Can Fast Food be Healthy? Fast food has become a huge part of American culture and can affect us in our daily lives. Fast food is consumed by millions of American each and every day, which makes it important to determine whether the food is actually healthy. Almost everyone in America has had fast food at one point in their life making the knowledge of whether fast food is healthy or not relevant to everyone.
While fast food has been prevalent in America for quite some time now, it is more controversial now than it has ever been before due to the processes in which the food is made and the problems it creates for an individual’s health.
It will be impossible for me to ignore the fact that some fast food isn’t that great for you, but the overall criticism of the food is over exaggerated. Fast food restaurant chains offer a variety of different of different foods; some believe or not, are actually healthy.
What I hope to prove is that the overall outrage against fast food restaurants is way over the top and that its effect on the health of most Americans is insignificant. Fast food in America has its advantages and disadvantages but I truly believe the benefits outweigh the problems involved. “Americans spend more money on fast food than on new cars, college education and software because fast food is so convenient”, (Frazier, “What are the benefits of Fast Foods? ”).
The fast food industry has brought many beneficial contributions to the American society, one of which is the fact that it allows those with busy schedules to get a quick, fast meal to go. “Fast food is now served at restaurants and drive-throughs, at stadiums, airports, zoos, high schools, elementary schools, and universities, on cruise ships, trains, and airplanes, at K-Marts, Wal-Marts, gas stations, and even at hospital cafeterias”, (Schlosser). A lot of times when people aren’t home and have to go from place to place they have to find some way to get fill themselves up, which is where fast food comes into play. They offer quick meals for busy lifestyles that are so quick and convenient, you don’t even have to get out of your car to get them”, (Frazier). Restaurant’s plan on having people wait less than a minute, resulting in people getting in and out of the fast food restaurant or drive thru line without waiting much at all (Frazier) . Say a parent is picking up one kid from their activity and has to take another one somewhere else and they don’t have time to go home, fast food provides a convenience so that they can eat without it conflicting with their schedules.
This is also a helpful convenience for those people who have a busy day at work who have to cut their lunch break short, and need something quick to eat so they can get back to accomplishing their tasks. Fast food is also heavily present within airports as numerous amounts of people are usually waiting for their flights and need something quick to eat before they take off. This especially happens when there are flight delays and people are forced to spend a lot of time at airports, meaning that fast food is going to be the only option to eat.
With the addition of the Drive Thru in the 1970’s the time it took to actually get fast food decreased even more so, allowing customers to get food without even getting out of the car. There is almost no other way to mimic the convenience that fast food provides to the general society of America. Almost everyone will have to eat fast food, due to its convenience, at some point in their lives when time is a problem. “Fast food and its consequences have become inescapable, regardless of whether you eat it twice a day, try to avoid it, or have never taken a single bite,”(Schlosser).
This means that fast food has more than just an impact on people because of the food their eating, but also the cultural and economic impacts that it has on America. It is said the 44% of men eat fast food at least once a week (Platzman). This means that almost half of the male population has to take advantage of the fast food option meaning that it is a great convenience. Also the consumption of fast food since 1994 and has increased from 73% of all meals to 77% which means that more and more people are impacted by the fast food industry (Villarosa).
People often take advantage of the convenience because it is healthier to eat something than eat nothing at all (Platzman). This means that fast food provides the food the body needs to function properly when there are no other options. This people understand that eating fast food every day is definitely not the best choice but sometimes it is the only option available to them. Along with the variety of different conveniences fast food provides to all types of different American citizens, it is also beneficial in how ridiculously cheap the food s. A majority of the fast food restaurants have amazingly low prices too where you can gets a full meal for less than five dollars and as a result of these low prices, fast food is an excellent economic driving force in America. Not only is it quick but you’re paying a very low price for the meal as well. Over the years fast food portions have increased even though prices have dropped dramatically. McDonald’s Dollar menu offers a ton of different foods at a price of only one dollar (Villarosa).
It is easy for fast food restaurants to put up such low prices because the food the fast food restaurants buy is so cheap, and they are able to sell it at a lower price. It is admired how fast food restaurants have kept their prices so low even through this economic depression (Frazier). People will tend to go to fast food restaurants instead of going to normal restaurants sometimes because the prices are more affordable. This also leads to half the money spent on food in the United States to be spent on fast food (Schlosser).
These restaurants also have to hire a worker, which means that the large amount of fast food restaurants allows for many people to get jobs. It is especially helpful because the work isn’t that hard to do meaning that almost anyone can be employed. There is all kind of different fast food restaurants out their all offering their unique takes on a variety of different foods. “It has become a social custom as American as a small, rectangular, hand-held, frozen, and reheated apple pie”, (Schlosser).
A lot of the restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s, offer the standard foods expected at fast food restaurants by people in America such as burgers and fries. Then people have the option to get fast food from a Taco Bell which makes Mexican food and a lot of smaller Chinese and Italian restaurants, the list can go on and on. So not only are there a bunch of different options of where to eat but all of these fast food restaurant chains all offer their own large variety of meals. This variety means that almost nobody can be dissatisfied with all the options available too them.
This variety within each and every fast food restaurant relates to the fact that the only thing on thing on the menu isn’t considered “junk” and that some of the items are offered are healthy. These fast food restaurants have been expanding their menus because they have been losing customers to newer and trendier “fast casual” restaurants such as Panera Bread and Chipotle Grill (Fry). Some of the more mainstream fast food restaurants that are considered healthy are Subway with their low fat sandwiches and KFC with their grilled chicken (Frazier).
While there are fast food restaurant chains out there that do provide healthy meals (at a higher price however), the mainstream restaurants are adding those healthy options as well. The notion that all fast food is bad and should be avoided is an overstatement, as fast food restaurants do provide nutritious meals. While a lot of fast food isn’t the best thing people should be eating, fast food restaurants do provide a list of items that are actually healthy. Along with the healthy items certain restaurants offer, new fast food restaurants have taken a healthier approach to their menus. Frequent comparisons with other fast food options led McDonald’s Corp. , Wendy’s Restaurants, and Jack in the Box to introduce and announce healthier meal options such as salad instead of fries and yogurt instead of soft serve ice cream”, (Atwater, Shisuki). This shows that these restaurants have made changes to their menu to make their food overall healthier. The common misconception among a lot of people is that all fast food is bad when that is not the case. Restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King have added foods like salads and yogurt.
Burger King has added an item called the Veggie Burger and in 2003 McDonald’s released the McVeggie Burger as well (Fry). In the 1970’s Wendy’s introduced its first salad bar, giving up seating space to make room for it (Fry). This clearly shows that fast food restaurants are making strides to benefit their customers, by offering healthier meals. If an individual is afraid of dealing with the calorie intake of a certain menu item when going to Burger King, they can change it to still get something they want but with a lot less of a health burden.
For example if someone orders a triple whopper, with a side of large fries and a 16oz soda they would intake 1700 calories when on the other hand a single burger, with a small fry and water would only be 500 calories (Paul, Lawrence). These extra options that fast food chains offer help show that not all fast food restaurants put out fatty, salty, and high calories foods and there are healthy foods provided. A lot of the times people go to fast food restaurants they consumer a ton of unhealthy substances, by adding extra stuff to their meals.
Adding sauces like mayonnaise can add a bunch of unneeded calories and fats to a food. “Sauces such as mayonnaise, tartar sauce, some spreads or salad dressing can add loads of extra fat and calories”,(Ransohoff). The common fast food goers still need to pay attention to what their eating and need to realize that certain things can make a meal a lot unhealthier. To help fast food consumers determine what is healthy for them to eat, there are certain guidelines that can help them. One way to make sure the meals consumed at a fast food restaurant are not way over the top in unhealthiness is to keep the portion sizes small.
If a fast food restaurant offers a plethora of different sandwich sizes it is always a smart idea to pick the smallest. Buying a hamburger with more than one patty can result in calories in the one thousands and could pack seventy grams of fat. Also instead of getting a large fry along with that a hamburger it is a good idea to get a small instead, saving two hundred to three hundred calories. A lot of time people tend to feel unhealthy after eating fast food but that may be the individuals own fault as they are eating more than they should.
People who criticize fast food need to understand that fast food is not that unhealthy due to the food made there but because of people eating way too much of it. While eating smaller portions is always a good idea to make fast food healthier, choosing a health side dish can help tremendously (“Fast food: 5 ways to healthier meals. ”). All a lot of people who eat at fast food restaurants tend to order a large fry with their meal, when fast food restaurants offer much healthier side dishes.
When ordering at a fast food restaurant it would be a smarter idea to substitute a salad for fries, but remembering to get it with a low fat dressing. Choosing something other than a regular dressing can save between one hundred and two hundred calories. It is also smart to get a salad without bacon, cheese and croutons as these extra items will account for a lot of unneeded calories. For example McDonald’s Southwest Salads and Wendy’s Caesar Chicken salads are around three hundred calories if the dressing is taken off.
A lot of restaurants also offer fruit bowls or different types of yogurts as a side which is a much healthier choice than a fries or onions rings. The idea that fast food is unhealthy also comes from the fact that people order a combination of salty, fatty items, when the restaurants actually do offer healthier substitutes for the common side orders. Changing what is normally ordered can really help turn a trip to a quick service restaurant into a more balanced meal (“Fast food: 5 ways to healthier meals. ”).
Another way to make healthier choices when eating fast food is to change the way the food is cooked or prepared. Choosing grilled foods over fried and breaded foods can be a calorie and fat saving choice. To prevent a meal from being unhealthy it would be a smart choice to choose a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a breaded one. Turkey, lean ham, or lean roast beef are also smart choices. This means that fast food can become healthier as long as the customers choose the right way in which their food is prepared. Along with the general meals it is also smart to watch what you drink.
Drinking a large soda, which contains three hundred calories, can easily be substituted for a much healthier beverage. Instead of ordering this large soda, it is smart to get a diet soda or bottled water. Other substitutes include unsweetened iced tea and lemonade. Also when it comes to drinking shakes or malts it is smart to skip them too as they can account for over eight hundred calories. This clearly shows that fast food does provide healthy food however it is also up to the consumer to make the right choices when it comes to choosing a whole meal (“Fast food: 5 ways to healthier meals. ). “You can walk out of these places having clone major calorie damage unless you make the right choices, (Jibrin). While it is smart to make better choices a majority of the time when eating at a fast food restaurant, no one is going ignore the “bad options” every time. There are a majority of meals, while not the best for you, still pack enough nutrition to make a pleasing yet healthy meal. Nicco Micco’s article “Fast Food Without the Guilt” gives a great guide for meals to choose when attending fast food restaurant, and helps the reader separate the foods into the best and worst.
For example at McDonald’s ordering a single cheeseburger instead of fries is forty calories less, and contains some protein and calcium. She recommends saving a large amount of fries for an occasional visit because they are huge in calories and are considered “empty carbs”. At Burger King the foods recommended is a Whopper Jr. without mayonnaise, or the Fire Grilled Chicken Garden salad, with fat free dressing of course (Micco). Supporting this claim is Janis Jibrin as she also recommends the Original Jr. Whopper along with the BK Veggie Burger (Jibrin).
Also at subway people tend to think they are eating healthy, so they tend to eat a lot, which is not a smart choice. It is recommend that when getting a sandwich from subway that a six inch sub is ordered instead of a foot long. When somebody gets too much on a sandwich the calories tend to stack up and a seemingly healthy choice can turn into an unhealthy one. An even better choice at Subway is to get a Grilled Chicken Breast, which clocks in at one hundred and forty calories and only three grams of fat. When eating at Wendy’s the best choice is too order the Mandarin Chicken Salad with almonds and fat free French dressing.
A lot of time people tend to put a lot of dressing on their salads which are mostly salt and unneeded fats. Nicco labels the Jr. Hamburger and Jr. Cheeseburger as not bad as they are only around three hundred calories (Micco). Janis recommends ordering the Mandarin Chicken Sandwich as well, along with the Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich and the Chili and Potato (Jibrin). This is interesting because usually when people go to fast food restaurants they usually order burgers, so this knowing that certain burgers aren’t that bad can be pleasing to a lot of individuals.
Some other notable recommendations from her are ordering the Tender Roast filet meal from KFC and the Fresco Style Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco from Taco Bell. This article by Nicco Micco, whose claims are also reinforced by Janis Jibrin’s magazine article “Fast but Not Fattening”, helps support my point that while fast food doesn’t provide the most nutritional meals they still provide enough nutrition to satisfy the customers and are not punished with foods containing too much unhealthy substances (Micco, “Fast Food Without the Guilt”).
Shawn Donnelly also gives insight onto which foods offered by certain fast food restaurants are actually healthier than others. Donnelly clearly states that fast food shouldn’t be the first option but when it is the only option there are certain decisions that need to be made. He gives information on popular fast food restaurants in America and which foods there are the best choice, ones that aren’t expected to be too healthy but are decent choices, and the ones that should definitely be avoided.
For example his advice when going to Kentucky Fried Chicken is to order the chicken breast with a side of green beans. This is a healthy choice because the chicken breast (without the breading), contains twenty nine grams of protein. He recommends avoiding the Chicken Pot Pie, which has forty grams of fat and seventy grams of carbs. This shows that a fast food restaurant as popular as KFC does offer healthy meals, it is just up to the customer to see this through and make smart choices. Donnelly also gives recommendations on what to order when going to Taco Bell.
He recommends the Chicken Ranchero Taco with a side of pintos ‘n cheese. “By saying “fresco style” when you order, your taco comes with salsa (tomatoes, onions and cilantro) instead of cheese and sauce, cutting the fat by 25%”, (Donnelly). This information clearly shows that healthy choices can be made at fast food restaurants by eliminating some of the unhealthy parts of the meals, and replacing the small parts with healthy substitutes. Following these kinds of guidelines proves that fast food does have healthy choices and can be a part of a “fit persons” lifestyle (Donnelly).
It is important to understand these choices when going to a fast food restaurant because fast food has been and will continue to be a huge part of the American culture. Fast food has grown tremendously in America and has become a large part of the American diet. “US fast-food sales increased exponentially between 1970 and 2000, from $6 billion to $110 billion”, (Dumanovsky). There are over fifty thousand different fast food restaurant chains in America, with McDonalds being the most popular one. It is said that kids between the ages of six and fourteen eat fast food over one hundred and fifty seven times in a month.
Americans also spend one hundred billion on fast food each year (Ransohoff). “Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars” (Schlosser). Americans also spend more on fast food than music, books, movies, magazines, videos, and newspapers all combined (Schlosser). This information reveals just how popular fast food is to people of all ages in America, as people are spending more on just fast food than the entire entertainment industry.
This shows that fast food does have a great influence on the people in American and the foods they eat. This means that it is important that all these people eating out at fast food restaurants must be making the right choices when it comes to eating fast food. Parents tend to get their kids fast food a lot when there out because of a time issue and because kids generally enjoy fast food more than anything else. It is important that people understand what they are eating and what people are giving their kids to eat when at a fast food restaurant. When it comes to fast food restaurants, a ot of the criticism comes from the fact that the customers don’t see a lot of the nutritional information so they are not aware of the impact the food can have on their health. “Most consumers may not be aware of the high calorie content of such items because such information is often not easily accessible in fast-food establishments”, (Dumanovsky). In New York a group of researchers went to forty five different restaurant chains and surveyed people on whether they knew nutritional information being displayed and if effected their decision whether or not they ordered a certain item.
Their conclusion came to the fact that posting the nutritional information in these restaurants leads to an increase of people who said that the information affected their purchase in some way. These statistics show that restaurants are starting to display their calorie information which allows their customers to make better decisions when ordering food. It is also said that at Subway restaurants that those who say the calorie information purchased ninety-nine fewer calories than those that didn’t see the calorie information (Dumanovsky).
This study goes to show that healthy choices can be made at fast food restaurants but it’s up to the restaurants themselves to put up the nutritional information so that the customers can make the right choices. Not only is their plenty of evidence out there that supports the fact that fast food restaurant chains do offer healthy options, but I have had plenty of experience with it as well. The fact that not all fast food restaurants are like Burger King and McDonalds is missed by a lot of individuals. There are actual restaurants out there that pride themselves on their food being healthy.
There are numerous of these restaurants with the most known being Panera Bread, Chipotle, and Subway. When restaurants became under fire for their unhealthy menus and their relation to the rise in obesity, Subway was the first restaurant to respond and make changes to their menu (Atwater, Shisuka). Subway used its Jared Fogle campaign to convince people that their food is healthy offering a variety of subs that were less than six grams of fat. Americans responded as sales at Subway rose by nineteen percent (Atwater, Shisuka).
This shows that restaurants do make changes to better their customers but it also reveals the ability of the American population to make better choices at fast food restaurants regarding their health. Subway also offers a special kids meals that comes with one hundred percent fruit juice and a fruit roll up, part of their plan to raise awareness of obesity among children (Atwater, Shisuka). Restaurants like Panera Bread and Chipotle offer a more complete healthy menu. Another healthy fast food restaurant is Panera Bread. Almost every meal at Panera Bre d can be considered healthy (Minkin, Renaud). They offer a variety of meals offered on wheat bread and fruits as a side. The healthiest, most recommended meal at Panera Bread is the “half–Turkey Artichoke on focaccia bread with a bowl of black bean or garden vegetable soup”, (Minkin, Renaud). Panera also offers special meals for kids including organic squeeze yogurt, peanut butter and jelly sandwich (with natural peanut butter) and an organic grilled cheese sandwich (Minkin, Renaud). Chipotle also provides a similar experience by offering a variety of healthy choices. Buffet-style Chipotle gives every customer complete control over her burrito, taco, or salad”, (Minkin, Renaud). This means that the customer can complete customize their meal, being able to determine how healthy their food is going to be, all from fresh, local ingredients. Chipotle was highly acclaimed for their commitment to organic, hormone and antibiotic free meats, and food produced by local suppliers (Minkin Renaud). Many of the bad items can be avoided by choosing certain veggies to avoid high sodium. The most highly recommended item is the Burrito Bowl which helps avoid extra carbs (Minkin, Renaud).
The fast food restaurants Panera Bread and Chipotle are great examples of healthy fast food as they provide a variety of options and stick to mostly organic based meals. I have had many personal experiences with fast food throughout my life time, and plan on continuing to eat it as well. First of all, I look forward to eating fast food because it is so enjoyable. A lot of my favorite foods tend to come from a variety of fast food restaurants. This is almost nothing like a Whopper from Burger King or a chicken sandwich from McDonalds. Fast food has become a weekly part of my diet and I have no problem with that at all.
The thing that amazes me the most about fast food restaurants like the ones mentioned above is that you can go there, order your food, and get it within minutes. Getting a meal from a fast food restaurant is sometimes even faster than making a meal at home, whether it actually is by cooking or even microwaving a meal. I enjoy fast food every time I get it. Not only is fast food enjoyable but there are so many different chains out there that each offer their own unique menus. For example Subway offers many different sandwiches, which I always enjoy more han the ones made at home. Along with restaurants like Chick-Fil-A which specialize in a bunch of different meals containing chicken. There is just no end to the variety that fast food restaurants offer, and is a great part of the American society that I enjoy. It is a known fact that fast food is frowned upon by a lot of health officials and people in America and cases of obesity and diabetes have risen because of its overconsumption. Between the years 1970 and 2000 as fast food restaurant chains have become more popular, obesity rates have double (Dumanovsky).
While is undeniable that fast food does pose some dramatic health risks, the benefits of fast food outweigh this downside. Personally, I have eaten fast food since a child, just not as much as some individuals have. Now a day’s I usually have fast food at least once a week, which I deem acceptable because it has seemingly not affected my weight or health in any apparent matter. I hold a healthy weight at one hundred and twenty pounds, which is a lot less than a lot of people my age who have a variety of different diets.
I’m not saying that fast food is responsible for this but that people need to understand how to manage their fast food. The people that end up getting diabetes or are overweight is not necessarily just from eating fast food. The people that develop these conditions are usually prone to developing it, and must adjust their diets to accommodate. In some circumstances, people eat fast food for a majority of their meals which would be a cause for concern because the of the high calorie, fat, and salt intake resulting from it.
Fast food may not be the healthiest form of food but learning to managing when it is consumed is very important. It would be absurd to blame the fast food restaurants for these problems because the nutritional information is given to their customers, who are then responsible for making the right choices and realizing that they need to hold back. Also, the fast food industry has no control over what people eat away from their restaurant. Those people that end up getting health problems are usually on a terrible diet even at home and aren’t paying any attention at all too how nutritional their food is.
My point is this; fast food can be a healthy part of the average Americans diet, people just need to manage it right. Like I said before, I usually happen to eat fast food once a week, whether it is because of time constraints or I’m just in the mood for it, and my health has not been dramatically affected by it. Fast food as a convenience and food service is unequaled in my opinion and will continue to be part of my life. Fast food is a beneficial part of the American society and its variety, convenience, and it social and economic impacts.
While a lot of the criticism on fast food comes from the idea that all fast food is bad, this is not necessarily the case as all fast food restaurants provide healthy options. Not only are some of the options that fast food restaurants provide healthy but there are plenty of different options available at these fast food restaurants. Restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King offer a ton of different meals including burgers, chicken, pork, salads, and fruit, the list goes on and on.
Then there are restaurants like Taco Bell which have a large menu containing all different sorts of Mexican foods. Panda Express is another fast food restaurant that provides something different in Chinese food; there are almost endless choices when it comes from deciding between fast food restaurants. This goes without saying the conveniences that the quick service food industry provides for the everyday Americans. People often find themselves with a busy schedule and not time to go to home and cook or to go to a normal restaurant to eat, that’s were fast food comes into play.
Whether the situation is a man who has a short lunch break from work, a parent stuck taking their kids from place to place with no time to go home, or a whole family stuck at an airport, fast food offers a solution. When someone needs to eat cheap and quick fast food is the only option. Fast food restaurants are also a great social part of the American society, allowing groups of people to their and quickly get something to eat. When people are just hanging out and want to get something to eat without spending a lot of money fast food offers a great convenience with it being formal and having something that everyone will like.
This goes without saying the great economic impact fast food has on society as on a daily basis a large amount of the United States population buys fast food. In a time of economic disparity these past few years fast food has maintained a steady income, helping keep the economy more stable. While fast food doesn’t provide the most nutritional meals, the criticism of it is over exaggerated, as the benefits most definitely out weight the problems and most fast food restaurants chains do provide healthy options, but it is up to the consumers to make the right choices.
Cite this Can Fast Food Be Healthy?
Can Fast Food Be Healthy?. (2016, Oct 01). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/can-fast-food-be-healthy/