Who can forget the 2004 documentary film Super Size Me, where filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate only McDonald's food for an entire month? As you may recall, Morgan's experiment required that he must eat every item offered on the McDonald's menu at least once over the 30-day period, and he was required to Super Size his meal whenever it was offered -- stepping up to extra-large sized food portions.

Morgan consumed on average 5,000 calories a day, and by the end of the month of eating strictly McDonald's meals (including Big Macs, french fries, milkshakes, sugary sodas, and more), his weight increased from 185 to 210 pounds (an increase of 25 pounds) and he experienced mood swings, depression, lethargy, heart palpitations, headaches, and a loss of energy and sex drive.

While Super Size Me became a pop culture sensation -- and a big PR problem for McDonald's, which eventually dropped the Super Size option from its menu -- some questioned the validity of Morgan Spurlock's results.

One of these doubters, Nyree Dardarian, director of the Center for Nutrition and Performance at Philadelphia's Drexel University, recently decided to prove that eating McDonald's food for an entire month could actually be a healthy and fulfilling experience. As Dardarian explained, we have to learn how to live with fast food "because it is here to stay."

To prove her point, Dardarian started with a different set of rules than Spurlock. She decided to set a target of 1,400 calories worth of McDonald's food each day, with 200 non-McDonald's calories each day that she could use however she liked. She also kept a daily log of her food and activity for the month of June 2018.

Instead of the oversized double cheeseburgers and other fatty foods that Spurlock routinely ate, Nyree Dardarian was a bit more judicious in her food choices. "I never ordered a double of anything," explained Dardarian. "It's called a double for a reason. It's twice as much meat and fat."

A typical day might include oatmeal and an iced nonfat latte for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and then a Quarter Pounder burger for dinner. The extra 200 non-McDonald's calories that she allowed herself each day might be used to consume a glass of red wine or a Corona Light beer -- items definitely not on the McDonald's menu -- or something else she was craving.

At the end of her 30-day McDonald's diet, Dardarian's results were completely different than those experienced by Morgan Spurlock. She gained just one pound, her blood chemistry remained within normal values, and she didn't experience the mood swings and other mental and physical problems Spurlock did. She did experience some intense cravings for regular, non-McDonald's food choices, however.

So, what did Dardarian choose to eat for her first non-McDonald's meal? Sushi and watermelon. Says Dardarian, "I needed some fish and I needed it to be fresh. I needed to eat watermelon. I was craving it so badly."

Published on: Aug 28, 2018