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Nina In New York: Taste Our Fast Food Pain, America

(credit: ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/GettyImages)

(credit: ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/GettyImages)

Street Lunch

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
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By Nina Pajak

The rest of the country has finally caught up with New York. At least in terms of fast food.

McDonald’s restaurants began posting nutritional information on menus in all locations. And by next year, a new federal law requiring all fast food restaurants to post calorie content will be in place, ensuring that Americans everywhere will finally understand what it means to be plagued by the math of eating at every turn.

More: NYC’s 12 Best Burgers

Now they shall finally know our pain! The agonizing over every choice, now burdened with the knowledge of how many calories it contains. Is 500 a lot? How many have I already had? How many should I eat in a day? Will this item fill me up 500 calories worth? How does knowing the nutritional content of the offerings of an Olive Garden inform my parmigiana- and bolognese-related decisions at a locally-owned Italian restaurant? If a salad only has 200 and the dressing has 250, but I only use my fork to wipe it on the lettuce as I eat it rather than using it to drown the vegetables, how many cals can I subtract from the total meal? If I am in a car traveling 65 mph leaving Cleveland due SSE at 2pm, and we make a pit stop at 3pm where I must decide between a quarter pounder and an order of chicken tenders, and I’ve already consumed 1500 calories that day, approximately where will I be when I realize that I shouldn’t have supersized my fries? Solve for X, where X is my overwrought and guilt-laden relationship with food.

Not that this isn’t good news. In fact, it comes on the heels of a new study from the Journal of Rural Health which confirms what all we city folk have always thought: rural populations have a higher rate of obesity than urban ones. Frankly, I think we could all afford to think about our eating decisions a little more. Then again, the stats provide nothing but a confusing swirl of numbers if one does not have the nutritional education required to understand what to do with them. I’m just happy to be able to travel outside of the NYC-area without finding myself paralyzed at an airport or rest stop with no idea which terrible fast food choice I’ll regret least.

The downside is that now matter where I go in the country, I will no longer be able to escape the hard truths about the McFlurry. I suppose it’s high time I lift the self-imposed veil, though it breaks my heart.