Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas
We're Surrounded by Fast Food, But Don't Surrender
December 2, 2010
The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) offers a weight loss program for Veterans called “Managing Obesity of Veterans Everywhere” or MOVE that educates participants about nutrition, behavioral changes, and physical activity. If you would like to talk with a registered dietitian about weight loss strategies, call 713-791-1414, ext. 4295.
HOUSTON - Fast food is the term given to food that can be prepared and served very quickly. The United States has the largest fast food industry in the world, and American fast food restaurants are located in more than 100 countries. Fast food makes it easy to get a quick meal. In addition, fast food meals are cheap and you can have it your way - small, medium, large, or supersize
But, what is all that fast food doing to us as a nation? The movie industry had an answer to this question. “Super Size Me,” a film directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, documented his experiment to eat nothing but fast food for thirty days. His resulting health problems included weight gain, increased cholesterol, and other health issues.
In addition, fast food chains have come under fire from consumer groups over issues such as caloric content, trans fats, and portion sizes. Eric Schlosser’s book “Fast Food Nation” provided Americans with a detailed look at the culture of fast food. His book illustrates the socioeconomic and obesity aspects of eating fast food
Moreover, portion sizes have increased in restaurants as well as at home where our plates, bowls, and cups are bigger, making portion size control difficult. Furthermore, it is inexpensive for restaurants to add food to your plate, and they often do this to increase profits. People consume their entire meal at restaurants because of the “clean plate club” or frugality in these tough economic times.
Now, how do we eat a quick meal, but still eat a meal that is healthy and low in fat and cholesterol? You can pick healthier options at fast food establishments. Put up your defenses when you enter a restaurant. Consult fast food restaurant Web sites which can provide valuable information about ingredients, calories, and other nutrition information. Think about what you want to order before entering the restaurant so you will not be tempted into a last minute unhealthy substitute.
Here are some tips for making healthy choices at fast food restaurants. Instead of a jumbo cheeseburger, try grilled chicken, sliced meats, or even a regular hamburger on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Instead of fried chicken or taco, try grilled chicken or salad but watch out for high-fat dressings and ingredients such as croutons, cheese, and bacon. Instead of fried chicken pieces, try grilled chicken. Also, cancel the french fries and order a baked potato with vegetable or yogurt topping. Substitute pretzels for potato chips. Try water, small juice, 1 percent fat or fat-free milk or a diet soft drink instead of a milkshake.
Skipping meals becomes a bad habit when your job requires you to spend most of your day on the road, meet deadlines, or wait for appointments. However, it is important to eat at least three meals a day to prevent overeating. Bring healthy snacks with you on the road to help stop those hunger pangs and overeating at your next meal. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be convenient foods for busy people – carrots, celery sticks, and unsweetened fruit cups are available in small, carry-along packages. Other healthy snack choices include fat-free crackers, rice cakes, bagels, bran muffins, pretzels, and unsalted nuts.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) offers a weight loss program for Veterans called “Managing Obesity of Veterans Everywhere” or MOVE that educates participants about nutrition, behavioral changes, and physical activity. MOVE’s Web site, www.move.va.gov, offers tips for weight reduction and control. The MEDVAMC also offers classes to teach Veterans about specific health issues and to encourage eating healthy and being active and fit for life.
Eating a quick healthy meal low in fat and cholesterol cuts down your risk of heart disease; so, do not forget nutrition while you are on the run. To summarize, a quote from one of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin may have said it best - ‘‘I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand.” If you would like to talk with a registered dietitian about weight loss strategies, call 713-791-1414, ext. 4295. By Dietetic Intern Meghan Peckis
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