The drive thru, can’t really be good, can it?

Yesterday, I taped a segment for CBS (I am providing the link even though I look line a senior citizen). There are times I’m asked to do something in media and I pass either because of scheduling or if I feel it’s not in my area of expertise. Other times, the subject of a piece isn’t necessarily exciting but I agree to participate. My clients in PR remind me it’s good for the “brand” (which seems to be the business word of the moment). And then there are times a story is right in my nutrition strike zone.  Yesterday was a “strike zone” subject for me. The segment was based on an article entitled “Customers think about healthy food but order the opposite” The concept was that Americans say they want healthier menu items but continue to “double down” and order the artery cloggers.
One of the people points raised was that some people view eating out as a treat. “If I wanted to eat healthy I’s stay home” said one person interviewed clearly with no Foodtraining under her belt. While I understand (and help clients plan for) birthday dinners and special events, not every meal out can be “special”. The National Restaurant Association reported  “an average of one of five meals consumed by Americans-4.2 per week- is prepared in a commercial setting.” That figure sounds a little low to me but we still cannot have four treat meals a week and expect to maintain our weight. Most treat foods or temptations aren’t going anywhere. My suggestion is to keep treats to once a week.

The reporter then presented me with this scenario “sometimes you plan to have the salad but it comes time to order and the burger or the fries just sound so much better.” First, the restaurant is well aware of how scents and visuals can sway purchasing. Impulse decisions have derailed many determined salad scoffers. From fast food to fine dining all menus are available online.  Study before selecting. As I said on camera, you want to make your food decisions before you’re actually ordering.
In the original article, someone else said “I wouldn’t go to a fast food place if I wanted something healthy.” This was a good point. For one thing, fast food “heathly” items can sometimes seem like an afterthought. The brown lettuce or the icky packet of dressing isn’t all that appealing. Then the establishments say, “we tried healthy menus and they don’t sell.” Wendy’s is mentioned later in the article as one of the first to try to “go healthy” in the 80s “with a short-lived effort to sell tomato halves filled with cottage cheese and pineapple chunks on lettuce leaves.” The thought of eating that nauseates me.  The food has to taste good and I have to think if the R and D went into the healthy menu selections that goes into the fries, offerings would be different. I think Starbucks has done a great job with healthful items. They have their plain oatmeal and also an egg and spinach wrap. I’d have to check this but I believe they are both good sellers. As hokey as it sounds it’s important to order the healthy items. Restaurants listen to sales to drive decisions. You can vote for fresh food or you can vote for French fries.  What’s it going to be?
Do you order “skinny” or “fat” when you’re out to eat? Why do you think only 23% of Americans order healthier items? What do you think can change this?
Congratulations to Gina, Lisa, Kristin and Julie, the winners of our Tata Harper and Odacite’ giveaway.

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