Sometimes, I'm gonna eat a piece of cheesecake or go to coldstone or have a slice of pizza. Because it's what makes life fun! What's the point of extending your life through healthy things if you can't have the things you enjoy once in a while.

Dave said...

Hi Kim,
interesting perspective. We can agree to disagree on McDonalds, that's fine. But, I would like to clear up a few things that you stated about me.

First, I can only assume you didn't read anything else on my blog or view any of my other sites, since if you did you'd certainly realize that I'm anything but an "it's my way and no other way" sort of guy. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. I preach that there are many practical, reliable roads to health and fitness and that whether someone follows my methods or those of other qualified experts, it doesn't matter. Leading a healthy lifestyle is what's important, and there are different ways to do that.

Second, I'm not as out of touch with the real world as you assume. I'm a husband and dad to two young girls. Of course I see there are busy moms (let's not forget the dads btw) out there. Both my wife and I work full time, and juggle family, life and work responsibilities just like you or anyone else. I haven't lost sight of this as you contend, and my choice of career has very little to do with it. I spent many years in the corporate world living in airplanes and hotels and know what eating on the road is like. And when, at age 37 (before I was in the fitness industry), I had a precancerous colon polyp removed, I began to appreciate that what we eat and put into our bodies really does matter. If you don't have your health, nothing else is that important. If I was a computer programmer I would feel the same way about McDonalds.

Third, I actually did do my "damned research" (your words). Nope, I haven't been to a McDonalds, so I did look up the menu and nutritional info on their web site. Again, we can agree to disagree on what is healthy or not. I'm not as fixated on calories as you seem to be when it comes to declaring a food healthy or not. In fact, I teach my clients not to worry so much about calories and instead try to focus on eating high quality, nutrient dense food because I believe people should focus on being healthy, not on being thin. I believe that focusing too much on calories (or counting points), is one of the main things that prevents people from eating right. Highly processed junk food, even if it is lower in calories, is still just highly processed junk food. An egg mcmuffin is highly processed junk food.

So, like I said, we can agree to disagree. Everyone can have their own opinions, which means you're free to continue to think of me as the "arrogant, narrow-minded, stupid, ignorant, dismissive, out of touch" trainer that apparently my clients should run from as fast as possible. I'm free to think health and nutrition involves more than just calories and that, even as a busy dad in the real world, I don't have to eat at McDonalds.

~Dave

Kim said...

"I began to appreciate that what we eat and put into our bodies really does matter. If you don't have your health, nothing else is that important."

This is true, and I happen to agree. I am a runner, and food is fuel for me. I agree with you that processed food is not the way to go, but I sympathize with situations where you have to make a choice between eating what is perfect and eating the best that you can get your hands on. I don't believe that there is black and white "this is a good food" and "this is a bad food". I believe that there is grey and it's overall diet in the long term that matters, not that you picked up an apple salad from McDonald's on Tuesday because you were in a hurry to get somewhere and been unexpectedly held up and unable to pack a snack. Saying that you are "zero tolerance" suggests that you believe that your diet is ruined by making a single choice or having a single meal.

As much as I find diet and exercise important, I also believe in having birthday cake with a friend once in a while (even though it's definitely "highly processed junk food"), or going ahead and eating some holiday traditions on Thanksgiving. That's called balance, and that's important.

(continued in a second)

Kim said...

"If I was a computer programmer I would feel the same way about McDonalds."

Uh, yeah. Ok. I actually do not eat at McDonald's all that often, as I stated, and it has nothing to do with my career. Typically, if I'm eating at McDonald's, it's breakfast, as I stated, and it's not on a work day. It's on a weekend when I'm running from one place to another, and generally after I've done a long run of 6-26 miles. How often do I eat at McDonald's exactly? Maybe once every couple of months. If you want to assume that because I'm a computer programmer that I'm sitting around surrounded by fast food bags, you're very wrong. The only thing that limits me with my career, fitness-wise, is that my job will often interfere with my running schedule, and I don't do anything work-related that is the slightest bit active. But, then again, work isn't really my passion, either.

You, on the other hand, have made your health your career. For that I envy you. What I mean by pointing out that you are out of touch is that you HAVE to work out in order to earn your living. You HAVE to keep eating right in order to keep your body (which is your biggest marketing tool) in shape. You have more at stake to keep away from fast food than the average person does. It is easy to do this in real life and in a non-fitness industry job for a period of time, but there comes a point when you have to find balance, and you have to be willing to accept a mistake here and there. I would have hoped from your blog post that you would have accepted this inevitability rather than condemning. Or, at a minimum, made some more helpful suggestions other than "you should have brought your food with you." Well, what if you didn't? What then?
(continued again, blogger is acting up)

Kim said...

"I'm not as fixated on calories as you seem to be when it comes to declaring a food healthy or not. In fact, I teach my clients not to worry so much about calories and instead try to focus on eating high quality, nutrient dense food because I believe people should focus on being healthy, not on being thin. I believe that focusing too much on calories (or counting points), is one of the main things that prevents people from eating right. Highly processed junk food, even if it is lower in calories, is still just highly processed junk food."

Hmmm... I think I also focused on what vitamins and minerals, protein and iron, etc, were in the foods that I mentioned.

First of all, I am no longer in Weight Watchers, and I no longer count points. If you want to find out more of my opinion on the subject, you can read that here: http://www.kletco.com/2005/10/weight-watchers-more.html.

I do, however, look at calories first, because that is the measurement that I have to decide if a food will fit into my overall day. I don't think that there is anything wrong with that. Do I think low calories immediately makes a food "healthy?" No. But, if I'm looking at a food at a fast food restaurant, I'm going to turn away from the 1,000 calorie burger right off the bat. It gets disqualified, hands down. That's fair, right?

Like I said earlier, I am a runner and food is fuel. I do not eat "diet" food. I don't eat Snackwells (and actually find them evil), I don't eat "light" items, usually (there are some exceptions, but I'm not going into that here). If you re-read my post, you'll find that I do happen to mention other things besides calories, and I've found that at places like McDonald's, the lowest calorie choices are also going to be the ones that contain some sort of veggie or legume, and less fat and more nutrients. Then again, like I said, if I'm in a situation that is dire enough that I'm choosing McDonald's in the first place, I'm probably willing to accept something less nutrient-dense just to get something in to tide me over until a better choice is available. I have had instances where I have had to have a subway sub for lunch (which, frankly I find to be worth almost nothing nutritionally, it's just something to kill hunger for a while). After the subway sub, I'm probably going to have to eat something pretty super-nutritious for dinner in order to make up for it even though, calorie-wise, I'm fine. I've been at this a while. I understand the value of nutrients. I'm not, as you seem to think, a typical dieter that is just looking to drop pounds and nothing else.

There are simply times when one meal in my life is not going to be an awesome example of a perfectly balanced nutritious lifestyle. There are times when I'm not going to earn a gold star for what I'm eating. There are times when it WILL HAPPEN. And your ONLY suggestion as a realistic alternative to eating at McDonald's is to suggest an apple and nuts from a gas station or else bring my own food? REALLY? You said that if there is a McDonald's, there's something else around, but WHAT? Just a gas station? What are your realistic ideas, if you're so in touch with the real world?

Kim said...

Finally, you accuse me of not reading more of your blog. I actually watched one additional entry, but I find video blogging cumbersome and time consuming. If you want more readers, you should write your ideas down, and I would have spent more time on your site. I need to be able to search and skim for content, and I can't do that with your format. Sorry. You clearly didn't look at anything else on my site either, or else you would know that I don't believe that the only thing important to health is calories. I work very hard on my health, my body and my fitness, and I do so without someone paying me for it. I do so while still balancing my life and other things, and I just don't think it's fair to condemn someone for asking a real question about how to make things work in their life.

Anonymous said...

hi kim,
i have been a perfect fit client for nearly 2 years now and i wholeheartedly disagree with your characterization of dave being "arrogant", "narrow-minded" and "dismissive".
you would be hard-pressed to find a supportive resource more committed to assisting people seeking to attain their fitness goals through diet and exercise.
with dave's guidance, i have come to appreciate that good health is just a cerebral as it is physical.
the simple fact of the matter is, highly processed foods, regardless of calorie count, are just not good for you.
25 lost pounds later, i have a much better understanding about nutrition and how to make healthier choices. generally speaking - anything that gets handed to you through a window while you're sitting in your car is a bad choice. it really is that simple. it's not hard to throw an apple, banana or orange into your bag so that you have a healthy snack should you find yourself in a bind...
finally, mcdonalds deserves no pat on the back for menu items that could be considered even marginally "healthy" - any such item was put there solely for the purpose of getting people who don't really know much about nutrition but want to eat "healthier", in the door to buy happy meals for their children; hardly altruistic.
just saying....
anyway, thank you for the opportunity to respond!
peace,
-kath

Kim said...

I appreciate your comments, Kath, and congratulations on your weight loss! I'm glad that what you are doing is working for you. That being said, I still prefer the more balanced approach to looking at fast food that CSPI gives in the article that I referenced (http://www.cspinet.org/nah/03_05/fastfood.pdf) rather than just plain dismissing everything as bad.

The thing is, Americans eat fast food, and most of them could care less about nutrition. If you are trying to eat healthy automatically dismiss something healthy that a fast food chain offers simply because it comes from a fast food chain... well, that leaves all of the unhealthy eaters and no changes will ever come. If people that care about trans fat demand that McD's eliminate trans fat, then EVERYONE (even the non-health nuts) benefit. If you dismiss their efforts, what good does that do?

Kim said...

Some of my other blog posts that may be of interest to Dave and the like:

Normal Eating

A Lot of Angry Trainers

Be Cool With Yourself

The O-Word

Weight Watchers, More (referenced above)

Goal...

More about me

Thomas Sjolshagen said...

Why on earth, if you primarily eat breakfast at McDonalds, laud their "healthy options"?? IMHO, of all their menus, the breakfast menu is one of their least healthy, at least in terms of having nutritionally "less challenged" items.

Will eating at McDonalds every now and then - once a month, at most, has been the recommended frequency in the CSPI sponsored Nutrition Action on more than one occasion - immediately result in a horrific heart attack? Most likely not. But to think that you're going to find a truly healthy option containing all of the nutritional elements you need in a meal and none of the cr*p is, in my view, delusional.

That it's unrealistic to bring your own food around is only an excuse. If I'm able to plan and bring enough food and snacks with me (in my carry-on) for a flight from the east coast of the US to China or Europe, it should be a breeze to do so while trotting around somewhere in the US whether on a plane or in a car! Not wanting to is a different matter altogether (and, as I said, it proves that its an excuse, not an impossibility). And yes, I've flown internationally since the "underwear bomber" and was able to bring my food & snacks then too.

If you'd actually spent some time on Dave's site and maybe even taken a look at his Body Transformation Course, you'd realize that cheat days/meals are an integral part of his thinking. Anything else is insane. Stop going off half-cocked on the guy when you've not even done some basic research into what he stands for and believes. No, watching 3-4 minutes of video does not constitute "research"!

Kim said...

"Why on earth, if you primarily eat breakfast at McDonalds, laud their "healthy options"?? IMHO, of all their menus, the breakfast menu is one of their least healthy, at least in terms of having nutritionally "less challenged" items."

If you read my post, you will see that I only listed a single breakfast item as being acceptable.
And let's be clear here: I eat breakfast every day, but it's a rarity that it comes from McD's.

"Will eating at McDonalds every now and then - once a month, at most, has been the recommended frequency in the CSPI sponsored Nutrition Action on more than one occasion - immediately result in a horrific heart attack? Most likely not. But to think that you're going to find a truly healthy option containing all of the nutritional elements you need in a meal and none of the cr*p is, in my view, delusional."

I think I stated several times that I don't feel that it's a "truly healthy option" and I don't think it will contain everything you need in your diet. I am saying it's not outside the realm of possibility that there are times when you DO NOT get exactly what you need in a meal, and that it should be ok. I'm not going to rehash what I stated in comments above. Please read more carefully.

"If you'd actually spent some time on Dave's site and maybe even taken a look at his Body Transformation Course, you'd realize that cheat days/meals are an integral part of his thinking. Anything else is insane. Stop going off half-cocked on the guy when you've not even done some basic research into what he stands for and believes. No, watching 3-4 minutes of video does not constitute "research"!"

I stand behind my opinion that Dave's post was narrow-minded and arrogant. Whether or not he is narrow-minded or arrogant as a person is unknown to me. I was not judging his personality, only this single post. Any comments I made regarding him are indeed based only on one or two posts. I know him no better as a person than he knows me (ie. not at all). He didn't spend any time perusing other portions of my site, either (did you??). This is the nature of the internet. Deal with it.

Look, apparently Dave took my comments very personally, when I'm simply offering a difference of opinion. If you want to see me go off "half-cocked" about something, you're going to have to find something a lot more important than this.

Anonymous said...

Dave: "If I was a computer programmer I would feel the same way about McDonalds. "
What is this supposed to mean? You clearly are leveraging the Internet for your livelihood, which I am pretty sure was built by the blood, sweat and tears of thousands of hours of effort by computer programmers. Perhaps the act of programming a computer doesn't have the tangible effect of toning your muscles, but I'm pretty sure it requires a well-conditioned brain. I'm also pretty sure that what you eat and the nutrients you choose to ingest affect this brain and thus if one's opinion is that McDonald's is bad, then it should apply equally to all parts of the body, regardless of which is in use. But you're the fitness expert - perhaps careers that rely mostly on brain activity don't require nutrition.

"An egg mcmuffin is highly processed junk food."
orly? Have you ever seen an Egg McMuffin prepared at McDonalds? It's one egg + one English Muffin. So if the egg comes from the local supermarket it's better? Sorry, I'm pretty sure that most of the eggs purchased there are as pumped up with hormones and chemicals you'd never want to eat as those obtained by McDonalds.

Barry Lovelace said...

no comment other than this post is very amusing :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails

STS Progress

STS

This Week's Workouts