Taco Bell's New Year frescolution

Don't drop that chalupa!

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published December 29, 2009 7:30PM (EST)

It's that time of year. Pants are a little tighter, jowls are little droopier, and there's a high concentration of your mom's famous tollhouse cookies in your bloodstream. Time to start making some new fitness resolutions.

Or did we say frescolutions?

In today's installment of "things for which we blame Jared Fogle" a woman named Christine Dougherty has become the face – and body – of Taco Bell's "Drive Through Diet" campaign.

Right off the bat, let's just say that we're skeptical of a "diet" that involves eating burritos in your car. We further have our doubts when there's a disclosure that "Drive-Thru Diet is a not a weight-loss program." And were I Taco Bell, I wouldn't go bragging about having a whole seven items on the menu that contain fewer than nine grams of fat. (Which, by the way, does not qualify any of them as low fat.)

But we credit Christine, whoever she is, for losing 54 pounds over a sensible two-year period instead going all gimmicky and "Biggest Loser" on us. And we admire her for working within her weaknesses. "I didn’t want to cut out my fast food," she says in the online ad, "so I started choosing Fresco items from the Drive-Thru Diet menu and making other sensible choices."

Good on you, Christine, and thanks for the caveats, because it's a safe bet that nobody's going to get into a bikini like the one you sport on the Taco Bell page simply by switching to the lower-calorie options on a fast food menu. A far likelier scenario is that those "other sensible choices," along with, dare we say, exercise and an efficient metabolism had a bigger role in the transformation.

We're all for taking those little steps that can lead to big changes. And we applaud fast food chains for offering fresher, lower-fat options. But we call bullshit on rounding up seven menu items and calling it a "diet," and we'd like to know a little more about this Christine lady before we trust her lifestyle advice. Want to get healthier in 2010? Think outside the bun – and then think some more.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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