I’ve been watching quite a bit of football over the past few weeks with the college football bowl games as well as the NFL playoffs. Yes, I’m a big fan of the pigskin and the advertisers know they have a captive audience for their commercials, too. Have you seen some of the new ones from the fast food companies? OH MY!
It shouldn’t be surprising, but they all are trying to take advantage of people becoming more health conscious by introducing new menu items that are supposed to be a little more “healthy” to eat. Unfortunately, their definition of that word is up for debate and falls short of the mark of what you and I may deem “healthy” to mean.
Let’s take a look at some of these new “healthy” menu items:
PIZZA HUT–”The Natural”
Pizza Hut must be beaming with pride right now at their new pizza offering that includes a multi-grain crust, all-natural pepperoni, Rustica sausage, and 100% real beef, all-natural mozzarella cheese and all-natural sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes with no high-fructose corn syrup. They call it “The Natural” and it is being promoted heavily to people who want a better pizza to eat.
While it may be “better” than the typical white flour, sugary pizza offered regularly, the jury is still out about whether the whole grain crust is a wise choice for diabetics or those watching their carbohydrate intake. Pizza Hut boasts that their multi-grain pizza crust has 8g of whole grains in every slice and that the Whole Grains Council has given them their stamp of approval (whoop dee freakin’ doo!). Let’s look at the ingredients in that crust:
Unenriched, unbleached wheat flour, stone ground whole wheat flour, yeast, olive oil, honey, whole grain wheat, whole grain barley, whole grain rye, whole grain oats, millet, salt, and ascorbic acid
A slice of the “Natural” Pepperoni pizza will give you 210 calories and a whopping 26g carbohydrates. Only 2g of those carbs come from fiber, so a full 24g will make a negative impact on your blood sugar. And that’s only if you eat just ONE slice. Who does that?
Nice try, Pizza Hut! But if I’m gonna eat your pizza, I’ll stick with scraping the toppings off first. Kudos for using better, quality ingredients free from artificial preservatives and fillers, though.
MCDONALD’S–”See What We’re Made Of” Campaign
Have you seen the latest commercials from Mickey D’s bragging about the quality food they serve? I just about fell out of my chair when I saw all these dancing carrots and green leafy vegetables on the screen encouraging customers to “see what we’re made of” at McDonald’s. Riiiiiiiiight!
So they want us to think they care about providing “healthy” food to us now, huh? What about that British McDonald’s CEO who declared this kind of marketing as rubbish since most people go there to pig out on junk fast food? We know McDonald’s wields a strong branding power over young people, so perhaps it’s a subtle move in the right direction.
Of course, they have to actually provide HEALTHY food on their menu first. Sure, they talk about serving 100% beef, real eggs, fresh salad greens, vine-ripened tomatoes, but what about some of their other more well-known menu items that are decidedly unhealthy no matter how you cook them–their famous French fries, milkshakes, the buns for their sandwiches, sugary sodas, and worse! Anyone falling for their “See What We’re Made Of” campaign is only fooling themselves.
SUBWAY–9-Grain Wheat Bread
Of all the fast food restaurants, one name stands above all the rest when you think about the word “healthy”–it’s Subway. I guess we can thank Jared Fogle for planting this idea into our heads. I saw Jared on a pre-game football show last weekend telling the hosts how he’s kept his weight off for ten years and bragging about the new low-fat 9-grain wheat bread subs available at Subway. Although I’m happy eating a bunch of high-carb sub sandwiches helped Jared lose all that weight and keep it off, watching this made me want to hurl in disgust because that doesn’t work for everyone.
I looked closer at this 9-grain wheat bread they’re offering with all those “low-fat” ingredients and the bread alone for a 6′ sub contains 200 calories and an eye-popping 40g carbohydrates! Even when you take away the 4g of dietary fiber, that’s still 36g net effective carbs that will wreak havoc on your blood sugar, insulin levels, and ability to lose weight or control your diabetes if you are among the millions who have to deal with insulin resistance.
I’m sure Subway means well, but there’s gotta be a better way for them to promote healthier options at their restaurants. They’ve been disregarding the benefits of livin’ la vida low-carb ever since they got rid of their Atkins wraps in 2007 much to the chagrin of low-carbers everywhere. This new grain-based bread isn’t gonna help them improve that image anytime soon.
BURGER KING–”Angry Whopper”
Okay, so this “Angry Whopper” concept doesn’t make a health claim, per se, but it is very strange advertising as we’ve come to expect from BK as of late (like that “Flame” body spray I told you about last month). This new burger is supposed to be super-spicy hot with “angry” onions (who, according to the television ads, have been abused to the point that they are seeking revenge on those who would dare take a bite of them), jalepeno peppers, Pepper Jack cheese, and an “angry” sauce. Yeah whatever. IMHO, this is just another lame gimmick to get people to come buy your crappy food, BK!
LONG JOHN SILVER’S–Freshside Grille Menu
Although I haven’t seen any television ads featuring the new Freshside Grille Menu from Long John Silver’s, I wanted to give a shout out to them for coming up with some truly delicious and healthy food items for people to enjoy regardless of their dietary choice. Yes, they focus on how the grilled aspect of the fish provides a low-fat, low-calorie meal for people mindful of those things in their diet, I was pleased to see how easy it was to make this menu low-carb friendly.
When I visited my local Long John Silver’s in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the manager was more than happy to let me substitute extra mixed veggies (carrots, green beans, and squash) for the rice and bread. I got the Grilled Pacific Salmon and Shrimp Scampi meal and it was absolutely delicious! The veggies were quite flavorful and not mushy like you would normally get from a meal like this. They were perfectly seasoned and cooked as was the salmon and shrimp. I could not have been more pleased with a meal if I had made it myself!
GREAT JOB, Long John Silver’s!!!
So the next time you turn on the television and see one of these commercials for a new “healthy” menu item at your local fast food restaurant, watch out! They may not be as healthy as you think after all.