Sunday, May 1, 2016

Breakfast Epiphanies, Part 3: Arch Villains

When McDonalds announced their "Breakfast All Day!" plan to much media hoopla last year, it seemed like a desperate attempt raise flagging business. Which, of course, it was.

Don't get me wrong. I love the sort of breakfasts McDonalds serves up (especially pancakes). And, double-whammy, breakfast is also my favorite meal of the day. Most of my fondest memories of eating are about breakfast. My dad, getting up early to make us dinosaur-shaped pancakes with what we would now call "locally-sourced" maple syrup. Hunting mornings, coming back in from the cold to deer steak and scrapple (scrapple, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" of meats). 

Anyway, let's just say it's tough to be diet/health conscious about a meal like breakfast, when nearly all the choices are bad (yet wonderful) and you can tell yourself you've got all day to burn it off. 

But it's really hard when the food engineers at McDonalds (and, let's face it, most any restaurant) tack on the sugar, making that questionable decision to a) eat at McDonalds and b) eat typical breakfast fare, an even worse one.

Let's take, for example, McDonalds version of the classic American breakfast: McDonalds Big Breakfast with Hot Cakes. According to this bad boy contains 1,090 calories, over half the calories of a 2,000 calories a day dietand that doesn't even include the calories from the juice, milk, or sugar and creamer you may put in your coffee. 

So what, right? Anybody that expects that particular meal to be healthy probably thinks birthday cake and donuts are too. There are plenty of other, better choices under the "golden arches," right? Like … oatmeal!

McDonalds offers "Fruit and Oatmeal", which you can get with or without brown sugar added. Great. You like fruit, you're not eating enough. And oatmeal? All the good stuff there, right? All those whole grains you're supposed to get, all that fiber! Sadly, McDonalds is sticking it to you again, by loading up what should be a healthy alternative with sugar.

Undeniably ... suspicious.

If you were making oatmeal at home, how many teaspoons of sugar would you sprinkle on top of it? One, maybe two, but probably not more than that. One teaspoon is the equivalent of four grams of sugar, so at most you'd be putting 8 grams of sugar on your oatmeal. But McDonalds has put 18—EIGHTEEN—grams of sugar, four and half teaspoons, into the "without brown sugar" version of their fruit and oatmeal.

And the one WITH brown sugar? Hard to imagine that you'd add more than one teaspoon at home—brown sugar is pretty potent stuff. But McDonalds adds EIGHT TEASPOONS (THIRTY-TWO grams) of (presumably) brown sugar to this "heart healthy" option.

Well, just how much added sugar should we have in a day, anyway? Take it away, Photoshop!
As you can see in the above chart, after you've had the non-brown sugar option oatmeal, AND put 2 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, you've had your sugar quotient for the day. If you've had the one with brown sugar? No sugar in your coffee, and it's STILL two teaspoons more sugar than you should have for your entire day.

Okay fine. Let's try the "Fruit and Nut Parfait." Fruit, nuts, and yogurt. Three ingredients, each healthier than the last—how could they make a McSucrose McCluster McBomb out of that? Well, they managed. This rather small item contains 160 calories, and 21 grams of sugar. Again, basically all the sugar you're allowed for the entire day.

Frustrating? Yes. Infuriating? Absolutely!

Don't despair. Next time, we'll find out that, indeed, there are heathy choices to be had at McDonalds, plus, we'll share our favorite home-made breakfast go-to's! 

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