Thursday, August 9, 2012

Unlimited Food Supply and Biscuits

   Last night I made myself a note to write about Red Lobster's cheddar cheese biscuits because the restaurant is currently running its Four Course Seafood Feast special. I believe I broke that down last year (calorie wise), so you can search the blog for the details.  However, I heard the commercial yesterday and this time I was struck by this... "served with unlimited cheddar cheese biscuits".
   Today I read an article about the need for people to regulate their eating because of the abundance of food in our environment.  Food is available in unlimited supply.  Our brains are wired to eat when we see food, even if we are not hungry.  This was a survival mechanism 100 and more years ago (but is now contributing to disease and disability).  In our evolutionary history, it was unlikely that we'd ever become sedentary.  Another part of our brain is "turned on" by energy dense foods that are high in sugar and fat. Again - that was not a problem for our ancestors but it is a big problem for us.  
   Biological drives are not the only thing we have to contend with today.  We also have the social influences and a change in consumption norms.  (It now seems normal to eat hamburgers that are three times the size they were in 1950 and our office mates are constantly encouraging us to "try some" of the latest baked good).
   Nutrition/Public Health advocates generally fall into two groups. I am of the group that wants to manipulate the environment ( a little) so that we are not constantly bombarded with these foods and the pressure to eat them (i.e. $ 14.99 for a gluttonous feast).  If we change the environment, there will be less need for individuals to override their urges and other pressures. (less need for the elusive will power)
   Our inability to lose weight and keep that weight off (achieved by a rare few), is well documented.  We know that we should not eat something just because its there - and yet we do.
   I was going to talk about the article I read in tomorrow's post and I expect that I still will.  But for now, here are some comments on the food environment and efforts to control/regulate intake on a personal level. It starts with a statement on low energy dense foods as one solution (article citation is at the end of the blog) :
 ....if people try to avoid weight gain by limiting themselves to smaller portions of foods that are relatively high in energy density, they will have to restrict their food intake and cope with resulting feelings of hunger and deprivation. The virtue of a low energy dense diet is that it allows people to eat a satisfying amount of food while limiting energy intake (AKA Volumetrics, see my You Tube Channel for how to do this)
The mere presence of a food is often sufficient to elicit a drive to eat it.
...the fact that some people demonstrate such tight and prolonged control over their food intake, physical activity and body weight does not mean that weight control professionals are able to instill this ability among those that do not naturally possess it. (and I will add, those who do not posses this should NOT beat themselves up about it)
(with regard to the risk of dieting leading to eating disorders).... it may be even more important to determine why so many people are not more restrained eaters than it is to determine why a small percentage become so restrained that they develop disordered eating.
 I have to say that when I went to the Red Lobster website today - I saw a picture of some of the options in their feast and it looked like grilled fish and steamed vegetables were available (skip the 150 calorie, 2.5 g saturated fat biscuits).

Lowe, M. (2003). Self-Regulation of Energy Intake in the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity: Is It Feasible? Obesity, 11(10S), 44S-59S. 

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