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    Archive for the ‘Wendy’s’ Category

    Same Mess, Different Name

    Burger King and Wendy’s have launched new burgers and chicken sandwiches. I can barely contain myself!

    First up, Burger King’s Cheesy Bacon Tendercrisp — “premium crispy white meat chicken breast, three kinds of cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise on a corn-dusted bun”.

    Don’t you love the usage of “crispy” as opposed to “deep fried”?

    Anyhow, this gem (which, actually, is being relaunched) adds up to 1,179 calories, 26 grams of saturated fat (more than a day’s worth) and 2,312 of sodium (95% of a day ‘s worth).

    Over at Wendy’s, the “Baconator” (can’t you just smell the oozing testosterone?) awaits.

    This concoction — pictured alongside this post — contains half a pound of ground beef, 6 bacon strips, 2 slices of cheese, mayonnaise, and ketchup.

    That’s right — not even a measly lettuce leaf.

    And so you end up with 830 calories, 23 grams of saturated fat, 1,880 milligrams of sodium, 1 (yes, ONE) gram of fiber, and really bad breath.

    Oh, here’s a fun Wendy’s fact: their cheese sauce is made from 25 different ingredients, including corn syrup solids.


    Shame On You: Olive Garden, TGI Friday’s, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, and New York City Wendy’s

    Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.

    Many chain restaurants — which have standardized recipes that call for an exact amount of certain ingredients every single time the dish is served — offer nutrition information on their websites.

    No matter how heinous their offerings — think 10 grams of trans fat in a serving of large fries, in some cases — the information is available to potential customers.

    Olive Garden, TGI Friday’s, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, and New York City Wendy’s restaurants, however, aren’t as forthcoming.

    In Olive Garden’s case, they only list nutrition information for their “Garden Fare” low-fat and low-carb items.

    Even that information is scarce, consisting solely of calories, fat, fiber, and carbohydrates.

    There is no mention of sodium or saturated fat.

    And make sure to read the tiny print at the bottom of the page:

    “Olive Garden has made an effort to provide complete and current nutrition information, but changes in recipes and the hand-crafted nature of our menu items mean that variations from these values can occur from time to time. Therefore, the values shown here should be considered approximations.”

    Nutrition information for their remaining menu items? Nonexistent.

    The only nutrition mention TGI Friday’s makes on their website
    is via a 2007 press release announcing the availability of smaller portions of select menu items, all of which offer less than 500 calories and 10 grams of fat.

    Want to know how many calories are in their standard fried mac and cheese appetizer? Start sharpening your psychic skills, because TGI Friday’s sure isn’t going to tell you.

    Over at Applebee’s, nutrition information is only available for Weight Watchers approved items.

    The others?

    “We do not provide nutritional information on other Applebee’s® items – with approximately 1,900 locations in the U.S. alone there are many different vendors, which makes it extremely difficult to obtain nutritional information for our items.”

    I’m supposed to believe they can’t tell me how many calories their three cheese chicken penne pasta bowl (“mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan cheeses top off a rich mix of penne pasta, Italian-seasoned grilled chicken, diced tomatoes, fresh basil and Alfredo sauce”) provides?

    Ironic, isn’t it, how the main draw of all these restaurants is that no matter where in the country you go, their dishes are prepared identically, yet apparently when it comes to nutrition, each Applebee’s is so unique that something as standard as caloric information varies from store to store?

    Why doesn’t this excuse apply to their Weight Watchers items?

    I guess it wouldn’t make them sound very trustworthy if they claimed, “Some items are Weight-Watchers friendly only in certain undisclosed cities.”

    Outback Steakhouse, meanwhile, beats around the bush.

    Rather than tell consumers how many calories their Barbeque Chicken and Bacon Sandwich offers, they provide tips on making it healthier and “diet friendly”:

    “Order prepared without butter or BBQ sauce,order without the bacon and cheese, request with bun if your program allows, substitute baked potato, steamed vegetables, or steamed green beans.”

    The question remains — how many calories do you get with the healthy substitutions? How many without?

    Outback “answers” this question by tooting its own horn:

    “We take pride in our “No Rules” approach to accommodating our customer’s specific dietary needs.”

    In other words, “if we didn’t give you people so much freedom when ordering, we would be able to provide nutrition information. Oh well!”

    Then there’s Wendy’s. Well, at least the Wendy’s in New York City.

    Per the fast food chain’s website:

    “We regret that Wendy’s cannot provide product calorie information to residents or customers in New York City. The New York City Department of Health passed a regulation requiring restaurants that already provide calorie information to post product calories on their menu boards — using the same type size as the product listing.

    We fully support the intent of this regulation; however, since most of our food is made-to-order, there isn’t enough room on our existing menu boards to comply with the regulation.

    To continue to provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants on our website and on our nutritional posters would subject us to this regulation. As a result, we will no longer provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants.

    So because someone can ask for a burger without ketchup or extra bacon Wendy’s can no longer offer nutrition information?

    Odd — that doesn’t stop them from posting nutrition information on their website, or in their other restaurants across the country, where consumers have jus as much flexibility in ordering.

    And how come they were able to provide caloric information in their New York City stores before the Department of Health ruling, despite custom ordering?

    I also ask — what about items like fries, sodas, frosties, and chicken nuggets, which are not made to order? They can’t even offer that information in their New York City restaurants?

    Mind you, Wendy’s prides themselves in their “unrivaled [passion] for giving people what they want — and uncompromising in giving people what they deserve.”

    We all deserve to know what is in the food we’re eating!

    Many of these chains rely on the standard argument that listing nutritional information is useless because consumers don’t go to their restaurants for nutrition.

    Alright then, if that’s the case, why not reveal the numbers? If it’s not losing potential consumers that scares you, what’s stopping you?


    In The News: Poor, Innocent McDonald’s

    The January 2008 issue of Reason magazine includes a controversial article on the “unfair” double standards suffered by fast food restaurants.

    According to author Greg Beato, McDonald’s and other greasy food meccas bear the brunt of unhealthy offerings and public health policies despite even worse fare available at some local mom ‘n pop stores or delis.

    Before America fell in love with cheap, convenient, standardized junk food, it loved cheap, convenient, independently deep-fried junk food,” writes Beato.

    While it is true that so-called traditional “American” fare consists of hamburgers, hot dogs, and apple pie, fast food restaurants take traditional comfort food and turn it into an artery-clogging equation.

    Think about the following. McDonald’s originally only offered one size of fries — the 250-calorie version currently found inside a Happy Meal!

    These companies have chosen to inflate their portions to such a degree that we now have four beef patties, eight strips of bacon, and six slices of cheese in between two buns.

    You can get 2 liters of soda in a cup or, in the case of Hardee’s new breakfast burrito, a day’s worth of fat first thing in the morning.

    A large order of McDonald’s fries will set you back 800 calories (and provide 400% of the recommended maximum intake of trans fats for one day!)

    Additionally, fast food chains are basically accessible any place at any time. More locations are increasingly keeping their doors open 24 hours a day, and a road trip down any major (or not so major) highway in the United States reveals a landscape littered with Domino’s, KFC, Wendy, Burger King, and more.

    And while delis offer their share of fat-laden bombs, truly healthy choices are available. In the case of fast food establishments, it is always about choosing the “lesser of the evils.”

    What do you think?


    Breakfast of Chumps

    Earlier this year, Wendy’s gradually unveiled its new breakfast items in different regions of the United States, and — joy of joys — they are now available nationwide.

    The results? Unfortunately, I see it as obesity: 1, nutrition: 0.

    A buttermilk fresh sausage biscuit (pictured at right) starts your day off with 580 calories, 1,620 milligrams of sodium (75% of a day’s maximum recommendation), and an entire day’s worth of saturated fat — that’s equivalent to TWO Big Mac’s!

    The grande burrito, meanwhile, will lead to a grande tummy in no time.

    We’re talking 740 calories, 17 grams of saturated fat, and 1,980 milligrams of sodium.

    The grande isn’t the big man on campus when it comes to fiber, though. It delivers just three grams (this much fiber in 80 calories would be considered “great”, but in 740 calories, it’s miniscule).

    Like a sweet breakfast? If you’re craving a cinnamon roll, I hope you REALLY like sugar. One of these 310 calories “treats” packs in 2 tablespoons’ of added sugar to your day.

    As much as I love to police the fast food menus and show you the horrors, I think it is only fair to provide you with adequate choices in case you have no other options (i.e.: you need to get breakfast on the road as you are driving down any major highway in this country).

    If so, the egg and cheese biscuit is among the least offensice items, thanks to its 290 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat, and 700 milligrams of sodium.

    If you’re in the mood for a sweet start to your morning, opt for the French toast sticks.

    Although they contain just as many calories as the cinnamon roll, the sugar content is significantly lower (8 grams — two teaspoons — rather than 24 grams!). The saturated fat count is also a respectable three grams.

    Currently, Wendy’s is hosting a bizarre contest here, where the ultimate prize is a “lifetime” of their hamburgers.

    Shouldn’t there be an asterisk after “lifetime”, referring readers to teeny print explaining that their lifetime might be reduced as a result of eating too many?


    Speaking With…: Lisa Young

    Dr. Lisa R. Young, RD, CDN, is a world renowned portion size expert.

    After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Health Care Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, she received her doctorate and master’s degrees in nutrition from New York University, where she has served as adjunct professor for 15 years.

    Her doctorate thesis focused on the link between increased portion sizes and rising obesity rates in the United States, and eventually led to the publishing of her first book, The Portion Teller: The No-Diet Reality Guide to Eating, Cheating, and Losing Weight Permanently.

    Over the past few years, Dr. Young has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, ABC World News Tonight, and several magazines, including O, Good Housekeeping, Forbes, Shape, Allure, Newsweek, and Elle.

    Her clips, appearances, and research papers can be viewed at her website The Portion Teller.

    I was fortunate enough to talk to her one on one about the United States’ increasing portion distortion problem.

    Your research clearly demonstrates a correlation between larger portion sizes and an increase in obesity, and there are studies showing that the more food we are provided, the more we consume. Does this mean our bodies are not efficient hunger self-regulators?

    Large portions have contributed to growing obesity rates because they contain more calories than small portions.

    I think the problem is that because we are surrounded by large food portions at cheap prices which encourage us to “eat more,”– whether at fast-food places, movie theaters, bakeries, delis we have lost our ability to regulate how hungry we are.

    Unfortunately, we eat with our “eyes” and when we see big portions of food around, even if we don’t even like the taste, we tend to eat it. And then, instead of feeling “comfortably full,” we end up feeling “stuffed.”

    Everyone knows a Big Mac and large fries add up to caloric overload. However, are there “healthy sounding/looking” or “harmless” foods people eat large quantities of, unaware of the high number of calories they are taking in?

    The vitamin enhanced waters and the gumballs and gummy bears sold as “multivitamins” for kids!

    People often like to rationalize why they eat something and when they see that they are getting a food marketed as a vitamin or enhanced with vitamins they think it is health food and they completely overlook the fact that the foods contain any calories.

    I counsel clients who would never drink soda but they are big fans of vitamin enhanced waters (until, of course, I tell them to read the labels!) Another healthy sounding beverage which people think is not too caloric is the jumbo fruit smoothies. While they do contain some fruit, they are also loaded with sugar and calories.

    Rule of thumb: we are better off “chewing” our calories than “slurping” them.

    Are there specific places, events, or times where we are most prone to portion distortion?

    Two of the biggest offenders would be the fast-food places ad the movie theaters. When McDonald’s first opened, a soda was seven ounces; today it is 32 ounces.

    And a bucket of popcorn is so big these days that it is large enough to feed an entire row. Also, the large popcorn at the movie theater is a better value so consumers are encouraged to “supersize”.

    Baked goods such as muffins and bagels have also blown up in size; a typical muffin at a deli is equivalent to 6-cups of cereal and a bagel is equivalent to 5 bread slices. People have no problem grabbing a muffin or bagel on their way to work but would think twice before consuming 5 slices of bread in one sitting.

    Many times when people hear the words “portion control”, they incorrectly envision a lunch of two lettuce leaves, three tomato slices, and one jumbo shrimp. What are some tips you would suggest for people who are looking to lose weight but need to see a lot of food on their plate?

    It is okay to eat large portions of certain foods as long as these foods are healthy and not loaded with too many calories. In fact, filling up on low-calorie healthy foods often helps people stick to a weight-loss program so they don’t feel deprived.

    Some examples would be to eat fresh fruit such as berries and melons which contain a high water content. Starting a meal with a healthy low-fat salad with a large assortment of veggies (watch the dressing, of course) and including cooked veggies such as broccoli and asparagus with your dinner adds volume to your food. An added bonus is that fruits and vegetables are also rich in vitamins and minerals.

    Finally, a great snack for “volume lovers” is air popped popcorn.

    Do you find it strange and frustrating that restaurants and fast food chains selling smaller entrees and desserts specifically label these as exclusively for “children under 12”? Why not call this part of the menu “for the portion conscious” and make it more acceptable for adults to order from it?

    I do indeed. And I completely agree with you. It would be a huge step in the right direction if portion-conscious adults were able to order these foods as well.

    Throughout your years of research, what are two or three statistics that still stand out as truly surprising or shocking?

    I found it truly shocking just how much portions have grown. Fast-food portions are two to five times larger than they were when they were first introduced.

    While I mentioned the McDonald’s soda example above, it is truly shocking that 7-Eleven markets a “Big Gulp” containing 64 oz of soda—a half gallon!—with nearly 800 calories and 50 teaspoons of sugar! The company first opened with the 16 oz size.

    What is even more shocking is that cup holders found in cars have also become larger to accommodate these drinks.

    Also, while a fast-food hamburger used to contain only 1.5 oz of meat, today they often contain 8 or even 12 oz of meat in one sandwich. Consider Hardee’s Monster Thickburger which contains 2/3 of a pound of meat (12 oz) along with several cheese and bacon slices, special sauce, and white bread. No wonder it contains 1400 calories.

    Some of these jumbo foods contain enough calories for an entire day.

    You were featured in “SuperSize Me!“, which resulted in consumers becoming more aware of the outrageous sizes offered at many fast food establishments. Have there been positive changes in this realm?

    With the focus on increasing obesity rates in both adults and children, we would hope that food companies would scale back on portions. However, according to my most recent research on portion sizes at large fast-food chains, published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, portions are not getting any smaller.

    In fact, in many cases, they are getting bigger. Just last year, Burger King introduced BK Stacker sandwiches in four sizes: Single, Double, Triple, and Quad. The Quad size has four beef patties, weighs over 11 oz, and contains 1000 calories.

    The largest fast-food companies are also involved in sleight of name. Last year, Wendy’s, for example, discontinued the terms “Biggie” and “Great Biggie” to describe its French fries and soda. However, the former “Biggie” soda is now called “Medium,” and the company introduced a new larger size called “Large.”

    While McDonald’s discontinued the “Supersize” soda in 2004, it is now marketing a new soda called “Hugo,” the exact same volume and calorie content as the discontinued “Supersize.” And, unfortunately, we eat more when large portions end up on our plates.

    Dr. Young is a top of the line, sought-after private practitioner in New York City who is “available for individual counseling sessions on a wide variety of nutrition-related issues including obesity and weight control, disease prevention, wellness, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, eating disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, pregnancy, lactation, menopause, and vegetarianism.”

    If interested, you may contact her at 212-560-2565 or: lisa.young@portionteller.com

    Thanks again to Dr. Young for offering her time and knowledge!


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