Allie Griffith

Allie Griffith
Memphis, Tennessee,
Writer, game developer, artist. Also raconteuse, dilettante, and passionate advocate. I've been called an angel of wisdom and I've been called a judgmental idiot. Sooner or later I'm bound to say something that you disagree with; feel free to tell me your side of the story. I listen to other people's opinions and have occasionally been known to concede that they might have a point and alter mine. I use too many semicolons and I have terrible taste in music. I'm the sort of person who thinks it's more telling to mention that than that I'm married and had a foster daughter but she's grown now. By objective standards, my life is probably a disaster - no health insurance and a chronic illness - but my happiness quotient is the highest of anyone I know. Sometimes I tell sad stories but please don't let them make you sad.

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FEBRUARY 27, 2009 6:27PM

Journey to the land of the lie

Rate: 8 Flag

Well, I did this to myself. I wrote a blog entry in response to Kerry's Open Call about addictions, about my own addiction to Coca-Cola and how drinking Coke sets off a chain reaction of cravings for fast food when I do it. I talked about how I've nobly gone without Coke for 49 days.

And writing the post, talking about how I love Coke Icees and Wendy's fries, gave me the worst cravings ever.

I'll be fair, it wasn't all Kerry's fault. It's also springtime. The trees are budding, the grass is full of little purple flowers, and my husband and I saw a pair of bluebirds gathering lichen to line their nest in our tree. It's easy to stay inside and cook homemade chicken soup in the dead of winter, but in warm weather, I want to be outside picnicking. And my picnic repertoire does not yet include tasty, quick to fix, yet healthy meals. I was caught unprepared for the beauty of today.

So I went to Wendy's. It seemed better than the alternative, which was chewing off my own toes while wailing about how miserable my life is. Sometimes you just have to give a little.

First, I'll confess it, I stopped at the Tiger Mart for an Icee. I had decided to cheat in moderation, so I only got a small one, not my usual 32 ounce. Incidentally, I spent more for the small, because one of the things about the 32 ounce version is that it's the one they put on sale. No sale on modest sized drinks.

But I got my overpriced drink anyway. And promptly poured it out in the parking lot, because the machine was malfunctioning and it had separated into syrupy gluck. Not too long ago I would have sucked down the gluck regardless, pretending to enjoy it and justifying it by saying that I couldn't waste the money. Today I am a better person. I poured it out, drove to the Tiger Mart a block away where the machine was defrosting, cursed God, and cut my losses, deciding to get unsweetened tea instead.

Onward to Wendy's. Here I made another change, ordering a quarter pounder with bacon and cheese instead of the Baconator. I hate the Baconator anyway;  it always was too much sandwich. But Wendy's tries to force you to buy it. Their standard menu does not offer a sandwich less than two pounds which has meat, bacon, and cheese.  And if you add cheese and bacon to the standard quarter pounder, the employee rolls his eyes at you as if you've asked him to give you all your change in Mercury Dimes. Nevertheless, that's what I did. And I had a baked potato instead of fries, despite really wanting fries, and I only stole six of my husband's fries.

We ate at the park. And instantly, even before the food is gone, I remember why I stopped doing this. I feel terrible. I feel embarrassed for feeling terrible, like I've turned into that balding elitist loser with the annoying vegan girlfriend who made "Supersize Me" and very melodramatically threw up because he couldn't finish a single McDonald's meal. What was up with that guy? But now I'm him. I've finished my meal, yet I am both still hungry and bloated. My heart rate, which before I ate was under 60, is now in the mid-80's. My stomach is bulging and I keep wanting to belch. I had planned to walk around the lake, and now I don't feel up to it. We walk anyway;  heart rate shoots up.

As I write this, it's three hours later, and I can still feel that meal sitting on my stomach like I've sucked down a deep-fried sofa bolster.  My heart rate is still elevated, and I'm both jittery and unsatisfied. I feel TERRIBLE and it's a feeling I recognize:  this is how I used to feel all the time, before I stopped eating junk food. What is in this stuff?

So - and here we come to the point of this post - I go to the Wendy's nutrition information page. Here's the link.

It's a very handy page. I choose from pull-down menu's:  Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers. Quarter pound single. This gives me a bunch of radio buttons, and I tick off what was on my sandwich. Patty, cheese slice, bacon, mayo, ketchup, mustard, pickles, onion, tomatoes, lettuce, bun. 550 calories. Huh. High, but not that bad really.

Here's the problem, and I'm going to bold this text so please excuse me for shouting.


550 seems a little low, doesn't it?  I mean, I know how much meat goes into a quarter-pounder, by definition:  a quarter pound. And a quarter pound hamburger patty doesn't have 2oo calories as they claim.

Here's the Calorie King site, which I generally use for finding out how many calories things have, because it conveniently allows you to compare portion sizes and is just generally nifty.  If you don't like this one, feel free to look it up on the site of your choosing. I compared meats, and based on the extremely greasy mouth feel of the Wendy's patty, I'm guessing it's not lean meat.

200 calories per patty?  Bullshit. Not in this universe. Let's say more like 320. That's how many calories are in a quarter pound beef patty.

Checking the other information, I found the same issues. 70 calories in a one ounce slice of American cheese, according to Wendy's. NOPE!  That's simply untrue. A one ounce slice of American cheese has 105 calories. 60 calories in four slices of bacon. Who would even begin to believe that?  Geez, I wish four slices of bacon only had 60 calories!  In the real world where you and I live, it's 46 calories per slice, more like 200 for four slices. 40 calories for mayo. Well, they cheated a little differently on this one, claiming that their sandwich has a teaspoonful of mayo on it. WRONG AGAIN!  Easily a tablespoon on that sandwich. We'll call it 100 calories. 

I wasn't able to check on the bun, since different buns have different caloric content, but it was a giant, sweet, Kaiser-type bun. They claim it has 160 calories, which is the same number found in a modest grocery store bun. I can't prove it but I think this is another lie.

They even lied about the number of calories in ketchup.

All together, when I added up the number of calories their sandwich really has as opposed to the number they claim, it turned out to have 900 calories. That's nine. Hundred. Not five hundred and fifty.  That's three hundred and fifty calories they lied about. Three hundred calories is an entire lunch.

Now, about the rest of my meal:  They claim 270 calories for a 10 ounce baked potato, and Calorie King agrees with them. 45 cal in one package of sour cream plus 50 cal in one package of pseudo-butter spread.  Sounds reasonable. 365 calories for a potato.

And the six stolen fries?  Well, Wendy's doesn't give information on individual fries and I didn't count the total number per package, but somewhere I read that there are about 15 calories per big fat Wendy's fry, which is why I ate six. Call it 100 calories. Plus two ketchup packets, 20 calories.

That makes my calorie total for this horrifying meal 1385 calories, not counting my abandoned Icee. That's as many calories as I ate YESTERDAY. Of those calories, more than half are pure fat and a lot of the rest are empty carbs.

Ye Gods, no wonder I feel like crap! 

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Okay, I'm not judging because it's cold here and I had my turkey chili for lunch today with no problem and am still nibbling on chocolates. But what happened to your food diary? You were my inspiration! I should also say that I don't drive and so it's easy for me to avoid Wendy's and Taco Bell, and all the stuff I too love. But when you're reading nutrition info about these places, pick up a copy of Fastfood Nation and you will not want to eat at these places again. But this was a good, well-written, painfully honest post, and we've all been there. So, make yourself a big pot of chicken chili, or Quorn chicken chili. That's good summertime food. You'll be fine, just don't eat that currraaaaapppp!
Allie, two words: Sodium.
My sister got addicted to Sonic cokes and tater tots. It completely ruined her health, destroyed her immune system and she got the candida yeast infection throughout her body. She caught it in time before it caused permanent damage and she had to go on a strict detox diet for weeks. If she even tries to sip a coke now, it makes her sick.

It's not just the calories, it's the breaking down of your cells that can kill you. That's why I only eat of dumpsters behind organic restaurants.
latethink, I'm so sorry! All I can say in self-defense is that I've learned my lesson: if doing this once made me feel this bad, I'm not going to do it again. And this is going in the diary.

On the upside I had blueberries with non-fat yogurt for breakfast.

I knew it wasn't health food, but what I found so shocking was how blatantly they lie on their information site. Doesn't any legal authority check this stuff?
Cat, yeah, I hadn't even thought about that. If you trust their information - and at this point I trust them about as far as I could throw them - that's 1950 mg of sodium in this meal, plus whatever we added with a salt shaker. Or, pretty much, a whole day's worth of sodium. Yucky yucky.
Harry, I am a mortal enemy of Sonic for reasons complicated enough to deserve a whole other post (short version: a friend of mine was carjacked from Sonic and later murdered by three teenagers who were given the gun to do it by the Sonic manager, who also tried to prevent his employee from calling the police - terms of the settlement say her family can't discuss how much they got but they settled out of court after the judge informed them that Sonic was likely to wind up in deep doodoo for running a drive-through slaughterhouse if it went to court) but I do love me some Wendy's. I think today cured me of that. Even though, damn, that burger was tasty.

I've heard of systemic yeast infections, sounds pretty nasty.
Good for you, sounds delicious BTW. I'll get me some blueberries come payday! I do what you do, it seems.
Rated for Honesty. They are unrated for their LIES. :-)
belch ...blech....barf! No prob for me cuz I
just do not eat there. Good job uncovering the lies though
and done with great humor
I thought fast food corporations = lying bastards anyway. But sometimes I'll deny the lie and do the bad thing. My name is Notes From Joblessville and I love the Double Whopper With Cheese. You write so honestly I felt I had to share!
I know this is a serious matter, but your writing style comes packed with a lot of wit, enough so that when I read this line:

"They even lied about the number of calories in ketchup."

my sudden peal of laughter startled the cat into a brief fit of apoplexy.

Nice to meet you, Allie-you wouldn't, by any chance, remember "Sivad", would you ?
Latethink, blueberries are a superfood! I can't afford to eat fresh ones every day, but frozen ones make great smoothies.

Kind of Blue, thanks!

Trig, I only wish I thought the food was nasty. Actually it's pretty delicious. But so not worth it. I'm still amazed. This morning for breakfast I had a big bowl of chicken stew, celery with eggplant/walnut dip, and fresh black grapes. I feel full yet comfortable and the scary part is I could eat the same FOUR TIMES before it equaled one Wendy's meal.

Notes from Joblessville, yep, you got it. The scary thing is I used to do this or worse almost every day.

Lostcauser, unfortunately I don't remember Sivad. Glad I gave you a laugh though!
I think this is a just God punishing you for enjoying spring and a picnic while some of your fellow citizens had gray rain with wind into large snowbanks yesterday and today have a clear bitterly cold day with a north wind and everything's frozen, and are looking forward to subzero temperatures tonight!

So you won't feel bad, yesterday I made a Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix that made 24 good sized cookies. I must have eaten at least 12 of them, and they are all gone today.
Allie - not judging, just giving you food for thought. Forget about calories, sodium, fat, or carbs. Next time you feel like making a junk food run keep in mind the values of the corporations that produce this stuff. Fast, cheap and easy, these are the values that they embrace and try to sell back to us. Are any of these adjectives ones that you would be proud to own and apply to your life? Go slow my dear!
Fauxpoet, Memphis weather is crazy. Today we have 2 inches of snow on the ground.

Maria, you're absolutely right about the values of the corporations - I read somewhere recently something that sums it up in a nutshell: to make money in the fast food business, take subsidized crops and turn them into food that people can't easily make at home. That means, in essence, take potatoes and deep fry them in corn oil.

But on the other hand, just because it's slow doesn't mean it's healthy. I love fast food partly because it was a forbidden thing to me while I was growing up. My mom loves to cook; she used to live in France and Italy, and she is very good at cooking. She uses lots of heavy cream and oil. She weighs, at her top weight, about 300 pounds. She's healthy as a horse, but I can't do that anymore. I have scarring on my heart due to my autoimmune disease, and carrying extra weight is killing me. I can't simply eat what I've been taught to enjoy, because my entire life has been spent learning to like foods that are bad for me.