Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Just One Chicken Finger Can't Hurt

Chicken fingers? Grilled cheese? Or the mac-n-cheese?

It’s the age-old question for kids when eating out.  Sure, there’s usually a hamburger, a cheese quesadilla, or even a personal “pizza” on the list, too.  And at Italian joints you can also get spaghetti (pronounced pis-getty), with red sauce or butter – lots of butter.  But the kids’ menu triumvirate is always there, and one of the three usually gets the nod from the hungry toddler.

As a dad, I prefer when the little ones order the chicken fingers.  It almost goes without saying, but these are by far the most easily snatched without the wife noticing.  Though, a hearty grilled cheese crust can satisfy after a meal as well as any cold chicken finger.

Don't do it.  Look away.  Abort. Abort!  ... Yumm.
For a long time we’ve known that these kids’ menu items – priced between $4.99 and $7.99 – were a total rip-off.  I mean, honestly, you can buy six boxes of Kraft Mac-n-Cheese for that amount.  But the kids rarely complain – at least about this.  So we’re just happy to have options that are less than the adult entrées.  (Is it fair to call it an entrée if it's ordered at Friendly’s?)

But now, a recent study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest shows that these seemingly harmless menu items are also packed with calories.  Like, a lot of calories.  Like, more than 1000 calories for some of the kids meals in the study.  Like, Applebee’s Grilled Cheese on Sourdough with Fries: 1,210 calories. That’s not good.

Sure, the study’s results may be obvious to some.  After all, these meals are made with processed cheese, fried in fat and served with a pile of French Fries.  But these items are on the kids’ menu, surrounded by cute cartoon characters and served on tiny, colorful plates.  So, naturally, that means they can’t be that bad for you.

And while this study certainly has implications for issues like children’s nutrition and childhood obesity, yadda, yadda, yadda, the real news here is for dads.

We can think we’re making smart choices by ordering the southwest salad, which is deliciously smothered in dressing and covered with shredded cheddar-jack cheese; or by drinking the 16-ounce beer rather than the 20 ouncer; or by heroically skipping dessert.  But once we pick food off the munchkins’ plates, you can just forget those two days you spent at the gym last month. They’re gone. As is any hope of moving in a notch on the old belt.  All because of a few lousy, cold chicken fingers, a handful of fries, and one grilled cheese crust.

Just do the math.  Four kids.  Four Kids meals.  Eat just one-third of each kids’ meal, in addition to your own 1000 calorie salad, and you're sitting at 2200 calories.  If you ordered a burger.  Oh, man.  I just hope that was a light beer you drank.

Damn you, chicken fingers! 

If the results of this study hold up under scientific scrutiny, it can mean only one thing.  It’s back to the gym for us … starting next week. Maybe.


Anonymous said...

Maybe if you stayed out of the garbagefood joints long enough get the kids to quit whining for that crap, you could avoid the extra cost of a fatter wardrobe, not to mention medical bills that those garbage foods lead to.

Cort Ruddy said...

Thanks for reading. And for the record, I'm big boned.

al said...

My kids never finish those meals. I, on the other hand, finish what's on my plate and everybody else.

Being a fat guy in a skinny man's body is nice!