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Taco Bell Diet Menu – heck yeah!

January 6, 2010

S: Taco Bell has joined the many companies that are vying for the New Year’s Resolutioners who have decided that 2010 is THE year they are finally going to lose that weight.  How are they doing that? With an advertisement reminiscent of Subway’s Jared commercials such as the one below:

Some of you may know that I try and eat healthy and have kept off a good amount of weight for a few years now.  I actually knew about the Fresco menu about six months ago and was REALLY happy to have something to eat during a drive from NorCal to SoCal that didn’t have to be bad for me.  I was also happy because this could possibly become a trend where I could walk into a fast food chain and not feel like an idiot ordering something off the menu and stripping it of what most people order it for (cheese, mayo, bacon, oils, etc.) and barely having enough to eat at the end of it all.

Interestingly, a lot of people are getting a good laugh at this ad because a fast food chain is claiming that they can help a person lose weight.  But if I remember correctly, the Jared campaign was what turned Subway into a “healthy” option when eating out.  Before that it was just like any other sub shop.  They ran with it and now offer healthy sides such as apples and skim milk if you order a meal with your sandwich.  They also make the ordering of healthy meals incredibly easy since they have all the low calorie options grouped together.  Most people don’t realize that you can actually go into many restaurants that don’t appear to have healthy choices and make them up….but having it right there in front of you without all of the “hold this and hold that” means people are more likely to do it.  These are what we social psychologists call “channel factors.” Say it with me now….channel factors.  These are the hurdles or lack of hurdles that exist toward a certain goal.  When you are at a fast food restaurant, there are many factors that channel you towards making unhealthy choices (the pictures, prices, feeling awkward for asking them not to put on the cheese).  That’s not even getting to the foods that APPEAR healthy but really aren’t (see McDonald’s yogurt parfait).  Now Taco Bell is simply creating a factor channeling towards healthy options; and if you’re interested they’re simply the food they’ve always had without the fatty toppings such as cheese and sour cream.  CLASSIC CHANNEL FACTOR! HECK YEAH TACO BELL!

They are also pretty clear about how their spokeswoman lost the weight.  I’m pleasantly surprised that she puts out there very frankly that she only ate 1250 calories for TWO YEARS to achieve her weight loss of 54 pounds.  Had she also done a little bit of cardio and some weight lifting she probably could have gotten to her goal in a year.  But not everyone has time for the gym or money for a membership, so if you can’t do it all…just do what you can.

I personally commend Taco Bell for going in this route and making it easier for people to make smart choices.  For all of those people who are feeling high and mighty for saying “yeah right” to Taco Bell’s insistence that they can be part of a diet plan are just going for an easy target.  Where were all these people when Jared came around saying he ate two Subway sandwiches a day for at least a year in order to lose weight?  No it’s not a magic bullet, but at least it’s on the right path of realizing that every meal and every workout is a chance for you to make a choice that is going to make you that much healthier and possibly slimmer.

What does surprise me is that Taco Bell is not going for the demographics of people who ALREADY watch their calories and who want to be able to go to the fast food chain every once in a while without feeling like you’ve wasted a workout or like a failure.  I hope to see their ads in Women’s Health and those types of magazines soon and possibly even as one of the awkwardly inserted non-commercial commercials that they put into the Biggest Loser.

I definitely will be giving Taco Bell more of my business when I can, and I’m hoping more fast food chains will follow.

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