Monday, September 7, 2009

A rant

I posted this in response to a post on MFD where the member indicated she preferred to frequent restaurants to make their nutritional information readily available:

I have a slightly different take on restaurants and their providing nutritional information. I think there's a much larger issue at hand - most chain restaurants do not really serve real food and what they serve are in portion sizes appropriate for 2 or 3 people. And on top of that, the food-like substances they are serving are chemically engineered in such a way to keep you coming back for more and more more. See Dr. David Kessler's The End of Overeating. It will make you want to stay out of most restaurants the rest of your life.

Compared to most people, my partner and I spend an inordinate amount of time planning and preparing our food for the week. We do this because we choose to know what we eat and how it's prepared. We don't necessarily buy only organic -we're not sure in today's society that organic farming on a scale to feed our nation is sustainable - but we do buy fresh and local whenever possible. And we spend about an hour a day cooking. We typically do not eat in restaurants during the week.

On the weekends we do typically have lunch out. Saturday's lunch will tend to be something quick and whenever possible, at a place where I can get something half-way healthy. I like Panera for that - so far most of their soups seem to be prepared in the restaurant and use real ingredients. Yes, there's the dreaded salt on fat on sugar formula - but I keep the portions reasonable and avoid the foods I know will trigger my wanting more. On Sundays my partner and I make a concerted effort to support local, non-chain restaurants. Nutritional information is not posted anywhere and usually these restaurants don't have a web site. What they do have, if we've made the right restaurant selection - is real food served in reasonable portions. And when restaurants serve real food like that - it is easy enough for me to guesstimate my calories.

I guess my point is that instead of demanding information about the caloric and nutritional value of the 'food' restaurants serve, what we should be demanding instead is to see their ingredient list. And if they aren't using real food, don't patronize them. See Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food where he provides a very simple definition of real food: the ingredient list of any single item is usually less than five items, and all the items are pronounceable and our great-grandmothers would recognize the item as food.

You know it's not always easy to eat this way and keep calories down. But it's doable. And the more processed food I eliminate from my eating, the better and better I feel. That makes it worth it.

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