Let’s Not Make a Deal

By Susan Howard



Everybody loves a deal.  Getting more for less has been an American slogan for decades.  Our waistlines (or lack there of) have also been increasing for years.  Let me tell you this, get RIPPED OFF when buying food.  Yes, that’s right, buy small portions of fresh delicious food and avoid things that are labeled “Family Size” or “Value Pack”, believe me it’s no value to be obese, just ask any medical professional.

Let’s go back a minute and see how this whole idea of getting more for less started…

In the 60’s a man named David Wallerstein owned movie theaters and wanted to increase
concession sales. He tried to convince people to buy more than one popcorn, but nobody did because they felt glutenous getting two.  Desperate for a profit, they doubled the amount of one popcorn because it was so cheap to make, it didn’t really matter, and sold it for 10 cents more.  People started picking the bigger size because it made sense, I mean just 10 cents, right?  Thus the beginning of super size.  (If you haven’t seen the documentary “Super Size Me”, rent it immediately).

Wallerstein then became director of McDonalds and he brought his concepts to hook the consumer into spending more by making it a great value.  Bam we the consumer jumped in and made a huge cannonball splash!  Since fries and soda have big profit margins, McDonalds lured people to come in and get super size fries and sodas and ultimately sell more burgers as a result because once you got the fires and soda you have to buy a burger, no?  The small fries sold at McDonalds today is the size of the large fries in the 1970’s.  The largest soda sold in the 50’s was 5 ounces smaller than the child size offered today.

Now tons of businesses use this as their model.  Grocery stores sell family size packs of chips and crackers, 7-Eleven has the big gulp, fast food chains and restaurants alike are jumping in on the “ultimate pile high nachos” or  the “XL pizza”. It’s all about money.

These visual cues of large portions are not only detrimental but are mind and belly altering. In one study, moviegoers were given either medium or large-sized containers of five-day-old popcorn to eat as they watched a film. Those with large popcorns ate an average of 50 percent more. As Linda Bacon writes in Health at Every Size, “They didn’t eat the popcorn because it tasted good (it was stale!), they ate it because of the external cue — the container size.”

Sodas are the worst  belly offender because unlike chewing food, there is research that shows your body does not chemically acknowledge calories drank, which is why sodas are so detrimental.  A huge soda later you have swallowed 25 tablespoons of sugar, but your body doesn’t even taste the sweetness or feel full from calories.  It’s easy to blindly take in an extra 250 to 500 calories on a big soda and still be hungry.

Likely you’ve read about the abundant supply of corn we have in America.   Agriculturally it is to our advantage to sell and use this product as much as possible thus the invasion of high fructose corn syrup in most all of our sodas and tons of packaged goods.
Again, commerce = fat America.

So please do yourself a favor and spend too much when eating out or even grocery shopping.  The rule in our house is if it’s a healthy item, like a value pack of oatmeal or frozen broccoli then it’s okay, but if it’s a “treat” we buy the small.

If you eat out and get a huge portion, don’t be a member of the clean plate club, despite what you may have learned growing up, it’s OK to waste food.  You could also ask your server to wrap up half of the food even before you start.

A recent report came out that the first time in a decade the paradigm has shifted and the obesity rate in children is on the DOWN tick, thanks to Michelle Obama and parental awareness.

If a kid has one parent overweight they have a 40 percent chance of being overweight.  If a child has two overweight parents they have an 80 percent chance.  Give your family a chance, make some changes, get healthy and model good portion choices so they can learn from you.  You can do this.  Don’t get tricked into overeating, being overweight is no deal.


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