I’m not a fan of using my blog as a forum for rants, but while traveling yesterday, I did a lot of people watching and being who I am, I made several observations on the way people eat. The following, while being a bit of a tirade on American eating habits, is something I do want to put out there.
While I’ll never be a hardcore dieter, I am one to keep an eye on what I eat and to an extent, count calories. Unfortunately, I was not blessed with a great metabolism and every french fry has its consequences. That being said, I’m an advocate of the ‘eat what you want, but in moderation’ mantra. I can’t live off romaine lettuce alone, nor would I want to. Part of the joy of food is trying new and exciting things and yes, once in a while, those new and exciting things are cooked in butter or smothered in cheese.
I think the single biggest issue we have in this country is portion size. Did you know that the average restaurant meal is fives times the size it was in 1950? Five times! That’s absurd to me. Think of major chain in this country (not to name names or anything), but do I really needs four cups of pasta, a bucket of diet coke or an 18 ounce hamburger? On top of that, we’re eating higher levels of sugar (hello high fructose corn syrup) and sodium than ever. Our bodies are programed to crave sugar and salt – it’s a defense mechanism against starvation built into our anatomy – so essentially, we’re fighting nature everyday. The issue is, most people would be satisfied with a quarter of your average restaurant portion but when a gargantuan platter is placed in front of them, the battle against human instinct begins.
This brings me to the next issue in my rant – cravings. Our bodies are designed to crave certain foods when we’re suffering from a nutrient deficiency. Contemporary diets urge us to fight our cravings; you know, have will power, when in all actuality, a craving is your body’s way of telling your it’s lacking something. The trick is to be able to interpret your craving and going back to my previous point, enjoy it in moderation. Can’t get that 40-ounce porterhouse steak out of your mind? You’re most likely lacking iron in your diet – but try a 6 to 8 ounce filet instead. I guarantee you’ll feel just as satisfied (and considerably less bloated afterwards). One of my craving weakness is ice cream – typically spawned by a calcium deficiency. Personally, if I succumb to a craving rather than battling it, I find it easier to indulge without over doing it. Have a soft serve frozen yogurt today and prevent that Ben & Jerry’s bender tomorrow. It’s all about balance people – find yours and I promise, you’ll be living happier and eating healthier.