The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Michelle Obama aka FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States though perhaps I am the only person who didn’t know this acronym) paid a visit to the new Washington D.C. Shake Shack. I learned of this through twitter and the sentiment among my colleagues, many of whom are nutritionists, was generally supportive. “She’s human.” “She doesn’t eat that way all the time” and my personal fingernails-on-a chalkboard expression “everything in moderation” were just a few of the reactions I recall. The Independent even ran a story “Michelle Obama eats burger nutritionists approve.” Wait a minute, I’m a nutritionist and I don’t approve.
Michelle Obama’s major initiative is childhood obesity. Her campaign Let’s Move! Is about helping children and families live healthier lives. In their own words they’re:
Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. Providing healthier foods in our schools. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food. And, helping kids become more physically active.
What about Shake Shack is in line with this mission? If her platform was smoking, would we be ok with her having a cigarette once in a while? As President Obama focuses on the economy many articles have pointed fingers at his spending.
I asked a couple of my favorite nutritionists a few questions about this (mostly to see if I was overreacting). Keri Glassman said “this was overindulging in a very public manner when she is spending the majority of her time in public promoting good health!” Andy Bellatti admitted “frankly, I’m much more concerned with the policies Michelle Obama supports than what she puts in her mouth. That said, I don’t see why her Shake Shack visit needs to be applauded. It reeks of “oh don’t worry folks, she’s not one of those ‘tofu’ crazies. See, she loves burgers and fries just like you.”
You don’t see burgers and fries on the Let’s Move food and nutrition page, you see this
One of the tweeters told me repeatedly that healthy eating was all about BVM. BVM, BVM- what was he talking about? BMW? No, BVM. This, it seems, stands for Balance, Variety and Moderation. I’m sorry; Mrs. Obama had a ShackBurger, fries, a chocolate shake and Diet Coke to wash it all down. Over 1500 calories or a day’s worth. My verdict? Immoderate. Keri Glassman said it well “A home made, perhaps grass-fed burger – fine. Even a “bite” of someone’s fast food is fine. But a total no holds barred indulgence in fast food – not fine! Andy added, “just like “natural” there is no tangible definition of “moderation.”
Trust Me, I’m not Perfect (but I am a snob)
In the course of the twitter “debate” one in the “BVM” camp said to me “we can’t eat perfectly all the time, #FLOTUS showed us all foods fit.” I don’t think Americans or obese children need a FLOTUS path paved to fast food, they are “fitting” it in just fine. How about this- all foods don’t need to fit. I know it’s a nutty suggestion but what about suggesting a month without fast food and soda? Or if that’s unrealistic, have Michelle Obama go to a fast food restaurant and order small fries (her favorite) and a salad? Or post a recipe on the White House website for baked French fries.
I don’t eat fast food because I think about where my food comes from and how it’s made. I documented my last experience with fast food, in a blizzard on the Interstate with 2 screaming children. It wasn’t pretty and I’m still shocked we weren’t pursued by Alka- Seltzer for a commercial-yuck.
For the record Keri said “I do not eat fast food and do not bring my kids.” Andy, when asked if he eats fast food, replied “every day! It takes me 45 seconds to make a smoothie, 60 seconds to make a green juice, 15 seconds to grab a handful of almonds and about 2 minutes to toast bread and top it with avocado, arugula, balsamic and lemon juice.”
I can only imagine the number of hits the Shake Shack website received and the number of Shackburgers sold after Ms. Obama’s visit. I wish she had “moved” in a healthier direction.
Are you supportive of, disappointed by or indifferent to Ms. Obama’s burger? Do you feel experts should practice what they preach? Do you eat fast food? Do you believe in Moderation?