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Our eating habit

With correspondent Tom Costello's Friday story on marketing to the heavyset still in mind [LINK], I got a good taste over the weekend of one of the root causes of obesity in our society. The occasion was my younger son’s seventh birthday. Because it rained all day Saturday here in the New York area, we postponed his party, which was to have included lots of outdoor activities.

Instead, we did something we rarely do on weekends: we went out to lunch. As we walked into the restaurant, a popular barbecue place, we passed a man, to put it delicately, whose mid-section required him to be several feet from the table from which he was practically inhaling his lunch. I wondered how he got this way. I noticed several very young children at the table and worried for a moment that health problems related to his obesity could cut the man’s life short.

We sat down and read the menu. My wife and the birthday boy decided to split the southern fried chicken. Our other son, who is 10, went for the “fried chicken fingers” from the kids’ menu. I ordered a beer and a pulled chicken BBQ sandwich.

As we waited, I noticed other diners coming in. The majority, young and old, men and women, were significantly overweight. They walked slowly to their tables. They looked at the menu. They ordered.

Our food came. My sandwich was a medium pile of barbecue chicken on an open bun, with French fries and cole slaw on the side. It looked manageable, even though a little less would have been no insult. The southern fried chicken -– half a large chicken cut into pieces -- was more than enough for two people of any size, and we ended up taking one of the bigger pieces home. But the real revelation was the chicken “fingers” from the “piglets' menu.” This $5 meal came with five, two-inch by three-inch pieces of fried chicken breast and French fries.

Our 10-year-old, who has a healthy appetite, was able to eat just one of the entirely misnamed fingers. “I felt so full after that,” he recalled later. “Now I know how fat people get fat. You’re so full but the food is so addictively good that you can’t stop eating it.” And that, I thought, must be the essence of the problem. Keep them eating. Keep them wanting it. Keep them coming back for more with huge portions that will make them think they’re getting their money’s worth. Servings half the size would have been adequate for each of these dishes. Instead, here was the super-sizing of America unfolding before my eyes.

As I finish writing this, it’s a little after seven on Saturday evening. I haven’t had a thing to eat since lunch and I’m still not hungry. But it doesn’t matter. It’s time to cook dinner and I will sit down to eat anyway. Eating is habit, and habit is a hard thing to break. From what I see, marketing to the heavyset will, indeed, be a real growth business.

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COMMENTS

Eating a healthy diet can be very simple if you put a little effort in. I count my calories daily, monitoring in a journal with cal, fat, sat fat, and carbs. Keep yourself under the recommended for saturated fat, avoid heart disease. Keep yourself under the number of carbs (esp from sugar,) avoid diabetes. It's true that finding nutrition information for resteraunts can be daunting but here's the thing : I eat out MAYBE at most twice in two weeks. If I can't readily find the nutrition information i look it up online and as a general rule of thumb, I try to eat only half of what i order and get a second meal out of the other half at home. If that's not more for your money I don't know what is. Cook at home. Eat organic. Watch your portion sizes. You'll be fine.

If you've never looked at the nutrition info for fast food resteraunts or your favorite chain, i recommend doing it. It's a real eye opener. Keep in mind:
Recommend daily values for
Cal=2000-2500 (varies with Ht/Wt)
Fat= 60g
Sat Fat= <20
Carbs= 300

You might be in for a surprise when you see what you eat.

I think America needs to get out of the frying pan and into the steam pot.I really dont think its so much about what you eat, but how much you eat and how its prepared.

"To think carbs make you fat is wrong. You're fat because you're not exercising. There are some nine million people in this country swimming, running, biking, regularly going to the gym, or doing whatever, and no one's been talking to them about their diet."
--Chris Carmichael, coach and nutritionist for Lance Armstrong, in the August 2005 issue of Outside Magazine

I'M GONNA EAT UNTIL I FEEL LIKE I HAVE GOTTEN MY $6.00 WORTH OF FOOD. THEN I'LL EXCERCISE.

People remember portion sizes.

You go out and pay lots of money for a meal and walk away still feeling a little hungry chances are you won't be returning any time soon no matter how good it tasted or looked. You walk out feeling satisified (full) you will be back even if it didn't taste that good.

People should be taught from the time they are using a baby bottle to when they are on a feeding tube in an extended care bed they must always be on a diet.

The situation you describe happens everywhere. I will not eat in buffet-type restuarants because of the way people overeat-I find it so distasteful. As a person who eats out about 5 times a week, I've had to learn to leave food or take it home for later.

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