Eating in a society of more

“Just Eat Half™ is a simple approach to weight management for those of us living in ‘a society of more’. Unfortunately, North America’s abundant food supply has encouraged the attitude that more is always better than less; that gratification is best achieved by consuming as much food as one can possibly eat. In short, consumerism’s message to acquire more not only drives our economy as a whole but our consumption of food as well. Many health care professionals have noted that our rising food intake, along with the increasingly sedentary lifestyle relating to our use of computers, television, and other media, has made North Americans the most overweight people in the world.

“From childhood on, we have been ingesting foods that contain large quantities of sugar and fat. Both of these substances, which have high taste appeal, and are to be found in most of the food products that we buy. Examples include sugar-coated breakfast cereals, candy bars, breaded fish sticks, fried chicken, and fast food sandwiches.Trained at an early age to crave these appealing foods, we become ‘hooked for life’. Coporate advertizing plays a role as well, for their carefully planned marketing campaigns are often targeted specifically to children while they watch their favorite television programs.

“The kinds of marketing ploys that are directed more toward adults include ‘super sizing’, ‘all you can eat’ meals, and the pre-paid meal plans that are widely offered at resorts or on cruises. Ironically, while it seems to cost us less to eat more, a heavier price (pun intended) is paid in the long term.

“Admittedly, trying to eat less can be a battle, one in which the food industry itself is often the enemy. Indeed, by promoting excessive food consumption instead of advocating reasonable constraint, the food industry has helped make overeating socially acceptable. Thus, it is not unusual to hear people praising certain restaurants because of the huge quantities they serve, while criticizing others that serve skimpy portions.

“To increase their market share, many companies within the food industry apply other strategies as well, for example, attaching misleading labels to their food products. At first glance, these labels seem to reflect a genuine concern for the public’s nutritional well being. However, they should not always be taken at face value. Food suppliers, for example, well aware that ‘low fat’ has gained wide public acceptance as a desirable feature of food, often apply ‘low fat’ labels to foods for which such labels are clearly inappropriate. To illustrate: “100% fat free” on a jam label implies, at least to the unwary, that fat is a traditional ingredient in commercial jam but that the manufacturer has thoughtfully eliminated that ingredient for the sake of the consumer’s health. Fat, however, has never been a traditional ingredient in commercial jams! Furthermore, to imply that a high sugar choice such as jam is ‘heathy’ for those on fat-restricted diets is highly misleading.

“The low carbohydrate fad generated a marketing frenzy across North American restaurants and fast food chains, many of which offered low carbohydrate meals. Such marketing, however, typically fails to explain the role that certain healthy carbohydrates play in our diet. For instance, fruits and vegetables, which are also carbohydrates, are crucial to healthy eating because of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber they provide. Low carbohydrate marketing hype also fails to discriminate between various types of grain and grain products. While whole grains, such as brown rice and barley, are both satisfying to one’s taste buds and beneficial to one’s health, they are often lumped together with their less desirable, less healthy, but more refined ‘cousins’: white bread and white rice. Finally, while the low carbohydrate gurus endorse the reduction or elimination of that particular food group, they fail to endorse eating less. Just Eat Half™, on the other hand, provides a far easier approach to weight management, one that does not insist that you count the carbohydrates in your food. My fervent dream is that one day, those who market food will wake up to the need to offer “half” portions to the public.