American food nightmares (Men’s Health)

A few years ago, an American friend of mine in Denver told me of a chain restaurant (he worked there) which had served a slice of cake containing something like 2300 calories. Despite my sweet tooth, that just seemed foully excessive. Not long ago I found a magazine article that confirmed he wasn’t lying and that there are a lot of people consuming unimaginable calories in the USA… Another post in my quest to find disgusting food the world over, here’s a beautiful illustration of just how many calories can be packed into one pointless meal.

Men’s Health 20 Worst Foods of 2009

I’m particularly impressed by the following two items:

Baskin Robbins Large Chocolate Oreo Shake
2,600 calories
135 g fat (59 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fats)
263 g sugars
1,700 mg sodium

Marie Callender’s Creamy Parmesan Chicken Pot Pie
1,060 calories
64 g fat (24 g saturated fat)
1,440 mg sodium

Marie Callender’s perpetrates the ultimate sleight of hand here: the nutrition information says this medium-size entrée has two servings, but honestly, when have you ever split a potpie? …

… but there’s much more indigestible “joy” to be found in the Men’s Health list. Ugh.

Honestly, if you’re going kill yourself with meals that are four times the recommended daily energy needs of an athlete, you should do it with homemade pastry, chocolate, custard, ice-cream, macarons, homemade bread and delicious cheeses!

11 thoughts on “American food nightmares (Men’s Health)”

  1. Oh my… I had a look at that list, and it’s seriouly SCARY.

    At least it makes the food I eat look much better!

  2. Duncan,

    I would want further and better particulars on the potpie, for example, weight, ingredients, etc. It’s a main course, so it must weigh at least 500 grams if it’s going to feed two people, right?

    To be honest, I think the world (fit Americans included) is just piling on the bandwagon to sink the boot into American blubber. I bought a pack of instant noodles on the weekend (don’t crucify me, at least not yet). It weighed 85 grams, and wouldn’t you believe it, it was around 30% fat, with 60% of that being saturated fat. Yep, based on my modest estimation above, my noodles outpunch and outclass the potpie pound-for-pound. That’s what happens when you deep-fry a noodle cake in a nourishing palm oil-based slurry. And these noodles and their relatives (believe it or not, some even less healthy) fill up at least six whole shelves in my local supermarket! But I don’t see anyone lining up to take a shot at the noodle manufacturers. Perhaps because noodles are “Asian food” and “Asian food” is meant to be healthy, or at any rate, healthier than “American food.”

    I am not encouraging the consumption of calorific pseudo-foods, but I think some perspective is needed in view of the “everyday killers” that are readily available worldwide but yet don’t seem to attract any attention or angst from the healthy-eating crowd.

  3. Hey Dotty 😉 Yep, you’re right of course. There’s lots of excess all around us. One can argue, though, that the prevalence of processed food meals of larger quantities and calorific values often seems greater to visitors to the USA than in many other places. Nonetheless, I’d love to see an analysis of the average yum cha 🙂

  4. But is that because the Americans “invent” more “unique” dishes which seem worthy of our attention? I appreciate some of these bizarre foods are created just for kicks, and that the Americans have an unrivalled genius for marketing which draws the attention of visitors. But I also think much of the recent obesity problem is due to the changing composition of our food as well, not just a change in foods consumed. I mean, we can’t all be drinking Baskin Robbins Oreo shakes all day. Which leads me…

    …back to my noodle example (I’m not letting this one go!). It is devoid of any nutrition whatsoever, except for carbs and fats. I remember a particular Japanese-sounding brand of instant noodles in the 90s. I used to buy them on the odd occasion as they were relatively healthy, lower in fat (saturated or otherwise), higher in protein, etc. Well, the nutrient composition of this product has changed beyond recognition in the last decade – what once went into a typically healthy pseudo-Japanese ramen now reads no differently from a greasy wheaten lump manufactured by cheap labour in a dodgy third-world backwater, which I think it actually now is. All in the name of globalisation.

    Further, I presume Mrs (Ms?) Callender’s potpie would contain some broccoli, perhaps some carrot or onions, and with a little luck, some cheese. Your yumcha example would contain meat, veg, a few carbs, fats, etc. In other words, something resembling a balanced meal.

    “Dotty” 🙂

  5. Hey again Dotty. The last two yumchas I attended were heavy on oil and carbs and really showed a distinct paucity of vegetable…

    I’ve checked that potpie and you’re right, indeed it weighs 500gm. The question is now whether the Men’s Health writer was overdramatising, or in fact reflecting an eating psychology which indeed does treat a “pie” as a one-person event regardless of size.

    As for those delicious Oreo shakes, I have definitely known people whose uncontrollable eating behaviour would support consuming something like that a number of times a week (or think office-worker foodhabits like saccharine coffee-chain frippyfrappysyrupygrandynotcoffees with a side of megamuffin… every day for brekky or morning tea).

    More issues I’d love to develop, but I think I’ll have to save those for another article 🙂

    @Claire: thanks for that link!

  6. I am dumbfounded! As a lover of what now appears to be regular high calorific foods, I really thought I wouldn’t be surprised by any stats (or images thanks Claire:)) but I am! That’s the sort of thing that makes me feel ill – and sad when looking at the idea of *kids* meals being included.

  7. I know for a fact that there are some TimTam shake makers among us…bleurgh…

    Claire – that website in priceless. Find of the week for me. Funny and disturbingly compelling.

  8. Glad you liked it Lucy! As it happens I was alerted to it by Stephen Fry on Twitter. 🙂

    I think my favourite might have been the McGangbang (a McChicken sandwich inside a double cheeseburger)… hideous!

Comments are closed.