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Don't Ban my Burgers: Why Nutrition Zealots Have it All Wrong

Posted: 04/30/2013 5:22 pm

I was recently privileged to be invited to a food photography workshop, which was organized in tandem with a taste-testing session for a line of new healthy menu options at one of Canada's leading quick service restaurants.

As we speak, Wendy's Restaurants of Canada is rolling out flat-bread sandwiches, made with artisan breads, grilled and filled with lighter, more nutritional fare. It certainly is great to see another chain broadening their menu choices for the increasingly discerning customer palate.

The sandwiches I sampled were flavourful, aesthetically pleasing and most filling.

I commend Wendy's and other restaurants in their category for evolving their menus and for displaying a keen interest in following customer trends and accepting customer feedback. At the end of the day, their mainstay is burgers and fries and they are not compelled to offer anything more.

Hamburgers will always sell. Nothing wrong with having one from their grill or your backyard barbecue from time to time, despite what the nutritional zealots may say. My opinion only.

It brings up a rather hot-button parenting topic -- moderation and limits. Many nutritional militants (and I respect their stance, though don't always agree with the all-or-nothing approach) will argue that this category of restaurants should either cease to exist or reduce their bread and butter offerings (burgers and fries) to an after-thought. I have never understood this. People can eat what they want. The key, in my opinion, is to teach a baby, then a child, to understand moderation and limits.

I don't know a soul who does not enjoy a burger once in a while, including my vegetarian friends who feast on the non-meat variety. Absolutely nothing wrong with it, provided it is made as advertised -- with pure ingredients.

However, if that particular food is consumed too frequently or incessantly, problems will occur. Too much broccoli is not good for you either. Moderation. Limits.

I am not defending fast-food chains (which is a term we are hearing less these days), I am defending exposure to healthy food and ultimately choice.

As one of the producers of an award-winning DVD on healthy eating for babies and toddlers and the author of a book on the same subject, I consider myself to have an educated opinion on the subject. A child should be exposed to healthy foods from their very first bite. I'm talking about a majority of natural ingredients, freshly prepared, not pre-packaged. If this occurs consistently, over time, you will have likely raised a person who is mindful about what they eat.

Nothing is wrong with the occasional pre-packaged meal, restaurant visit or the like. Banning it completely is a mistake and that's where the nutritional zealots need to perhaps revise some of their approach.

Consistent exposure. Moderation. Limits. The key ingredients in fare choice.

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  • Burger King Triple Whopper

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.bk.com/cms/en/us/cms_out/digital_assets/files/pages/MenuNutritionInformation_January2013_1.pdf">Burger King triple Whopper</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1020 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 23 grams of saturated fat, 1090 mg of sodium and 13 grams of sugar

  • Cinnabon's Caramel Pecanbon

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.cinnabon.com/media/21554/cinnabon_nutrition.pdf">Cinnabon's caramel Pecanbon</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1080 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 76 grams of sugar, 960 mg of sodium and 50 grams of fat

  • Wendy's Caramel Frosty Shake

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.wendys.ca/food/pdf/ca/nutrition.pdf">Wendy's large caramel frosty shake</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1000 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 510 mg of sodium, 12 grams of saturated fats, 19 grams of fat

  • Boston Pizza's Genovese Pesto Pizza

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.bostonpizza.com/assets/unmanaged/nutritional-information-en.pdf">Boston Pizza's genovese pesto pizza, individual-sized with multi-grain crust</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1100 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 50 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat and 1310 mg of sodium

  • Quiznos Veggie Deluxe Large

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.quiznos.ca/Libraries/PDFs/NutritionalInfo.sflb.ashx">Quiznos large veggie delux</a> with mozzarella, cheddar, tomato, lettuce, red onion, mushroom, black olives, red wine vinaigrette and guacamole <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1060 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 54 grams of fat, 2480 mg of sodium and 37 grams of protein

  • Burger King Ultimate Breakfast Platter

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.bk.com/cms/en/us/cms_out/digital_assets/files/pages/MenuNutritionInformation_January2013_1.pdf">Burger King ultimate breakfast</a> platter with three pancakes and syrup, hash browns, eggs, sausage and baked biscuit <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1070 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 84 grams of fat, 2920 mg of sodium and 134 grams of carbs

  • Wendy's Triple Beef Patty Burger

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.wendys.ca/food/pdf/ca/nutrition.pdf">Wendy's triple patty beef burger </a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1070 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 68 grams of fat, 1910 mg of sodium, 30 grams of sodium and 10 grams of sugar

  • Dairy Queen Turtle Pecan Cluster Blizzard

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.dairyqueen.com/PageFiles/5144/DQ%20Nutrition%20Allergy%20Treat%20Brochure%20-%20Canada.pdf">Dairy Queen turtle pecan cluster blizzard in medium</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1030 (large has 1510) <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 115 grams of sugar, 26 grams of saturated fat and 4 grams of fibre

  • Swiss Chalet Large Cut BBQ Ribs

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.swisschalet.com/ourmenu/nutritionals.pdf"> Swiss Chalet large cut BBQ ribs</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1270 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 32 grams of saturated fat, 1040 mg of sodium and 131 grams of sugar

  • Boston Pizza Fried Wings

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.bostonpizza.com/assets/unmanaged/nutritional-information-en.pdf">Boston Pizza's fried wings (double order)</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1240 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 74 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs and 3420 mg of sodium

  • Quiznos Classic Italian

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.quiznos.ca/Libraries/PDFs/NutritionalInfo.sflb.ashx">Quiznos classic Italian</a> with cheese and dressing (on white bread) <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1130 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 57 grams of fat, 3210 mg of sodium and 16 grams of sugar

  • Boston Pizza's Crispy Chicken Pecan Salad

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.bostonpizza.com/assets/unmanaged/nutritional-information-en.pdf">Boston Pizza's crispy chicken pecan salad (with dressing) </a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1150 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 93 grams of fat, 1550 mg of sodium and 12 grams of sugar

  • Dairy Queen Veggie Quesadilla Basket

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.dairyqueen.com/PageFiles/5144/DQ%20Nutrition%20Allergy%20Food%20and%20Treat%20Brochure%20-%20Canada.pdf">Dairy Queen veggie quesadilla basket</a> with tortilla and served with salsa, sour cream and onion rings <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1040 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 77 grams of fat, 34 grams of saturated fat and 2250 mg of sodium


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