Dear Michelle: What were you thinking?

“Healthy eating advocate Michelle Obama advocate downs 1700 calorie lunch.”  — NY Times

When I read the story about Michelle Obama going to a fast food establishment for lunch and ordering a cheeseburger, fries, milk shake and diet coke my reaction was similar to that of a lot of other people.  Here we have the First Lady leading the charge on obesity and establishing herself as a role model and at one meal consumes more calories than most of us should have in one day. What was she thinking?

Maybe she just simply gave into her cravings and decided to have what she really wanted for lunch.  Or maybe – and I’m only able to guess because I can’t possibly know – she didn’t know how many actual calories, grams of fat and sodium she was consuming. I know what you’re thinking “Yeah, right.”  But, I think it IS possible.

In the weight management coaching that I do I see how easy it is for someone to get off track.  And it’s not always because they don’t care.  It’s because they don’t know. There is a big difference between getting off track and getting derailed.  In this case having the cheeseburger, fries and diet coke might have gotten a frown.  Throw in the milkshake and it’s headline news for a week!

I’m guessing 9 out of 10 readers find themselves at the end of a fast food drive-through at least occasionally.  Being in that situation does not have to be the ultimate throw-in-the-towel-there’s-no-point-in-even-trying catastrophe for someone trying to lower their cholesterol or lose a couple of pounds.

I am an “Eat This, Not That” junkie and search for the articles that run in Men’s Health Magazine.  (You’ll learn, as you get to know me better, I have some strange obsessions.) Once you start reading the Eat This articles I bet you’ll be surprised what you don’t know.

Let’s take a look at some of the common fast food derailments and what a better choice might be.



Better Choice


Triple with Everything and Cheese
Large Fries, and Chocolate Fudge Frosty Shake (large)
2,050 calories
99 g fat (39 g saturated fat, 8 g trans fats)
2,860 mg sodium
Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich
with a Mandarin Orange Cup and a Medium Iced Tea
480 calories
7 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
980 mg sodiumThis is the healthiest sandwich on the menu. just don’t order your chicken spicy: That’s their cue to fry rather than grill your bird, tacking on extra 9.5 fat grams.
Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad
with Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, and Large Mountain Dew
1,690 calories
60 g fat (14 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fats)
2,540 mg sodium
Two Fresco Soft Beef Tacos
with Mexican Rice and a bottle of water
470 calories
17 g fat (6 g saturated fat)
1,760 mg sodium
Subway 6-inch Double Meatball Marinara
with Wild Rice with Chicken Soup (10 oz), and Large Coke (32 oz)
1,420 calories
53 g fat (21.5 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fats)
3,400 mg sodium
6-inch Double Roast Beef Sub
with Veggie Delite Salad with Fat-Free Italian Dressing and Medium Iced Tea
455 calories
8 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat)
2,100 mg sodium
Sonic Super SONIC® Cheeseburger
Tater Tots with chili & cheese, and Cherry Slush (RT 44)
2,340 calories
115 g fat (40 g saturated fat, 4 g trans fats)
3,310 mg sodium
Sonic Burger with Mustard
and Diet Cherry Limeade (32 oz)
585 calories
26 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat)
780 mg sodium
McDonald’s Chicken Selects® Premium Breast Strips (5 pc) with Creamy Ranch Sauce
with Large French Fries, and Large Coke
1,670 calories
87 g fat (13 g saturated fat)
2,370 mg sodium
Quarter Pounder without Cheese
with a Side Salad with Low-Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette, and Large Iced Tea
470 calories
22 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat)
1,490 mg sodium
Arby’s Ultimate BLT Market Fresh Sandwich
with Large Curly Fries, Ranch Dipping Sauce, and a Medium Pepsi
1,751 calories
97 g fat (22 g saturated fat)
3,311 mg sodium
Super Roast Beef
with Chopped Farmhouse Salad (no chicken) with Balsamic Vinaigrette, and a Medium Diet Iced FruitTea
688 calories
40 g fat (14 g saturated fat)
1 g trans fat
1,800 mg sodium

Let’s talk about kid’s meals.  The news isn’t any better.



Better Choice

Burger King(Worst Kid’s Meal) Burger King’s Kids Double Cheeseburger and Kids Fries
740 calories
42 g fat (17 g saturated fat, 4.5 g trans fats)
1,410 mg sodiumBK’s dubious double burger earns the distinction of being the fattiest meal for an on-the-go kid, with nearly a day’s worth of saturated fat for the average 8-year-old.
4-piece Chicken Tenders with Strawberry-Flavored Applesauce
280 calories
11 g fat (3 g saturated fat)
440 mg sodium
Olive Garden Garden Fettuccini Alfredo meal
800 calories
48 g fat (30 g saturated)
810 mg sodiumSaturated fat equivalent: 1.5 full jars of Nutella!
Cheese Ravioli
300 calories
8 g fat (4 g saturated)
440 mg sodium
Applebee’s Grilled Cheese with French Fries (Kid’s Meal)
1,020 calories
54 g fat (17 g saturated)
2,170 mg sodiumCalorie equivalent: 400 Cheddar Goldfish Crackers. (That’s 1.3 full bags!)
Hot dog with applesauce
300 calories
13 g fat (4 g saturated)
860 mg sodium
Outback Steakhouse Kookaburra Chicken Fingers MealWith Aussie Fries
1,030 calories
60 g fat (21 g saturated)
2,052 mg sodiumFat equivalent: 12 Frosted Chocolate Fudge Pop-Tarts!
Joey Sirloin with Fresh Seasonal Veggies
435 calories
28.5 g fat (15 g saturated)
631 mg sodium

Being armed with information can help us avoid derailments.  The source for the information table was compiled from the book “Eat This, Not That” – David Zinczenko.


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