Let’s forget about enjoying high-fat foods “in moderation”: A trip to Shake Shack, the much-ballyhooed chain restaurant that opened in Chestnut Hill Wednesday, doesn’t invite moderation. It’s a full-blown splurge: Oozing slabs of beef drowned in yellow cheese; oil-saturated fries with ketchup; pools of sugar and fats stirred into a shake. A single meal can exceed 2,000 calories, more than the recommended daily allowance for an average-sized woman. As for the amount of fat, sugar, and sodium — well, maybe it’s best not to think about it.
Like other chains that abandon any pretense of healthy fare, Shake Shack seems to feed on the very admonitions that lead people to cut back. Many dieters convince themselves they deserve a break, and Shake Shack seems to exist to provide that occasional pig-out. It’s the restaurant equivalent of the cookie box on top of the refrigerator.
Do people really have an easier time sticking to a healthy diet if they know they can splurge sometimes? There’s no persuasive evidence, but advocates of healthy eating acknowledge their own indulgences: When Michelle Obama was spotted enjoying a 1,556-calorie meal at Washington’s Shake Shack, her spokeswoman emphasized that even healthy eaters deserve a break now and then. Head up Route 9 at your own risk.