Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Over the Hedge" Reflects Society's Bad Eating Habits

So, I guess first I should explain why I saw "Over the Hedge". My days of seeing every "3-and-more-stars" movie that comes out, and throwing Oscar parties are over - temporarily. You see, I have a 2 and a half year old daughter. I can count on two hands the movies I've seen in a theater in the last 2 and a half years, whereas I used to be able to count as many in 2 and a half months. And the majority of the movies I've seen have been animated films.

While not usually my favorite kind of movie, I found a redeeming quality in this one. It was a great reflection of how our society looks at food, and what we consume. I just hope it serves as a mirror for parents who take their kids to see "Over the Hedge", and that it will move them to make some changes. Once kids are introduced to junk food, it's hard to steer them toward nutrition. It's truly addictive.

"If it tastes so good, it must be good for you?" I don't think so. But healthy food doesn't have to taste bad, and it's our responsibility as parents to guide our kids toward healthy choices. I hope I won't be the only parent who pops healthy popcorn and brings it into the theater for long!

The narrator of the movie calls humans "couch potatoes" with "pie holes". Sugar rushes keep us going, and enough is never enough. We exercise only to rid our guilt for eating. These are sad truths.

The animals in "Over the Hedge" know better than we do, that it's smart to "Eat to Live" rather then "Live to Eat".

Committed to your health,

Thursday, May 11, 2006

This is NOT Permission to Eat at McDonald's

A colleague of mine told me that McDonald's is putting on a new promotion trying to cater to people who want to eat healthier. I went to their web site to check it out, and what a promotion it is!

McDonald's is now selling "Go Active! Happy Meals" for adults. The meals include a salad, water or other drink, and one of four 15-minute workout DVDs: yoga, cardio, strength or core, led by a computer animated "virtual" trainer.

Sounds really great, huh? McDonald's promoting health... Giving people healthy fast food options...

There are 4 reasons I don't think it's a good idea for consumers to buy into this.

1. You still have to know what you're doing to get a healthy salad. One of the salads is a bacon ranch salad. With "crispy" (fried) chicken, bacon and ranch dressing, it has a whopping 540 calories and 32 grams of fat. That's 53% fat!!! A hamburger and small fries has 510 calories and only 22 grams of fat (39%). More nutritional info here.

The idea behind a salad being healthy is that it's low in calories and full of high-nutrient veggies. Many salads contain bacon, fried chicken or noodles, butter soaked croutons, cheese or other foods that are high in calories or fat. Also, unless the salad dressing says it's low-fat, it's not. Iceberg lettuce has virtually no vitamins in it, so if your salad is mostly light colored lettuce, you're out of luck for your vitamin dosage for the day.

2. Keeping salads fresh is real a challenge. when is the last time you tried a salad at a fast food place? Last time I did, the lettuce was wilted and brown, the tomatoes flavor-less, the shredded carrots dry and the chicken was rubbery. (That was all that was left of the salad after I picked the cheese off it, since I wasn't willing to open the bacon and crouton packets.) By definition, salads need to be prepared ahead of time to be "fast" food, so freshness is nearly impossible.

3. The smell of french fries. Would you really be able to hold your resolve once you walked in? Need I say more?

4. It's still McDonald's. Even if you do eat a salad, with the light dressing and only a water, you're still supporting a restaurant that serves about the worst food for you on the planet. Have you watched "Super Size Me" or read "Don't Eat This Book" yet? Until they start serving truly healthy salads, offering even more healthy choices, and offering less super-sized artery-clogging foods, I'm not going to become a regular.

Yeah, I might have to go and check out the DVDs, but since they only work on PCs, PlayStations or Xboxes and not Macs, there's another reason they won't make a convert out of me!

Committed to you health,

P.S. As I dug deeper into the program online, I learned they have a link to a menu plan for certain calorie ranges. I thought for sure it would be a menu of McDonald's foods, but there weren't any. Although beer, goldfish crackers and doughnuts were options, I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a variety of foods you could prepare at home. They also have some great family fitness articles and other resources.