Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Gun To My Head

Every time I went to dinner the waiter gave me a loaded gun and held it to my head.

The ridiculous portion sizes restaurants put in front of a person that can’t stop eating is assisted suicide. A study reported in the American Journal of Public Health states that portions of cooked pasta, muffins, steaks, and bagels exceeded USDA standards by 480%, 333%, 224%, and 195% respectively. And I wonder why I weighed 277 pounds.

Just because a person is full doesn’t mean they stop eating and American portion sizes are the very thing that perpetuate the obesity epidemic in this country. In a literature review in the March/April 2003 issue of Nutrition Today (Vol. 38, No. 2), Barbara J. Rolls, PhD, a nutrition expert at Pennsylvania State University and co-author, with Robert A Barnett, of The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan (Quill, 2000; HarperTorch, 2003), summarizes research findings that:

We eat more when we're given more. Package size influences us to eat more. We don't compensate for eating too much at one sitting by eating less at the next. Having access to big portions can override our natural sense of fullness.

And don’t think this is a worldwide problem. In this area the American lifestyle is special. This is shown in a study comparing 11 pairs of equivalent eateries in Paris and Philadelphia--including fast-food chains, pizzerias, ice-cream parlors and ethnic restaurants--the team found that mean portion sizes in Paris were 25 percent less than in Philadelphia.

Couple this with a person that can’t control when to stop eating any more than the anorexic can make herself eat and it is easy to see why people are literally eating themselves to death.

So what do we do to combat this epidemic? Sue the restaurants for making America fat? While the American food industry may carry some of the burden of responsibility they certainly do not carry all of it. Americans need to realize they are walking into a battle when they enter a restaurant. Americans need to take responsibility and make proper decisions.

If a person has not yet reached the land of obesity, or they are trying to reverse the direction of their lifestyle, there are things they can learn to do. Order an appetizer instead of an entrée; these are usually as large as a meal. Or, share an entrée with a dinner companion. Those that have come to terms with their obesity and have chosen to have Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) to help them lose the weight and alter the overeating behavior do this out of necessity and economics.

America is the land of bigger is better in everything from cars to meal portions. But, just because you can eat it doesn’t mean you should. By being aware of exactly what one needs for nutrition and to sustain them versus what is put on the plate in front of them, a person can remove the bullets from the gun leaving the weapon harmless.

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