Take a Bite Out of Fast Food with iChoose600

by Sandra Foyt on May 9, 2011

in Food Adventures

010381_WebsiteBanner_180x150Fast food restaurants are not known for their healthy food menu, but busy families can’t always be choosy when trying to feed kids on the run. Even when there are healthier alternatives, sometimes you just crave those forbidden foods.

This week, USA Today reported on McDonald’s makeover, the fast food giant’s $1 billion-plus undertaking to transform into an upscale Starbucks-like destination. This is a welcome change for those of us who opted for the drive-through when the kids outgrew the play place, but it doesn’t change the fact that the typical family’s fast food calories regularly hit astronomical figures.

Frankly, I try not to think about how many calories we’re consuming when we’re eating fast food. But that’s our downfall.

Despite an active lifestyle, I’m not looking forward to donning a bathing suit this summer. Not only am I at a less than optimum weight – ok, yes, you can say it, I’m plump – I haven’t been setting a good example for my children.

The reality is that my family is going to end up at fast food restaurants from time to time, but we can make simple, easy changes that can counter the long-term effects on my family’s health.

iChoose600™ Campaign

How many calories are enough? That’s the question that New York State’s Department of Health answers with their newly launched iChoose600 Campaign.

Moms, here is a math problem for you:

Women, ages 19-50, who are moderately physically active can consume about 2000-2200 calories. My usual at McDonald’s is the combo that includes: a Big & Tasty burger, medium fries, and medium Coke. Total Calories: 1050.

How many calories does that leave for the rest of the day’s meals?

Answer: Not enough.

What about the kids?

Children need even less calories than adults, with daily calorie guidelines varying by age, making it even more likely that they are consuming too many calories at each fast food meal. My active eleven-year-old son should be taking in no more than 1800-2200 calories per day, or 500 calories per meal. A Happy Meal with hamburger, fries, and soda easily surpasses that ceiling.

iChooseTM To Order Less. Weigh Less.

The iChoose600Campaign has set up a calorie counter on Facebook to make it easy to figure out what you can eat on your next visit to a fast food restaurant. Check it out at iChoose600 on Facebook – it’s an eye-opener!

Over the next couple of months, I’m going to take the calorie counter out for a spin at local fast food restaurants with my family. Can we do it? Can we eat less than 600/500 calories and still walk out satisfied with our meal?

I don’t know yet if it’s possible, but I will be looking for tips on the iChoose600 Facebook wall. And I would LOVE to hear your ideas for ordering less, and weighing less.

The iChoose 600 Challenge:

Take a Bite Out of Fast Food with iChoose600

Healthy Fast Food at Burger King

Can You Eat Less Than 600 Calories at Five Guys?

Fast Food Breakfast at McDonald’s

Wendy’s Salads Are a Great Way to Watch What You Eat

DisclosureAlbany Kid received compensation for an advertising campaign that included sponsored blog posts; opinions and content are entirely my own.

| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email: sandrafoyt@albanykid.com, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

jo May 10, 2011 at 7:06 am

To me, bigger problem is that the child gets used to this age, that he has access to fast food. Can you imagine, if you were getting access to such food from such a low age, where were you today? I go for fast food only in a situation of no choice.

Sandra Foyt May 10, 2011 at 7:25 am

True, fast food is never the best choice, but it’s a rare family that can resist the lure of those golden arches.

Mr. Subb May 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Nice blog post… Recent menu labeling laws in Albany and Schenectady County were a great start. Hopefully the Federal government can get their version straightened out. Knowledge is important in making better decisons. At Mr. Subb we were glad to add our calories information as prominently as possible. We would like to see a bigger venture that helps non chain restaurants get this valuable information to their customers too. A national database that aids in recipe and nutritional calculations would be a great start. The ‘ichoose600″ campaign was a good attempt but should not have been limited to just 5 burger places. Most other chains would have jumped at a chance to be included.

Dawn Morris May 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Well, sorry to have a negative reaction, but this is definitely a case of “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” If fast food restaurants want to make a real difference for people and the planet (as opposed to their bottom lines), then they need to reexamine their menus, ingredients, and especially their food suppliers. You can find out more details by watching the documentary, Food, Inc. Be prepared to never eat fast food again (especially if you’re concerned about the treatment of animals).

Thanks for letting us know about this, Sandra. I certainly am all for consumers making informed and healthy choices.

Sandra Foyt May 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Dawn, I fully agree with you! When I watched Food, Inc. last year, I vowed to never eat at a fast food joint ever again. But that resolution, like many health-related resolutions, had a short shelf life.

Seems to me that the only thing that will drive change at these restaurants is the bottom line. If consumers demand better food choices with their pocket books, we might actually see change.

And, Mr. Subb, I was thinking the same thing about seeing more restaurant listings in iChoose600. If I can fit it into my upcoming schedule no more than one fast food restaurant a week, I’ll see what happens when we DIY iChoose600 at other venues.

Linda Carmical May 10, 2011 at 5:53 pm

My way of eating less to weigh less…let’s just say I’m not so successful at it Sandra. I think I’m going to take this challenge for a week starting on Thursday. (I want Wednesday to prep for it,) I’ll let you know how it goes.

joe May 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

Before you write on the measurement of calories, me interesting precisely the point that what is happening here is that the children get used to from such a small, fast-food access, and is something wrong in my eyes. I do not want to think, if I get used to eating such a low age, how I looked today. What will happen?

joe -hydroponicsfuture

Loretta June 6, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Was this experiment just for fast food restaurants? I usually stop at Paneras when out shopping and order their bowl of soup and 1/2 a sandwich. I’ll have to check the calories. Otherwise, salades are great if they have a lot of veggies, plus a cup of coffee with skim milk.

Sandra Foyt June 6, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Loretta – This challenge called for checking the calorie count using the iChoose600 Facebook app before going to the fast food restaurants that they list. I have to admit that it’s been an eye opening experience, and it’s changed how we order wherever we go.

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