Caroline Shannon-Karasik’s Afterglo

Double the indulgence, double the heart attack

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: A healthy life is all about balance. In my world, that means you can have your green smoothie, steamed kale, baked sweet potatoes and extra fudge brownie, too.

But the truth is, the average American consumer is consistently met with food choices that steer them in the complete opposite direction. In fact, with the recent launch of food items that sound like a health scare waiting to happen (Burger King’s Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger, anyone?), I worry that the problem is literally being compounded.

I mean, come on. A Dunkin’ Donuts glazed donut was already an indulgence on its own, right? Not the best decision ever, but not the worst, and certainly one that can be made safely on occasion.

But then the company had to go and really “fatty up” the doughnut, turning it into the Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich, complete with egg and bacon. Truth be told, the calories aren’t astronomical (390), but the push for a less-than-healthy option is. With the American obesity epidemic still on the move – the Centers for Disease Prevention says more than one third of U.S. adults (35.7 percent) and approximately 17 percent (12.5 million) of children and adolescents age 2 to 19 years are obese – it seems now, more than ever, many companies are encouraging consumers to choose lighter, healthier options.

Not so for Dunkin’ Donuts.

In fact, the company’s concept does not stand alone. In March, Cinnabon released a 1,000-calorie Oreo “Chillata” and, in that same month, Taco Bell launched the Doritos Locos Taco, mashing together their famous crunchy taco with a popular brand of chips. Like the Dunkin’ Donuts sandwich, the taco does not weigh heavy on the calories scale (200), but it’s a phenomenon that is unnecessary in the midst of our already not-so-healthy world.

Boston Globe writer Joanna Weiss weighed-in on the taco in her March column, writing:

“In truth, when you examine nutrition data on the company website, the Doritos Locos Taco is no worse for you than the rest of the menu. It just sounds more disgusting, which is part of its appeal: A taco to eat out of spite.”

Whether it’s spite or a simple choice, the truth is people are eating this crap. Doritos spent $75 million on the advertising campaign behind the Locos Taco. Do you know why? Because it sells.

What’s worse is despite reviews that point a big fat finger at these companies who are creating Franken-food items, the experimenting continues.

In 2010, The Daily Beast released an article that listed the 41 Deadliest Fast-Food Meals. Amongst the shiny candidates were KFC’s Double Down sandwich (540 calories and 1,380 milligrams of sodium), which replaced bread with pieces of fried chicken; Wendy’s 1,330-calorie Baconator Triple; and a 6-piece McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets (280 calories), making the nuggets appear to be the “best” option on the list. Like The Daily Beast wrote, “Only in America would Chicken McNuggets and a large fries look like health food.”

This is, of course, the same idea behind the Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich. In a nation where calories, fat, sodium, preservatives and other icky things are eating away at our arteries, killing healthy cells, causing low to zero sexual appetite, leading to depression and so forth, this lesser of two evils somehow comes out looking like the good guy when compared to Wendy’s Baconator.

Guess what? It’s all one big, fat lie. Let me tell you something about that sandwich: Not only is it laden with worthless ingredients but it does nothing to fuel your morning. Hunger will strike an hour later because you basically just consumed air – also known as empty calories – and by 4 p.m. you will have eaten a second breakfast, hefty lunch and snack to keep yourself from crashing face first on your desk.

That sandwich is merely the first step on a long, long road, baby, of horrible decisions. Can it be forgiven? You bet. Can you change your life for the better starting today? Yep!

But this less-than-stellar food isn’t going to cut it. That’s not to say, however, that you can’t quell your fetish for dishes and treats that include a mashup of ingredients. In fact, some of the best breakfast pairings come in the form of healthy food options, like:

– A banana with peanut butter (1 medium banana and 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter) and a café latte made with nonfat milk = approximately 320 calories

– Good old-fashioned PB&J on whole grain bread (2 slices of bread, two tablespoons of peanut butter and one tablespoon of natural fruit spread) = approximately 300 calories

– Whole grain English muffin with butter and jam (one English muffin, one pat of unsalted butter and one tablespoon natural fruit spread), plus one container of Silk Pure Almond Dark Chocolate almond milk singles = approximately 330 calories

All of these breakfasts clock in with slightly higher calorie counts than the Dunkin’ Donuts sandwich, but each one of them offer healthier, more filling ingredients that will keep you feeling satisfied for the morning. Oh, and they are still a bit indulgent, making them a fun choice for mornings when you crave something a little on the naughty side.

Score for you and your waistline, right?


Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the upcoming author of a gluten-free healthy lifestyle book, set to be released in January 2014. She is the author of the popular gluten-free blog, and is currently training to become a certified health coach. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at

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