No matter how small a community you might live in, there’s is a good chance that there is fast food establishment on almost every corner. Since Ray Kroc first started selling millions and now who knows how many hamburgers at McDonald’s, we American’s have been frequent patrons of drive through food sources. While it’s easy and relatively economical to pick up a quick lunch or dinner on the run, we all know eating at the fast food places is not our healthiest choice.
You probably remember the man who sued four fast food franchises a few years ago. He claimed that he gained a couple of hundred pounds in a year because he dined exclusively, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, at his favorite fast food vendors. Now, if you ask me, this guy is the poster child of America’s fast food nation syndrome. For him to gain that much weight, he must have eaten double portions of the worst choices they had to offer.
When it comes down to it, the simple fact that obesity is rampant, both in children and adults, is ample testament to our indulgence in the fast food nation syndrome. And it’s something that, if we want our nation’s health and insurance premiums to change, we need to alter.
The fast food companies have made record profits for decades and this has actually increased since our economy went into a downslide last year. These companies certainly don’t want to lose that edge so they are actually changing their menus. Due to the recent focus on some of the unhealthy ingredients served up, such as fries cooked in cheap, trans-fatty and saturated oils, most of the fast food franchises are making some major changes to their menus.
Rather than lose their fast food nation base of customers, they now seem to understand that they need to change their old business model to stay abreast of the more health conscious consumer. Many have switched to a better grade and healthier type of oil, especially in New York City and other areas that have mandated the change. They are making salads and sub style sandwiches and smoothie style beverages as an alternative to sugar laden sodas. They are offering new, broiled, white meat chicken wraps and bowls.
I don’t mean to be cynical but I imagine that this is a clever marketing strategy, pleasing a new and wider base of loyal customers in our fast food nation. I’m sure this is because they don’t want to go in the direction of Chrysler and G.M. Although if they could get President Clinton re-elected they might have a huge (no pun intended) supporter in the White House that would be subsidizing them personally.
Now this doesn’t mean they’re eliminating the old standbys. You know the processed meat burger made with fillers of who knows what. Sugary sodas and huge piles of greasy French fries are still staples on the typical fast food menus. While many moms that are bringing young kids in for lunch or dinner are choosing healthier items, unsupervised teens and die-hards of the adult persuasion, are still loading up on double burgers with cheese and an extra-large order of fries.
A new contender in the marketplace that the burger franchises may not have properly taken into account, are the new sub style sandwich shops cropping up everywhere. Some have even run TV ads, with testimonials from their customers (Gerad), describing how they lost countless pounds by walking and making the sub shop their regular fast food stop. Artisan, whole grain breads, with a choice of toppings baked into the crust, along with loads of veggies and grilled low fat meats are among their choices for healthy and delicious meals. Many offer an array of beverages, such as smoothies made with real fruit and the traditional orange Julius. These sandwich shops are definitely finding favor with the fast food nation crowd while winning the business of teens and adults alike.
The times, they are a’changing indeed. Although it remains to be seen who captures the heart of the American fast food devotees the good news is that now we can all make healthy choices when we eat at any of these establishments.
By the way, I have a FREE Fitness e-course available that includes healthy eating habits and in the next couple of weeks look for my new healthy diet e-course.