Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday Rant - Calorie what what??!

We have so many yummy foods available to us nowadays. If you think back 100 or even 50 years ago, the American diet was much less varied, and people ate the food that they cooked (or their family cooked), for the most part. People did eat out, but it wasn't quite as prevalent as it is now. This is in part because women are more often than not working just as much as their husbands and the percentage of stay-at-home parents has considerably reduced. And who wants to work all day long, then maybe hit the gym afterwards, then come home and cook a full dinner for the family? Not likely. I don't even like to cook in evenings when I get home, and I live alone.

So what do we do? We have aisles of frozen prepared foods at the grocery store, take-out and dining out. While I don't care for frozen dinners, I do love take out and eating out. The problem is that you never really know what's in the food. Read this article about some of the various chains (for instance, Dunkin' Donuts smoothies pack a major sugar punch and IHOP's omelet feast will cost you 1335 calories ) - in NY they're forcing them to provide the nutritional information on their menus, and it turns out that some of their meals (just an entree, not including drinks, appetizers, and dessert) come to more than half (if not almost all) an average person's daily calories! They're getting a bit better about not adding trans fats to their food (I recently read that because of the regulations, a chain fast food restaurants might actually be a safer bet, concerning trans fat, than would a chain sit-down restaurant). But we really don't know what all they used to cook the food (olive oil vs butter vs partially hydrogenated vegetable oil plus sodium galore).

And the problem is that they restaurants want people to come back and eat there again (imagine that?!), and well, gosh darnit, fat tastes good! So they make it unhealthy because they know if people eat it and like it, they'll come back. But if they make it really healthy, it might still taste good (healthy food can taste good, really it can), it just doesn't have that same pop of "wow!" that the fatty stuff has. Unless it's really fresh yummy stuff like raspberries off the bush from the farmer's market, then it's expensive. So while we all complain that restaurants are hiding mega-doses of calories in our meals, we're basically encouraging them to do just that.

If I ate out or got take out every night, I think that I'd have tons of trouble keeping my weight to a healthy level. That's just me, and perhaps it's because when I do happen to eat out, I'm not shy about eating a lot. Since I don't eat out often, I figure when I do, it's a treat. So maybe if I ate out more often, I'd be more circumspect in what I chose to eat.

So here I am, ranting that the restaurants pack their meals with calories and trans fats, admitting that I eat plenty of it when I do go out, and pointing out that it's very difficult to provide home cooked food (unless you eat home cooked food from the freezer, like I do) with how much we have to work just to put that very food on the table. So this is a true rant - I'm complaining about it, but not really providing solutions. Maybe all my smart readers can help me out with this?


WeightingGame said...

funny you mention the difference in diet today vs the 50s...I was watching this new show, Mad Men, last week - it takes place in the 60s - and a couple has a sexy rendezvous at a hotel, then orders room service. What they ordered: a petite filet and a half avocade filled with crabmeat. Decadent, yes, but today, that would be ONE person's meal. Plus desert. back then, portions were so much more reasonable.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

They really were! Now, they give us steaks the size of our heads. Man, that fillet and avocado crab meat sounds absolutely awesome!

It's always amazing to me when I go out and they give actual real portion sizes (aka, "small" portions now). That means I can clean my plate and enjoy it, and not have to worry about calorie overload, or carrying the food home with me!

JavaChick said...

You know, I feel like I can trace a good amount of the extra weight I'm carrying now back to a time when my husband and I lived in town, within walking distance of so many restaurants, and it was just too easy, on the walk home from work, to decide let's stop here and eat. I gained weight, and though we moved outside of the downtown core and stopped eating out all the time, I haven't been able to lose it.

But I digress.

It's tough when you work all day, no question, and my only solution is just to suck it up and make dinner. I do my darnedest to come up with quick, easy options during the week (including home-cooked freezer meals), but it does get tiring. We usually stop for take-out on Fridays, so I get through the week looking forward to the one night where I won't have to cook and do dishes.

Charlotte said...

We really did post on the same thing today, lol! I love your rant. I wish I knew the solution though. We went out to eat last night and I'm really feeling the effects of it today (mmmm....onion rings).