Lifestyle & Belief

Nutritionists salute Obama's burger

The First Lady stepped out of the White House vegetable garden and her role as Healthy Eater in Chief this week and into a storm of publicity by downing a hamburger in Washington. 

Michelle Obama, who has been pushing healthy eating with her national Let's Move campaign to fight childhood obesity, visited the newly opened Shake Shack diner in D.C., ordering not only a burger, but fries, a chocolate shake and a Diet Coke at lunch on Monday, The Washington Post reports.

The entire meal would have equaled around 1,500 calories or more, USA Today gasps — "the amount some women should eat for the entire day." The popular burger joint's website puts it at 1,556 calories.

However nutritionists have since stepped in to defend Obama's actions and admonish the press.

"[This is an] unfortunate invasion of privacy for Mrs. Obama," Alice Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts School of Medicine in Boston, told ABC. "She has kept her weight constant and engages in regular physical activity. An occasional indulgence is fine. For many people, that is what helps them keep on track most of the time."

ABC quotes other nutritionists as saying that Obama's lunch was being unnecessarily scrutinized. 

"While the goal for healthy eating is to limit choices like fries and shakes, occasional treats won't hurt. The problem is that many Americans do this more than occasionally," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. "It is good to see that even someone as committed to health as the first lady knows that healthy eating is about balance not perfection."

Meantime, even USA Today admits that "Obama has been very upfront about her enjoyment of food and her own eating habits," adding that she'd told the news group in 2010 that she and her family try to eat healthfully most of the time, but that they are not "100 percent perfect."

In fact, she admitted that she loves "burgers and fries, and I don't want to live a life where I can never have them again. And if we told families and children that that was the answer, we'd never get there" with Let's Move.