13 May 2011

Taste of Penn Part II: Dr. McDougall's Right Foods

This is part of the series about the Taste of Penn.

Initially, I was gonna make a pretty nice and shallow entry for Dr. McDougall's Right Foods, but then I did some research and I've started to reconsider.

At the Taste of Penn, I checked out this table only because my brother and dad adore instant noodles, and I figured I should get a box for them. They sell instant cup noodles, but made with organic and "healthy" stuff instead. The representative did emphasise that the products do not have MSG and are vegan. I find this simply amazing because it seems to be a rule that instant noodles include animal juice. The fact that there can be vegan teriyaki seems pretty sweet (literally...). I've lost interest in instant noodles since 2006/2005. Because Dr. McDougall's seems pretty interested in the environment, I talked to representative about perhaps making compressible cups (accordion style packaging), so that more cups of noodles can be shipped per box = less transportation gas! I've emailed them about it too, so maybe one day we'll see accordion packaging hit the shelves.
When I had a few more dining dollars left, I ended up buying some more of these noodles because they went from $1.89/cup to $1.89/2 cups to 50c/cup.
50c for an ostensibly "healthy" meal seems pretty chill, right?

I tried the teriyaki flavour... the noodles were thin and dense, and the seasoning smelled good. I added water to the line on the [paper] carton and microwaved it.
The noodles were thin and pretty tasteless. They were definitely not instant noodles. They were egg noodles, but in a pretty bland way.
The soup was... salty. Sweet. Um. Not really teriyaki.
So now, to talk about the actual company. Why is it called Dr. McDougall?
The addition of "Dr." makes people feel like they're eating something healthy.

Dr. McDougall, according to the website, is a vegan who has a health programme for people and he sells books.

"As the founder and medical director of the nationally renowned McDougall Program, Dr. McDougall has helped thousands improve their health and their quality of life by teaching people about the benefits of a plant based, heart healthy diet rich in good starches like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, rice, pasta and legumes."

Dude. These instant noodles are plant-based, sure, but they aren't heart healthy. In the most simplistic way of looking at this, if you eat 10 of these in a day (200 Calories each, 2000 typical RDI of Calories), you'd have 200% of your sodium intake for a day. There is 480 mg sodium
Yes, 200%.
Contrast that to the plant-based diet that I eat. Cereal. Banana. Apple. Sandwich, peanut butter, jam. More cereal. Cookies. Tofu, rice, raw spinach. Boiled broccoli. Soymilk. LOTS OF Chocolate. LOW SODIUM, GUYS.

Let's continue.
200 Calories for a meal is kinda little; it's so unrealistic when people eat 100 Calorie packs as "snacks". If I follow the 2000 Calorie RDI (Okay, I don't, and I know it's very variable depending on your exercise level; there are many BMR/Calorie intake calculators online so you can calculate your own), each meal should be around 400 Calories, if you include snacks and drinks. As a complete generalisation, BMR is at least 1000 Calories for adults - this is the energy needed to run your body per day if you're just sitting there like a vegetable.

0.5 g fat. That's cool I guess.

7 g protein
14% vitamin A
2% vitamin C
2% calcium
6% iron
200 Calories.

Compare that to eating an orange (100% vitamin C, 40 Calories, maybe)
+ a serving of carrots (100% vitamin A, 30 Calories)
+ a glass of soymilk (30% calcium&iron, 7g protein, 140 Calories)
+ a lot of spinach (?? iron, ?? Calories)
210 Calories. More fibre, less sodium.

So, I don't see what Dr. McDougall is trying to define as vegan and healthy, or whatever.
On the other hand, why am I criticising a dude who is trying to get people to eat healthier fast food as opposed to Cup Noodle? Why am I pointing out his flaws when he's actually making people more aware of what they're eating? At least he's using organicish ingredients, right, and at least he's including some fibre and having 20x less fat that other instant noodles right?

So, it's your call.
Though, my nutrition professor (Dr. Compher) did influence me; I figure she'd say something that goes along the lines of, well, this guy is trying to sell his books and his diet and get money.

I guess, if he sincerely wanted to help "thousands of people", maybe he should be an actual physician, right? Or a professor. Or, you know, high school volunteer work, which is what I do for CHiP although the program didn't work that well this semester.

1 comment:

  1. I was excited to see that you wrote a post about these noodles! After first being introduced to their products I loved them but was mistaken. I now realize that they are difficult to make which really takes away from the whole easy meal thing and they really aren't that healthy either. Also, they do not provide a satisfying meal, more of a side dish or a glorified snack.