January 31, 2008

One NFL player found his goal

EatingWell.com says former NFL player Anthony Davis is one football player that doesn't want to die of heart disease. Even the most fit person (at one time) needs to eat the right portions (all the time).

Tackling a Weight Problem:
“Last February, I weighed 100 pounds more than I did when I played college or pro football. I wasn’t exercising,” recalls Davis. “It was a lifestyle that was killing me.” Literally. Davis had just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He suffered from painful flare-ups of gout (an inflammatory disease linked with obesity). Davis also struggled with sleep apnea, an obesity-related condition in which one stops breathing several times a night. “Every night, I had to hook up to a machine that helped me breathe,” says Davis"

But Davis’s days of indulging in fat-laden appetizers are over—by his own accord. Last year was a big one for Davis. In 2006, he was “enshrined” into the College Football Hall of Fame. It was also the year that Davis decided to regain control of his life, he says.

Almost a year later, Davis is 90 pounds lighter, “just about down to my college weight,” he says. His waist measures a trim 33 inches. And he feels better than ever. “I have so much energy,” he says. “My diabetes, gout and sleep apnea are gone.” Thankful for this second chance at a healthy life, Davis speaks publicly about his positive experience with gastric bypass surgery (which, it should be noted, is reserved for very overweight people with serious medical risks).

January 30, 2008

Want to die early: eat like an NFL player

Here are two stories that I came across today.

The restaurant Chili's is using three NFL players to tout its new bacon burgers. As you have read many times on this blog, bacon burgers are not the kind of portions anyone should be eating, especially NFL players. And just to confuse you, Chili's wants you to over-eat burgers so they will contribute to charity.

There something wrong -- very wrong -- with the NFL, with charities and Chili's, all associated with over-eating burgers.

There should not be confusion around the second story. If you want to die before you are 50 years then be an overweight NFL player. You'll double your odds.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook will each represent one of three new Chili's Smokehouse Bacon Burgers in the name of their favorite charity. Available now, guests are encouraged to visit their neighborhood Chili's to taste these new burgers, because the player with the best-selling burger at the end of the 60-day promotional period will receive $10,000 from Chili's to donate to their charity of choice.

"These three new Smokehouse Bacon Burgers are sure to satisfy the hungriest of appetites," said Todd Diener, president of Chili's Grill & Bar. "We are proud to team up with these great athletes for a promotion our guests can get excited about and, more importantly, support their charities and the communities they serve."
Of course. Those burgers have enough calories to feed several people.
ESPN - Heavy NFL players twice as likely to die before 50 : "The amazing athletes of the National Football League -- bigger and stronger than ever before -- are dying young at a rate experts find alarming, and many of the players are succumbing to ailments typically related to weight.

The heaviest athletes are more than twice as likely to die before their 50th birthday than their teammates, according to a Scripps Howard News Service study of 3,850 professional-football players who have died in the last century."

Most of the 130 players born since 1955 who have died were among the heaviest athletes in sports history, according to the study. One-fifth died of heart diseases, and 77 were so overweight that doctors would have classified them as obese, the study found.

January 28, 2008

McDonald's give investors indigestion

McDonald's Corp. announced on Monday sales are increasing at the lowest level in six years.

The Wall Street Journal suggests the numbers may be from a downturn in consumer spending. Just last year McDonald's CFO Peter Bensen said the company was "recession-resistant".

Could McDonald's success be on the wane? And not just because of recession. Could Americans be choosing healthy portions over unhealthy fast food? And if the slowdown was all about a recession wouldn't Americans look to a restaurant that is known as "cheap" food.

Numbers don't lie, though. McDonald's must change, just as must Americans. The way we eat will change. McDonald's may go the way of the Automats if they don't change.

From Guardian Unlimited:
The cold blast of America's economic downturn has blown into McDonald's.
The world's biggest fast food chain surprised Wall Street today with a warning
that consumers were cutting back on Big Macs and fries.

Widely seen as relatively immune to recession because of its
rock-­bottom prices, McDonald's delivered a 22% increase in profits to
$1.35bn for the final quarter of the year.

To the alarm of investors, McDonald's said that US like-for-like sales
growth of 3.3% during the quarter had slowed to zero in December.

Chief executive Jim Skinner blamed the slowdown partly on harsh winter
weather putting off "convenience" customers. But he said a weakening in the
economy was depressing comparable sales by one to two percentage points.

"We acknowledge that the general retail industry here seems to have
been impacted by the economic environment," said Skinner, who pointed out that
McDonald's has traditionally been robust in downturns.

McDonald's shares dived by 5.3% to $51.21 during early trading on the
New York stock exchange - a rare setback for a firm that has seen its stock
price quad­ruple over five years.

January 27, 2008

Parents: Admit you have a problem

The first step to solving a problem is...to admit you have a problem.

But parents of obese children can't do that. Combine that with the fact most people don't know how many calories are in a happy meal and you have the perfect storm for a future obese generation.

The New York Times reports that in a 2,000-parent study, more than 40 percent of parents could not admit their 6-to-11-year-olds were obese.

Parents need to face reality in the mirror and in their children. Admit there is a problem. Then start solving it by no more happy meals, no more fast foods. Sit down with your kids at supper time and start the long journey to good nutrition.
Obesity - Children - Parents - Medicine and Health - New York Times:

When researchers from the University of Michigan surveyed more than 2,000 parents about their children’s health, they heard some good news. Despite the growing obesity problem, many of these parents could report that their sons and daughters, at least, were “about the right weight.”

The numbers, alas, told another story. The parents were also asked to provide information about the children’s height and weight — and many of the 6-to-11- year-olds turned out to be obese. Yet more than 40 percent of their parents appeared unaware of this.

Dr. Matthew M. Davis, a pediatrician and internist who directed the poll, said he and other doctors wondered why parents who brought overweight children in for appointments so often did not seem concerned.

But, Dr. Davis said, “If they don’t actually perceive their children to have excess weight, then how can we realistically expect them to make changes?”

January 26, 2008

Buffets leave a bad taste in investors' mouths

As they say in business, "money talks." And money has spoken against Buffet restaurants.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports the Buffets Holdings Inc., parent company of Old Country Buffet, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Buffets has 626 restaurants in 39 states, including buffet-style restaurants under the Old Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet, Ryan's and Fire Mountain names, and Tahoe Joe's Famous Steakhouse steak-buffet restaurants.

No more evidence is needed to point out the flawed business model in today's obese society than Old Country Buffet, where unlimited poor-nutritional food is served.

In this blog I have been telling the restaurant industry to change its ways for almost two years now. Americans don't want cheap unlimited unhealthy food from their restaurants. And now they are voting with their wallets.

The company blames the recession, and higher food prices. I blame the wrong sized portions for the wrong price.

In fact, wouldn't logic dictate that during a recession more people would go to a buffet if it was the RightSize at the RightPrice. But as Yogi Berra might say, people are flocking to stay away from these restaurants.

This year the first of the Baby Boomers are receiving their Social Security checks. And traditionally senior citizens are patrons of these buffet-style restaurants. (At Old Country Buffet anyone over 60 gets a discount.)

But what the executives (from a hedge fund) forgot, that this is the first obese generation...that wants to change their evil ways.

As with all recessions, the poor business models will be tested and discarded in this capitalism yard sale. Unlimited poor food is an idea stuck in the 1950s, and will not resonant in the new millennium.

Paul Olson, research director at Restaurant Finance Monitor, a Minneapolis-based trade publication, said analysts are bracing for bad news next month when restaurant companies begin reporting 2007 results.

"Everyone is bracing for some pretty ugly misses. They think the fourth quarter was going to be pretty bad," he said.

January 24, 2008

Personal responsibility doesn't relieve companies from doing the RightThing

New York City's Board of Health tries to keep the rats out of restaurants in several different ways.

On Tuesday the board voted to require any chain that operates 15 outlets or more, nationwide, would have to display calorie on their menus. It is very similar to the rules that a federal judge struck down back in the fall of 2007.

Many people believe these issues of obesity and how much you eat, are matters of personal responsibility. No one forces you to eat a Burger King double Whopper with cheese (990 calories). No one forces you to drink a grande-size white hot chocolate at Starbucks (490).

But you have to wonder about an entire industry which revolts against providing some basic information to the consumer. What are they trying to hide?

When you hear someone invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to give out information, isn't your first inclination to wonder, what do they have to hide? Not, that it's a personal freedom and you should invoke it whether you have nothing or something to hide. No, when large corporations want to do something dirty or something that would be perceived as dirty, then they hide the information.

All that the Board of Health asked the fast food restaurants to do was make the information more accessible at the point of sale. The restaurants have said it's too costly, too complex, too confusing. And they hid behind a posse of lawyers to get the rules overturned.

The New York Times reports: City Tries Again to Require Restaurants to Post Calories:

"New Yorkers “Most people underestimate calorie content by a lot,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city’s health commissioner, adding that he considered the rules a potent weapon in the crusade against rising obesity rates. “Even dietitians get a lot of it wrong.”

Dr. Frieden said his department’s research showed that consumers often make faulty assumptions about the calorie counts of items on a menu. But when they have the information, he said, they tend to choose food with fewer calories.

As a result of the regulations, set to go into effect on March 31, Dr. Frieden predicted that some restaurants will eliminate some of their offerings, like appetizers that top 2,000 calories.

“The real question for us is, is the industry going to become part of the solution or are they going to keep going to court to hide from the customers what they’re serving them?” Dr. Frieden said. “If your business model depends on keeping information from your consumers, that’s a problem.”
I ask you: should restaurants keep the information away from you? Or is it your responsibility to remember that a McDonald's cheeseburger has less calories that a chicken sandwich?

January 21, 2008

Best book (if you are going to eat fast food)

Many diners face a mystery of sorts at restaurants: They don't know how many calories are in the dishes they're eating. And when they guess, they greatly underestimate the numbers.

So says David Zinczenko, author of the new book Eat This, Not That! written with Matt Goulding (Rodale, $19.95). It was No. 19 on the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list last week.

But if consumers arm themselves with nutrition knowledge when eating out, they can figure out "a ton of ways to lose a ton of weight," says Zinczenko, who is editor in chief of Men's Health magazine and also wrote The Abs Diet and The Abs Diet for Women.

Some examples:

•Burger King's Whopper Jr. without mayonnaise and garden salad with fat-free ranch dressing has 365 calories and 12 fat grams, compared with a BK Big Fish Sandwich with tartar sauce and medium fries with 1,000 calories and 52 fat grams.

•A ham, egg and cheese English muffin sandwich from Dunkin' Donuts has 310 calories and 10 fat grams vs. a multigrain bagel with light cream cheese, 500 calories and 15 fat grams.

•Popeyes' spicy chicken breast, thigh, leg and wing without the skin and breading has 280 calories, 8.5 fat grams vs. a spicy chicken breast with the breading and skin, 360 calories, 22 fat grams.

January 19, 2008

Give McDonald's a "F"; Parents get an "A"

If you get all A's and B's on your report card, then McDonald's wants you to get high marks on your BMI as well.

In Florida McDonald's restaurants were giving away free Happy Meals with good grades. (Now there's a misnomer...are you much happier being fat than fit?)

Is anyone thinking at McDonald's, or just watching their waists and wallets expand? And what about the Florida school officials? Maybe they should give away a pack of cigarettes to the honor students. These people are teaching our children?? (Luckily, they're not my children.)

[How fat is Florida's youth? Well, in the last survey they were 21st in the nation. Only 20 more states to pass to be the fattest.]

Finally, some enlightened parents blew the whistle on this atrocious advertisement.

AdAge.com reports:

McDonald's Corp. has voluntarily pulled its sponsorship from report-card covers in Seminole County, Fla., public schools after parental complaints. The fast-food giant had agreed to sponsor the report-card jackets for the county's elementary schools to cover a printing fee of $1,600. On the jackets, McDonald's offered a free happy meal to any student with all A's and B's, two or fewer absences, or good behavior in a given academic quarter.

"In the absence of needed government regulation to protect schoolchildren from predatory companies like McDonald's, the burden is on parents to be vigilant about exploitative marketing aimed at children," said Dr. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. "One parent can make a difference. There is no doubt that the Seminole County ads would have continued -- and violated McDonald's pledge to stop advertising in elementary schools -- had one parent not called attention to the problem."

January 16, 2008

Bigger Loser's Biggest Tips

Lots of people ask me everyday, how did you lose 100 pounds?

Today at work, a friend said he and his wife were trying Nutrisystem. Their resolution is to lose weight this year. But every year he says he goes down 25 pounds and then up 25 pounds. A diet not going to work, they need a strategy.

And when I got home, my son emailed me to tell me he has decided to stage a local The Biggest Loser contest with 27 of his friends, acquaintances, and their significant others to put some peer pressure behind their collective New Year’s resolution of losing weight and living a healthier life. So every Tuesday they will be weighing in. To have a healthy life, they all need a strategy.

So to help all of you out there looking to lose 10 pounds...or 100 pounds, here are the most significant top 10 strategies I used to change my life:

  1. The most important tip is: portion control. If you want to be smaller, then make everything in your life smaller. I changed to a smaller plate. No more trashcan lids masquerading as dinner plates. I use only the salad fork, not the dinner fork. I take one helping of food. I measured out 1/2 cups of tuna, rices, and pasta for the first time in my life. I switched to 100-calorie portions of cookies and popcorn. Everything is smaller...including my belt.
  2. It's not a diet. It's a lifestyle change. So everything you change should carry over for life. However, that said, there are some no-nos that worked like a charm for me to get to a better weight. No wine. No beer. (OK, one beer anytime the Patriots win.) No cheese. No bread. Absolutely, no pop (as they say in the Midwest). And for me, no red meat. I do have pasta, potatoes, and diet pop.
  3. Absolutely, no fast-food restaurants. (The rest of your life.) There's nothing in there that's good for you. And if you have the willpower to eat a healthy salad while everyone around you is eating Whoppers and french fries...well, then you should be teaching gurus how to walk across hot coals in bare feet.
  4. Get a food routine for the morning and afternoon. Men's Health magazine this month gives out this tip as well. Don't give yourself any choices for breakfast or lunch. Dr. Wansink's experiments have shown that with more choices comes overeating. Everyday I have egg whites and mushrooms cooked in an omelet with a little salsa for breakfast. Everyday for lunch I have a large spinach salad with lots of spinach, raw mushrooms and some cold turkey or chicken breast. I use Walden's Farms no-calorie Caesar dressing...everyday. For morning snack, it's a banana, and for afternoon snack, it's a 100-calorie pack of cookies or almonds.
  5. Mix it up at dinner time. Now that you don't have to think for breakfast or lunch, and you know exactly how many calories you are eating, then go wild for dinner. Use lots of spices. Use lots of vegetables. Use a little olive oil. Have chicken, turkey (without the skin of course), fish, soy, or vegetable entrees. Every Friday I cook fresh shrimp cocktail (with just lemon, no sugar-laden ketchup based cocktail sauce). Every Saturday it's fresh steelhead trout. On Monday it's chicken, on Tuesday, it's chicken, on Wednesday it's chicken thighs, on Thursday it's chicken, well, you get the idea.
  6. Go to bed hungry. I like to have a 100-calorie bag of popcorn with a big glass of flavored club soda for a night time snack. It's not ice cream, but it tastes better good after all that chicken. And go to bed a little early. If you stay up, you are going to just get hungrier.
  7. Eat fiber, or drink fiber. Every morning -- the very first thing, since I'm a little hungry -- I have a large glass of orange-flavored Metamucil. It's not what you think. It's a natural fiber that taste like Tang. And every doctor in the world says eat fiber. If you prefer, eat an apple. But for me, one glass fills my belly and I know it's making me healthy. Next, take your vitamins. Your body will crave something if it's missing vitamins and minerals.
  8. Don't beat yourself up if you cheat. I had a pizza last Saturday (veggie of course) but it still busted my 2,000 calories-a-day routine. Next day it was back to egg whites, spinach salad and grilled chicken.
  9. Tell everybody about your success. I used this blog to education myself and now hopefully educating others. Find your passion. Take photos that tell the obesity story in America. Help one inner city kid kick the fast food habit. Ask your mom and dad to lose a few pounds so they live to see the grandchildren.
  10. This is the hardest thing you'll ever do. Losing weight is a $35 billion industry. Getting a Ph.D. is easier. Going to the moon didn't cost $35 billion. But every year Americans spend $35 billion trying to lose more than one billion pounds. Give yourself a hand: you have taken the first step for yourself, one giant leap for healthy mankind.
  11. One last tip. Once you have obtained your ideal weight, go back to tip #1. Eat the right portion, and you can enjoy all the foods you love. I just got back from Italy after having a little pasta, a little wine, a little cheese, a little red meat, a little....you get the idea. Eating the right size will make you the right size and we'll all be RightSizingAmerica.
Please comment so others can share in your success!

January 15, 2008

Worst story of the year

In a nation where obesity kills more people than cancer, this story should be nominated for worst of the year. What's next? Best place to watch a dogfight?

By Jane Monreal

Finding a restaurant the serves great food and plenty of it isn't so easy. But some local hot spots are serving up more bite for your buck.

C & O Cucina in Marina Del Rey has it all, including big portions of pasta.

'Some restaurants have low prices. Some restaurants have good food. Some restaurants have big portions,' says C & O Cucina's Robert Singer. 'I think we have it all, and then we mix it up with lots of fun with our honor wine bars, where you can actually help yourself to the wine and at the end of your meal, you tell your server how much you took, it's all on the honor system.'

'It is on the menu as literally, 'gargantuan,'' says Citysearch Editor Tara de Lis. 'The prices are very reasonable. There's no pasta above $20, and that includes the gargantuan portion size.

Robin's Wood Fire BBQ & Grill in Pasadena offers a big meal for a small price.

"Let me tell you, the best value for the money is the garbage can combo platter," says de Lis. "29.95 easily feeds a family of four. You get beef ribs, pork ribs, tri-tip, sausage, chicken, the works."

Regulars go to Asahi Ramen for big servings of chosu ramen, yakisoba, and tanmen.

"It's stir-fried vegetables, and then we cook it with the broth," says Asahi Ramen's James Song. "It's a lot of vegetables, a lot of chicken and a lot of soup. It tastes really good."

"The best thing is they're big enough to share," says Tara de Lis. "This place is really popular with college students, but let me tell you this is not the ramen of your dorm years. This is the real deal. And the beauty of the place is that there's nothing on the menu over $10."

For big portions of meat in Burbank, go no farther than Picanha Churrascaria.

"It is an endless parade of meat brought out to your table on skewers, sliced on sight until you take the little cube in front of you and turn it over to red, and that tells them to stop," says de Lis. "One Citysearch user said it made him feel like a king eating there."

Everyone in America turn that little cube over to red and tell them to stop!

January 8, 2008

Watch for these food trends in 2008

What trends do you see in 2008 and 2009?

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sees these 10 food ideas gaining traction in 2008. Most will be welcomed, but hopefully, like New Year resolutions, not forgotten by February.

Watch for these food trends

Local and sustainable.
Celebrity chefs
Food safety
Restaurant grades
Faster food
Small plates
More nutritious food
Water guilt


January 7, 2008

Secrets the Restaurant Industry Doesn't Want You to Know

Men's Health -- a terrific magazine I subscribe to -- has a great article in January's issue.

It's something I have been telling you for a while, that fast food restaurants don't want you to know how many calories or how much fat are in its food. Why? Because you wouldn't eat it!

In the magazine's article, 16 Secrets the Restaurant Industry Doesn't Want You to Know, the authors, David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding asked a variety of restaurants to explain the large, fatty portions they were serving. Confronted by a magazine called Men's Health, the restaurants refused to divulge any information. The authors took the next logical step to accuse the fast food industry.

One of the true issues behind obesity is the fact that many chains —which provide one-third of all restaurant meals, according to the New York Department of Health —obfuscate the fat and calorie counts of their menu items, and fight any attempt to shed light on what, exactly, is going on between their buns and inside their taco shells.
You can read the full article on menshealth.com, but below is one of the most surprising secrets. But you are not surprise, are you?
What Maggiano's Little Italy doesn't want you to know: In Italy, a standard pasta serving means 4 ounces of noodles with a few tablespoons of sauce. At Maggiano's, a large order of pasta translates into 2 pounds of noodles piled high on a hubcap-size dinner plate (15 1/2 inches in diameter). A Maggiano's PR rep responded to our request for nutritional information a week later: "Sorry for the delay. I had to wait for corporate's approval. Unfortunately, they have declined to participate."
Unfortunately... for anyone wanting to eat healthy.

January 5, 2008

Obesity begins with your thumbs

Fast food restaurants have maintained that it would be cost prohibitive to put calorie information on the menus, yet they are spending millions of dollars on technology to allow you to text your order to them. (Fast food is not fast enough it appears.)

It can't be too much money to text us back with the calorie information, and allow us to change or even cancel that fatty order.

In the future, the only parts of your body getting exercise when you eat at a fast food restaurant is your mouth and your thumbs!

From USATODAY.com:

Big restaurant chains are rushing into what could be the future of takeout and delivery food: text ordering.

Leading the way are the pizza giants. Papa John's is airing national TV spots to promote the text ordering that it launched in November. Domino's has offered mobile ordering — which requires cellphone Web access — since July. Pizza Hut is about to start promoting both text and mobile ordering.

Quiznos, Dunkin' Donuts and Subway have looked into text ordering. McDonald's is testing it in Seoul. Starbucks tested it in London and at one U.S. store.

Papa John's CEO Nigel Travis compares the potential to online ordering, which accounts for 20% of Papa John's sales. "Text is the way forward," he says. He predicts it will account for 3% of sales within two years.

January 4, 2008

The Zen of Obesity

It's never been this blog's intent to paint all restaurants with the same broad brush of health malfeasance.

Contrary: I want restaurants to change, like I want Americans to change. I want restaurants to evolve from purveyors of bad food to providers of good healthy food.

As I find restaurants doing the "right" thing, I'll point it out to my readers. Unfortunately, 95 percent of my blog entries will be on restaurants doing the "wrong" thing.

Today, I read in Austin360.com about one restaurant trying to "RightSize" America.

Zen Japanese Fast Food Restaurants in Austin, Texas are doing the "right" thing. (Figures that a restaurant called Zen would be about balance in your life.)

This restaurant has a fitness team which helps customers eat right and exercise. The owner of Zen Japanese Food Fast restaurants. Adam Weisberg says, "Ever since I opened this restaurant, I wanted to be health-oriented."

How did he do it? He hired a nutritionist, who developed 21-day meal plans for people on 1,300-calorie, 1,800-calorie or 2,500-calorie a day diets. He then posted the menus online and at his four Zen restaurants.

Then he took the next logical step for someone who wants to be healthy, but not the logical step for an owner of a restaurant.

Every Saturday morning he sponsors morning exercise sessions. Weisberg says he loses money on the program but doesn't mind. He is committed to helping people live healthier lives and most of all wants to help beginning exercisers and walkers.

This program like the Zen philosophy is about discovering for yourself good food and good exercise.

Hopefully today's blog/meditation will lead you to a new perspectives on your existence, which would ultimately lead to enlightenment.

Peace, grasshopper.