Feb 252004
 
Authors: Elizabeth Kerrigan

The low-carbohydrate train is pushing through America and just

about everyone is jumping on board.

It used to be that a person couldn’t turn on the TV, flip a

magazine page or pass a billboard without seeing an advertisement

for junk food. Today, turn on the TV and the only thing advertised

is for low-carb salads at McDonald’s, low-carb sandwiches at Burger

King and low-carb wraps at Subway. Even the Planter’s Peanut is

dancing around reminding us that he is a low carb snack, too.

Go into a fast food restaurant today. You’ll still the smell of

the french fries getting a grease bath in the deep fryer and hear

the sizzle of thick, juicy beef patties on the grill, but now there

is a new addition – the crunch of crisp, green lettuce. Large

pictures make customers stop and think twice about ordering what

they really want: a triple cheeseburger, biggie fries and an extra

large Coke, and instead order a side salad or tuna wrap.

“We sell a lot of our chicken salads and we also have been

selling a lot of side salads in place of fries,” said Crystal

Galligan, shift leader at Carl’s Jr.

Not only is Carl’s Jr. selling side salads instead of fries, but

they have also changed the one thing that seemed to be a steady

member of American society – the almighty and sacred

cheeseburger.

“We now sell the Low-Carb Six Dollar Burger, which is wrapped in

lettuce instead of a bun,” Galligan said. “You can order any

sandwich that way though, and we get a lot of people who do.”

Americans’ heightened interest in dieting and weight loss has

forced restaurants to adapt to a new, health-conscious society.

Even places like Pizza Hut and Papa Murphy’s Take and Bake have

succumbed to the pressure. Papa Murphy’s new pizza promises half

the carbs and nearly half the calories.

“Our new Thin Crust deLite pizza has definitely upped business.

I would say that half of the customers order it,” said Justin

Campesino, a Papa Murphy’s employee.

And the craze doesn’t stop here. Not only are fast food

restaurants making changes, but so are sit-down restaurants like

T.G.I. Fridays. They have teamed up with good old Mr. Atkins to

create an entire menu based on low carbs.

“It is an attempt on our part to make sure that we are doing the

best job we can to keep our customers happy,” said Chris Cosgrove,

general manager of T.G.I. Fridays in Colorado Springs. “The world

has changed to become much more health conscious and we want to

follow in that path. About 25 percent of the food that is ordered

here is off of the Atkins menu.”

So people looking to satisfy a low-carb diet when they are out

and about don’t have to go far to find it, but what about the food

people buy for their homes? Well, King Soopers seems to have that

area covered. From aisle to aisle, it is impossible to miss the

diet foods.

“Bread, bagels, syrup, jelly, chips, you name it, we have just

about everything you can buy in a low-carb choice,” said Vicky

Norwood, head clerk of the King Soopers on Harmony.

While Americans appear to be becoming a more health conscious

society, it doesn’t mean that everyone is putting in the effort

they should to stay healthy, said Shirley Perryman, extension

specialist in the Department of Food Science and Human

Nutrition.

“The decisions that restaurants have made is primarily a

business decision because they see that there are a lot of people

interested in things like the Atkins diet,” Perryman said. “The

bottom line for people to stay healthy is to eat things in

moderation and exercise. People may get fast results with a

low-carb diet, but without changing eating habits for good, and

exercising, people will end up where they started, or worse.”

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