Thursday, July 13, 2006

Smackdown from Springfield, IL

The Food Editor of the State Journal Register has takes Taco Bell's "Fourth Meal" to task in an article published yesterday. I am glad she choose not to write about anything more "sophisticated" because she's published my mind (assuming more people read the Springfield Daily than my blog).

Amen, Kathryn Rem.

Read on:

Four square meals?

If breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks aren’t enough to satisfy your appetite, Taco Bell suggests bellying up to the table for another eating occasion, dubbed “fourthmeal.”

The Mexican fast-food restaurant calls it “the meal between dinner and breakfast.”

“Not so long ago, the term ‘brunch’ was coined for people who ate a late breakfast,” said Bill Pearce, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer, in a news release. “Fourthmeal finally gives the millions of Taco Bell consumers who eat late at night their own definition.”

The concept is being advanced in TV, radio and outdoor advertising, in-store merchandising and an interactive Web site.

The drive-through windows at most Taco Bells, conveniently, are open until 1 a.m.

Lately, other fast-food restaurants have been emphasizing healthful eating. Yes, the effort seems disingenuous and it’s likely an attempt to ward off obesity lawsuits, but at least it’s a nod and a howdy aimed at the problem of America’s expanding waistline.

McDonald’s eliminated super-sizing, upped its salad choices, put apple slices on the menu and - in the oddest pairing since deep frying and dill pickles - lists heart-health tips from low-fat advocate Dr. Dean Ornish on its Web site.

Burger King offers a veggie burger, applesauce, low-fat chocolate milk and Aquafina water.

Wendy’s recently announced it is switching to nonhydrogenated cooking oil, so that its french fries and chicken items will have no trans fat. It’s the first major fast-food chain to do so.

To Taco Bell’s credit, it lets customers order anything on the menu “fresco style.” That means the sauce and cheese on an entree are replaced with fresh salsa, cutting calories and fat. But a fresco-style soft beef taco still has 190 calories and a bean burrito packs 350, a sizable number of calories to be added after a day’s worth of eating.

Sara Lopinski is a registered dietitian with St. John’s Hospital Center for Living. She said late-night munching is OK if a person doesn’t eat much during the day.

“What counts is your total calories during the day. Some people don’t like to eat much in the morning. But typically when people wait to eat, they eat too much because they’re famished.”

Slugging back a few beers or a round of martinis - a common wind-up for midnight snackers - can accelerate the munchies.

“If you’ve been out drinking, I suspect nutrition wouldn’t be paramount on your mind,” said Lopinski. “You’re more interested in satisfying your hunger pains.”

Christina Rollins, registered dietitian with Memorial Medical Center, agrees.

“We encourage people to eat every couple of hours to boost their metabolism, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to eat a high-calorie meal like Taco Bell is promoting,” she said.

If people want to eat late at night, Rollins suggests choosing something with a little bit of fat and protein, like peanut butter and crackers, “which will keep you full but not throw you over on calories.”

She recommends that late-night Taco Bell eaters, at the very least, avoid high-fat add-ons like sour cream and guacamole, as well as the jumbo sodas.

Said Lopinski: “The average American probably doesn’t need a fourth meal, but if there is a fourth meal, it should be fruits and vegetables.”


Blogger whipcreamy said...

even though i believe that fast food and smoking are the number one and two killers, i still love the fourth meal thing. there are people who are left out of the breakfast, lunch, dinner equation...what are they supposed to tell their chillins? i live next to an affordable housing apt complex. when i am on my way to work in the morning (early) i see hispanic men coming home from their night jobs and they almost always have some sort of fast food bag in their hands. so we can call it breakfast, but really it is their dinner....or fourth meal. breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner are taught in children's books, but not the fourth meal....that is discrimination i do say!

11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

but if you eat your dinner at midnight, it's still dinner, right?

i don't think we need to promote eating 4 full meals a day. esp one late at night. i've heard differently than what the dietian quoted in this article says: it does make a difference when you eat, not just the amount of calories. if you don't eat much all day and then eat the majority of your calories right before bed, it's less healthy. makes sense to me.

12:46:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home