Anyone notice the latest Burger King ad slogan? “TASTE IS KING”
Not to worry, this is not an article to bash the menu items at Burger King, namely their deliciously inspired Bacon Sundae pictured above. No…that would just be too easy and…well, boring.
I’d like to take this opportunity to examine the actual three-word slogan, TASTE IS KING, and propose that it potentially represents the mindset responsible for our declining health in America.
Imagine, for a moment, you are at a restaurant for dinner and reviewing the menu to make your selection. What is it that you are looking for in a meal? Are you looking for the healthiest option that will nourish and strengthen your body? Or are you trying to identify a delicious entrée that you are craving at that very moment? Even if you do choose a seemingly healthy option, are you asking questions about the ingredients, the way it is prepared, holding and/or substituting certain items or having sauces served on the side? Lastly, be honest….do you assume that restaurants take reasonably responsible measures regarding how they prepare your food and the portion sizes they serve? I bet some of you do.
I’m not asking these questions and making these statements to be obnoxious or self-righteous. The reason I can confidently pass judgment is because I used to take these things for granted as well. For many years, in fact. Additionally, I am not ashamed to admit that I also opt for what I am craving when looking at a restaurant menu. However, I am very picky about what I will and will not eat. More importantly, I am extremely careful about where I will dine, based on my general philosophy and understanding that the majority of restaurants are NOT looking to promote and preserve our health. They are primarily concerned with one thing only: taste. And when TASTE IS KING, the rules of nutrition are consequently ignored. Therein lies the dilemma.
When is the last time you heard a friend raving about a restaurant and describing to you in detail how healthy their meal was? It’s nearly unheard of, right? It is for this very reason that most restaurants will choose to abandon the principles of nutrition when preparing your meal. They know that if they add excessive amounts of salt, sugar, oil, butter and/or cream to your meal it will taste better, you will come back to dine more frequently, and they will make more money as a result. It’s that simple.
To be fair and balanced, I would like to clarify that I am NOT vilifying the restaurant industry. This is business we are talking about and it is simply an economic issue of supply and demand. If we prefer that things taste a certain way and seek them out repeatedly (i.e. demand), then that is what will be produced for us to consume (i.e. supply). The only reason why Bacon Sundaes exist is because we purchase them in abundance. We will unfortunately continue to engage in this type of behavior, over and over again, until we see a valid reason not to. This is what prolongs the ongoing cycle that threatens our country’s health. Yet the moment we demand more healthy and quality ingredients is when restaurants will follow suit, from a business standpoint, to accommodate our needs. So it is really up to us, the general public, to determine the fate of the restaurant industry. Once we collectively determine that “Health is King” is when the tables will turn.
The good news is that ever since I made the transformation to a “health-first, taste-second” diet, I am noticing more and more people interested in doing the same. As a result, I am seeing more health-conscious restaurants gaining popularity. Perhaps it is because I am more acutely aware of the cause or due to a legitimate societal movement taking place – regardless, it is a very encouraging trend. It is equally refreshing to see more people these days accepting that we CAN eat food that is healthy AND delicious. Don’t get me wrong….I’m not suggesting that we eat a bowl of steamed broccoli for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. I’m simply referring to some basic (yet meaningful) choices we can routinely make, such as eating fresh strawberries vs. strawberry flavored ice cream, eating a baked potato vs. potato chips, eating an apple vs. candy, etc. These are examples of healthy and sensible choices that we should be able to implement and sustain very easily, without compromising taste.
Having said all of this, I’m convinced that some day in the future we will look back on things like Bacon Sundaes, just as we now do 1970’s bell bottoms, and say to ourselves….”What on earth were we thinking??!!” Hopefully sooner than later.