Dr. Dean

Are TV Dinners A Nutritional Wasteland?

Posting Date: 07/06/2000

Vicky: I eat TV dinners for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I read the boxes and I notice that the meals are high in sodium.

Is this habit damaging my health? I know TV dinners have no nutritional value, but they fill the empty spot in a flash.

Visit the Nutrition and Healthy Eating Center

Dr. Dean: Plenty of people live on burgers and fries, and then count those fries as vegetable servings. At least TV dinners aim at balance by packaging three little lumps of various foods, like a little lump of chicken, a little lump of potatoes, and a little lump of broccoli. They're not nutritionally empty -- although as you point out, they are heavy on sodium, and fat too.

Processing frozen foods may diminish their vitamin value, but not always. A University of Illinois study found that some frozen vegetables had the same, or in some cases even more, nutrients than fresh did.

Your best bet is to supplement your TV dinners with salad and fruit. Make it easy on yourself by buying bagged salad fixings to keep on hand in the refrigerator. A meal of salad, fruit, and a TV dinner is much healthier than many people eat.