Michelle Obama, the nation’s foremost advocate for healthy eating, recently went to lunch at a Shake Shack in Washington, D.C. She consumed a Shackburger, order of fries and a chocolate shake. According to the restaurant’s own accounting, these items weigh in at an amazing 1,700 calories, or roughly the recommended daily calorie intake for someone of her age and build.
It’s easy to poke fun at hypocrisy, but she did ask for it—it’s hard to binge out secretly when you’re followed by a motorcade, Secret Service agents and dozens of reporters. Mrs. Obama has also said that there’s nothing wrong with an occasional indulgence, and it’s also difficult to argue with that.
Not a week goes by when I don’t receive a batch of press releases informing me that the nation’s fast-food chains are introducing healthier menu options. McDonald’s now has 14 salads on their menu (although not all of them are available at all locations), and they claim to have sold 300 million of them. This sounds impressive until you realize that it probably covers a time span of about three years, since the salads have been offered. By contrast, the best estimate of the number of burgers consumed annually in America is 14 billion. The fast-food joints have even gone so far as to plaster nutritional information all over the place, confident that we won’t even glance at it.
We all know we’re supposed to order the Chicken Caesar rather than the Big Mac, but it’s hard to do so—particular when the smell of grease is permeating the air, and even when it’s certain that our choice will appear on the evening news. Like Mrs. Obama, most of us can resist anything except temptation.