January 31, 2007

Calling room service, and not getting a busy signal

Maybe, the "not-at-home" food preparers are starting to listen...just a little.

The New York Times reports Tuesday the hotel industry is starting to listen to its customers when it comes for room service.
“For many years, room service was looked at as, ‘Gee we have to do it,’ but now I think more hotels are looking at it as, ‘How can we solve our customers’ problems?’ ” said Michael Beam, managing director at HVS/American Hospitality Management, a consulting firm that spent several months last year researching travelers’ room service preferences.

Among the findings: people who travel 10 to 15 days a month order room service the most, and cravings are the No. 1 criteria when they select from the menu — the research found hamburgers to be among the top choices — followed by healthfulness. But the latter category does not mean a preference for bland tofu stir-fry or poached salmon.

“If anything, it’s a move away from traditional ‘healthy’ items to what I’d call balanced,” Mr. Beam said. “It’s reasonable portions of good things that you wouldn’t necessarily call health food.”

I think most business travelers would welcome an appropriately portioned meal (at an appropriate price). When I was traveling, it was rare to find healthy portions on any room service menu. Most of the second-tier hotels and motels, simply have the local pizza place menu in the room. Or worst, the appetizer menu from some fat-laden chain. (What's the worst room service menu you have seen?)

“I’d love to be able to get a chicken breast and vegetables and some light starch that’s prepared nicely, or a selection of healthy soups,” said Gabriel Levy, an executive with a digital music company in New York City, noting that these options are especially scarce on late-night menus. “You can get burgers and sandwiches and that kind of stuff, but that’s exactly what I don’t want to eat when it’s late.”
Why is it, that the most unhealthy foods are always available? And the Hilton or Marriott isn't McDonald's. They don't have any excuses.

It's the mindset of second-rate chefs and cooks throughout America. They think: give them the fattiest, unhealthiest foods possible. And while you're at it, give them a lot of it.

Scott Kraft, the executive vice president for marketing for a San Francisco software company, echoed that desire for well-prepared vegetables and appetizing mixed greens, adding that he would like to see more distinctive dishes. “You’re paying $250 a night minimum in most of these places, and then you’re getting this generic room service experience,” he said.

You might be saying to yourself, well, the hotels serve that food because it's cheap and easy. It may be easy, but the hotels are making little if no money on room service. Despite the outrageous prices sometimes charged for the smallest room service order — and hotels sometimes add a delivery charge on top of a 15 to 20 percent service charge — room service is not a cash cow.
“At best, it’s only marginally profitable and at worst, it’s costly,” said Kirby D. Payne, president of HVS/American Hospitality Management.
Now, hotels have no excuse at all. Serve the RightSize food all the time. Your customers want it. Soon, they will start to demand it.

January 30, 2007

We're not doing our children any favors

Here's a study that anyone could have predicted the conclusion.

Children who are obese and overweight have more complications in surgery than non-obese children.

What's the only thing we adults have to do in this world? Just leave it a little better than we found it.

We aren't doing that by making our children overweight. We make every aspect of their lives less than what it could be. Now when they get sick, we potentially make them sicker.

Now, some of you, are getting my message completely wrong. I'm not for "normal" weight because of supermodels, or movie stars, or even because of looks at all. My mom always said to me that beauty is only skin deep. And no matter what your weight is people can be beautiful. Appropriate weight people can be "ugly". And I'm not saying that the BMI is the only way to measure the RightSize.

I'm just saying that if you are overweight it's just not healthy. I know it's a bit trendy right now to condemn the diet industry and the celebrity business. But let's get those portions appropriate because we want to leave our children healthier, not mimicing Paris Hilton or Nicole Richey.

Here's part of the NY Times article.
The risks associated with the growing problem of obesity among young people may be extending to the operating room table.

Researchers have found that almost a third of the children who needed surgery there over a four-year period were overweight.

The researchers said it was widely accepted among surgeons and anesthesiologists that obese adult patients presented “enormous” challenges. With a threefold increase in weight problems among American children and adolescents over the past three decades, they said, doctors who operate on younger patients are already facing the same issues.

The extra weight can cause difficulties, including maintaining open air passages for patients who are anesthetized. There is also evidence that in overweight people, surgical wounds are more likely to become infected.

January 29, 2007

1977 Gov't report: Eat food. Not too much. But it never happened!

In the New York Times Sunday magazine's cover story, Unhappy Meals, Michael Pollin lays out at length what happened with our food as scientists, nutritionists, the government and even journalists got involved. Pollin's conclusion: everything about food is extremely confusing. But what is not confusing, is that we should be eating less than we currently are eating.

If you care at all, in what you eat everyday, you should not miss this article.

A couple of facts jumped out at me:
In 1977, a Senate Select Committee on Nutrition, headed by George McGovern drafted a recommendation advising Americans to actually reduce consumption of meat and dairy. But after outrage by beef and dairy industries plain talk was replaced by confusing: “Choose meats, poultry and fish that will reduce saturated-fat intake.” The new language exonerates the foods themselves; now the culprit is an obscure, invisible, tasteless — and politically unconnected — substance that may or may not lurk in them called “saturated fat.”
Instead — 30 years later — we have an obesity epidemic.
We produce 3,900 calories in total food calories every day for each American, but the average number of those calories Americans own up to eating is only 2,000.
Not only are we eating twice as much than what we need, but we lie about as well.

In plain talk, we're big fat liers.

And we seem to jump from one food fad to another.
Of course it’s also a lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a potato or carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over, the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming about their newfound whole-grain goodness.
In Pollin's final analysis he gives us a few rules of thumb, one of which is:
Pay more, eat less. The American food system has for a century devoted its energies and policies to increasing quantity and reducing price, not to improving quality. There’s no escaping the fact that better food — measured by taste or nutritional quality (which often correspond) — costs more, because it has been grown or raised less intensively and with more care. Not everyone can afford to eat well in America, which is shameful, but most of us can: Americans spend, on average, less than 10 percent of their income on food, down from 24 percent in 1947, and less than the citizens of any other nation.

“Eat less” is the most unwelcome advice of all, but in fact the scientific case for eating a lot less than we currently do is compelling. “Calorie restriction” has repeatedly been shown to slow aging in animals, and many researchers (including Walter Willett, the Harvard epidemiologist) believe it offers the single strongest link between diet and cancer prevention.

Eat less everywhere, at home, on the road, in restaurants.

January 28, 2007

Research confirms portion control is the RightWay

In one of the few studies done under controlled conditions, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reports that cutting food portions reduces fat, and that exercise doesn't help burn any more calories, than cutting portions.

Eating less and exercising more are equally good at helping take off the pounds, U.S. researchers said in a study that challenges many of the popular tenets of the multibillion dollar diet and fitness industry.

Tests on overweight people show that a calorie is just a calorie, whether lost by dieting or by running, they said.

They found there is no way to selectively lose belly fat, for instance, or trim thighs. And their carefully controlled study added to evidence that adding muscle mass does not somehow boost metabolism and help dieters take off even more weight.

"It's all about the calories," said Dr. Eric Ravussin of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, part of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

His team found some small suggestion that cutting 25 percent of calories by either diet or diet and exercise might extend life.

So, forget all those diet claims. It's doesn't cost a thing to cut your own portions and live much healthier...and longer.

January 27, 2007

Do you think restaurants are catering to you?

The National Restaurant Association is telling us that restaurants are catering to us.

Do you think that's true?

In their survey, they say that:

• Six out of 10 adults say tableservice restaurants make it easy for them to choose the portion size they want.
• 70 percent of customers say they often order larger portions to turn tonight's dinner into tomorrow's lunch.
• Roughly eight out of 10 restaurants offer vegetarian entrees.*

Even if that is true, 40 percent of adults say that they are not getting the portion size they want (and this survey was done in 2001). And 70 percent admit that the portions are so big that they have to turn their dinner into a leftover the next day.

That doesn't seem to be giving people what they want. Even by the restaurant's own confession 40 percent of people don't want big portions and yet, are forced to buy them. (Don't forget you must pay good money for the bigger portions.)

Let's keep telling them that we want appropriate portions at an appropriate price.

*Source: National Restaurant Association, Tableservice Restaurant Trends 2001

January 26, 2007

French women do get FAT!

We have been told that French women don't get fat, because they are so disciplined, and eat such small portions and such healthy food. You are told in the book, "French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure", that if you have a chocolate croissant for breakfast, have a vegetable-based lunch--or take an extra walk and pass on the bread basket at dinner.

They are just so civilized over there!

But, wait. Times they are a changin'. Maybe the French are just like you and me. They aren't disciplined. They don't eat healthy food. They don't eat small portions and excise regularly.

National Public Radio reported on Wednesday that obesity for French men, women and children has doubled over the past few years. That's right, it's doubled. It didn't go up by 25 or 50 percent, but by 200 percent.

What could cause a nation obsessed with food and dress sizes to suddenly start to expand? Restaurants!

Yes, restaurants. The French are now working more, and eating at home a lot less. They have lost the tradition of eating at least two meals en famille. As their beautiful home-cooked meals, have given way to snacks and fast foods, the evidence is now 40 percent of French women take a dress size bigger than a 14.

Despite a best selling book, there's nothing magical about French women's diets, or something magical about the Mediterranean genetics or the Japanese fish heritage. If you eat big portions of restaurant food, you are going to get obese. It took Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me") just 30 days to gain 25 pounds by eating exclusively at McDonald's. And 14 months to lose the weight.

Keep eating out, French women, the Supersizing of France has begun.

January 25, 2007

Is salsa the perfect RightSize food?

I love salsa. Ever since I lived in California in the 70s, I have enjoyed salsa. Now that I'm watching portion sizes, I realize that salsa may be the perfect food.

Why? Well, first, when you take down your calorie count, you still want lots of emotion surrounding your food. You may be saying, what? lots of emotion. I mean, you want to still enjoy your meal as always; as my wife says, the meal should be a celebration.

That's very difficult to do for every meal, but, one way to try to celebrate each meal, is with a little extra kick of spices, or heat or something that makes it a little special. And of course, if that little extra is the RightSize, then it's twice as nice.

Salsa seems to fit the bill perfectly. Good salsa adds spice, tons of flavor, heat and little fiesta in every bite. I use La Mexicana salsa on my egg whites in the morning, on my salad at lunch and sometimes on my chicken or baked potato at dinner.

How perfect is it? It's only 10 calories for 2 tablespoons, which is just the RightSize for eggs. It transforms bland egg whites into a spicy mixture of cold and hot flavors for the tongue. I could eat the entire pound in the container and it would only be 160 calories. (Or the same calories as one breadstick from Papa John's.)

For a salad it is the ultimate replacement for dressing: as even the "lite" salad dressings have between 50 and 90 calories in 2 tablespoons. And the salsa becomes both a dressing and part of the salad with pieces of tomatoes and onions.

I've tried hundreds of salsas over the past 30 years. Homemade cooked salsas by my sports editor's wife in Ventura. Gallons and gallons of free salsa and chips at the Red Onion Restaurant, after working late. With my dad, I've eaten good salsa at South of the Border in Columbus, Ohio (not exactly a hotbed of Mexican food.) It was in San Antonio on a consulting assignment, that I had cilantro, spicing up the salsa at Taco Cabana. And at home, I've tried the commercially bottled picanta sauce and pico de gallo sauces. I may not be an expert, but I am a well informed amateur salsa taster.

The best part of La Mexicana salsa is it's freshness. Even here in Connecticut you can find it in the refrigerated section of the produce department. The salsa company calls it the healthiest food around.
La Mexicana Fresh Salsa is among the healthiest foods around. We use only fresh tomatoes, fresh onions, fresh peppers, and fresh cilantro. And unlike other salsas sealed in cans or jars, La Mexicana Salsa is never cooked, torted or heated. This means that each fresh ingredient can be individually savored.
I call it the perfect RightSize food.

The only problem now, is how to bring it to the restaurant. I'd love to scatter it on my salad there. Or put it on my fish, instead of a butter sauce. Maybe we can get La Mexicana to sell it in "to-go" packets. For now, I'm eating at home all the time.

January 24, 2007

Who's has a (food) vision for America?

Last night President George W. Bush laid out his vision for America for the next two years. It was lacking specifics and it was lacking a connection to most Americans.

Good health is one of the top 5 issues for Americans. The world has changed. We -- as a whole -- are living longer, we have access to the best health care in the world, yet, many, many people are not living longer and don't have access to that great health care.

The senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, has just released his vision for America in his new book, "Positively American: Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority One Family at a Time."

He looked at all the issues facing Americans, especially the middle-class majority. He looked at taxes, war, employment, retirement, children, and health. He said that his political party needs to specifically address 11 issues -- and one of the issues is childhood obesity. Of all the issues facing America, he recognizes -- and thinks the Democratic party should recognize -- that obesity is a urgent, pressing issue that needs to be fixed now. Before it robs this country of its greatness.

We support Senator Schumer in this cause. The nation's resources need to be mustered against this fight against obesity. Otherwise we are consigning children and, then, later young adults to early deaths.

From a financial viewpoint, it will cost us a lot less to solve this problem now than to treat the heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and all the rest of the diseases than will come later.

One way to combat childhood obesity (and all obesity) is to serve the appropriate portion at the appropriate price. That's all we are trying to do here.

What do you think?

January 23, 2007

Children's menus or building an obese person for the future?

Most nutritionist agree that RightSizing Americans is a three-legged stool of portion control, exercise and behavior modification.

Two of these legs are manipulated by marketing, corporate goals of profit and growth, and 25 years of poor choices.

Portion control and behavior are cunningly skewed everyday for you. Even if you are the most disciplined person, it's difficult to buck habits and upbringing.

It's doubly difficult for children.

Even in Ireland, they are asking why the restaurants don't serve the RightSize portion and the RightSize of nutrients to children.
“Of course, I’m not surprised when you consider the way children are exposed to junk food. When you go to a restaurant, these so-called Children’s Menus are totally oriented to food with high fat and sugar content. Why doesn’t this menu offer the option of half portions of the main menu, meat and two veg?” asked principal of Clare Island’s national school, Mrs Mary McCabe.
Parents and children cannot do it alone. The restaurant industry needs to wake up.

January 20, 2007

It's Real Simple: humongous is good.

Do you realize how many times we are told that bigger portions are better?

We make hundreds of food decisions a day (says Brian Wansink in this book, Mindless Eating.) And we are influenced in thousands of ways through cues, settings and out-and-out direct marketing.

I'm sure even the people doing the influencing don't realize how they are keeping Americans fat and (happy). Just minutes ago on Real Simple, the PBS smart [my emphasis] living show, the host, Dena Querbubin-Blizzard, learns how to make a vegetable burger. Sounds healthy enough. But wait. As she bites into the bun, she doesn't call it delicious. She doesn't call it yummy. She simply says it's "humongous". I guess a "humongous" burger is a good burger.

Unfortunately, that's one of hundreds of cues and clues we get each day on eating.

No wonder we eat too much. Everyone is telling us it's good.

January 19, 2007

STOP and read your (restaurant) labels

We are not the only country that too big for our britches.

In the British Isles, obesity is on the rise. But the British government wants to do something about it. The Food Standards Agency has developed a simply, but effective (maybe too effective, some say), system for figuring out what are the healthy foods you should buy.

You’re standing in a supermarket aisle looking at two similar products, trying to decide which to choose. You want to make the healthier choice but, as usual, you’re in a hurry. Well, help is on the way. Products on sale have traffic light colours on the label to help you make your choice. With traffic light colours, you can see at a glance if the food you’re looking at has high, medium or low amounts of each of these nutrients in 100g of the food.

Red = High
Amber = Medium
Green = Low

You will also see the number of grams of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar in what the manufacturer or retailer suggests as a ‘serving’ of the food.

So, if you see a red light on the front of the pack, you know the food is high in something we should be trying to cut down on. It’s fine to have the food occasionally, or as a treat, but try to keep an eye on how often you choose these foods, or try eating them in smaller amounts.

Makes sense for the government to standardize the labeling, and provide some direction for its citizens, especially its children.

In America we have food labeling -- although not as simple as the British system. But it only covers a little more than half the calories you eat. The other 40-50 percent is eaten outside of the home (and your foods properly labelled). Try to get nutritional information -- or just the calories -- on those meals is like eating one french fry. No one knows because it hasn't been done yet.

Some restaurants provide some information on its food. But not one restaurant in America gives you complete nutritional information on a meal you eat there. Don't you think it would be important -- given the fact that so many people are obese -- to know how many calories you are eating when you sit down to a nice Italian meal at your favorite ristorante?

It's important to me as I try to shed 53 years and 100 pounds of incomplete information and too-big-of portions.

But, as most of you know, it's near impossible to calculate the calories or fat in just one dish at a fast food place, let an entire meal. Is that olive oil or trans-fat that the calamari was fried in? Is that lean or prime beef the meatballs are made of? Is that fresh broccoli rabe sautéed in butter, oil, lard or pasta water?

And that's just the tip of iceberg.

So don't the restaurants, cafeterias, fast-food places, convenience stores, and every other place that sells food have a responsibility to provide just a little information so we can have options.

Imagine looking at a menu below. Which would you pick? Who knows. But at least your decision would be based on both food choice, nutrition and what's good for you.

And let's face it. You wouldn't pick the last item, and plow through four red lights.

January 17, 2007

File this under: Worst-sized new food of 2007.

Hardee's launches new Monster Biscuit

ST. LOUIS — Hardee's announced Jan. 16 the launch of its newest creation, the Monster Biscuit, a sequel to its Monster Thickburger that was introduced in 2003.
The Monster Biscuit is made using three half-strips of bacon, a sausage patty, four slices of shaved ham, a folded egg and two slices of cheese, all piled on a Made-From-Scratch Biscuit.

January 16, 2007

Value meals? No such thing if you split your dish.

In a completely unscientific survey of restaurants in Monmouth County, New Jersey, guess what I found on the menu? Something very disgusting and revolting. Something that is very tough to swallow. Something so bad, that it's always in small type at the bottom of the menu.

What is this unappetizing item on many menus?

Extreme extra charges for eating appropriate portions. Sometimes as much as 75 percent more.

Here's what they look like. These were taken from actual online menus. It's like they are proud to be charging you so much more for eating correctly sized portions.

Split Charge of $2.00 per Plate for Appetizers

$4.00 entree split plate

Sharing charge of $7.00 per person

A sharing charge of $7.50 will be charged for any one dinner served for two People. This will include an additional salad and side dish

All items sold a la carte
Shared Entree Charge - $10.00 per person

Plate Sharing Charge $5.00

Why do we continue to put up with these charges? Isn't restaurant food expensive enough? Aren't the portions too big?

If you want to be healthy, then restaurants will punish you. Stop this portion poison. Tell every restaurant, you won't pay extra.

January 15, 2007

Just lip service, not food service.

More and more chefs and restaurant owners are recognizing that patrons want appropriately sized portions.

But is it all lip service? Is it just being politically correct? On one hand they smile, tell you that healthy eating is eating healthy portions. And on the other hand they want to financially punish you if you try to eat appropriate portions.

Here's an example.

In today's Connecticut Post, the owners of St. Tropez Bistro Francais, talked about healthy foods and portion sizes.

They are quoted, "To eat healthy, you control your portions. If you use a small amount, smaller portions, it is healthy. You can have variety. One day you eat meat, next day you eat fish. It's a combination of foods to make yourself healthy."

But what if you want to split with your wife or husband a simple appetizer of
Warm Brandade of Codfish Served within Olive Tapenade Crouton? Then St. Tropez Bistro is going to charge you 22 percent more...to enjoy an appropriate portion. Think that's inappropriate? If you want to split the Onion Soup Gratinée, then they'll charge you 28% more.

Not all restaurants charge for splitting dishes. We need to make sure none do. In fact, restaurants should encourage us to eat appropriate portions, not penalize us when we try.

January 12, 2007

Boston asks restaurants for at least one appropriate portion

The city of Boston has started a unique program-- Boston BestBites -- to help eaters identify at least one meal at a restaurant that is served at appropriate portions. Unfortunately, only 15 restaurants have decided to participate.

The guidelines were pretty simple and were reviewed by nutritionists using the most current scientific evidence. The meals had to be under a 150 calories for an appetizer, under 200 calories for a dessert and under 650 calories for an entrée. Again, right now only 15 restaurants would participate. And remember this is to have at least one item on the menu that meets the guidelines.

The limit of 650 calories for an adult entrée is based on Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends intake of 2000 calories per day for an average American adult. Dividing this moderate daily intake by 3 meals a day gives a calorie limit of 650 calories for each meal.

Why did Boston start this program.

Bostonians love to eat out. We love the convenience and the variety at hundreds of neighborhood restaurants. And we’re eating increasing numbers of our meals away from home – more than 40% of our ‘food dollar’ is spent on food eaten away from home, according to the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

But it’s easy to eat too much when we eat out. Restaurant portion sizes are larger than we’d usually prepare at home. And it’s hard to tell the amount of calories, fat, and sodium that are in prepared dishes. Studies show that consumers consistently underestimate the calories in restaurant meals (Anyone’s Guess, Center for Science in the Public Interest).

Even though the list of restaurants is small, it's one small step for mankind...

January 11, 2007

According to restaurant owner you can't stop people from killing themselves

The Boston Globe reports that according to some restaurant owners the only way they can sell food is in large portions. The city of Boston launched a new program -- Boston BestBites -- to promote restaurants that have at least one appropriately portioned entreé. Amazingly, most restaurants won't sign up.

It's easy to see why with this restaurant owner's attitude:

"We're known for big portions, our incredible meatloaf and our super breakfast -- that's our thing; that's what's made us popular," said Jay Hajj, who owns Victoria's Diner, which is participating in the program, and Mike's City Diner, which is not.

Hajj doesn't talk about how inappropriate portions are killing Bostonians.

Officials cite figures showing that 51 percent of Bostonians were overweight or obese in 2003, which is better than the 66 percent of overweight adults nationwide.

But the rate is higher among Boston's minority and poor residents. About 64 percent of blacks and 63 percent of Latinos in Boston are overweight, compared with 43 percent of whites, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. City officials say the program is intended to raise awareness before obesity becomes an epidemic in parts of the city.

The Globe reports, "so far, about a dozen restaurants have signed up for the program, many of them locally run, neighborhood haunts that traffic in greasy French fries, bacon cheeseburgers, and cheesy omelets. Owners say they are wary of losing their base, and they emphasize they'll continue to offer the popular less healthy options. But they insist that now they'll provide more options for the health-conscious. "

And for those who want to live.

January 10, 2007

Kudos to NYC restaurant

As the blog goes on, we want to hear from you on what restaurants are serving appropriate portions at appropriate prices.

Although it may be out of the price range for many of us, The Bar Room at the Modern (9 West 53rd St. NYC), may be the best restaurant in all of New York City.

The New York Times today gave it 3 stars and had many kind words on the food.
The Bar Room adheres to an increasingly popular small-plates approach, intended to give diners more tastes of more things and more control over their meals. And it aces that approach perhaps better than any restaurant around town...
Some small-plates menus make you feel that you’re being exiled to an island of sorry leftovers, asked to swoon over salumi, or subjected like gastronomic guinea pigs to experiments a chef would never try on an entree-size canvas. The Bar Room’s menu makes you feel that you’re eating in an easy — but no less privileged — fashion.
Kudos to Alsatian-born executive chef, Gabriel Kreuther, and owner, Danny Meyer.

RightSize portions are coming to America, one restaurant at a time.

Let us know what restaurants served you the right portion.

January 8, 2007

Let's humiliate 7-year-old overweight kids

That's what's happening in schools all over Pennsylvania. Throughout the commonwealth of PA students from kindergarten through eighth grade must receive body mass index (BMI) scores along with their report cards, the NY Times reports.

So you would think then Pennsylvania is doing something about child obesity. But you'd be wrong. All they are doing is humiliating children. What's the cafeterias doing to help? Basically nothing.

"To successfully change students' eating habits, schools would need to counsel each child and provide really high-quality nutrition and physical activity assessments," said Marlene Schwartz, director at the center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale.

And wouldn't the schools have to provide high-quality nutrition in the cafeteria? I guess not. The school district has revamped its menus, eliminating Gatorade and only the powdered sugar from the funnel cakes. But it still sells ice cream sandwiches and Rice Krispie treats.

But the real kicker is that the cafeteria starting serving appropriate portions of good foods, like kiwi and field greens. But because of the high cost, they stopped. It's back to canned fruit and iceberg lettuce.

Good nutrition, appropriate portions cost too much, say the schools. But there's always plenty of money to humiliate students.

January 7, 2007

Food critics don't get it.

Food critics are part of problem. They contribute to the obesity problem by perpetuating the myth that more food is good food.

Anytime a restaurant serves appropriate portions they pathetically call it French-style cuisine. Or even worst, nouvelle cuisine.

Oh yes, the food critics definitely point out good tasting and inventive food, but they also praise the restaurant with the biggest portions. This kind of criticism is not helpful.

This kind of criticism continues to equate big with better, when appropriate portions should be the highest standard.

Today, in the bible of daily restaurant reviewing – The New York Times – comes the typical restaurant review:

The blacksmith salad remains my favorite salad, with the gargantuan mozzarella salad a close second.

Not big. Not huge. Not giant. No, the NY Times said that the second best thing to eat at a pizza parlor is the “GARGANTUAN salad.

The “big is better” doesn’t stop there either:

If you choose well, you can eat well at the restaurant for very little money, even if you splurge on a Kentucky Derby pie (it tastes like a big, soft, warm chocolate chip cookie) for dessert.
There’s that “big” word again.

Finally in the last line of the review is where you’ll find something about appropriate portions. And of course it’s relegated to the smallest of children.

The restaurant also serves children’s pasta portions, making it a small slice of heaven for parents with little ones who are likely to find the model train as appealing as the pizza.

Stop by the NY Times website and let them know that we want appropriate portions, critical reviews and not cheerleading for a super-sized nation.

By the way, they can’t help themselves. Right next to the restaurant dining column was a muffin shop review. Yep, you guess it. The reviewer equated goodness with bigness and proclaimed the muffins “huge”. Makes you want to gag.

January 5, 2007

Can we change McDonald's?

The answer is maybe.

McDonald's CEO, Jim Skinner, told the Wall Street Journal today that it is possible for the golden arches to start serving healthier food. It's not going to happen right away, and it's not going to happen unless you, I, and the government push really, really hard.

Skinner said that, "when you look at the kinds of choices we've provided, we've done more work here than probably any other restaurant company in trying to be part of the solution. We are not going to solve the world's obesity problem...We have to provide choices...Remember, we were a hamburger company."

I don't think McDonald's would have provided any choices at all if it hadn't been for critics attacking the company for being part of the obesity problem. They wouldn't have provided any choices if the competition hadn't pushed them.

But if we take Skinner at his word, we can get them to change. When asked if McDonald's would ever sell organic food, Skinner answered, "It's possible. We look at everything. We are customer driven. We are talking to our customers every day."

I believe that. If everyone -- who reads this blog -- started telling McDonald's that we want appropriate portions at appropriate prices, then they would listen, and change. They would even listen more if we can get Starbucks, Wendy's, Burger King, et. al. to change. It will only take one success to get the ball rolling.

January 4, 2007

Warning: This diet is NOT easy!

We've all seen these lies:
A cutting-edge new product, the Premium Diet Patch offers real, effective and affordable weight loss in an easy skin patch.

Easy ways to ring in a new diet and exercise program

DietSolver(tm) streamlines all of the necessary information that is needed to maintain a healthy, weight-conscious diet into an easy to use program.

6 Week Body Makeover Official Site. Eat more and exercise less.

All you need to know about Easy Diet
Are we stupid? To lose weight in America is damn hard. Nobody can make it easy for us. And let me tell you, it's the exact opposite. They make it not easy for us. At every opportunity America wants you to overeat.

Trying buying a small popcorn at the movies. My wife did just yesterday. The 15-year-old behind the counter warned her that it was better to buy the bigger sizes: "you save money." (First, how do you save money by spending 75 cents more than you want to.) And second how is it better to eat more popcorn.

Trying buying a normal-sized candy bar. Can't do it. Try buying a small coke. Sorry, sizes start at large and work their way up.

We did find one thing you could buy in a small size: The bottled water.

You're saying to yourself, this is silly. Of course, movie theaters have large food items. That's how they make their money. But start looking around the next time you are out. Every food item is supersized now.

Last week, after seeing the Nutcracker we went to an Italian restaurant in Torrington. It didn't have a child's menu for our 7 year old, so we ordered a little penne with butter and little cheese. Out comes the biggest bowl you have ever seen. It must have been a pound of pasta. There must be some mistake, I said. No, that's the normal entrée portion; they couldn't RightSize it for my son. (I have been to Italy, and no Italian restaurant would have served that much pasta for any adult, let alone a child. In America it's normal.)

What's the most amazing is that the restaurant people thought I was the weird one. "You can always take it home," said one.

Good luck eating out in America. Until we start changing these Texas-sized portions into Rhode Island-sized meals, we all will be paying for Alaska-sized health bills.

January 2, 2007

2007 New Year's Resolution: No more diet books

Every newspaper and every TV news show is packed with diets, diet books and diet authors.

Let's resolve not to buy another diet or diet book as long as you live.

You don't need a diet book. You don't need someone to tell you what you already know.

The only way to lose weight is to reduce calories. That's it. The way to do that is eating appropriate portions.

This blog is dedicated to changing the way we are fed.

Most opinions are that we are weak and lacking self-control. It's the individual that needs to change for America to lick the obesity problem.

That's just a very small part of the problem. The #1 way to prevent obesity is to stop us from being served large portions of food. That's it. So simple.

Join me in my 2007 resolutions: stop portion poison. Lobby your congressman. Lobby your local government. Lobby your local restaurants. Lobby McDonald's. Lobby your mother. Lobby your grandmother. Lobby your children.

Let me (and America) hear your comments.