Supersize... Super Thighs
eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resourceFast
food has long been a bane to our existence. It puts many of us on the fast
track to fatter thighs, bellies and butts.
But the dining out-on-the-dash experience got a lot worse when fast food joints
began offering supersized servings of greasy french fries and sugary sodas...
and they then convinced us these meal monstrosities were a value.
It doesn't help that the counter-ordering
process has been tweaked to nudge unwary customer into a larger meal. These
extra calories really add up.
Mr. Bad Food is demanding a fair shake --
and perhaps the return of the small fries -- and an end to this
stomach-stretching Supersizing Switcheroo.
A few chilly weeks ago, my wife and I
decided to take our children out to play. But since this winter has been
anything but outdoors-friendly, we settled on a "brilliant idea" -- we'd take
Jonathan and Caelyn to the local McDonald's for Happy Meals and access to the
While ordering for the McGran brood, I was
asked by the counter worker, "Large or Supersized?" She was referring to the
Big Mac, fries and Coke (the Number 1) value meal I'd just ordered. I very
nearly said "large" because I knew I wasn't all that hungry and I didn't want
the biggest servings.
But then I said, "WHOA... I want the
'regular' size." In this case, that means the medium. It sounds like an Abbott
& Costello routine, but when you order a medium, you get the smallest value
meal offering. A large is the medium size and the supersize is the large.
Yes, friends... it's hard to order a small
anymore. Try it. The old small fries in the paper packet is now the "children's
serving." The smallest serving of fries available for adults is the
red-cartoned medium one. It's maddening, for sure.
I nearly brushed aside my counter encounter
with the slick-talking order-taker. But then the emails began to roll in from
other Worst Food readers who'd been hoodwinked by Ronald's hamburger-hawking
henchman. OK, so maybe I am being dramatic -- this isn't a worldwide web of
But I've heard enough to know the ordering
process -- counter and drive-thru -- puts the customer through a gauntlet of
extra grease. My more frugal friends may defend the guardians of the Golden
Arches by saying, "Hey, for a few pennies more, you get a lot more fries and
To that I say, "(insert raspberry sound
here)!" What good is a value if it means tighter shirts and jeans... not to
mention, tighter arteries? Portion size is out of control in America. A medium
serving of McDonald's fries is more than enough food for any one person. Don't
be a spud dud and gobble a large or supersize serving.
The same goes for the sodas. If you live by
the adage, "Why sip from a teacup when you can drink from the ocean," then
McDonald's indeed is your kind of place. Heck, I make my kids slip on those
orange arm floats before they get anywhere near my supersized Coke for a
Ready for a few numbers? Drum roll
According to the official McDonald's
website (www.mcdonalds.com, of course), a medium (5.2-oz.) fries has: 450
calories, 22 grams of fat (4 saturated), 0 cholesterol and 290mg sodium. A
large fries weighs 6.2 ounces and has 540 calories, 26 grams of fat (4.5
saturated), 0 cholesterol and 350mg sodium. Go for the gusto and grab the
supersized serving (7 oz.) and your tally jumps to 610 calories, 29 grams of
fat (5 saturated), 0 cholesterol and 390mg sodium.
Your best bet -- if ya NEED to have fries
with your lunch or dinner: demand the small (children's size). This 2.4-ounce
packet packs a more palatable 210 calories, 10 grams of fat (1.5 saturated), 0
cholesterol and 135mg sodium.
Now, how much is your Coke habit
costing you... nutritionally? We all know Diet Coke registers ZERO calories no
matter what size you suck down. But if you're like me and yearn for the crisp
taste of a fountain Coke, full sugar and caffeine, then get ready for your
stomach to rumble...
The standard, off-the-rack medium serving
(since when is 21 ounces of anything considered medium?) will run ya 210
calories and a whole bunch of sugar (58 grams of carbs). Dive into the 32-ounce
large (that's a quart folks) and you get 310 calories and 86 grams of carbs.
The 42-ounce super size will soak you with 410 calories and 113 grams of
Just for the fun of it -- and to make me
feel even guiltier about my family day at McD's -- let's total the Number One
value meal shown above. Remember, I came to my senses (somewhat) in time to
push for the medium-sized Coke and fries to accompany my Big Mac.
One Big Mac will whack you with 590
calories, 34 grams of fat (11 saturated), 85 grams of cholesterol and 1,070mg
sodium (nearly half your recommended daily intake).
Add in the medium fries and Coke to find I
wolfed down 1,250 calories, 56 grams of fat, 85 grams of cholesterol and
1,360mg sodium. Had I gone for the supersized sides, my meal would have been a
whopping 1,610 cals, 63 grams of fat, 85 grams of cholesterol and 1,460mg
It's supersized meets super thighs... oh,
You should play the numbers games at every
restaurant you frequent. Also, keep in mind that it is possible to dine at a
fast food joint and not blow your daily allotment of calories. Keep your eyes
open for our handy new eDiets Dining Out Survival Guide. In the meantime, check
online dining out guide.
The big bottom line: More than
6-in-10 of us are overweight. Bigger ain't better and boy, it's true... size
does matter when it comes to losing pounds or simply maintaining a healthy
I read the comments about McDonald's and
Burger King assuming you want a large drink. Evidently they eliminated the
"small" option from the menu. Papa John's has done something similar. I love
Papa John's pizza, but it only comes in small, large and extra large. When you
ask for a medium, they say they don't have medium. I'm sure they know what you
mean. Medium... the one in between the big one and the little one! Why are
companies doing this? Why not just keep all the options open if you're going to
add an extra large or super size? Is there some unwritten rule that says a
restaurant can only offer food in three sizes?
Just read an email from a fellow eDieter
who got caught at McDonalds when offered a "large or supersize." Just wanted to
let everyone know, not only is this nationwide, it's industry-wide. Movie
theaters, fast food chains, restaurants, etc. train their employees with
specific lines they must offer to every customer. I know because as a college
student one of my side jobs was working as a "mystery shopper." My job was to
go to all these places and pretend to be a customer and then rate the employee
on how they repeated the lines and did the "hard sell." If they got it right,
they won $50! Quite an incentive to get us to eat and order more!
I really enjoy your articles and want to
thank you for the tribute to the Columbia crew. I recently started back to work
after being off for a while. When I was at home, I managed, because of eDiets,
to lose 18 pounds. Now that I'm back at work, I'm shocked! There's food,
especially sweets, everywhere! Maybe your readers would like to hear about some
chips that I experimented with. I buy low-fat tortillas, cut them into
triangles or whatever shapes strike my fancy at the time. Spray a cookie sheet
with cooking spray and put the tortilla pieces on it. Put it in a 300-degree
oven for 5-6 minutes, then check them. Turn them over and bake for about 3-4
minutes more. Apple chips are fantastic and very easy to make! The easiest way
to make them is by using the food processor. Core the apples and slice them
thin in the food processor. Dry them in the oven, just like the tortilla chips.
I'm still experimenting with vegetables and other fruits. I really like your
articles, John. Thanks for your good information and encouragement.
I have enjoyed your column for a while
now and would like to let you and your readers know why they eat so much so
fast at fast food restaurants (such as McDonald's). The reason is the colors.
The two colors, red and yellow, actually make people want to eat, even if they
aren't hungry! That's why when your driving down the road and you see that big
red and yellow sign, you get the urge to eat and pull in the drive-thru for a
quick bite. So, now your probably wondering if there is a color that makes
people less hungry. It's blue. Think about it: how many restaurants do you know
that have a blue interior or exterior?
I have nothing against disgusting food
stories. Actually that isnt true. I find them juvenile and boring. But in
the case of a column supposedly dedicated to foods that are bad for you, I
think they are particularly objectionable. There is more than enough to talk
about. For Gods sake, run an article on corn nuts and Cheetos!
I was very disappointed when I read the
reader feedback to the Eating While Driving column. Your readers were quick to
share the ingenious ways they had come up with to eat while on the road (apron,
bib, etc.) rather than getting to root of the problem: not doing it at all! I
know what it is like to be busy. I'm the mother of a young child, I work
fulltime, and I go to school in the evenings. Some days, I eat all of my meals
away from home! On those days, I try to adjust my schedule so if I do have to
eat in the car I can pull over for 10 to 15 minutes to do so. Doing anything
while driving -- putting on makeup, talking on a phone, reading -- distracts
you and reduces your response time. Before we do anything while we drive, we
should ask ourselves, "How important is this... do I need to do this right
now?" If the answer is YES, pull over.
Not fair! Introducing the oddly flavored
ice cream as if it's part of the everyday Japanese diet? That's just not
right!! Even most people in Japan don't know what to do with such ice cream,
and some don't even know its existence! I have been away from Japan for over 13
years, but I still communicate with Japanese people. When I ran searches
through Google in Japanese, I found that these strange types of ice cream are
called "getemono" -- meaning it's the kind of food the majority would just
throw away and wouldn't try, but a handful of people may recognize it as food
and like its flavor. There also are reviews by brave people who have tried
them, and 95% say they are awful, don't even bother trying it. So, will you let
people know that this is not what we eat day-in and day-out?
I know your column focuses on worst foods,
but I wanted to take this opportunity to warn your readers of the worst
supplement. I got caught up in the "burn fat, gain energy" claims of the
Ephedra craze. Well, I didn't burn any fat, but I did gain energy through a
pounding heart, racing nerves and jitters. I also have continuous chest pains
that do not go away and shortness of breath at the strangest times. And I only
took one pill per day when the recommended dose was six pills per day! Please,
please warn all your readers not to be fooled by these same claims. The results
can be life altering, permanent, if not fatal.
LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING
The following is an oldie, but a goodie to
most good-natured dieters. Enjoy...
The 12 Rules of Dieting
1. If you eat something and no one sees you
eat it, it has no calories.
2. If you drink a diet soda with a candy
bar, the diet soda cancels out the calories in the candy bar.
3. When you eat with someone else, calories
don't count if you do not eat more than they do.
4. Food used for medicinal purposes NEVER
counts, such as hot chocolate, brandy, toast and Sara Lee cheesecake.
5. If you fatten up everyone else around
you, then you look thinner.
6. Movie-related foods do not have
additional calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not
part of one's personal fuel. (Examples: Milk Duds, buttered popcorn, Junior
Mints, Red Hots and Tootsie Rolls.)
7. Cookie pieces contain no calories. The
process of breaking causes calorie leakage.
8. Things licked off knives and spoons have
no calories if you are in the process of preparing something.
9. Foods that have the same color have the
same number of calories. (Examples: spinach and pistachio ice cream; mushrooms
and mashed potatoes.)
10. Chocolate is a universal color and may
be substituted for any other food color.
11. Anything consumed while standing has no
calories. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.
12. Anything consumed from someone else's
plate has no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person
and will cling to his/her plate. (We ALL know how calories like to cling!)
And one for the road:
Fatty foods are like destiny. They, too,
shape our ends.
Until next week, the fridge door is closed.
But if you have any questions and/or comments -- or even a poem or a tasteful
joke to share -- feel free to write me, eDiets editor-in-chief John McGran, at