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Healthy Eating

What’s in Fast-Food Beef, Fish, and Chicken? It’s Not Always 100% Meat



Share on PinterestThe beef in your fast food burger may not be exactly what it seems. Natalie Jeffcott / Stocksy

  • Beef, chicken, and fish products in fast food restaurants are not always made from 100 percent meat.
  • They can contain additional additives, such as a textured vegetable protein or a soy product, that make them cheaper to produce.
  • Health experts say these types of processed meat are less healthy than unprocessed meat.
  • If you are concerned about the quality of the meat a fast food restaurant serves, health experts recommend checking the ingredient list on the menu as it may offer unprocessed options as well as plant-based alternatives.

The New York Times recently took a deep dive into one of the big questions of our time:

Is the fish product in the popular sandwiches from the Subway restaurant chain actually tuna or … something else?

Journalist Julie Carmel’s investigative report was in response to a class action lawsuit filed in California in January against the fast food giant. The lawsuit alleges that the branded tuna sandwiches are “without any tuna as an ingredient”.

The lawsuit spread far and wide, and even elicited pop star Jessica Simpson – who once questioned the origins of Chicken of the Sea (is it chicken or tuna, after all?) – on Twitter.


The headlines generated around the tuna confusion played into the longstanding debate about what exactly is in the meat we consume in fast food restaurants.

How healthy are the highly processed items you could order from McDonald’s or Subway? Are they all they pretend to be as advertised?

In an email statement to the New York Times, a Subway spokesman wrote that “the allegations in the California lawsuit are simply not true.”

“Subway delivers 100 percent cooked tuna to its restaurants that is mixed with mayonnaise and used in freshly made sandwiches, wraps and salads that are served and enjoyed by our guests,” they added.

For its part, Carmel sent samples of subway tuna sandwiches to a commercial food testing lab. The results were a little inconclusive.

The laboratories found that there was “no amplifiable tuna DNA” in the samples they sent in and that they could not “identify” the species present in the sandwich products.

A spokesman for the laboratory told the New York Times that two conclusions can be drawn from this: either the tuna products are “so highly processed” that it is impossible to clearly identify tuna, or “there is simply nothing that is tuna” in of the samples sent.

Carmel cites a previous Inside Edition report that found positive tuna identification from samples taken from three subway locations in Queens, New York City.

Registered nutritionist Amber Pankonin, MS, LMNT, provided a little more context for Healthline.

When asked if claims that Subway may sell questionable meat products are a common fast food industry practice, Pankonin said, “It really depends on the brand who their supplier is and what they offer on the menu.”

She said that fast food brands with more than 20 locations in the United States are required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to publicly publish their nutritional information.

“There are fast food chains that could use a structured vegetable protein or a soy product as a filler in their beef burgers or tacos,” she explained. “If you have any concerns about this, I would recommend searching for ‘100 percent beef’ on the menu description and checking the allergen information.”

Pankonin has directed Healthline to easily accessible information that is easy to access if you are concerned about what foods you might be consuming in a fast food restaurant.

This includes official FDA menu labeling guidelines and publicly available information on sourcing beef from popular brands like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell.

Dana Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, a senior nutritionist at UCLA Medical Center, reiterated to Pankonin that the product really matters.

She told Healthline that it is “difficult to counterfeit a product that looks exactly what it is,” such as a meat pie-based hamburger.

“However, when it comes to a fried nugget, that is, a chicken nugget, the question can get a bit more confusing as the product often contains a number of additional ingredients such as: B. breading, starch, dextrose, which could either mask an alternative meat product or is actually more of the product than the “chicken” or the so-called named meat itself, “added Hunnes, who is also the author of the forthcoming book” Recipe for Survival “is.

What is the nutritional value of meat-based fast food items?

Hunnes said she generally consults people to limit or avoid meat consumption, adding that a plant-based diet is generally much better for overall health.

However, if you eat meat-based products, she said “unadulterated meat” is better because you are consuming “unprocessed meat product” which is in some ways a bit healthier than “processed meat product”. . ‘”

She said that many restaurants, even fast food restaurants, are offering more plant-based alternatives. Your personal opinion is that these offerings are more attracted and overall they are better for the environment.

Pankonin said it is now pretty easy to access nutritional and allergen information for your fast food items just by looking at menu labeling requirements. She said you should avoid items that may contain potential allergens for you.

“Nutritionally, the products that contain fillers are likely to be quite similar,” she added, reiterating that it really depends on the particular restaurant and its suppliers.

How Healthy is Fast Food Meat? There is no one-size-fits-all answer.

“In terms of cooking preparation and taste acceptance, they are [fast-food meat items] could be different. If fillers are added, there may be more moisture or flour in the product, which can affect the preparation and quality. And depending on how much filler is used, it can affect the taste of the product, ”said Pankonin.

She added that in fast food restaurants, “standardized products can provide consistency in terms of the estimation of nutritional values”. This is compared to shopping and making a burger from scratch at home; it depends on the “meat used and the portion prepared”.

“When I advise people what to order in fast food restaurants, it really depends on what their health goals are and whether they have any food allergies. I can help them evaluate the calorie and nutritional information to see if certain menu items fit into their overall eating plan, ”said Pankonin.

If you are concerned about the headlines about fast food meat, what are good menu options at your favorite fast food restaurant?

“Some of the plant-based alternatives will gradually be better than real meat in terms of health. I say gradual because they are still a processed food product and will contain salt,” said Hunnes.

“But they’re better for health in that their fats come from plant sources, which are generally better than fats from animal sources, and they can also contain fiber that meat doesn’t,” she said.

Pankonin reiterated that it is about your diet and health preferences.

“Again, I think it depends on health goals and whether there are food allergies. For example, if someone is allergic to soy they should be educated about meat fillers and also avoid some of the plant-based options on the menu, ”she said.

Pankonin said if you want to make a burger from the comfort of your home and want to lower the fat or calorie content, for example, you can try “making a burger mix” by “using beef and vegetables like onions and mushrooms”.

She said that some breakfast suggestions involve coming up with something to prepare and freeze in advance.

Try a breakfast sandwich that uses a whole grain English muffin, egg, and slice of cheese. This could be an easy alternative to your favorite breakfast sandwich before heading to the office.

She also said no-bake recipes are a great way to cut down on kitchen time. Pankonin also mentioned wraps, which can be kept in a cool box and taken to the family picnic or to the canteen, as good options.

In addition, she said that you can’t go wrong with sausage boards.

“They are basically adult lunchables, and I love them,” she said. “These are super easy to assemble and can be a great alternative to fast food. Put it in a bento box instead of a board and lunch is ready. “

Hunnes said that while it might seem cheaper to go to a fast food restaurant and order four burgers, four fries, and four soft drinks for your family or group of friends for $ 20, in reality you could causing a lot of damage to your overall health and “you can pay for it in the backend.”

“However, since most people don’t think that far ahead when choosing meals, just from a monetary and momentary point of view, you can absolutely make something similar, healthier, and possibly even cheaper at home,” Hunnes said.

She said the plant-based meat brands Impossible or Beyond Burger cost only $ 9-11 a pound. One pound can feed four people. Wheat rolls are only $ 3 for about $ 8, with lettuce, tomato, and onion setting you back another $ 4 and soda adding a little more, say, another dollar or so.

The total sum? That’s roughly $ 17 for your own homemade burger.

“It’s actually cheaper and a lot healthier to do at home,” added Hunnes. “And if you wanted to use real meat, it would probably be even cheaper, since most pieces of ground beef are maybe $ 5 a pound.”

Overall, we may not have solved the great tuna riddle of 2021, but a few things are clear.

Always investigate the dietary and nutritional background of the foods you consume, assess whether they contain allergens, and consider potentially cheaper and healthier options that you can make for yourself and your family.

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Healthy Eating

Craving food vs. choosing food – FIT Talk With Tania



Photo: Contributed

When we use food to create hormonal balance instead of dieting, amazing things happen to our health.

When it comes to food, here in North America and in all of the First World countries we have choices – an overwhelming variety.

Aside from the rush for toilet paper over the past year, how many times have you gone to the grocery store and seen empty shelves? It never happens.

Some call it a blessing, some blame it on their poor food choices.

Regardless of where you sit on this food spectrum, we know for sure that we should be one of the healthiest nations on earth. But we are not. As a wealthy First World country, we have an abundance of food, but the vast majority of the population is nutritionally starved. One wonders how that can happen. It all depends on the choice.

Many diseases such as cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, digestive problems and leaky gut are all referred to as lifestyle diseases today. Why? Because the lifestyle that the individual has chosen over time is what caused the disease.

It would therefore seem logical that if our decisions could have a negative outcome, it would seem reasonable that they could elicit a positive response as well. And there is science to back it up.

A study published on the NCBI website by the National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health, shows how diet and lifestyle changes are key to reversing these lifestyle ailments and restoring general health.

“But Tania,” you say, “there is heart disease in my family, so sooner or later I’ll get it.”

So why not do it as late as possible?

And to address the genetic elephant in the room, our DNA only controls about 20 percent of the result of our health. Some scientists are now saying that it is even less. This means that we have about 80 percent control over the outcome of our health. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

So why do most of our population continue to make poor food choices?

There are two aspects that play a role in how and what we eat – physiological and psychological.

The way our bodies are made up, our physiology requires us to ingest food. When we deprive our body of what it needs – restricting calories, removing food groups, forgetting to eat, skipping meals, eating junk food – blood sugar crashes and appetite hormones like leptin and grehlin are out of whack. .

However, the brain – the psychological component – still needs nourishment.

When we withdraw the energy it needs from our body, Grehlin goes into full swing and causes the brain to tell the body that it needs food quickly. Leptin, which normally tells us when we are full, is switched off.

Hello cravings and overeating. And then people are most likely to resort to packaged, processed, and / or sugary foods rather than healthy, healthy foods. It is a good thing to ignore cravings for bad food, but if you don’t refuel with good food on a regular basis throughout the day (for whatever reason – time, working late, dieting), your body will get its own Muscles take it away to form glucose and send it to the brain. Oh, and for your information, in case you’re wondering, it won’t take away from your stored fat.

It is quite difficult to make good food choices when hormones and “hangry” feelings are working against you when you demand to be fed as soon as possible. The thing is, you can get these hormones to work in your favor, to work with your body and brain to get rid of cravings, overeating, and spontaneous snacking. Believe it or not, you do it with food. The thing is, when food is used to restore hormonal balance, health happens.

Hormones are balanced when blood sugar levels are stabilized. And the way to stabilize blood sugar is to eat small, macro-balanced meals every three to four hours throughout the day.

I call this all three PFCs. Simply put, it’s a balanced mix of high-quality protein, healthy fat, and colorful carbohydrates combined within an hour of waking up and then every three to four hours throughout the day until about an hour and a half before bed.

It’s a simple concept that requires a little organization and preparation to get started, but the benefits are well worth it.

Blood sugar levels become normal, hormones are balanced, menopausal symptoms are minimized or eliminated, inflammation is reduced, joint pain is relieved, digestion is improved, cholesterol and blood pressure are normalized, the immune system is improved, it could help reverse some diseases, the Metabolism will turn on and stay on and the body will release stored fat and burn it for energy.

Just a little trivia for you – Did you know that for every pound of fat, there are 3,500 calories of stored energy waiting to be consumed? And as soon as the stored fat is broken down, will the excess weight that you possibly carry also be released?

It’s a wonderful side benefit that occurs when you stop dieting and focus on creating health.

Do you want to create health in your body? Join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes Facebook group today.

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Healthy Eating

The Surprising Snack You Should Avoid Because It Causes Bloating And Fatigue Throughout The Day



Snacking is a normal and healthy part of any diet, as long as you choose the right snacks. When deciding which foods to include in your diet to bridge the gap between meals, it is important to choose nutrient-rich ingredients that can help boost your energy levels and support an increased feeling of satiety to help you achieve the Avoid consuming excess calories throughout the day.

However, not all high macronutrient density snacks are actually ideal for weight loss, and some can make sweeping claims while they may get in the way of your weight loss success or even cause weight gain, inflammation, and discomfort. If you are struggling with a tight and bloated stomach after snacking, there comes a point where nutritionists agree that you should consider eliminating it from your diet.

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Protein is hands down one of the most important nutrients to include in any balanced diet, but the way you consume your protein is important to consider. While protein bars are a simple snack, they are generally not well suited to promoting weight loss and wellness, and are often full of preservatives, excess carbohydrates, and added sugars, but they can make inflammation in your body worse.

“Unfortunately, the quality of most bars on the market is very poor and should not be considered healthy,” warns registered dietitian Trista Best. “The vast majority are made up of refined carbohydrates, sugar and gluten, all of which can lead to gas and fatigue . “

If you’re snacking on a protein bar, chances are you’re looking for a quick protein boost and enough energy to get you through to your next meal. However, opting for a bar over a naturally occurring source of protein can come with a number of side effects, many of which are uncomfortable for the body. “As the body works to process these ingredients, it becomes inflamed, especially the intestines, and this inflammation leads to gas and fatigue, among other things,” says Best.

Although gas isn’t directly related to weight gain, it can make your body feel uncomfortable and negatively affect your mental health. If you feel that your clothes are tighter you may be inclined to ditch your healthy eating plan, but it is better to identify the foods that are causing these problems rather than assuming your weight loss plan will fail.


Since protein bars are often filled with additives and excess sugar, they can also have an inverse effect on your metabolism, making it difficult to burn fat at rest and consequently, weight gain over time. This snack may go well with your healthy diet as it provides one of the most important macronutrients you need to streamline your diet, but at the end of the day, getting your protein from more natural sources like chickpeas will serve you better Salad, lean meat, or even Greek yogurt.

These foods are more likely to keep your body energized while also being low in calories, sugar, and unhealthy preservatives, making them better at limiting inflammation, fatigue, and weight gain.

If you’ve just finished a difficult workout or are severely low in calories for the day, a low-sugar, high-protein bar may not be the worst option for getting a quick burst of energy. However, make sure that you don’t rely on this highly processed snack in your daily diet to banish gas, unnecessary fatigue, and discomfort and try to find more natural alternatives to give your body the energy it needs needed to make it between meals.

As with any food, you can enjoy protein bars in moderation and still see success with your healthy diet, but contrary to popular belief, in order to feel optimal about your body, they shouldn’t be a part of your diet. A good rule of thumb is to eat as many natural, whole foods as possible, and there are a variety of different sources that will benefit your body in the long run.

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Healthy Eating

1 in 5 Parents Too Busy to Cook During Pandemic: Fast, Healthy Options



Share on PinterestA new study found that many parents say their children were more likely to eat fast food during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, health experts say there are alternatives to eating that are quick, easy, and nutritious. mixetto / Getty Images

  • According to a new survey, one in five parents said they were feeding their children more fast food than before the pandemic.
  • Parents of overweight children reported eating out at least twice a week.
  • The reasons given were being too busy or too stressed.
  • However, experts say that having a healthy meal at home doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.
  • They suggest that working on healthy behaviors rather than dieting is the best approach for children.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families found options for healthier diets and more physical activity.

For others, however, it meant more stress and less exercise as the home shifted to school and work.

This has also made it difficult for parents to find the time or energy to prepare always nutritious meals at home.

According to the University of Michigan Health’s CS Mott Children’s Hospital national child health survey, roughly one in five parents said their children had started eating fast food more often than before the pandemic.

The survey, which included responses from 2,019 parents of children aged 3 to 18, found that roughly one in six parents said their child eats fast food at least twice a week.

Parents who reported their children were overweight also reported their children ate fast food twice a week, compared to parents who reported their child was a healthy weight for their age and height.

When asked why they couldn’t prepare meals at home, around 40 percent of parents said they were just too busy.

About a fifth of parents said they felt too stressed.

These barriers to eating healthy have been most commonly reported by families with overweight children.

However, nutritionists say putting together a healthy meal at home doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. It doesn’t necessarily have to be cooked once.

Dr. Mary-Jon Ludy, Chair of the Department of Public Health and Associated Health at Bowling Green State University’s College of Health and Human Services and Associate Professor of Food and Nutrition, suggests using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a starting point for planning your meals.

“In summary, half of our plates should be filled with fruits and vegetables, half of our grains should be whole, proteins should be lean, dairy products should be low in fat, and variety is encouraged,” said Ludy.

Some of the simple meal suggestions Ludy offered included:

  • For breakfast, low-fat natural yogurt with fresh or frozen fruits, chopped nuts and whole grain muesli.
  • For lunch, a nut butter sandwich on wholemeal bread filled with sliced ​​apples or bananas, with baby carrots or cucumber as a side dish and a low-fat milk to drink.
  • For dinner, whole grain tortillas with black beans or shredded chicken, brown rice, avocado puree, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and grated cheese.
  • As a snack between meals, hummus with sliced ​​peppers or whole grain crackers.

“These are great options,” said Ludy, “because they require minimal prep time, healthy carbohydrates and lean proteins are balanced, have a variety of fillings / additives, and are simple enough to involve children in prep.”

Therese S. Waterhous, PhD, RDN, CEDRD-S, an in-house eating disorders expert in Corvallis, Oregon, said the best way to lose weight, especially in children, is to take a nutrition-free approach. Diets don’t work, she explained, and most people put back any weight they lose.

“Instead of dieting, it’s good to choose healthy behaviors and work on them,” she said.

She said food shouldn’t be taboo when eating, but rather focus on optimizing health so that children can grow and reach their potential.

She suggested that making young children or teenagers feel bad about their bodies was “critical”. This leads to stress and, in some cases, eating disorders.

“Weight stigma is very harmful to children and is prevalent in our society,” said Waterhous. “Instead of focusing on weight, it is best to focus on these health behaviors.”

Instead of demonizing certain foods, focus on getting enough fuel, enough protein, enough vitamins and minerals, she said.

In particular, she said, most young people are not getting enough products that provide essential nutrients and fiber. She suggests adding two to three servings of vegetables or fruit to each meal. One serving is about 1/2 cup or a medium-sized piece of fruit, she added.

However, even with the best of intentions, there can be times when a quick meal at a restaurant is the option that best fits your busy schedule.

Ludy offers the following tips to help you make the best choices when eating out:

  • Add vegetables whenever you can. For example, ask for lettuce and tomatoes on sandwiches, peppers and onions on burritos, or mushrooms and olives on pizza.
  • Choose beverages like water, 100 percent fruit juice, or simple low-fat milk instead of sodas or sweet tea.
  • Opt for side dishes like apple slices or carrot sticks instead of french fries or fries.
  • Order small or child-sized portions.
  • Try to make fast food only occasionally.
  • Model healthy eating for your children by making healthy choices for yourself.

Waterhou also suggests that you can get a sandwich or fried chicken from the grocery store as a base for your meal. Then add simple options like a fruit salad, a mixed salad, or vegetables at home to complete your meal.

To add some starch to your chicken, you could have rice, mashed potatoes, or a slice of bread, she said. You can even prepare your side dishes in advance and reheat them for dinner.

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