This is a guest post by Kati Kenfield, a colleague and friend of mine. This is a great article full of humor and excellent nutrition advice:)
One clarification. I am a big believer of eating healthy fats including clean, grassfed animal fats. For those that have not had the time to look at the science like Kati and I, understand she is referring to “bad fats” when talking about Red Robins hamburgers and turkey burgers. The fact that they use industrial raised meat, which has a totally different nutritional profile then organic, grass-fed beef. The fat is actually really good for you in a grass-fed burger from a healthy, happy cow living on pasture its entire life.
Okay, get your learn on with Kati!
I’ve always been a bit of a health nut. The crazy, greasy, cheesy, deep fried foods at restaurants honestly never really appeal to me – mostly because of the way they make me feel like I might die! When I decide to be “naughty,” it better be worth it. I always say – life is too short for crappy coffee, bad chocolate, mediocre burgers and bland cookies. If I’m going to have any of these things (plus others) it’s going to be high quality, real and delicious, and I am going to savor it!
So, one evening a few years ago, when dining out at the fine establishment called Red Robin as requested by our friends, I knew that having one of their mass produced, half plastic, processed hamburgers was definitely not worth it for me. Chain restaurants are never my 1st choice. In fact, I hate them, so as I reluctantly went along to Red Robin that evening, I knew I needed to be smart. The menu overflowed with burger choices, chicken fingers, and sugary ice-burg lettuce salads. Thus, I made the confident, sound decision to go with the healthier option of a Turkey Burger. And it was on a whole-wheat bun!?!!? YES! Success! No mediocre hamburger for me. Rather, I’ll go with the mediocre Turkey Burger – totally more worth it because turkey is better for me than beef – obvi!
Then, to make myself even more confident in my option-weighing abilities, I decided to go with a side salad instead of the fries. I’ve had Red Robin’s fries in the past and was never a huge fan. Again, if I’m going to have fries they better be damn delicious! Salad it is.
I felt good about this. No looking back, no second-guessing my order. I am a know-what-I-want, mind-body kinda’ gal. Boom! High-five me!
Well, not so boom. The only boom I experienced after eating this healthy-er option of a Turkey Burger was the boom I felt in the pit of my stomach an hour after the meal. Discouraged and curious, I went to Red Robin’s website to see if they had any of their nutrition content up online. Not only did they, but it actually is a pretty sweet system! You can manipulate each item on their menu by adding/subtracting toppings and sides to create the exact meal you want with the exact type of nutrition content you are going (or not going) for. Cool! Good for you Red Robin! I respect that. Keepin’ your consumers responsible and informed. Love it.
I scrolled through the options and found my mediocre Turkey Burger. Up popped the nutrition info I was so curious about. I paused. I paused again. I read and re-read again. No. No way. I must have clicked on the wrong item. Nope… item is correct! I was dumbfounded – my innocent little turkey burger on a whole-wheat bun had 36 grams of fat!?!?! Whaaaaaat? How in the world do you cram that much fat into a turkey burger? What is really in that thing? AHHH!
I felt gross. I felt dumb. I felt tricked! I went on a rampage through the nutrition content of other items on their menu. How about their standard hamburger? Wait…for real? The hamburger on a white bun is BETTER FOR YOU than the turkey burger on a whole wheat bun!?!?! I sat back in awe. Five grams less fat and far less sodium. My frustration turned to anger as I realized what this meant not only for me, but also for consumers. What if someone was trying to lose weight and went with the more “responsible” option of a Turkey Burger at Red Robin as opposed to the hamburger that they so desired? Who wouldn’t assume that turkey is better for them than beef?!?! Turkey = lean, beef = fat! Duh! As if these individuals don’t have enough other hard choices to make during the day, how would they feel if they realized that the responsible decision they just made wasn’t so responsible after all? I. Was. Pissed. This was, and is, pure evil in my mind.
The next few days my mind raced as I thought about all the implications that this meant. I really have no idea what restaurants are putting in my food do I? And not like it really matters to me. I have no health issues; I’m not trying to lose weight. What about for the people whose health depends on it? My whole outlook on dining out, and food in general, changed that day. I used to LOVE to eat out! I thought it was fun, the food was delicious, and I (thought) I did a good job of eating decently healthy. Not any more. Now I found contempt instead of fun in the act of eating out, the food suddenly seemed bland and fake compared to the home-cooked meals I was starting to make more often. Over the next few years of making my own food 90% of the time, I noticed a huge change in my body and in my respect for food and its affect on my health. Never had I ever thought I could feel better than my Red Robin Turkey Burger consuming days, but I did! I had so much more energy and my body slowly shed a few pounds that I didn’t even know I could shed. Sold. I was sold. And I am more and more sold every day.
Now, when I do dine out (which is once a week on average – max!) I do my best to support local, sustainable and high quality food restaurants. Not only is the food 10x more delicious and clean (no more tummy booms!) but also I’m actually saving money this way even though the meals might be more expensive than Red Robin-esque restaurants. Quality over quantity is my mantra.
Still to this day my blood boils thinking about the trickery that is involved in the food manufacturing business. Eating food should not be a mystery to solve. Food should nourish us, give us energy and not be full of secret fat and sugar daemons. It should be real, whole and nourishing. Unfortunately, however, this is not easy to come by in our mass-manufactured, money driven food production world.
That is why I am here! I’m here to shine the light on how delicious, enlightening and fulfilling real food can be. So, go give that lonely apple sitting on your counter a hug (with your arms, or with your mouth!)… it deserves more credit than a deceiving turkey burger ever would. Its real. And I like real.
My challenge to you? If you’re going to eat out, Eat Local!
Don’t know where to start? Here’s a site that can help (and is awesome! Bookmark this shiz!)
And if you think any friends or family would find this blog interesting, please consider sharing it on Facebook or Twitter!
Kati Kenfield – Health and Nutrition Coach
I received my training at Integrative Nutrition in New York City. I’ve completed the Core Curriculum for Life Coaching from the Coaches Training Institute in California. I’m an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, and I also received my bachelor’s in communication from Colorado State University.
I specialize in corporate wellness programs that result in healthier employees and lower healthcare costs. I’ve developed many customized workshops on nutrition and wellness, and I also offer individual health and nutrition coaching for men and women.
I look forward to helping you reach your health goals!
Health and Nutrition Coach