As an obesity epidemic sweeps the planet, with people of all ages from all walks of life facing health problems as a result of poor diet, it is no surprise that the finger of blame is often pointed in the direction of fast food outlets.
With high calorie meals being offered by chains across the globe at prices that many claim they can’t beat with home cooking, nutritionists and health professionals have been quick to slam the brands that we all know and love.
But is it true that fast food is always unhealthy? Is it truly the fault of these big name brands that so many people are suffering as a result of overeating? Or is it simply the case that the consumer is refusing to consider the healthy options that many so-called “junk food” restaurants have on offer?
Do You Want Fries With That?
Fast food chains are so successful because everyone loves what they have to offer. We all enjoy the occasional burger, pizza or drumstick. And if it was simply a case of consumers indulging in these treats occasionally and in isolation then there would be less of a problem. However the marketing used by fast food chains across the globe makes moderation a problem for many people. When ordering in fast food chains, people are subjected to the “upsell” where members of staff try and tempt them into ordering extras or plus-size portions in place of the meal they had originally chosen.
Think about it, have you ever order a regular sized meal in a burger chain, only to opt for a super-sized version when given the choice by your server? What about the last time you called Dominos for a pizza, only to hang up having tacked on an order for garlic bread? Yep, you’ve fallen for the upsell – and have likely ingested an increased amount of calories and fat as a result.
How about a Salad on the Side?
Of course, the fast food giants will tell you that it is your choice what foods you put on your plate or in your mouth – but are they offering a wide enough range of options to help you resist temptation? And if you do choose the salad – is it really worth it?
Some “healthy” choice dishes from fast food restaurants contain as many, or even more, calories than the simpler options from their mainstream menu. Salads with breaded meats and creamy or sugar laden dressings can tot up the calories quite quickly, while there is essentially not a lot of difference nutritionally speaking between a split ciabatta filled with meat, cheese and a few green trimmings and a Big Mac or a whopper.
The exception, it would seem, are the children’s meal options offered by fast food chains, where many have downsized the fat, salt and carb contents, and offer a selection of fresh fruit and water or juice in place of the once-standard fries and fizzy drink.
A Question of Personal Choice
What it comes down to, in the end, is personal freedom and self-control. Fast food restaurants are not bad per se – but choosing fast food above all other forms of nutrition is. As a treat once in a while, even the most health conscious person can enjoy a burger meal or chicken bucket – but the secret is keeping it just that, a rare treat in an otherwise healthy lifestyle.