For my Photovoice project, I decided to go to a couple popular restaurant chains that advertise to be “healthy.” The restaurants I went to were Subway, Chipotle, and Panera Bread. These are places I go to eat pretty often because it’s affordable, good food, and they claim to be healthy. I have always been curious about whether or not these restaurants are actually healthier than most places, so I am glad that this class has me more aware and cautious about product claims and advertising and seeing if they are true. For my project, I looked at the calories, sodium, and sugar of the meals I ordered from these restaurants.
My recommended caloric intake from a calculator based from my age, weight, height, and activity level – 1786/day. It is also recommended that people consume no more than 2300 mg of sodium a day, and sugar 6 g a day.
How healthy is it?
Prior into starting this project, I was expecting Chipotle to be the “healthiest” for me. This is because they claim to use ingredients without any added flavors or preservatives, make their food in the kitchen. They also claim that their products come from small farms that don’t add any hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides to their plants and animals. However, Chipotle had the highest amount of calories at 615, and highest amount of sodium at 1645 mg. Panera Bread and Subway had close calories at 570-590, but Subway had more sodium at 1580 mg. As for Sugar, Panera Bread had the highest at 17 grams, Chipotle at 10 grams, and Subway at 6 grams. All 3 restaurants are a little “all over the place” on how healthy it is, but I would claim Chipotle to be the least healthiest out of all 3 because of its high sodium content. I was surprised at the amount of calories for Panera Bread because it was a salad and a sandwich, I was expecting the calorie amount to be high. Overall, I’d consider Panera Bread to be the “healthiest” out of these restaurants because it had less sodium and calories.
What choices do I have?
Eating at any restaurant, you have a huge selection to choose from. On most menus now, they show the amount of calories there are in each item. So using, “I had no other choice,” really isn’t an excuse now after deciding to eat something that wasn’t nutritious. There is also always the choice of cooking your own food at home, that way you choose where you buy ingredients from (organic, local) how you cook them, and what you add (seasonings, side dishes). Also when you cook your own food, you aren’t adding all the extra seasonings that most restaurants do.
Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy?
As a college student on a very tight budget, I think one of the main reasons it’s difficult to be healthy and easy to be unhealthy is because most unhealthy foods are very inexpensive. While grocery shopping, it’s easy to notice that the unhealthy, processed foods are cheaper than organic, locally owned foods.
I really enjoyed doing this project! It has made me more aware of what I’m eating and putting into my body. The reason I go out to eat most of the time is because I get pretty busy to the point that I don’t have a lot of patience or time to make myself something to eat. One of my hobbies is going out and trying new different foods, but after this project I now want to stick to trying healthier, organic foods that don’t have so much sodium in them. After taking a picture of the foods I ordered from restaurants I enjoyed going to, I even realized that they aren’t that appealing or look good at all. Although it is difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy, buying healthier foods is like an investment and beneficial because then you wouldn’t be consuming so much unhealthy food that could affect your body a lot.
Taking this class also made me aware of so many issues I never thought much about such as the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare, and the importance of sustainability. The readings I’ve done for this class made me see a whole different side of public health. If someone were to complete a project like this, I think it would benefit them by making them realize that what you see really isn’t what you get. Restaurants like these have advertisements everywhere claiming to be fresh, healthy, and delicious, so of course we believe them. Someone might start reading more into nutritional facts and seeing the amount of fat, calories, sodium, or cholesterol their food has. My project provides information and proof that restaurant chains who claim to be healthy are not. It also shows that it truly is easy to be unhealthy because unhealthy food is affordable and easy to get because it’s cooked for you.