?

Log in

No account? Create an account

[icon] Yet another portion size rant - Patti
View:Recent Entries.
View:Archive.
View:Friends.
View:Profile.
View:Website (pattib.org).

Security:
Subject:Yet another portion size rant
Time:10:54 pm
I have a dirty little secret-- I'm a sucker for an Egg McMuffin. That would largely be a bit of theoretical data, since I'm rarely up and about during McD's breakfast hours, but my boss has recently scheduled a 9:30 meeting every Monday morning. That means I have to roll out of bed about two hours earlier than usual if I want to be on time. There happens to be a McDonalds across the street from the office. You can see where this is going.

So last Monday I stumbled in, and amused myself with the collection of humanity that is drawn to mickey doodles at 9:20 a.m. on a Monday. There was a woman about my size in line in front of me, and I got to overhear her order-- a two-burrito breakfast combo with a large orange juice, plus a sausage, egg and cheese McGriddle. I just assumed she was ordering for two people, and thought nothing of it. However, my McBreakfast was slow in arriving, so I got to watch her pick up the order, sit down, and start eating it all by herself. My portion size buttons got pushed.

Curiosity got the best of me, and I checked the nutrition information for the meal. Sausage breakfast burritos are 300 calories each, and the combo meal has two. Hash browns are 150. A large OJ is 250. So right here we're up to a thousand calories, or approximately half her daily caloric requirement. The McGriddle is another 560 calories, bringing us just over three fourths of her day's requirement.

The RDA for sodium in the US is a maximum of 2400mg. In the UK, it's 1600. This breakfast came in at 3340. And yes, I'm aware that an Egg McMuffin has 820mg of sodium. The fat content of her meal is pretty bad too-- I see 73 grams of fat, which is over the RDA maximum of 65.

I'll be the first to point out that I'm not the sanest, healthiest eater in the world-- I was in McDonalds too, after all. So yes, pots and kettles. Still, I try to be sane about portion sizes and pay at least a little bit of attention to what I eat. When I was done with my breakfast that day I'd consumed 450 calories, which is less than one third of the above-mentioned person. Maybe she knew what she was doing, and made a conscious decision to eat like that, but I'm guessing not.

Her behavior is far too common-- I see people order and eat like this all the time. How did we as a country wind up thinking that eating like this is normal?
comments: Leave a comment Previous Entry Share Next Entry


timprov
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 07:05 am (UTC)
It's easy to read the RDA and think that a 2000 calorie diet is recommended. But if you read closely you'll see that it isn't. That just happens to be the baseline that the other numbers are normalized to.

In a historical context 2000 cal/day is high. In a modern context it's quite low.
(Reply) (Thread)


timprov
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 07:10 am (UTC)
The Mayo Clinic has a lovely widget for calculating daily caloric needs to maintain weight, based on age, height, weight, sex, and activity level.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 07:15 am (UTC)
And for me, it's right around 2000/day. It's almost certainly in that ballpark for the person in question. She was probably roughly my age, roughly my height/weight, and almost certainly not all that physically active.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 02:53 pm (UTC)
Interesting, because in a historical context people did more, so you would think they would need more, rather than less, calories than we do.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


violet_tigress1
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 08:01 am (UTC)
I like McGriddles.
(Reply) (Thread)


slfisher
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 11:59 am (UTC)
Where I live, on Saturdays during Farmers Market season I can get an 'egg mcmuffin' sort of thing cooked for me, with their own eggs and their own sausage, for less than McDonald's charges.
(Reply) (Thread)


whitebird
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-11-02 05:52 am (UTC)
That must be a true delight.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 02:51 pm (UTC)
In The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan answers part of your question when he discusses how "supersizing" came about.
(Reply) (Thread)


jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 04:41 pm (UTC)
I'm guessing that basically, the marginal cost of providing bigger portions is very small, while the overhead of being able to serve at all is very high.

It's very bad if your customer goes away from your restaurant feeling he didn't get enough to eat; they'll likely never come back.

So the incentive, and obviously correct strategy, is to increase portion sizes.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-11-01 03:11 pm (UTC)
Sounds perfectly plausible.

However, what Pollan talks about is the marketing genius who figured out that (despite Patti's original anecdote in this thread) most people are ashamed to order more than one of something, especially something defined as "unhealthy," but that they will order a huge amount if it is packaged as a larger and larger single serving. So if supersize fries are twice a normal order, you can sell them for less than twice the price but a great deal more than the cost of doubling, and sell a lot of them to people who a) feel like they are getting a bargain, and b) will spend more than they would otherwise.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


crayonbeam
Subject:There is no getting around judging people
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 03:47 pm (UTC)
But I think it is important to remember that you don't know where she (or anyone) is on their food/exercise/health journey.

The person in line behind you could be thinking you're too fat to eat at McD, but they wouldn't know that you've been focusing on healthy portions for quite some time now and that you've recently taken up jogging and that you're losing weight.

This might be the first day that she didn't order two McGriddles, and she's really proud of taking that first step.
(Reply) (Thread)


essaying
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 05:18 pm (UTC)
Love me the Egg McMuffins too, but I always have two, without the hash brown patties (which I must admit gives me a pang, as I love those crunchy suckers). Sometimes juice, sometimes iced tea, depending on how hungry I am -- I generally avoid juice because of the amount of sugar, but some mornings I need the jump start.

What scares me is the idea that a lot of people have the kind of breakfast you saw as their regular everyday breakfast. We all blow out the doors once in a while (my particular guilty secret is the occasional breakfast of very rich french toast slathered with peanut butter and doused with maple syrup). But nobody gets fat on once-in-a-while; it's the daily stuff that expands you.

That's the greatest value, to me, of SparkPeople -- when you keep a food journal, you see right away the cost of those habits, and have to make a mindful decision about whether they're worth it. Maybe, for this woman, eating that breakfast is worth munching salads for the rest of the day, and I'm all for making decisions like that. But I bet not.

(I know you're not a TV watcher, but Walmart's been running commercials for a while comparing the cost of preparing one breakfast a week for your family using Walmart ingredients -- not eggs and bread and cheese, of course; we're talking cereal, Eggos, etc. -- vs. taking your family to a fast food restaurant every day. It really took me aback; I'd never even imagined that there were people who took their kids to fast food places for breakfast every single day. The mind boggles.)
(Reply) (Thread)


greeklady
Subject:My dirty little secret
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 05:54 pm (UTC)
Is the bacon egg & cheese biscuit. Occasionally it is the steak bagel. I used to get this 2x a month and now maybe less since I don't work and don't need to rush out of the door in the morning.

People who are fat due to just the way they eat, don't count calories. They don't count fat or sodium. They count comfort. Food actually replacing love in their lives? Possibly and I know a woman who is doing it now. Her excuse is "Oh I am PMSing, I need fried food". My reply is you cannot pms 24 days a month. It hasn't kicked in and I cant watch her do this anymore.

Since I stopped working in May I can pay better attention to what I shop for and caloric intake. Sure I am tempted to buy the Jimmy Dean breakfast sammys. But the sodium is amazingly high. Now I buy good whole wheat sourdough, real cheese, apple wood smoked bacon from TJ's and make my own breakfast sandwich at home.

I can't throw any stones for I live in a glass house, but I do adjust what I eat the rest of the day if I splurge on a biscuit breakfast sammy at McD's in the morning.

It sadly is the woman's choice to eat so horribly. It is hard not to judge. As a plus sized woman I know what it means to be judged on appearance alone, but I couldn't watch her eat all that.
(Reply) (Thread)


greeklady
Subject:Re: My dirty little secret
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 06:00 pm (UTC)
Ugh just looked up my dirty little secret, 1160mg of sodium. I think I just kicked my habit. Ouch. And of course the bagels aren't listed at all. *sigh* This sucks.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

loser_variable
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 11:02 pm (UTC)
The cardinal restaurant sin is letting someone leave hungry. That's why we're disgusting fatbodies[1], and doomed to stay that way. My break even intake when running 3-4 miles a day is about 2700.

[1] http://www.entertonement.com/clips/dkmxvdysnj--Sir-a-jelly-doughnut-sirR-Lee-Ermey-Full-Metal-Jacket-Gunnery-Sergeant-Hartman-Vincent-D%27Onofrio-

(Reply) (Thread)


tigerknight
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-31 11:36 pm (UTC)
Advertising and laziness for the win.
(Reply) (Thread)


whitebird
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-11-01 12:08 am (UTC)
It's more expensive for me to get just a quarter pounder with cheese and a large Coke every Thursday than to get it with the "value meal" fries as well. But I have no desire to eat the fries, and no desire to waste the fries. Why is less food more expensive?
(Reply) (Thread)


shabbirjsafdar
Subject:Ugh is right.
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-11-02 02:50 am (UTC)
I doubt she's happy that way.

I found two things that worked really well for me. There's a number of mnemonics that are helpful for portion size, including not eating servings bigger than your fist, deck of cards size worth of steak, that sort of thing.

For a while I was eating out a lot and getting these enormous portions. You sort of start and don't stop until it's done. Easy to do if you're having fun, talking, drinking wine.

So I started looking at my plate when I received it and cutting the entree in half. I would eat the first half, and require myself to pause. Eventually I would realize that I was full enough and then have a tasty leftover to take home.

What's funny is that you don't have to do this for long. After a week or two your body/appetite adjusts and you become full faster.
(Reply) (Thread)

(Deleted comment)

courtneydisney
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-11-02 05:06 am (UTC)
Holy christ, the amount of assumption (and judgment) about that woman and her lifestyle based on her breakfast is disgusting.

(Reply) (Thread)


whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-11-02 05:15 am (UTC)
What assumptions? I made one observation (that I watched one person order and consume a certain amount of food), and one guess (that she probably didn't know the nutritional content of the food she was eating.)

OK, there's a tiny implicit assumption in there about her daily caloric requirement, but external evidence suggests that she's more likely to have a desk-jockey level of activity than a marthon-runner level.

However, lots of Americans eat like that, and I was using the act I observed to discuss the larger trend.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


courtneydisney
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-11-02 06:14 am (UTC)
I was referring to all the replies, but you bring up a good point. The larger trend isn't made up of faceless, mindless eating machines - they're all people, with their own struggles and issues. No one wants to be reduced to a statistic, joke, or point of pity for others.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-11-02 08:10 am (UTC)
It's true, they're not faceless machines, but (for the most part) each of those people has been duped into thinking that a supersized meal is better, the large is a better value, and that a grand slam breakfast is a perfectly normal thing to eat every day. A few of those people may be unable to control their eating or have some other disorder, but for the most part they're just victims of a society that tells us that we're supposed to eat this way.

I sometimes wind up in McDonalds for lunch, since it's the closest restaurant to my office, it's fast, and I occasionally have very little time to get food between meetings. A few years ago, I would have habitually ordered a big mac meal or a quarter pounder meal. Once I really looked at what was in them, I pretty much stopped doing that. These days, if I get stuck at McD for lunch I order a happy meal. It's like <600 calories rather than ~1000, and it feels like the right size portion for a meal. Plus, I get a toy!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

[icon] Yet another portion size rant - Patti
View:Recent Entries.
View:Archive.
View:Friends.
View:Profile.
View:Website (pattib.org).