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Overheard at Dinner

April 3, 2013

Trigger warning:  Obliquely talks about diets.

On Easter, Conall and I picked up his mother and went to his cousin’s house for the family Easter dinner. The fact that Conall had the day completely off from work was a rare occurrence, and turned what is usually a rushed meal for us into one we could enjoy.

Of course, there was the usual copious amounts of food present: barbecue brisket, potato hash, green bean casserole, a fresh broccoli salad, deviled eggs, and two kinds of dessert. Oh, and these absolutely wonderful pretzel rolls!

During dinner, I overheard one of the hosts encourage another guest to have seconds, as there was more than enough food. The guest responded, “I’m trying to eat healthier. And by healthier, I mean smaller portions.”

I didn’t say anything. I didn’t actually know this guest, and I was sitting far enough away I would have had to yell for him to hear me.

But what? When did “smaller portions” automatically mean “healthier”?

If I had any complaints with the “healthy” part of the dinner, it would be that some of the ingredients used in some of the dishes had preservatives or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Please note, I will never get onto another person for eating what they wish to eat, as that is their decision. Personally, I really don’t like the amount of preservatives or HFCS that is in a typical American diet, and do my best to not ingest anything that has that in it. I also acknowledge I am extremely privileged to be able to not work outside of the house, and so I have the luxury of making all the food from the raw ingredients. I also have a good budget for high quality food with many grocery stores within five miles of my apartment, and own a car to be able to drive to the grocery store of my choice.

As consumers, we receive conflicting information about what healthy eating is almost every day. Every year a new study shows carbs are unhealthy or meat is unhealthy or fish is great — wait, it’s not because of the way it’s farm raised, so wild fish is better. Only, wild-caught fish isn’t because of all the pollution in the ocean. Oh, wait, carbs are okay now, but meat is still bad. Oh, only red meat is bad. Skim or 2% milk is the best. Oh wait, it isn’t, and now they think it increases the risk for obesity…

Heck, when I was a child, the US government stated healthy eating was if you ate regularly from the four food groups. Now, that’s been changed at least two times to a couple different types of pyramids.

So, is it any wonder that people are confused as to what’s healthy and what isn’t.

But one thing I do know, when talking about healthy food, is that portion control (i.e., eating a smaller amount of what you normally eat) is not considered, on it’s own, as healthy. Usually, portion control is coupled with eating only certain foods (only raw foods, only foods you’d get in the Mediterranean, only vegetables), and THEN, as a diet, it’s considered healthy.

I didn’t say anything on Sunday.

And I’m still asking myself, “say WHAT?” when I think about his response.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2013 1:46 pm

    “Smaller portions” = restricted eating/fasting = night binges = Sumo-style weight gain due to fasting/binging cycles.

    • April 3, 2013 2:56 pm

      Absolutely. That sure as hell was my experience, and from what I’ve seen, it’s a lot of other people’s as well.

  2. April 3, 2013 9:13 pm

    Christ on a cracker. What ever happened to “no, thanks, I’m good.”?

  3. Elizabeth permalink
    April 4, 2013 9:23 am

    My husband is an RN and has to listen to a lot of crap religious talk, sneers about alcoholics and addicts, etc, and his take is that people are addicted to self-righteousness. Not until Jen’s mention of an appropriate response did I realize that having to say “And by healthier I mean smaller portions” is an incredible indulgence in self-righteousness. I’ll have that smaller portion with a big portion of self-righteousness, thank you.

  4. April 4, 2013 11:17 pm

    think i will go have a healthy portion of ice cream! lol:) sorry i couldn’t resist. i had a brother-in-law who always thought he was so much healthier than me, then he got high-cholesterol while mine remained as it still is NORMAL:) i have to say this was not funny and as soon as i stop laughing i will say it.

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