' A Letter to Mall Food | Adventures with FitNyx

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Letter to Mall Food

Dear Food Court and other Mall-Based Food Chains,

This is a love letter.  This is also hate mail.  I've been sitting in malls all week, assisting with registration and logistics for an extremely large race event.  My coworkers and I had to travel for this race, our days are long and sedentary, and our hotel isn't close to many options.  We have been stuck eating mall food for days.  I love it - and I hate it.

I grew up on fast food.  We had MANY home-cooked meals, whenever possible (and mom's meatloaf or porkchops or lasagna are still some of my favorite foods), but I lived an active, on-the-go life from an early age and fast food was just convenient.  My busy schedule was largely due to athletics, which meant that I was burning thousands of calories a day and could easily get away with eating all that junk.  Combined with my high young-person metabolism, there were days I could eat 5000 calories and LOSE a couple pounds!  While I'm still quite active, my metabolism has slowed considerably and I'm definitely not playing soccer for hours every single day anymore, and all that crap I'm putting into my body has started to add pounds.

But when you're trying to learn to eat better, and becoming more conscious of how you're fueling yourself or looking for ways to improve your diet, sometimes you are limited to what is available.  This is why I'm writing you this letter.  After five days of mall food options, I have yet to find something that is actually part of a good diet, and right now, you're all that is available.  While having a Cinnabon every day worked years ago, I know better now.  And Cinnabon, you can DO better, can't you?

Did you know a Cinnabon roll has over 800 ooey, gooey, carb-o-licious calories???  That's insane!  It may be insanely delicious (and trust me, it definitely is), but it's a horrible problem.  This isn't news, and Cinnabon isn't the only offender.  From my perch here in the mall, I have Auntie Anne's right in front of me (470 calories in a single cinnamon sugar pretzel), Sbarro (410 calories in a single slice of cheese pizza) and Panda Express (420 calories in a serving of orange chicken - usually served with rice and another entree serving) to my left, Cinnabon to my right, and Five Guys (840 calories in a cheeseburger) on the upper level.  Good lord, you guys, what are you thinking?!  A pretzel should be a SNACK, not a full meal on its own!  And an 840 calorie burger?  Better wait a loooong time before you eat again!

I know sugary, greasy, satisfying foods sell, and I get that opening a business is largely about making money.  Heck, I took a paycheck from McDonald's for years, and I definitely didn't mind serving that junk to people and taking money I needed to survive from the job.  But there has to be a sense of responsibility.  I didn't appreciate that back in the day.  I'm only just now learning how important it is to have healthy choices available.  It's hard to find something to eat that will be satisfying AND nutritional!  Not everyone has a full kitchen and storage available to make wholesome, home-made meals all the time.  Even people who do occasionally find themselves out of that environment and stuck with what's available, and the options are bleak.

Okay, what about you, Planet Smoothie?  Smoothies are healthy, right?  Well, some of them are.  The smallest, lowest-calorie smoothie you have is about 200 calories.  Not bad.  On the other end of the spectrum, though, some of your smoothies have over 1000 calories, making them the worst offenders in this letter!  You can do better.

At some point, you all have to start doing better.  You're killing your customers, which probably isn't great for business, long-term.  I know my constant patronage of fast food and mall food places is part of the problem, and I'm working to change that.  Now it's your turn.  Let's get some *actually* healthy items on some of these menus.  Let's find a way to make delicious food that is also good for you.  Can you guys get on this, please?

A collective "thanks in advance" - but only if you promise to make some changes!



  1. Our mall is super small but we do have Subway and Chick-Fil-A. Those are pretty boring restaurants and I know Subway gets old fast, but they do have some healthier options at least. Taco Bell can also be healthy on the road (esp. if you get "fresco style") as well as Wendy's. But a lot of the restaurants in the mall are definitely not the healthiest, and you just never know what the food court will have.

  2. I work for a company that manages 120 malls, so I know way more about malls than I ever hoped to. (My role is managing the websites.) Anyway, there is a movement to update the food courts - http://flagshipcommons.com and http://foodlifechicago.com/ are examples at two of the malls I work for, and also in Chicago is http://latinicity.com. So some malls are modernizing their food offerings, but it all depends on the local market and what that demographic can support, of course.

  3. Ugh, fast food is the worst. Some are trying to be better - the kids meals have apple slices or yoghurt now, for example, and they're cutting the portions a little because portions are wayyyy too big. But it's awful. We rarely eat fast food because it's just so unhealthy - even when it's not calorie packed, it's not nutritious! I wish there were better healthy options. I like panera when I get it, soup is salty but often not so bad, depending what you get.