Healthy Eating Paradox

Quick show of hands: how many people out there enjoy the “Jay-walking” segments on The Tonight Show? If you’re not familiar with it, this is where Jay Leno hits the streets with a microphone and asks average people simple questions. For example, “In what year did the Battle of Beroia result in the disappearance of the Pechenegs as an independent force?” The poor interviewee invariably replies with something really stupid, like 1124, when everybody knows it was 1122.

All right, I’m kidding. Usually it’s more along the lines of, “Who was the first president?” which typically fetches a response of, “Abraham Lincoln?” (Hey, could be worse. At least they picked an actual president.)

I imagine if Jay asked people, “Which fast food restaurant would be the better choice for a dieter, McDonald’s or Subway?” most of his victims would reply, “Abraham Lincoln?” Okay … most of them would definitely say “Subway” and ironically, they’d be just as wrong as those who picked Lincoln.

Wait a minute, Charlie … did you say that right? Subway is the wrong answer for the dieter? You’re crazy. Jarad lost eight thousand pounds at Subway. They have forty-seven sandwiches with forty-seven or fewer calories. They sell cookies, that when broken apart, actually have negative calories. I went to a Subway one day, ordered lunch, and actually left two pant sizes smaller. You can’t mean that, Charlie.

Well, according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research last October, people ate on average 131% more calories when they thought they were eating healthful alternatives. Ironically, this was on top of the fact that the “healthy” meal already had 50% more calories than the “unhealthy” meal. What does this mean? It means we’re stupid, that’s what.

My advice to everyone (including myself) is simple: use your head. Just because something is “healthy” doesn’t mean it’s free. Pigging out on healthy entrees in a restaurant is no different from eating an entire box of fat free cookies or chowing down a ginormous bucket of fried chicken just because it was cooked in oils containing zero grams of trans fats. Don’t fall for it … or you just might end up on Jay Leno one day.

2 Responses to “Healthy Eating Paradox”

Jennifer said
August 29, 2008 at 8:00 am

I agree with you Charlie. If you ever compare a box of reduced fat cheese its for example, with the regular, the difference is so miniscule that you may as well get the regular and then you wouldn’t eat as much. Because it is low fat, you think, this is fantastic, I can eat more when in fact the calories are exactly the same! I think they should ban low fat foods altogether, because the calories are what matters the most!

Back to the Fridge » The 100 Calorie Trap said
September 4, 2008 at 12:53 am

[…] study says. And, of course, when we hear “diet” we think “free”. (Refer to last Friday’s post for a related […]