Saturday, January 16, 2010

Eat this not that

While at the library I saw the book Eat This, Not That! Restaurant Survival Guide and decided to check it out since I have seen it mentioned on several websites. I generally do not read diet/nutrition/health guide books, since I view many of them as scams and I do not go on fad diets. I have in the past decided to lose weight and then did so, but I did not consult books, go on a fad diet, or join a gym. I increased the amount of exercise I did via a self-made exercise plan and cut my calorie intake (though I did not count my daily calorie intake, I simply made choices that I knew were, or suspected, were less calorie intense - which is actually the point of this book - and avoided some foods such as cookies and dressings/condiments).

The book will have very little influence on what I eat because I do not go to restaurants very frequently (no where near 4 times a week as the book indicates the average American does) and the ones I do go to are, for the most part, not listed in the book (in fact I have been to very few of the restaurants listed in the book and I have no idea where the majority of them are located were I inclined to go to them). The exception to this is the month of December in which I go to restaurants much more frequently though still not four times a week. The reason for that is several people in my family have birthdays in December, including me, and like to go out to eat for their birthday and Christmas. Part of the reason is that I can get free food (for example free burrito from Moe's southwest grill, free ice-cream cone from Baskin Robbins) and discounts at other places (buy one get one free from places like Hometown Buffet). Even if I were to go to restaurants more frequently I find it very unlikely that I will remember the books suggestions when I do go or if I do would want what it suggests (for example: I dislike chicken).

One of the most interesting things, in my opinion of course, is the chart in the introduction of the book which lists the changes in calorie count for various foods in the last twenty years. The chart says that there has been, on average, a 190% increase of calories in french fries, a 75% increase in cheeseburgers, and a 630% increase in a cup of coffee amongst other food items. I knew many foods are less healthy now than they used to be (high fructose corn syrup is in everything, even things like meat and bread and the amount of salt has increased and been put in things that do not need it) but did not think the calorie amount would have increased so drastically.

On the list of the top 20 worst foods in America, I have not eaten even one of them. Prior to reading this book I did not even know that the cheesecake factory served foods other then cheesecake and similar goods. As for the list with the top 20 best foods, I have eaten five of the listed foods though two of those food items I have only eaten once as far as I can recall. The book has a list of seven habits of highly obese people, many of which I have. I tend to use large plates, eat too quickly, chew less then they recommend, and eat everything on the plate (I always view it as wasteful to not eat everything on the plate and if people are going to I feel they should doggy bag it). I do not do the other ones though, I will use chopsticks if they are around, I prefer to view scenery rather than look at the food, and I don't skip breakfast.

The book really does not like the foods I tend to eat the most often calling them empty calories (those foods being pasta, rice, and breads). It also really does not like milkshakes (to the point it calls them abominations and says that they should not even be drunk occasionally) and most ice cream which are often the primary, most often only, reason I go to fast food restaurants. I will go to Steak and Shake and get only a milk shake or go to Wendy's and get a frosty and nothing else.

If you are counting your calories you would probably be better off visiting the books website or another similar website such as Calorie lab. Though you have to keep in mind that the listed calorie or fat count may not be the actual amount in the foods. The reason I say this is because companies lie about calorie count on occasion (Study: Restaurants Lie About Calorie Count), they try and trick you by having the serving size be something like half of what they actually give you (or is a smaller amount than you would eat for example I have never eaten just two slices of pizza), and the local restaurant may have changed things from the standard (put more condiments on or done things like add sugar to the foods, like pizza dough, for the kids meals because most kids really like sweets).

The book has quite a bit of interesting trivia that I did not know prior to reading the book for example:

1. Subway is the largest chain eatery in the world even larger than McDonald's.
2. Many basic things are loaded with many more ingredients than you would expect (knew that but not the amounts) for example Wendy's Chicken Nuggets has 30 ingredients, their frosty has 14, Burger Kings chicken fries has 35 ingredients, etc.
3. The colors red, yellow, and orange stimulate hunger (which is why fast food places tend to use those colors) whereas purple, blue, and green tend to subdue it. This deserves special mention because red, yellow, and orange are the primarily used colors throughout the book so if that is to be believed reading this diet book would actually make you hungry.
4. Burger King sells 6.6 million burgers a day.
5. Kentucky Fried Chicken's food is the most popular request by death row inmates (personally I don't see why since I really dislike chicken).

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