Saturday, August 19, 2006

Food fight fizzle

Well, I don't know what I was expecting from Dateline last night, but I came away somewhat unsatisfied.

And a little bit hungry for a big order of fries. Fortunately for my waistline, inertia – the nearest McDonald's is 12 miles away – overcame my hunger.

A good deal of the program focused on a Big Bad Lawyer who is trying to get fast food companies to change their evil ways. I think it's a Good Thing to provide nutrition information at the point of sale, rather than on the packaging after the sale. It was interesting to me, though, that the Ruby Tuesday restaurants have removed the calorie and fat content from their menus because sales declined after testing that concept. I rarely eat there, but do remember one time studying that informative menu, trying to make a good choice and feeling pretty deprived. I thought it was great that they included the information, but there weren't many appealing choices for less than 500 calories – which is more than I eat at almost any meal except Thanksgiving dinner.

They only had an hour, so many issues that come into play in the 'obesity epidemic' remained unexamined. For instance – and this is only my personal opinion, and not an attack – do working mothers have a harder time saying "no" to less healthful snacks because they're too tired to fight the nag factor? Is it easier to offer a package of fruit snacks than to cut up an apple? Are busy parents too preoccupied with work, finances, relationships, you-name-it to be good role models for an active lifestyle?

And speaking of apples, were you as shocked as I was to learn that McDonald's is the nation's largest provider of apples to children? And what does that mean, anyway? Are they the largest purchaser? How many apples get tossed? Providing doesn't necessarily mean eating.

I'm just sayin', is all.

The whole segment comparing brain scans of food and cocaine addicts was interesting, particularly since I know a thing or two about addiction. Yes, I know, we have to eat, while we don't have to abuse alcohol or drugs. But we can choose our food carefully and support our health, or we can use food as an excuse to avoid living fully. When I was drinking, I never had a problem refusing rum, which I can't stand. I also never had any trouble finding gin in the summer or scotch in the winter. When I decided the pain of being an alcoholic was greater than the pain of dealing with life on life's terms, I was able, finally, to refuse alcohol completely – one day at a time. Similarly, the pain of being fat, hating how I felt and looked and related to others finally tipped the scales, if you'll pardon the pun, and was worse than the "pain" of eating sensibly, avoiding sugar and exercising.

Pain is a great motivator.

I wish they had talked more about the costs of junk food vs. nutritious food. I'm glad that McDonald's [and other fast-food chains] are providing meal-sized salads, and I buy them on the rare occasions I eat there. The only way they'll remain on the menu is if they sell. These companies are, first and foremost, responsible to their shareholders. Too many Asian Chicken Salads thrown away at the end of the day reduce profits, and if an item costs more to sell than it rakes in, well ... simple economics dictates they'll have to 86 it.

Have you ever seen so many headless fat people on one program? No? Here's one more, in case you didn't get enough. [This was me, in April of 2005.]

I'm left with more questions than conclusions, as is usually the case when I watch programs like Dateline's "Food Fight." I suppose their job is to present the facts. I couldn't help feeling they were going out of their way not to slam Kraft and McDonald's too much, though. After all, those two companies represent a huge chunk of advertising dollars for NBC.

And speaking of advertising, I had decided before watching that I was going to pay special attention to the commercials for this episode. Thirty-six commercials aired during that hour. Half a dozen or so were for other NBC programs. Food commercials? Only two: Slim-Fast [is that a food?] and Wishbone Salad Spritzers. If I had the stomach for it, I'd watch the next Dateline to see if the food advertisers are back on board.

P.S. The baby named Hope survived her very serious surgery on Thursday. She still has a rough road ahead, but she's out of immediate danger and recovering well. Thank you.


Where fibers meet mud said...

I came to your link thought the aranknit email list. I agree what you said about point of sale information. I also like the food establishments that educate the employees about how the food is made so if I ask if a certain food has milk in it they can answer the question.

I have lost and maintained the loss of 60 lbs over the last two years. It was the singular most difficult thing I have done in 55 years of life.

I have started a FLAK and have about 8 more inches to finish. I did a little up and down in the process and decided after I finished the sleeves that I was going back down because all that time on Sleeve Island should not be wasted. I find motivation in several different places and have to keep looking for them.

Good Luck in your health endeavors and I look forward to seeing your finished FLAK sooner than later.

MarilynB said...

I think a couple of Burger places offer fruits instead of fries with the Kids Meals...or adult meals. I was so very pleased when I found out my 5 y/o grandson ALWAYS gets the apples or applesauce instead of FF's. He just prefers the fruit. The twins like FF but Mom is still making the choices there so they all get fruit if Mom's too tired to cook or if there isn't time.
I do think working mom's have a hard time cooking as often as mom's in the past did. They really have to get their act together to be able to do it. That crockpot is used a lot by my DD.
I was lucky since my DH cooked as much as I did so it was a shared responsibility. Now he cooks most of the time....I clean up. He really tried to cook in a way that is healthy for me. Of course he gets the benefit also.

mehitabel said...

Good news about little Hope! I missed the program, but I kinda figured they'd do it pretty much the way you say they did. It's their "formula." Trying to eat in a healthy way is hard when you hate to cook--well, I don't mind cooking, but I hate hate my kitchen and spend as little time there as possible!

Vickie said...

If you would be so kind as to read my posting today (Vickie through Angry Fat Girlz) and give me your thoughts - I am meeting with a nutritionist on Tuesday and trying to prepare my mind and take the right things.

Pickle said...

I agree that they were being too easy on McDonalds and Kraft. It's hard to get McDonalds execs in front of the camera to talk about nutrition, so I wonder if they were using kid gloves (for instance, though it has it's problems, they managed to make it through the hour without mentioning Supersize Me). And when Stone Phillips asked about the caramel dipping sauce that comes with the apples, the representative said that it only provided "energy" (read: empty calories)--Phillips didn't push her on it.

It was an interesting report, but I don't know if I can get past the image of Phillips biting into an Oreo and giving it his seal of approval. There were plenty of little "I'm in a commercial!" moments like that throughout.

Greta said...

I missed the program but I think that now Moms and non-Moms skip cooking and go for the packaged foods or fast foods BECAUSE IT EXISTS and it tastes great and is pretty cheap. When I was brought up in the 50's my Mom worked a fulltime job AND she cooked a home cooked meal every night from fresh ingredients because she had to. There were no frozen or packaged or fast food options. She also washed all her non-permanent press wrinkly-as-all-get-out clothes in a washer that had a hand-wringer attachment because it had no "spin" cycle. Then she hung the clothes on the line either in the backyard or basement then ironed every last piece that came out of the washer because even the sheets had wrinkles all over them due to it being before the days of "permanent press". However, she did not spend any time watching TV because not many families had one then and we didn't until the 60's. Home computers weren't invented. She wasn't driving her kids to little league and soccer games because most families had one car and that was used by Dad to go to work and if kids could not walk to their activities they did not go. In Mom's spare time she knit sweaters and scarves and socks and she sewed most of the clothing for herself and 2 daughters and she canned fruit from our trees that we ate as dessert most of the year. I don't think it's an issue of time. Mom had the same 24 hours. I think we have more leisure now and I think that cheap prepared foods makes cooking less attractive.

Big food companies don't care about our health and will only change when pressured by the government. Americans buy what tastes good. Companies and most people don't seem concerned about health. Consumers seem to care most about taste and as a result companies respond by giving us unhealthy foods that taste great.

What I am surprised to see as a wedding photographer is that most weddings I photograph have VERY healthy food. Is it because people don't get food like that at home and so fruits and vegetables are a novelty for them and hence a treat? At this weekends wedding AND last weekends wedding they offered platters of grilled vegetables. Both wedding had a huge variety of vegetables such as mushrooms, eggplant, asparagus, summer squash, red and yellow pepper strips. Yesterday's wedding had bowls of cubed seedless watermelon cut into 1/2 inch cubes mixed with blackberries in a VERY spicy invisible sauce. Last weekend there were thick juicy slabs of Heritage tomatoes with tiny mozzarella balls on a platter. The steamed halibut was served in a medley of vegetables that included fresh uncut string beans and genuine baby carrots (not the cut and shaped bagged type you see in the store). Last week they had a huge display of cut fruits of all varieties. What amazes me is that even in our fast food society, when people are presented these foods they dig in. That means that there is hope if not for society at least for ourselves. I often think of the phrase "serve it to myself". If I serve myself fruits and vegetables then I am inclined to eat them. All I have to do is go to the trouble of buying, cutting, serving and voila I eat it. I think sometimes we just can't get over whatever barrier there is involved in "serving it to ourselves".

Chris said...

I love your blog. When you wrote, "Speaking for myself, when I was at my heaviest, I didn't want anyone to be aware of me, and so was not very self-aware, either", I could completely understand and relate. It's so easy to ignore yourself, because you just don't want to know what you have become.

Vickie said...

Does this work?
I am not a computer savvy person - I GET to my blog through AFG too - it never occurred to me that I could copy and it would take in a comment . . .

I guess when I am in yours or someone elses, I just save to my Favorites and get in from there.

I know that you can copy into POSTS and it underlines and links automatically - but I didn't know what to do in comment/reply . . .