I don’t usually have fast food, but when I do, my two favorite places are Subway and Wendy’s. For this project, I reviewed each locations’ nutrition facts as well as menu prices and compared them.
How healthy is it? Who is selling me what?
This nutrition sheet comes from Subway. There are 5 individual categories: Sandwiches, Salads, Breakfast & Pizza, Breads & Condiments, and Desserts & Sides. Each item listed includes the serving size, Calories, Calories from fat, Total Fat, Saturated & Trans-fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Carbs, Sugars, Dietary Fiber, Protein and Daily Value Percentage for Vitamin A, C, Calcium and Iron. This may seem like a lot of useful information but to an uniformed consumer, all of this information can be overwhelming and might even be useless unless they are tracking all of their meals and calories. When I go in to subway, everything has nutrition facts, on the overhead and on the glass displays. However, when I order, I don’t usually look at those things, I choose/order what I know I like rather than what I know is good for me and this is the case for most consumers. For instance, I will get a 6 inch 9-grain honey oat bread (230), Italian B.M.T (410), and pepper jack cheese (50). The bread, meats and cheese alone are over 600 calories, keep in mind I haven’t added any vegetables or sauces yet. While choosing subway may seem like the healthy choice, it’s usually not; for a healthy person, one meal should not exceed 500 calories.
For Wendy’s, when you visit the website it has you select a menu category such as a burger, side, or drink and then a specific category whereas subway, just listed everything on one convenient sheet. When I go to Wendy’s I like to order the #1, this is a cheeseburger with fries and a drink. The burger alone has 570 calories, the fries have 320 and the drink depending on what I get (usually Sprite) has 200 calories. The total amount of calories for this meal alone is: 1,090. No, this is not the only meal you will have for the day and this is over half the amount of calories that the average person is supposed to consume daily.
Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be healthy? Do I really know what I need to in order to make a healthy choice?
It is difficult to be healthy when you eat out because regardless of what you know (nutrition information), you will still (probably 8-9/10 times) choose what you like rather than what you know is good for you. It’s also difficult when there is a huge price difference in food. For instance, an entire meal at Wendy’s costs only $5-$6 (burger, fries and drink) but if you were to go to Fred Meyer for say, the burger patties will cost you $7.99 alone; it’s also more time-consuming to make it yourself. Essentially, we do know what we need to know (most of the time) in order to make a healthy choice but chose to ignore it. Our job as informed consumers is to help inform other consumers starting with our parents or friends who will then tell their friends and continue this learning chain reaction. This is an easy way to begin making people healthier without it seeming like a chore (exercise or clean eating). If more people become informed on eating out and nutrition facts, slowly but surely we can begin to decrease the obesity problem in the United States.
In Ellensburg, I live near a subway which makes my ‘healthy eating’ a little difficult on busier days. The nearest Wendy’s to me is all the way across town where back at home, it was just a few blocks away from my house so this has been good on limiting how many times I go to Wendy’s. Now if I’m craving Wendy’s I have to stop and think “do I really want to drive all the way across town just for a burger?” the answer is usually no. While I working on this project, I realized how bad even Subway is for me. I try to track my calories on a daily basis and usually when I eat out I have a light breakfast or lunch or dinner so that I don’t exceed my calorie count and if I do it’s only by a few calories. However, when I go home on weekends or break, I don’t keep up with it as much and when my parents say let’s go have a burger! I don’t even think about it twice before ordering what I have now learned is really really bad for me.
After the food post in November and learning about moderation and how it doesn’t always work, some days I really have to restrain myself from having Wendy’s or Subway and set myself in the mentality that “okay just because you’ve been eating well for the last few days does NOT mean that you can have a burger today;” Eating out should not be seen as a reward and I’m glad that now I am able to catch myself on those days although it’s a challenge.
I have a 17-year-old brother who up until probably October, would eat out a lot! (Almost every other day or 2). I think someone like him and other high school teens could really benefit from completing a project like this because they would have a chance to see how bad or unhealthy fast food is even if it’s just looking a nutrition sheets and comparing them. Again, if we can stop the problem early on we can slowly but surely begin to decrease the obesity rates in the U.S.
Although I only covered two restaurants and compared them for my project, consumers will be able to see a typical fast food restaurant meal and compare it to the healthy alternative and realize that it’s not as healthy as we would’ve all expected. At Wendy’s your meal can range from 300-1,000 calories and at subway your meal can range from 400-1,000 calories as well depending on sandwich size and if you count every topping, sauce, chips, drink and sometimes cookie. I am hoping that consumers will become curious and begin researching more fast food nutrition facts and compare them, making them informed consumers.