At least they're honest

It was a late night for the SSA Campus Organizer Team last night, so we decided to grab dinner fro Wings Over Columbus.  As usual I tried to look up the nutritional info.  It turns out that Wings Over Whatever doesn’t have that info, but at least they’re somewhat honest.

The fact is, common sense dictates that a diet solely consisting of fried chicken, french fries and many of the other foods we and others serve will be unhealthy over time if not part of an overall well-balanced diet.

“Yes, we don’t have nutritional info, but c’mon, it’s fucking fried chicken.”

But they’re only sort of honest.  That stuff’s unhealthy even as part of a well-balanced diet.  Unhealthy food doesn’t become healthy if you pair it with good stuff.

But damn if it’s not tasty.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cosmicaug augustpamplona

    What is inherently unhealthy about fried chicken? Is it because, due to being a fried food, it is too fatty? How does that even matter within the broader context of an otherwise not idiotic diet?

    I mean, if you are consuming a moderate amount of Calories, meeting micronutrient requirements with not completely idiotic macronutrient ratios but a small part of these Calories are from fried chicken, is your body going to freak out in an orgy of galloping hepatic steatosis because of it? Is that the implication here?

    How would your body even be able to tell the difference between the above described diet and a diet identical to it except for the lack of fried chicken?

    I guess it’s my way of saying that specifically making it a point to claim that it is inherently unhealthy without qualification or context is very questionable, in my opinion.

    It reminds me of the “eating clean” types in bodybuilding circles.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Is that the implication here?

      No.

      What I am saying is it’s not healthy. Now, will the damage be minimal if you’re eating healthy otherwise? Yes. But that doesn’t save fried chicken from being unhealthy. It’s not the chicken that’s healthy, it’s the balanced diet. If only eaten sometimes will it make a noticeable dent? Probably not, but we shouldn’t imagine it contributes to a healthy diet if only eaten sometimes.

      It’s like saying “If you splurge financially every once in a while it doesn’t stop you from saving money.” That’s very true, but it doesn’t make splurging copacetic to being thrifty, which is all I’m saying.

      Think for a moment about your comment and let me know if you can conceive of any food that could not be defended as healthy by your line of reasoning.

      • http://www.facebook.com/cosmicaug augustpamplona

        Let’s put it this way. Is chicken unhealthy? Is oil unhealthy? Is flour unhealthy? Heck (even though there’s little of it in fried chicken but to help make a point), is dietary fiber unhealthy?

        I would suggest to you that one could trivially construct an unhealthy diet based merely on increasing the relative amount of any of the items I mentioned above. I would also not consider any of the above items intrinsically unhealthy. How then do three of those items magically become intrinsically unhealthy when combined unto fried chicken?

      • Cory Albrecht (@Bytor)

        But *nothing* is healthy when it’s all that you eat, so your logic isn’t really intact. A single beer, a single piece of fried chicken, a single chocolate bar is no more unhealthy than a single apple, a single serving of extra lean ground beef or a single cucumber because your body is more than capable of processing what is in it. As already pointed out – in an otherwise well-balanced, healthy diet having one dinner of fried chicken is not going to make you have a heart attack any more any more than I will get liver damage from having gotten very drunk (something I rarely do) at a bar with some of the Chicago Skeptics this past weekend. It’s whether you have an *excess* of the item and overload your body’s ability to metabolise and deal with what you eat and drink.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cosmicaug augustpamplona

    I will grant you that your statement that “Unhealthy food doesn’t become healthy if you pair it with good stuff” would be true for the specific case of, for instance, chicken deep fried in automotive oil. I just don’t think that I can accept such a statement for the general case.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Wait…are you really arguing that friend chicken isn’t bad for you?

      • http://www.facebook.com/cosmicaug augustpamplona

        If you are arguing that it’s not because it’s greasy and not a particularly good source of micronutrients*, then yes, I am arguing that fried chicken is not inherently bad for you.

        * There exists another argument that could be made but since you have not brought it up I will assume that you are not making it so I will not address it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/cosmicaug augustpamplona

          That should have been “…arguing that it’s not healthy…”.

  • eric

    If you’re starving or underweight for some other reason and need serious calories, it’s healthy to eat calorie-rich food. One reason it tastes so freakin’ good is precisely because its the sort of food that would give one subsistence-level caveman a health advantage over the next one.

    I think what you mean is something like: your typical American is going to be negatively impacted by fried chicken no matter how many celery sticks he/she also eats.

    • Cory Albrecht (@Bytor)

      No, your average American (and Canadian, like me) is going to be impacted if they have fried chicken a few times a week. In an otherwise healthy diet having fried chicken now and again is not going to be unhealthy.

      A healthy diet is not about cutting things out of your diet but about limiting the amounts of those items known to cause problems when eaten in excess. There’s a reason why a healthy diet referred to as a well *balanced* diet, not a *restricted* diet.

  • Katkinkate

    Fried chicken is not ‘bad’ for you, it’s just very calorie dense and not conducive to a balanced diet if eaten in excess. It provides fat, protein and some carbs which are all useful and will be used by the body. The real issues are what type of fat and how often you eat it. If it’s mostly trans fats then even only occasional intake could be a problem for your metabolism. If it’s an unprocessed vegetable oil then you could probably tolerate a higher intake without metabolic imbalance. (Also climate makes a bit of difference. In warmer areas people don’t need a lot of fat, but in polar regions, fat becomes a major source of calories to burn, to keep you warm. )

    • http://www.facebook.com/cosmicaug augustpamplona

      That kind of ties into the other issue that I did not address: whether something should be considered unhealthy because it has poisons. You could say that trans fats are “poisons” (though some are naturally occurring, though uncommon, & some specific ones might even be good for us and thus not poisons) and therefore anything containing trans fats might be inherently unhealthy (just as I would say that anything deep fried in used motor oil should be considered to be inherently unhealthy).

      I am not sure how well the trans fat issue would apply here, however, since I don’t know that the fats used for deep frying necessarily would be rich in trans fatty acids (there’s no good reason why they should be, as far as I know –though I might be mistaken). I would be more concerned about fats becoming damaged due to the frying process (particularly if they are rich in the more reactive polyunsaturated fatty acids). Another mild concern might be the formation of acrylamide when you fry starch rich foods.

      However, even making whether a food contains a toxin or not the determinant of whether it is to be considered “unhealthy” or not also leads to absurdities. Nothing wants to be eaten. All the nice plants out there that we eat were not put on earth by a kindly god to be our food source. Instead they evolved with no particular interest in becoming a palatable and nutritious meal for us and they often have various toxins & antinutrients*. It would seem to me to be absurd to say, for instance, that beans are unhealthy on the basis of such a criterium.

      * Of course, we may have evolved to eat them (which doesn’t mean that the toxins go away; just that we cope better with them) and, also, domestication will often naturally result in a reduction in the concentration of these toxins since a side effect of this reduction can be increased palatability.

  • J*

    They’re not saying “our food will be healthy if it’s part of an over-all balanced diet.” They’re saying “a diet solely consisting of fried chicken … will be unhealthy.” They’re making no claims about the food, only about your diet. And as you’ve said one can have a healthy diet that occasionally includes fried chicken.

  • LadyBlack

    Speaking as a type 2 diabetic who is controlling her figures through low carbing, fried chicken sounds really healthy to me, except that I think there’s a breadcrumb/batter coating involved? Which would contain carbs and which would shoot up my sugar levels.

    Bascially, I can eat anything which does not cause my body to over produce insulin that is useless to me. Many insulin resistant people would benefit from a similar approach – we could even potentially limit the numbers from increasing. But we still get this blinkered approach to “healthy” diets from the medical profession which damn near killed me.

    My favourite snack is one teaspoon of sugar free peanut butter mixed with a quarter of a pint of heavy cream, one sweetner and some cocoa powder. I haven’t calculated the calorie content on this, but it will be high. It makes no difference to my weight loss. Only if I eat carb heavy foods will I end up with weight gain and feel starving hungry. I would disagree that one needs to live in a cold climate though – I use fat for fuel, which is far healthier than using carbs, and even though it is -8 today, that’s not the usual temperature.

    • philo guy

      this is a fantastic point! the nutrient content of any food, whether it be easily calculable or not, will probably interact very differently with each unique metabolism that consumes it. The entire philosophy of the statement provided by the Wings Over company is that we, as consumers, must use our best judgement! The only person who can decide whether a food-source is “healthy” to be consumed by your body is you.

  • Katie Tims

    Flour isn’t overly healthy, nor is fried chicken overly nutrient dense when you consider the calories taken in.

    • LadyBlack

      Why do the calories matter? I eat loads of calories. They don’t do me any harm. It’s only when my blood sugars are up that the number matters. It would be better for me to eat loads of calories that don’t spike me, rather than starve myself whilst eating stuff which rockets them up.

  • tarian

    I worry a little about the “healthy/unhealthy foods” dichotomy, especially given the prevalence of eating disorders. Eating nonfood (e.g., dirt) is unhealthy. Eating poisoned/toxic/undercooked food is unhealthy. Eating *anything in the world* without variety is almost certain to be sad. But in moderation, most foods (ice cream! fried cheese!) are fine. I twig on the whole “do not eat that, it is unhealthy” because those messages get out and into the wild, and eventually you wind up with some sad teenager eating nothing but lettuce because Everything Is Bad.


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