Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mega Calorie Meals - Regulate Restaurants? Or Consumers Self Regulate?

I really stirred the pot guesting on the Charles Adler show. 

Go to for the podcast synopsis of the show Click on the April 30th link in the podcast window

The topic was whether reducing unhealthy huge food portions at restaurants was a shared responsibility where restaurants get rid of extreme calorie bomb meals and consumers also self regulate by choosing not order such obesogenic meals.

I expected to get a lot of negative feedback as overeating is a national treasure to be preserved at all costs.  I knew that many would cry, "food police!", and give the common anti regulation banter, "we're all responsible adults and can make our own decisions". 

OK, let's look at that.  Well over 50% of the population is overweight.  You only become overweight by eating too much. As a result there is a marked increase in the conditions that are caused or exacerbated by being overweight.. cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, sleep apnea are some of the most prevalent.

I'm looking for the self regulating "responsible adults" in those statistics.  I don't see it.

If most of us were truly exercising self responsibility with eating then this would not be a topic.  The reason it is a topic is because most people overeat most of the time, despite knowing it is a poor choice.

Should restaurants have legal limitations on portion sizes?  Should there be specific limits on the total amount of calories in a meal?  Total fat and sodium as well?

I personally don't like the idea of a nanny state so overly invasive government regulations are not something I welcome.  I do agree with and desire reasonable laws and regulations that make life better for us.

Restaurants operate under reasonable regulations right now.   There are reasonable laws concerning food safety and food preparation cleanliness area. But wait.. isn't it "common sense" to properly clean dishes before serving your customers food on those plates?  Do we really need something so simple to be regulated?  Nobody is so stupid and irresponsible that they would not properly clean dishes before putting food on them, right?

Do you really believe that?

Isn't it true that if there were no regulations concerning restaurant cleanliness that we would see a lot more problems than we see now, even with regulations in place?

Just because so called "common sense" exists, doesn't mean that all people all the time apply common sense. 

So what about food portions.  What is too much?

If we know that we need about 1500 mg of sodium and 2000 calories for the whole day (more of course if you exercise a lot), then how could it make sense to willfully prepare a meal that has over 1500 mg of sodium in one meal?  If you need 2000 calories for the day, what is the point in eating 1000 to 2000 calories at one time?

There is no legitimate reason.  One might argue that their opinion is a legitimate reason.  If someones personal opinion is that they can eat as much as they want, then therefore overeating is justified.  When I hear the "it's my right to overeat, leave me alone" argument I see denial and nothing more than bombastic words.

If someone said the moon is made of cheese, does that justify that idea?  One may have the "right" to their own opinion, but having an opinion does not automatically make one right or justify ones actions.

I've already gone on too long about the philosophical component of this topic though. Back to the facts.

Overeating is unhealthy.  It's a fact that gigantically huge portions of food full of fat and incredulously high sodium levels are common fair in most restaurants. 

It's the extremes that I am concerned about.  I say get rid of the extremes.  If restaurants can't get their act together and serve plates that aren't obviously excessively high in calories, fat, and sodium, then unfortunately regulation might be the only option left.

Now I understand that if a 1000 calorie cap is put on meals, what's to stop a person from going on a restaurant crawl and eating multiple 1000 calorie meals at multiple restaurants (as Charles Adler aptly pointed out).  Yes, that happens now, and might increase if such regulations were put into effect, but I don't think it would really that wide spread.  I think that overall there would definitely be a positive effect.

But regulation is the last straw for me.

What I would rather see is restaurant owners own up and confess.. "yes, we understand that since a human being only needs 1500 mg of sodium for the whole day it doesn't make sense to put all that in one bowl of soup, so we're not doing that anymore."

Good luck on that one, but nonetheless that would be better than regulation.

So what about the individual?  Certainly the buck stops here.  After all the advertising, mouth watering menu pictures, and prompting from servers and friends you're dining with, that food won't enter a persons mouth unless they put it there.

So how do we get the majority of Canadians to eat less?  To order meals that are healthy?

If this happened, restaurants would go out of business with current obesogenic menu's.

We would see a very rapid change to healthy foods being served.

Ask yourself this every time you eat: 


If most of us did that and followed through with healthy eating, we will save billions of dollars as a nation in health care costs, and everyone would feel a hell of a lot better.

And no, I've never heard of someone complaining about losing fat, being more fit, being healthier, and having more energy. 

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