Healthy Eaters Love Their French Fries

It's pretty interesting.  Why do people who normally eat fruits and vegetables, and chicken and fish, when they do eat meat, devour french fries and hot fudge sundaes when they go out to fast food restaurants?

Stephanie Clifford at The New York Times reports that "American consumers, even otherwise healthy ones, keep choosing caloric indulgences rather than healthy foods at fast-food restaurants."

Restaurants have added salads and fruit and other healthier foods for some time.  But, as Clifford notes, "it’s the sugary, fatty items that are flying — or waddling — out the door."

Would you believe, as Clifford points out, that you can now have a bacon and egg sandwich between two glazed doughnuts?  You can, at where else, Dunkin Donuts.

McDonald's CEO Donald Thompson recently told Cifford that although the chain had dedicated
"one-sixth of its advertising time to salads, they make up 2 to 3 percent of sales, and don’t drive growth. "  Then Clifford said he added, "perhaps it would make more sense to give consumers vegetables by stuffing them inside McWraps."  And who says CEOs don't have a sense of humor?

“When you put a healthy option up there on an otherwise unhealthy menu, not only do we not pick it, but its presence on the menu leads us to swing over and pick something that’s worse for us than we normally would,” Gavan J. Fitzsimons, a professor who studies consumer psychology at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, told Clifford.

The writer went on to quote Fitzsimons as calling this seeming oxyoron "vicarious goal fulfillment.” Somehow, simply by seeing a salad on the menu at Burger King, Fitzsimons says this frees us to basically satisfy "that goal to be healthy,” Clifford quotes him in their interview.

Sadly, and ironically, it's those of us who try to eat healthy the whole rest of the time who are the most susceptible to picking unhealthy items when the menu also has healthy ones. “It’s often the ones raising their hands, saying they would pick the salad, those are the ones that are the most at risk when they walk in,” Fitzsimons told Clifford.

So, how about you?  Do you pick the salad when you take your kids to Wendy's?  My son is not really a junk food eater but he does like his chicken nuggets at Burger King.  We've gone the last two Saturdays and I'm ashamed to say I ordered a Whopper Junior with cheese (but no mayo) each time.

I used to eat their salads but the chicken is too soft and gummy to be real, and even though I avoid the dressing, the cranberries and walnuts and other stuff is not exactly without calories.

I wonder what it is that makes us go off the grid when we enter these denizens of denial.  Is our simple awareness of healthy food choices enough to give us permission to eat the other stuff? 

My solution is to avoid these places like the plague.  Fortunately, since Phillip could care less about food (if only!), we rarely eat there.  And, I have to admit, I don't miss it, either.  Now, if they had a fast food place with only ice cream  . . . .!



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