Eat This, Not That! Authors Grade 43 National Chains; 6 Receive an 'F'
NEW YORK, Aug. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Which kids' menus are most likely to make your children fat? A year-long study of children's meals has revealed vast dietary differences among America's favorite fast-food and sit-down chain restaurants, according to the authors of the new book EAT THIS, NOT THAT! For Kids. Co-authors David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding calculated calories, fat (trans- and saturated), and sodium, as well as the average number of calories per children's entree, and discovered that many of America's most popular chain restaurants are nutritional nightmares for America's children.
The authors compared children's entrees; credited restaurants for having healthy adult options that would appeal to the young palate; evaluated healthy vegetable and fruit sides and drink options that go beyond sugar-laden soda; and docked points for restaurants still dishing out unhealthy trans fats or for refusing to release any nutrition information to their customers.
The result is a Restaurant Report Card that holds each food chain accountable for the fare they're serving up -- to moms, dads, kids, teens, and everybody else -- along with a survival strategy for making it through any meal unscathed.
Did your favorite restaurant make the grade?
Chick-fil-A excels in every category we tested for. With a slew of low-calorie sandwiches, the country's "healthiest" chicken nugget, a variety of solid sides like fresh fruit and soup that can be substituted into any meal, and nutritional brochures readily available for perusing at each location, Chick-fil-A earns the award for America's Healthiest Chain Restaurant (for kids, for the adults who drive them there, plus anybody else wise enough to make it their fast food choice).
Your Survival Strategy: Even the smartest kid in the class can still fail a test, so be on your toes at all times, even at Chik-fil-A. Limit salads with ranch or Caesar dressings, any sandwich with bacon, and make milkshakes a special treat, not an everyday beverage.
A menu based on lean protein and vegetables is always going to score well in our book. With more than half a dozen sandwiches under 300 calories, plus a slew of soups and healthy sides to boot, Subway can satisfy even the pickiest eater without breaking the caloric bank.
But, despite what Jared may want you to believe, Subway is not nutritionally infallible: Those rosy calorie counts posted on the menu boards include neither cheese nor mayo (add 160 calories per 6-inch sub) and some of the toasted subs, like the Meatball Marinara, contain hefty doses of calories, saturated fat, and sodium.
Your Survival Strategy: Cornell researchers have discovered a "health halo" at Subway, which refers to the tendency to reward yourself or your kid with chips, cookies, and large soft drinks because the entree is healthy. Avoid the halo, and all will be well.
With more than a dozen healthy vegetable sides and lean meats like turkey and roast sirloin on the menu, the low-cal, high-nutrient possibilities at Boston Market are endless. But with nearly a dozen calorie-packed sides and fatty meats like dark meat chicken and meat loaf (which contains an unfathomable 55 ingredients!), it's almost as easy to construct a lousy meal.
Your Survival Strategy: There are three simple steps to nutritional salvation: 1) Start with turkey, sirloin, or rotisserie chicken. 2) Add two noncreamy, nonstarchy vegetable sides. 3) Ignore all special items, such as pot pie and nearly all of the sandwiches.