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NYT Article on the "Fat Pack"


Really made me a little sick to my stomach. Is it finally over? This obsession with fat?

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  1. I don't think it's an obsession with fat, but more the obsession with delicious food.

    I also think that the people interviewed were arguing that everyone's favorite foods have a place in a generally balanced diet, and also "foodies" need to find the flavor in alternative ways besides the traditional ways.

    It didn't make me sick at all - I was pleased to see the people take matters into their own hands vs. just say "screw it, this food tastes good so who cares!"

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jeserf

      IMHO, Perlow wasn't troubled by obesity. He WAS troubled when a doctor told him he'd be dead in 5 years if he didn't change his ways. It doesn't surprise me that his wake-up call came in Denver, which is one of America's fittest, most health-conscious cities -- despite its growing reputation for good food.

      1. re: ClaireWalter

        if he didn't care about how he looked, who cares? But ultimately being told "you'll die within 5 years" is admitting you're too obese to not change. Which in turn means he was troubled by the obesity - the cause of pending death and doom.

        His wake up call might have come in Denver because of the altitude, moreso than thinking "gosh I'm a fat butt compared to these people!"


        1. re: ClaireWalter

          Well, thats a big assumption on your part. :) I've been troubled by obesity all my life, but when a doctor puts a mortality number on it, it becomes a bit more of a priority to resolve.

      2. I'm glad that this article came out. Some people eat only with their taste buds and give absolutely no thought to the health ramifications. This article is reminiscent of the die at 68 /86 thread floating around here.

        It seems that the fat pack who say that genes are more important than lifestyle are those who don't want to take any personal responsibility. Both play a role in one's health.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Miss Needle

          I think that people who truly eat with their taste buds are able to enjoy a wide variety of foods, including really healthy foods that are not necessarily prepared with lots of fat, especially not with butter, but (small amounts of) healthy oils.

          People who only consider fatty foods and red meat as delicious food, are not eating "with their taste buds". At least not with very many of them.

          1. re: FoodWine

            Believe me, I'm the poster child for tasty food doesn't have to be full of fat and salt. I didn't mean the statement to be taken so literally.

            Just want to add that I wholeheartedly agree with you that people who can only appreciate meat and fat probably do have impaired taste buds.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              "Just want to add that I wholeheartedly agree with you that people who can only appreciate meat and fat probably do have impaired taste buds."

              I think it's less about impaired taste buds and more about overcoming fear, whether that be fear of trying something new, fear of not "keeping it real", fear of ridicule from dining companions, fear of violating some ingrained brainwashing from mom... or other neurosis.

              Rarely have I encountered an over-the-top carnivore who couldn't appreciate a well-conceived meatless dish when confronted with one and no avenue for escape ;-)

            2. re: FoodWine

              fatty foods are not nearly as "unhealthy" as are highly processed, sugar laden foods. I eat plenty of fat. It's good for me. And I'm pretty fit.

              1. re: luniz

                The article was talking about fatty foods and people who obviously do not eat vegetables, fruit or whole grain.
                ("Fat is my meat and meat is by vegetable" = disgusting!)

                I also nowhere in my post claimed that sugary and processed foods are good for anyone. On the contrary, I pretty much think of them as poison.

                But splitting hairs, by claiming that something is "less unhealthy" than something else that also is very unhealthy (i.e. pigging on fatty food) -is plainly denial. Eating a diet of mostly meats and fat from meat, lard and butter and cream is not healthy, no matter how much you try to convince yourself.

                And no, I am not a vegetarian. I eat red meat -in moderation, and only lean cuts. But not butter and not margarine, if I can help it.

          2. <b>Really made me a little sick to my stomach. Is it finally over? This obsession with fat?</b>

            Why would it make you sick to your stomach? The whole point of this article is that calls for balance in diet and in exercise. Are you saying this a "bad" thing? If so, why?

            31 Replies
            1. re: jwoodcanyon

              Of course not. It was the gluttony that made me a little queasy.

              "Although his father died from heart disease, he thinks that the state of medical knowledge on the relationship of diet to health changes so frequently that it can’t be trusted." It's that attitude. How frequently does it change?

              1. re: southernitalian

                Not to endorse Shaw's overall attitude, but I do think he's using a reasonable observation to make an unreasonable point.

                From 2000 to 2005 I was a writer at a company that publishes patient education materials -- you know, the kind of thing the doctor gives you if you've been diagnosed with galloping whatsis or you're going to have some sort of invasive test. We had to keep up with the latest standards as defined by the major medical organizations so that we could update our publications -- and for a while there, it did seem to me that the AHA, the ADA, the NHLBI, and the NIDDK were in the process of defining a healthy cardiovascular system out of existence. The threshholds for what was considered healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels were all being lowered (or, in the case of "good cholesterol," raised). And it's certainly true that nutritional advice, especially concerning fats and cholesterol, has gone through several metamorphoses over the last couple of decades. Fat is bad? No, just saturated fat. Oh, and transfats -- turns out it would have been better to eat butter instead of margarine after all. Sorry about that! And now it's possible that even saturated fats may not be as bad as we thought. As for dietary cholesterol, it's probably less of a factor in blood cholesterol than was once thought. And if you're one of those poeple whose liver likes to make cholesterol, you can't do a lot about it with dietary changes. Cutting salt will lower your blood pressure -- if you're salt sensitive (not everybody is). Plus, cutting salt is less important to controlling blood pressure than overall dietary patterns, especially consumption of fruits and vegetables.

                Nutritional studies are notoriously difficult to do well, due to problems with study design (how to you isolate the factors you're looking for? how to you control for things like childhood nutrition? how do you get people to stick with the parameters of the study for months or years?) and data collection (people are bad at remembering and estimating what they eat, and they also lie about it).

                And even the CDC goofed a few years ago in its statistics on death rates due to obesity and had to issue a correction saying that they had overestimated them. Oops.

                But that doesn't mean that it's a good idea to eat and drink to excess, because there's plenty of evidence that eating a lot of meat increases risk of heart disease and (possibly more significantly) some cancers. Obesity may not be quite as deadly as the CDC said it was, but it's still a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes. It also puts stress on your musculoskeletal system, which is very bad if you have arthritis in your knees or hips, it can cause sleep apnea, and in extreme cases it makes exercise difficult or impossible. This is, as far as I know, undisputed.

                My personal opinion is that the main foundations of healthy eating are (1) eating a wide variety of fresh (or frozen) minimally processed foods, with an emphasis on vegetables and fruits, (2) avoiding junk (foods that are heavily processed, loaded with sugar or salt, and/or contain chemicals not found in nature), and (3) eschewing binging, grazing, and skipping meals. But this is primarily common sense, or used to be.

                1. re: jlafler

                  Oh, I totally agree with you about the medical knowledge bit. So many people jump on the bandwagon when a news article comes out about such and such food helping with such and such condition and how this mineral can help with this ailment, etc. People neglect to use their common sense.

                  That said, I believe that everybody has a right to stuff him or herself to oblivion if they would like to. I don't agree with it, but it's their choice.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    Believe me, I'm 100% with you on the stuffing your face to oblivion. Have at it. I was just encouraged when I read the article because it seems like the pendulum may be swinging back in the other direction.

                    1. re: southernitalian

                      I understand. While it seems like the rest of the country is dieting (I'm speaking hyperbolically), the foodie circle is one where the "health nuts" may feel ostracized, as if they just don't REALLY live to eat. I mean, I've seen all these threads about whether vegetarians can really be chowhounds. Of course they can. Some people have a very narrow definition of what a chowhound/foodie is.

                      I found this article great because it may encourage some foodies to rethink their position on food. If foodie heroes like Batali are willing to take the plunge, others may follow suit.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        And the bit about overdiagnosing diabetes? I'm not a doctor but that's a disease that you either have or you don't, right?

                        1. re: southernitalian

                          I'm not an MD, but I think the borderline diabetes diagnosis is being replaced by the term "pre-diabetes" where the condition can manifest as diabetes in the future. A problem that the CDC has with getting an accurate number for the diabetes is that there are so many people that are not diagnosed with the condition because they don't see a physician. What's really scary is that Type II diabetes used to be referred to as "adult-onset." We're seeing increasing obesity and increasing numbers of children diagnosed with Type II.

                          Any doctors care to comment? Moh?

                          1. re: southernitalian

                            With type 1 diabetes, yes, either you have it or you don't. Your body doesn't make insulin, and you have to replace it with injected insulin or you die, usually within a matter of days or weeks (depending on various factors).

                            With type 2 diabetes (the more common form of the disease, and the one associated with overweight and a sedantary lifestyle), there is a continuum, because the main thing that causes the disease is insulin resistance -- your body makes insulin, but can't use it effectively to metabolize glucose. Insulin resistance can vary a lot from person to person. Some type 2's only have mild insulin resistance that can be easily controlled with minor lifestyle changes and no drugs, and these are people who, a generation ago, might never have been diagnosed with the disease. The cut-off used to be a fasting blood sugar of 140 mg/dl or above for diabetes, 126 - 140 for borderline diabetes (aka "insulin resistance" or pre-diabetes). Now it's 110 - 126 for pre-diabetes and 126 and up for diabetes. Or it was last I checked.

                            The other thing about type 2 diabetes that makes it a "softer" diagnosis is that for most people there are no near-term consequences to the disease. Unlike type 1, it doesn't kill you quickly if untreated. The issue, rather, is the long-term complications -- damage to the large and small blood vessels, which can lead to heart, kidney, eye, neurological and other problems. And these complications are also very variable. They're associated with poor control of the disease, as well as other factors. One of the most tragic things is people who have the disease for decades without knowing it and only find out about it when they develop complications.

                            A lot of people would disagree with me about the continuum, but I say that when you have a situation where diagnosing someone with the disease depends on which standard you use, by definition you have something that is not an absolute.

                            This is not to say that type 2 diabetes is the "better" or "milder" form of the disease. Type 1 diabetes (what used to be called "juvenile") is much better understood and much more straightforward. It's a terrible disease, but at least we have a good idea of how to control it and reduce the risk of complications. Type 2 occurs due to various factors surrounding glucose metabolism and can vary a lot from person to person, so it can sometimes be extremely difficult to treat.

                            Not a doctor, just a diabetic (type 1).

                            1. re: jlafler

                              Actually, by US federal standards, pre-diabetes is now considered a fasting blood glucose of 100-125 mg/dL....but I agree with everything else you said, jlafler. :) Reason it was lowered is because research shows that those troubling complications can begin to develop even at 100-110 mg/dL FBG.

                              Working in public health, I am often in the cross-fire when these standards are change, and I can completely understand the frustration that can come from changing advice. People may believe that these lowered standards are the result of greedy pharmaceutical companies, healthcare systems, etc. But in my estimation, the lowering of standards is meant to be prophylactic. Instead of allowing complications to slowly creep up, why not bring the risk to someone's attention early enough so that they can make some behavior tweaks (e.g. with moderate diet change and exercise) instead of being faced with major complications down the line that require surgery, lifelong drug treatment, being on an extremely restricted renal diet, etc.?

                              1. re: 4Snisl

                                Yes, but it also means stigmatising someone as a sick person for the rest of his or her life. I most certainly support exercise and healthy diet, but it is important to realise the negative psychological impact of such labels.

                                1. re: lagatta

                                  I agree that there can be stigmatization and psychological effects with labeling an illness- good point.

                                  However, it's important to recognize that pre-diabetes is a REVERSIBLE condition- a person can "repair" their impaired glucose tolerance if early action is taken. Pre-diabetes is not an inevitable road to developing diabetes (permanently impaired glucose tolerance).

                                2. re: 4Snisl

                                  The problem I have with all these constant downward revisions of these standards is that it's similar to size 0 models: it completely redefines "normal" to a state that's almost impossible for most people to attain and thus, cannot really be considered "normal." People who last week were considered normal and healthy are this week considered to be unhealthy and in need of treatment (for which the drug companies are more than willing to sell a quick fix), even though the only thing that's changed about their health status is that some people sitting a room somewhere changed a couple of numbers on a chart.

                                  It also seems to presume that if one can somehow attain the perfect numbers on this chart, then we'll all be perfectly healthy and live forever, which of course we won't. You can't eliminate the top ten causes of death, because people will always die, and they have to die of something. I think it may even have been my sister jlafler who once said "There's always going to be a leading cause of death -- what would you prefer that it be?" More people die of heart disease in and cancer in their 70 now because fewer people die of measels and smallpox in their youth. Isn't that a *good* thing?

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    I completely agree with this. And I'm sure no size 0. For me, the presence of these causes of morbidity and mortality are a strong argument against calling diseases associated with diet a hoax -- as per the article, not referring to anything said by people on this board. I think that your point illustrates that either extreme position will not help us actually improve health outcomes or quality of life.

                                3. re: jlafler

                                  Thats a very good explanation of Diabetes. By the way, it was not explicitly said in the article, but the type of Diabetes I have is Type II, and since I have altered my diet its asymptomatic according to my doctor and my latest bloodwork.I dont take insulin nor do I have the need to do glucose monitoring. My cholesterol is at 100-110 and my blood pressure is within normal ranges.

                                  1. re: jlafler

                                    I'm coming in very late on this thread, but Jlafler's summary on diabetes is excellent. I particularly like the discussion on Type 1 vs. Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 is easier to diagnose, and diagnosed earlier on in the disease. The biggest problem with Type 2 is that you can live so long without symptoms. Then you only get diagnosed when you start suffering from the long-term complications, which can be terrible.

                                    I am trying to align myself with the moderation camp. Eat a good variety of fresh, minimally processed foods. Try not to overeat. Reduce portion size. Exercise. But occasionally give into your love of fat or sugar, just try not to overdo it. As someone else calls it, listen to common sense. BUT sometimes we need to learn what common sense is. The great thing about this article is that it addresses the need to discuss issues like obesity, illness, perceptions about food and taste. Hopefully this article will open the eyes of a few food-obsessed people, and help them modify their choices before they have problems. Information is our friend.

                                    Of course, after that sanctimonious little paragraph, I have to confess in the interest of full disclosure that I have just returned from a food-fest trip to Toronto. I shall soon be reporting on the Ontario board, and if you read that report, some of you will be horrified. And of course, I have been reporting on various Montreal food quests, one which involved eating zeppole in 4 different Italian pastry shops on one morning. "Did she really eat all that?" you might ask, somewhat disgustedly. Interestingly enough, I found myself having to employ many of the techniques noted in some of these other posts. Many friends were dragged along, many doggy bags were utilized, many gifts were given ("Hey! How are you! I've bought you half a dozen zeppole! Eat them while they are fresh! Share with your friends!"). But I still feel dietarily-overwhelmed, and have planned out a menu of salads and light soups this week. Listening to your body when you overeat is a newly acquired skill that I am trying to cultivate. I am looking forward to going to bed hungry tonight. (I am so very grateful to be in the situation where I can make that statement. Support your local food banks!)

                                    1. re: moh

                                      Sometimes, after an indulgent restaurant meal, my husband and I look at each other and say "Okay, nothing but thin gruel for the next week." We don't actually eat gruel (I'm not even sure what gruel is -- some sort of porridge, I assume), but, as you say, lighter foods.

                                      I like what you say about listening to your body. I think that's something a lot of people need to do more of -- it's amazing how often people (and I include myself) eat in ways that don't feel good. It seems like something that would be self-correcting -- oh, that made me feel bad, I won't do it again. But often it's not.

                                      And thanks for mentioning food banks. Whenever we donate food I try to give mostly solidly healthy stuff, but I also always include something fun, like a tin of cocoa or a jar of good jam.

                                      I hope you had fun on your food fest trip!

                                  2. re: southernitalian

                                    He didn't just say it was being overdiagnosed, he called it "a major hoax." Its one of the more idiotic statements I've read on any topic. That doesn't "border on the extreme" as the author put it; that's all the way into totally nuts territory.

                                    Certainly any number of conditions may have people who are inappropriately diagnosed and we do not understand all of the mechanics of diabetes but it is decidedly not a hoax and, in fact, is very often underdiagnosed leading to disastrous problems for those individuals who have it but don't know it.

                                    1. re: ccbweb

                                      Absolutely. I don't think anyone here is endorsing Shaw's statement.

                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                        ccbweb -- I totally agree with you. I am a medical student (soon ffinishing year 3 out of 4; I'm almost there...) in Louisiana and I've seen so many horrible results of diabetes... the idea of people believing it is a hoax is so scary...

                                        Here are some stats. Keep in mind that although Diabetes is famously a Sugar-disease, it also completely messes up your cholesterol (bad cholesterol high AND good cholesterol low)

                                        Top 10 causes of death in America:
                                        1. Heart Disease - caused by genetics, obesity and diabetes
                                        2. Cancer - probably not related, other than female cancers (breast, endometrial) which are associated with unopposed estrogen -- which can come from fat cells... oh, and the fact that when you're really fat it's totally impossible to feel small lumps, so people get diagnosed later in their disease, reducing the probability of being able to be cured.
                                        3. Stroke - related to clogged arteries, again associated with obesity and diabetes
                                        4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
                                        5. Accidents
                                        6. Diabetes, straight up.
                                        7. Flu/Pneumonia
                                        8. Alzheimer's
                                        9. Kidney disease -- can be congenital, but the most common cause is diabetes again
                                        10. Septicemia (blood infection) -- infections are way more common in diabetics

                                        So 4 of the top 10 causes of death, including #1 and 2, are highly associated with obesity and diabetes, and 2 more are relatively associated but not direct results necessarily. And I've personally seen plenty of patients who have lost some or all of their vision or even a hand or foot because of uncontrolled diabetes. Oh yeah, and obese and diabetic women have a lot of trouble having babies. Their embryo/fetuses don't survive as well, or are born with birth defects.

                                        But ALL of this is preventable with appropriate managment -- and it doesn't have to mean losing hundreds of pounds, it can be as simple as keeping up with your meds and avoiding eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrate at a time. But that can only happen if we buy into the idea that obesity is a health risk.

                                        Stepping off my soapbox now.

                                        1. re: Adrienne

                                          You're conflating obesity and diabetes. They are not the same thing, even if you're talking about type 2 diabetes.

                                          Also, do you understand that statements such as "Oh yeah, and obese and diabetic women have a lot of trouble having babies. Their embryo/fetuses don't survive as well, or are born with birth defects" are belittling and objectifying?

                                          1. re: jlafler

                                            I am sorry if you feel that the way that I phrased this information was unfeeling; the point I was trying to make is that there are so many horrible things that can happen because of these conditions, that reading that someone was quoted as saying this is all a hoax is very disturbing. Obviously knowing that a given condition or disease state may cause other problems makes people feel bad, even when we say it gently, but not knowing -- or even hearing people try to mitigate these problems -- is why so many patients I've seen had no idea they were setting themselves up for health problems -sadly, including problems with fertility- with which they are now struggling to deal.

                                            As far as the difference between obesity and diabetes, of course they are completely different pathological states, but that doesn't change the fact that the two predispose for many of the same diseases. But anyhow, I think I did specify where I meant obesity vs. diabetes, both of which have been mentioned in the above thread. The entire passage I wrote after the top causes of death was intended to refer specifically to diabetes as opposed to obesity, which may not have been clear.

                                            1. re: Adrienne

                                              You wrote: "So 4 of the top 10 causes of death, including #1 and 2, are highly associated with obesity and diabetes." That doesn't sound to me like it's intended to "refer specifically to diabetes." It would be odd if it did, since as far as I know there's no causal relationship between diabetes and cancer. Maybe you have a cite for that.

                                              As for the fertility issue, being patronizing isn't a good remedy for insensitivity.

                                              1. re: jlafler

                                                I'm sorry you are completely right about that, that was a typo -- I meant to write # 1 and 3, not 2.

                                                Obviously we still disagree about some elements of communication.

                                                1. re: Adrienne

                                                  Ah, I see what you meant.

                                                  Yes, we do disagree about some elements of communication. But, if you'll forgive some unsolicited advice from someone who has a lot of experience as a patient, you will be a better doctor, and have better relationships with your patients, if you keep in mind the possibility that the root of a communication problem may be your error.

                                            2. re: jlafler

                                              That one made me laugh out loud: I live in a city/state that routinely hit the top of America's "fattest" lists, and statistics show that our birth rates aren't super-low & defect rates aren't excessively high.

                                              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                                Lots of things can affect fertility rates, so that's not a counter-example. I've never heard of a link between diabetes and infertility, but unfortunately, women with diabetes do have a greater risk of stillbirth or of having a baby with neural tube defects (e.g. spina bifida), heart defects, high birth weight, and other problems. The risk of pre-eclamspia is greater, c-sections are more likely, and poor control during pregnancy can worsen diabetes complications in the morther. The good news is that with good control and good medical care, these risks can be reduced to a level that is virtually the same as a non-diabetic woman's.

                                                My objection to the comment was the tone and the sweeping generalization that babies of diabetic mothers "don't survive as well, or are born with birth defects." We're talking about risks here, not certainties. Even in the days before doctors figured out how to reduce the risks, there were some diabetic women who had healthy babies.

                                                1. re: jlafler

                                                  My diabetic sister is too modest to mention that with her good control and good medical care she had a practically textbook perfect pregnancy and as you can see a perfectly healthy baby girl.

                                                  Although I've heard that obesity can affect fertility (as can being underweight), I've never heard that it causes birth defects, and I'm trying to imagine what exactly the mechanism for that would be.

                                                  1. re: jlafler

                                                    Jlafler -- I have to say, the way you have phrased this issue now is much clearer to me, and I do now see how what I wrote could be read that way, and I am really sorry if anyone read my post and believed, for example, that the norm for women who have diabetes is the inability to have babies -- that is absolutely not the case at all. I think because it is part of my every day life to talk about risk factors, it just didn't cross my mind to specify that I was talking about risk. It was definitely not my intention at all to suggest that these are problems facing ALL diabetic or obese people, rather to show how many real and sad results can be part of the "hoax."

                                                    I would like to think that in the context of counselling an actual patient, I am clearer in identifying things that will happen versus things that we worry could happen if things don't go well; I will certainly have this issue on my radar now.

                                        2. re: Miss Needle

                                          MN - I'd take a vegetarian as a charter CH member any day over a Cheesecake Factory lover ;-)

                                          C'mon, you knew in a fattie thread somebody would find a way to work in CF, lol.

                                          1. re: Panini Guy

                                            A good rule of thumb: never eat in a restaurant with the word "factory" in its name.

                                            1. re: jlafler

                                              Oooh...hey now, one of my all-time favorites is a one-off joint called The Tortilla Factory! But, generally speaking, still good advice.

                              2. All of jfood's paws are clapping on the outcome of this article. Finally brains are beating bellies in some people.

                                You can eat great food, eat fatty food, eat healthy food, eat whatever you want as long as you are smart about it. Cheeseburger for lunch, fish for dinner. Lugers for dinner, salad for lunch. Then the next day plan a lighter, healthier menu.

                                Jfood was subjected to numerous chicago pizzas for lunch meetings yesterday, so he ordered sushi/sashimi for dinner. All about balance.

                                1. I totally understand why it made you sick to your stomach.
                                  I felt quite grossed out when I read about the eating habits of these fat fatty food lovers, a la: "fat is my meat and meat is my vegetable". = Gross. And really, really foolish.
                                  Some of the silly statements that these fat lovers made were so over the top idiotic, that I had to read some of them out loud for my husband, and we bot just laughed. Talk about huge denial.
                                  By the way, even if one has to eat many meals a day (for their fat praising food blogs), they do not have to eat huge amounts of it!

                                  Also, after reading this, one cannot help but ask, where are the taste buds of these people? If they cannot taste and appreciate the deliciousness of anything else than meat and other fatty foods, then they do not have well functioning taste buds.

                                  1. It's nice to see that the big eaters are learning what so many of us already know: you don't have to sacrifice flavor when you give up a little fat. I think it's great Perlow is focusing his blog on "Fat Pack Lite" now and that the profiled Fat Packers have decided to pack it in, so to speak.

                                    Regardless, fat is flavor. Let's not go to the other extreme and abandon fat all together.

                                    1. wow, thanks for the link. to be so delusional that you believe your heritage or something magic in your body will protect you from heart disease, diabetes, etc and allow you to eat only gobs of fat is beyond me. i guess everything has its extremes... i've always been one to say i don't believe in diets (barring the need due to health reasons of course), but that by no means should go to say that i am a proponent of the over indulgence these guys are for. everything in moderation, eating balanced meals, and staying active are key. i mean, i love bone marrow risotto as much as the next guy, but that's the kind of treat i can handle only a small plate of every few years. and it really sounds as if they're missing out on the glorious world of fruits and veggies... i'm nowhere near a vegetarian (i see baby cows in a field and think, mmmm veal) BUT there is little better than a perfectly ripe piece of fruit. better than candy.

                                      1. My favorite line in the article....

                                        “You can’t eat a large portion of a pig and lose weight.”

                                        Sadly, I've found Mr. Batali's words to be true.

                                        1. I salute the article. It's about time someone commented on what, to me, was always the elephant in the room on food sites - how do you eat 15 tacos in one afternoon and not become obese and horribly unhealthy? Answer - you don't. Just look at any of the major food sites. Examine the photos of the gatherings. Enormous bellies abount; triple chins dance; careless, heedless behavior is celebrated. People plan outings in which they eat 6 or 8 meals in a single afternoon - all filled with high-fat ingredients. People brag about stopping for a hot dog on the way home from a large dinner.

                                          It's no surprise that some of these people have said "enough." All of them better, or else they'll be rolling into the next tacqueria in a wheelchair after having undergone a couple of diabetic amputations.

                                          I'm wondering why no one is discussing this article on some of my favorite food blogs today. Probably hits wayyyy too close to home.


                                          29 Replies
                                          1. re: Lillian

                                            I've been to food gatherings with other Chowhounds - I've never seen either of the following: "Enormous bellies abound; triple chins dance". It is completely possible that "heedless behavior [was] celebrated", but that's not an everyday thing and could certainly have been the scotch at Weggie's talking.

                                            There doesn't seem to be much of an elephant in the room on Chowhound - I regularly see threads about eating right, balance, and even, *gasp*, dieting. Sure, people do taco crawls, but they also post about great home cooked recipes that don't focus on pork belly.

                                            1. re: gini

                                              Then again, some of us *do* post about meals that focus on pork belly. Unfortunately, this happened not to be a great one.


                                              I would like it noted, though, that the week I made this dish (and even though I didn't love it I ate the leftovers for a second meal because I wasn't going to throw it out) I lost 2-1/2 pounds. There is no *bad* fresh food. Even pork belly. It's all about balance.

                                            2. re: Lillian

                                              I can tell you that it is possible to run a food website and not be enormous. I've met Jim Leff (Chowhound's founder) and watched him eat. He's not obese by any means.

                                              Yes, he orders a ton of food. But, here's the key, he doesn't finish anything. He take a bite or two and them moves on to the next tempting tidbit. In addition, he regularly practices yoga and works out- partly so that he can continue to eat the way his job requires him to and stay healthy!

                                              Believe me, he's as fanatical about delicious food as ANYONE out there. But he understands moderation, and that's the key factor here. People (even people who run blogs/websites devoted to food) don't need to wipe their plates clean to get real enjoyment out of meals.

                                              1. re: Chris VR

                                                If what you're saying is true about taking a couple of bites and leaving the rest, I'm quite disappointed. If Mr. Leff is eating meat, some animal died so he could eat its flesh. Ordering more than you plan on consuming, now or later, shows disdain and disrespect for that animal (and yes, this could be extended to plants, farmers, etc.).
                                                Thos. Keller understands the sanctity of that, having made himself catch and kill a rabbit. Maybe this is something Mr. Leff needs to do?
                                                Please come back and tell us that Mr. Leff takes home doggie bags and makes wonderful panini and frittate from the leftovers.

                                                1. re: Panini Guy

                                                  I do know (from having worked in restaurants) that most people don't take home leftovers. So you could condemn most people with that broad brush stroke. To say that anyone who orders a meal and doesn't clean their plate is showing *contempt* for the animal is pretty harsh, IMO. Diners are not responsible for the portion sizes that are served to them- if there is blame for wastage, I think it's more often on the restaurant's head, especially the places that specialize in massive portions of food that the majority of diners can't eat in one sitting. Doggie bags are not always an option- diners are not always going from the restaurant to a place where they can safely store the food until it can be eaten again.

                                                  As for Jim, I can't speak to what he eats at home or whether he doggie bags as a rule, but I have seen him take food home or encourage his dining companions to take it (especially when he's on the road and not going to be able to store the food properly.) And presumably food critics in general try to assemble groups of dining companions as often as possible so they can sample a wide selection of foods without assuming the moral responsibility for wasted food.

                                                  1. re: Panini Guy

                                                    Are you saying that someone, who HAS TO eat many meals per day because of their profession, has to eat every bite -and therefore become obese and risk his/her life - so that you can feel good about an animal having been killed?

                                                    The whole animal was not killed for him, there is plenty of meat left after his little portion.

                                                    Just the other day, I was in a restaurant and felt very full when I was only half way trough. And even though I was in a situation, where it was not possible to take a doggie bag, I certainly was not going to force myself to eat the rest because of any ethical ideals.

                                                    I can tell you one thing: If chefs stopped cooking their food in so much butter & oil (which clearly is the case, EVEN if you cannot see all the butter), their portions would not be so overwhelmingly heavy, and people would actually be able to finish more of the food itself...

                                                    I am not for wasting any resources, on the contrary, but there are situations, when it is not possible to eat everything on your plate.
                                                    I agree about doggie bags, though. I usually take one, unless I am travelling and staying at a hotel. In New York I have often given
                                                    the doggie bag to a homeless person.

                                                    1. re: FoodWine

                                                      Portion sizes in the US (and often in Canada) are utterly obscene. Yes, they are a waste of resources, and in the case of flesh, of lives. (And no, I'm not a vegetarian).

                                                      1. re: lagatta

                                                        I agree about portion sizes and meant to comment about that, too. Obscene portion sizing is one of the reasons why we, who are in tune with our bodies and refuse to eat too much, have to leave food on our plates - even if we cannot take doggie bags with us. Except in very special situations, I refuse to stuff myself only because there is too much or too heavy food on my plate. The most important resource for me -is me: my body, my health - and I am not going to abuse it, even if it means that I at that unfortunate moment am wasting resources.

                                                        But then there are the people, who immediately cry foul if a restaurant has adjusted portion sizes to normal (the old normal), and complain that the portions are so small that they leave hungry.

                                                        I actually could not believe my eyes when I read, on another thread, someone's complaint about how "tiny" the portions are at per se.

                                                        Per se is one of the few places where we have never left a single bite of food on the plates - because it just is too good for that. But as a result, we have felt uncomfortably full when leaving the restaurant. Needless to say, the following days have been "poached fish and salad days".

                                                        1. re: FoodWine

                                                          FW, et.al., I understand completely. And surprisingly I agree with you. But it's not like we don't have a choice. We can opt to not eat at those restaurants that routinely serve humongous portions. Or, if we do, we do so knowingly going in and a prepared to do what we can - within reason - to not waste anything. I wouldn't mind seeing more criticism on restaurants about what they're wasting, regardless of the quality of the meal.

                                                          I'll admit to overstating my case to make that point. Because of his position, I see no reason to not hold Jim to a higher standard. I'm just really tired of seeing what the food industry - and the diners that support its excesses - throw away on a daily basis. It's saddening.

                                                          1. re: Panini Guy

                                                            I'd like to put in a plug here for sharing plates. At restaurants where we know the portions are large, my husband and I sometimes order one appetizer and one entre and share both. And when I go out to eat with my daughter (who is two), I nearly always order something for us to share. Partly this is to avoid the dreaded "children's menu," which is usually all bland and starchy.

                                                          2. re: FoodWine

                                                            This is such an interesting thread. I wish I could take a couple of bites and leave the rest but I can't. I'm 50 years old and I never have been able to do this and I doubt I'll be able to start now. So I hardly ever eat at restaurants. I can prepare fatty pork dishes at home and serve myself a small portion and not gain weight. But if I ate at restaurants very often I'd quickly gain 50 pounds. The portions are just so big.

                                                            I was glad to read that Mario is paying attention to his diet. He had been looking awfully unhealthy.

                                                            1. re: NYCkaren

                                                              Karen, let me give you a gift. "Leave the rest" doesn't work. It's bad advice. You need to come at it from a different angle.

                                                              At some point in every meal, you ask yourself whether you want to have another bite or not. For many of us, the answer is "Yes!". But consider: in the history of the human race, no one has EVER asked themselves that question when they were still hungry. The asking of the question means it's time to stop. Learn to listen for it, and DROP YOUR FORK.

                                                              It sounds simple, and it is, in a way. It's as simple as the stupid "always leave some on your plate" instruction. But it's also deep, and leads to some interesting further discoveries as you learn to really listen to yourself.

                                                              If you get into this habit (I find that most habits can be established more quickly/easily than we suspect...just be consistent three days in a row), you'll discover that the percentage of food not eaten will roughly correspond to your percentage of overweight. And the very cool thing is that those calories would otherwise be ingested when you're not really hungry, anyway. So it's low fruit. Again, when you ask yourself that question, hunger is gone. Pleasure is gone. You've already eaten as you've wanted to eat.

                                                    2. re: Chris VR

                                                      Most professional food reviewers, and serious food lovers, are not in it to stuff their faces with endless mountains of greasy yum-yums. I'm not a glutton, and I find the "eat lotsa food" attitude (even lotsa GOOD food) revolting. There've been times (e.g. when researching my books, or during the Chow Tour, http://www.chow.com/tour ) when I was forced to over-indulge for sustained periods simply to get my work done. Those were the most miserable times of my life. I did what I needed to do to earn my pay and do a good job. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

                                                      When not working, I cook whole grains and wild salmon and lots of vegs. No salt, nothing heavy. And I find ways to make it delicious, but most of all nutritious. I like feeling good.

                                                      When I am working (or generally chowhounding to gather knowledge for my work), I take the tiniest bites, and I let companions take home all the leftovers. I invariably eat less than anyone with me.

                                                      I want to experience the world view of chefs via their cooking. I want to feel their love. It's art, perhaps even religion to me. It's not about filling up. Shoot, it's not even really about food, per se. It's about higher-level things that are conveyed - the sort of deeper, more soulful things which make some people roll their eyes, but which, for me, make life worth living.


                                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                                            Woof! You still the big dog to me. :-)

                                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                                          Good for you, man. I salute your superior willpower. :)

                                                          1. re: OffTheBroiler

                                                            Willpower?? Er, I think you missed his point. When wine professionals attend tastings, it's not force of will that prevents them from getting sloppy drunk and falling on their faces. They're there to learn and to appreciate flavors, not to get smashed. Only amateurs gulp at wine tastings.

                                                            1. re: stazio

                                                              Its not an accurate comparison. You can't accomplish your job as a wine critic and drink every glass because it will impair your judgement process. A food critic can certainly accomplish their job by eating every plate. Oh you'll get sick, and you'll get fat, and in the long term, it will endanger your health, but it won't impair the quality of your food writing.

                                                              1. re: OffTheBroiler

                                                                While it certainly makes sense that you'd need to try every plate- even 2 or 3 bites to confirm your initial tasting judgement, it just stands to reason that finishing an entire plate will necessarily mean you have less room to try other things. And it seems to be that would get in the way of accomplishing your job. I mean, sure, I can understand the DESIRE to eat an entire rack of ribs, but the last bite doesn't taste any different from the first. And then you won't have room to eat the brisket, pulled pork, sweet potato pie, cornbread... so how can you give a complete review of the restaurant?

                                                                  1. re: OffTheBroiler

                                                                    Oh, believe me, I'm all about degustations, where plates are portioned appropriately. But it didn't seem that's what we were talking about- it's been a while since I've checked out your blog but the meals I saw documented there weren't tasting menus.

                                                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                                                      First of all lets get a few things out of the way. I'm not a professional food critic. A professional food critic has a methodology that enables him to better sample the cuisine of a restaurant -- they go on multiple visits and take groups of people with them so that they don't get "made". If you order twelve dishes and you are going by yourself or with a date its gonna look awfully suspicious. Frank Bruni probably visits a restaurant two or three times before writing up a peice and he goes in groups of like 3 or 4 people.

                                                                      My blog posts, at least the ones prior to October of this year, frequently reflect multiple visits. Because of the nature of blogging, you can photograph food on one visit, post about it, and then update the post. With a few of my favorite restaurants, this has happened quite a few times. I also bring other people with me and I also photograph the food of other diners. I also didn't eat "all" the plates at a particular meal. So its very easy to assume one is eating huge quantities of food at a restaurant based on a blog post. Sure, on occasions, I definitely over-ate. A lot. But its not just how much you are eating, its WHAT you are eating. Its your lifestyle in general that contributes to your health.

                                                                      Now when cooking at home and blogging about it, you don't necessarily have those constraints. I probably got myself into the condition that I am in more from not being conscious of how much I was eating and what I was cooking than any restaurant meals I went to.

                                                                      The bottom line is, and if you read the article, I'm clearly doing something about it now. I'm down nearly 60 pounds since mid-October of 2007 and I plan to lose at least a hundred total by this time next year, if not more. My blood vitals right now are probably the best they have ever been, my diabletes II is asymptomatic, my blood pressure is totally controlled and my cholesterol is about as optimal you are ever going to find in an obese person -- 100-112. This is all because of a change in diet, moreso than actual portion size. I still eat a ton of food, but its protein, vegeteables and whole grains, and I have cut off all sugar and saturated fats. If you want to see what we're doing in a nutshell, we summarized it recently here:


                                                      1. re: Lillian

                                                        Somehow I missed Lillian's post on my first read through this topic, but now that I have read it, I have a request: can we please stop this scornful/casual talk about "diabetic amputations" and other longterm complcations of diabetes? I don't understand why people think it's okay to be flippant about it. We're talking about real people with real medical problems, and no matter how much we'd like to believe that good health is the inevitable result of virtue, it just ain't so.

                                                        1. re: jlafler

                                                          "...no matter how much we'd like to believe that good health is the inevitable result of virtue, it just ain't so".
                                                          Amen to that, jlafler. And thank you for expressing a certain queasiness I was feeling while reading this thread, a sensation due not to the descriptions of overindulgence in the article, but to the casual remarks and the passing of judgment on people's eating habits, weight, size and health afflictions that may or may not be related to food consumption.

                                                        2. re: Lillian

                                                          The article portrays influential eGulleters in a way that I am reluctant to be associated with. I have been active posting on eGullet, in the New England board in the past. I noticed that recently some of the most active members in the area and the director have shared in buying pig bellies. They have had two joint purchases and at least one feast on fresh pig that they purchased, this month. This was a slight turn-off for me and not because I don't eat pork.
                                                          I switched to Chowhound, almost exclusively, because there is very little activity in the New England region of eGullet. There's probably no connection with low participation and pig belly eating parties.

                                                          As a participant in food forums I do not want an association with glutony or throwing caution to the wind regarding a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                            A bit of controlled heedlessness isn't necessarily a bad thing. My favorite Yiddish saying: "If you're going to eat trayf (unkosher food), the juice should run down your chin"

                                                            I don't interpret that in a "quantity" way, but if I'm gonna eat pie (which I don't do that often), I definitely want lard or crisco, not grapeseed oil or yogurt, in the crust. I don't go halfway on stuff like that....I just eat half portions!

                                                            In fact, it's my go-for-it attitude that makes me want to baseline back to healthful eating when I'm NOT out painting the town fed. Not binge and purge, so much as enjoy and balance. At home, I wouldn't imagine loading up a dish with butter or sugar, or using non-whole grains, etc. I like baseline just for its own sake, but it also makes the forays seem more sumptuous.

                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                              Scargod - while there's a lot to say about your post that's positive, it's that last sentence... one thing you can say for eGullet is that they're uniformly smarter about what goes into quality food. Maybe more of them do overindulge on fatty stuff (at least the founders), but it's still about how the food tastes. Here there's a different kind of gluttony. There are a surprising number (for a professed foodie-forum) of folks here seem to dig on Cheesecake Factory and huge portions when dining out - for the "value". I'd imagine that's not what CH founders intended, and they do a pretty good job of moving the chain discussions over to the chains forum, but there's less of a quality-focus - more like CH is about any and all food while a much higher percentage of eGullet posts continue to focus on the "special" and "noteworthy".

                                                              I'm sure I'll be taking flak for that comment. That said, there are a lot of folks here I do trust and whom I'd love to break bread with. And then there are others whom I wonder... what are they getting out of CH and why are they here?

                                                              I do CH more than eGullet very often because there's no Pittsburgh presence to speak of on eGullet. But I enjoy the coffee/beverage (no Starbucks) and the international boards (many, many excellent tips that we've benefitted from) over there.

                                                              Anyway, my point is that if you really enjoy food, I think you'd be denying yourself some valuable info by walking completely away from eGullet because some folks overindulged in pork bellies. There is value in both forums.

                                                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                You make some good points and I am mostly in agreement with you. I have felt at times that eGullet was a little more "highbrow" or quality oriented than CH'ers but I have also seen many a post on eGullet where they were looking for the hamburger highway from Fried Clam, RI to Sugerland, TX, the best dog in the US or a frenzy of posts when a pizza debate started. Yes, there are doctors, writers and infuential people on eGullet with sensitive palates, but more and more I see people on the New England CH board contributing to discussions about places around New Haven's sphere, that discuss the top restaurants and not whether Sally's or Modern has the best pizza.... like this thread about NH food and ethnic food recommendations: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/391374, where of 40 posts, 10 were about (or contributed to) fine dining recommendations, four on pizza and inexpensive food and the balance were comments on other posts or off-topic. There are plenty of people here who are not centered around inexpensive food and quantity.

                                                                I do not intend to give up on eGullet (I said, "almost") and there are many areas of it I like. I still subscribe and appreciate the email notification feature. It has taken me a long time to get used to the format of CH and I hate the narrow, non-expandable format (unless I use my zoom feature), but I digress.
                                                                I have come to know CH'ers who appreciate the "special and noteworthy". As you and others have commented, it is possible to find reliable people of the same ilk whose opinions and recommendations they trust. I have my reading list that is ever expanding....

                                                                To Jim: I suspect we cook alike. I am 60, 6 ft. and 160. My weight has increased 5 pounds in thirty years. I know I'm lucky, but I am also active. I cook a lot of healthy food (and have my own vegetable and herb gardens) in order to use a little bacon grease in beans and (some) lard in my crusts or biscuits. I rarely fry and seldom open cans. I rarely make tamales but will jump at the chance to eat a pork tamale, if I can find it. I love Cherry Garcia but rarely keep it in the house. When I do occasionally eat some fat, foie gras or bone marrow, I go YUM!

                                                          2. "Jeffrey Steingarten, the food writer, takes on the troubling issue of genetics, food and pleasure, ... he agrees with the Fat Pack’s stance against mainstream diet and exercise advice and their belief in genetic predisposition to heft. “But,” he said, “that doesn’t give an excuse to the fatty to say O.K., I’m not even going to think about it because it is just so hard to do.”

                                                            That was the best statement in the article.

                                                            I have a genetic pre-disposition to gain weight ... big time. Too many generations of Polish peasants living off the fat of the land in good times to avoid starving in the bad.

                                                            I had an aunt who was over 400 pounds most of her life and lived far into her 80.s.

                                                            My father, the only thin person on either side of the family, who once studied with Jack LaLaine., ate organically and well before anyone even considered it, died of a heart-attack at the age of 51

                                                            Over 30 years ago, when I was very young a doctor told me I would be dead in five years.

                                                            I have been on 'diets' since the age of five.

                                                            That doesn't mean I went hog-wild, so to speak, with food.

                                                            As a kid, I was very interested in dance taking classes in ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics 5 days a week. Never lost a pound. People were always surprised to see how active I was. I remember a standing ovation when I was in some dance recital at age 7.

                                                            When I had a back operation a decade back, my cholesteral was perfect. My artieries squeakly clean. Damn genetics for clinging to the fat.

                                                            People following some of my posts might think I pig out. However, when I do something like a feojada or tamale crawl, each meal lasts me days. I'll eat a little at the time and freeze the rest for future meals. I'll have a big salad with 1/3 tamale for lunch, for example. When I eat baked goods, I take a small piece and my SO gets the rest.

                                                            Before my SO I'd share with the people at my mom's rest home or the homeless.

                                                            I enjoy food. I'm NOT going to spend my life miserable living on lettuce.

                                                            Some people are just genetically unluckly.

                                                            Actually I eat better these days ...because of Chowhound ... because that is (was) what is all about ... in my understanding.

                                                            Only waste the calories on what is truly delicious. Snub the restl.

                                                            At one time I worked 20 hour days ... literally ... and my fall back meals were fast food. It was wasted calories and did far more harm than eating the delicious tamale from the street vendor.

                                                            If you search on Chowhound, you can find Jason Perlow's old posts. I remember one comment that expressed doubt that he was really eating all he was eating ... I guess he did. But often he didn't eat deliciously. On egullet I remember him raphsodizing about the crap at SF's Fisherman's Wharf.

                                                            There is some truth maybe in science. However it is too variable to be counted on. Coffee is good today, bad tommorrow. Buttter is bad, margarine is good ... no wait ... now margarine is bad and butter is better.

                                                            When I eat delicously ... truly, truly deliciously I eat less. It turns off whatever in my brain that craves more food.

                                                            People have to use common sense.

                                                            In the end ... eat deliciously ... eat in moderation ... keep active.

                                                            Isn't that what your grandmother told you?

                                                            Oh yeah ... those of you blessed with good metabolisms ... stop being judgemental. It has NOTHING to do with virtue. It is the last taboo subject where others feel free to ridicule people.

                                                            Let me repeat the top quote of Jeffrey Steingarten “But,” he said, “that doesn’t give an excuse to the fatty to say O.K., I’m not even going to think about it because it is just so hard to do.”

                                                            I think about it with every single bite I take.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                              Although I think you're probably in the minority, Rworange, you're very right that some people's genes make it very difficult for them to lose weight. Some people are meant to be larger, more endomorphic in stature. I've known a lot of people like you -- watch what they eat, exercise a great deal. In fact, many of these people teach martial arts. You would expect them to be lithe, but they're quite husky. They can outrun and outmaneuver people half their size.

                                                              No matter how little most people eat or how much they exercise, only a small percentage of the population will look like runway models. Some of these models look that way because they watch their diet and exercise (like Cindy Crawford), but most of them are genetically predisposed to be tall and lanky. My husband is a great example. Never exercises (except for walking), doesn't watch what he eats (well, now he does a bit because eating too much makes for some indigestion), can drink 10+ drinks at a time, pushing 40 -- and he's 6' and 150 lbs. While weight can be a good indicator of a person's health, it is not always the case. I sometimes cringe when I see DH pack the wine/beer away at a party because I'm imagining what his liver looks like.

                                                            2. A comment and a question:

                                                              So much of the pleasure vs. health discussion in the U.S. focuses on what to eat rather than how much to eat: think of the number of diets and regimens that take the form of "you can eat as much as you want of X so long as you eat little or none of Y." However, quantities matter, and the more people can get pleasure from smaller quantities, the wide the range of foods one can regularly eat.

                                                              The question: the NYT article refers to a piece by Jeffrey Steingarten in Vogue's April issue. Has anyone found this online? My search earlier today yielded nothing.

                                                              26 Replies
                                                              1. re: david kaplan

                                                                No wonder Padma Lakshmi was reported to have yelled at waitstaff who tried to bring her extra food from the chef when he learned of her presence: "Take it all back, I am on a diet!!"

                                                                Heidi Klum even bristled once when someone suggested it was easy for her to stay thin. She said she has to be vigilant against food, stopping after a few bites when she wants more.

                                                                I think once you have enough heft, what is a few more pounds? The vicious cycle perpetuates itself. If you're thin, you are motivated to stay thin.

                                                                Unlike yours, my grandmother didn;'t teach me anything useful about diet and health. I am blessed with a good metabolism but it is also one aided by regular workouts and a rice/bread/pasta largely free diet. (I will eat and sometimes binge on those things irregularly but they are not part of my everyday diet.)

                                                                I wonder if the few thin lean tv chefs, like ming tsai or rocco dispirito, make an extra effort in the face of their daily temptations.

                                                                1. re: Minger

                                                                  "make an extra effort in the face of their daily temptations."

                                                                  You miss the whole point and bring it back to somehow relating weight to virtue or what was the old phrase ... "self-control'.

                                                                  Look at Oprah ... for all of her self-torture, personal trainers, fancy chefs, "dealing with her issues", blah, blah, blah ... she balloons up and down.

                                                                  The one thing she won't fess up to is she has a genetic predisposition to gain weight. It served her ancestors well and is the reason she is here today.

                                                                  It has nothing to do with resisting temptations but often how you are genetically pre-disposed. If you deal with 10 pound weight fluctuations, you have no clue.

                                                                  Yeah, Oprah can be thin ... but it takes her a 'ton' more effort to acheive that more than the regular person.

                                                                  There is some pride in the statement "it is also one aided by regular workouts and a rice/bread/pasta largely free diet"

                                                                  What makes you assume that fat people don't work out or eat smartly?. I excersise a minimum of an hour a day, alternating weight-training with cardio. As I said, I was very active as a kid.

                                                                  I had two cats that were half-sisters. They ate the same. One was fat. The other was thin. One liked food. The other didn't give a damn. It had nothing to do with temptation whatever. The fat cat had a fat father.

                                                                  There is someone I know who had surgery to lose weight. She is miserably sick every single day since. She is still proud that she looks 'acceptable' to others ... and she still craves food but can not eat it anymore. People congratulate her on her decision ... as they did Carney Wilson ... who is fat again despite the surgery

                                                                  Looking further to celebs, Queen Latifah has the best take on it. She knows she is going to be heavy, but does stuff to keep it in check as much as possible. The bottom line is life is too short to not eat deliciously,. What good is living long if it is thin and unhappy. Just eat judiciously. One can be a gourmet, healthy and happy though it might not meet what others consider acceptible.

                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                    There is some pride in the statement "It has nothing to do with resisting temptations but often how you are genetically pre-disposed. If you deal with 10 pound weight fluctuations, you have no clue." Sorry if I have don't the clue of the chosen people.

                                                                    I am sure that genes have a lot to do with it. At the same time, I don't see what these people who are supposedly trying hard to lose weight are actually eating. I'd be surpised if many of them who did a close to atkins diet on a regular basis with weightlifting didn't actually drop much fat. If Oprah balloons, her fat cells had to be fed by some source. Among those Oprah stories are her binging on gallons of ice cream at night. Sorry if I don't have experience with that. Calories don't come from space.

                                                                    1. re: Minger

                                                                      I think you generally have two types of overweight people -- those who are predisposed to be large and those without that predisposition but aren't exercising the correct choices in their diet and lifestyle. I know two women, both overweight with very different lifestyles. One really watches what she eats (I'm talking 3/4 cup of brown rice and vegetables for a meal type of person) and exercises at least 1 hour every day (most of it being cardio). The other one eats two 100 Grand bars per day along with other stuff and takes a cab from the subway station to her house which is only 6 blocks away. While I think that the majority of overweight people are like that due to their lifestyle choices, I have a lot of sympathy for those who have problems losing weight in spite of their sensible diet and exercise regimen. While you may not be one of them, there are people like that out there.

                                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                        I won't go into detail here, but the person in your example above eating the brown rice and exercising once a day maybe doing what is sensible in the eyes of the nutrition / health orthodoxy but by no means is she doing what is optimal.

                                                                        What seems sensible is NOT the same as what is actually effective.

                                                                        1. re: Minger

                                                                          And they may be sneaking away chocolate bars during midnight binges.

                                                                          1. re: Blueicus

                                                                            See ... that't the thing. People think that but for some people that is not the case.

                                                                            Minger, maybe you know what is optimal. Name the diet and I've tried it. The thing that just works best is moderation. Calories do count and unless you eat what you love, failure looms.

                                                                            For some people it doesn't matter. They just have no interest in food like the skinny cat I had. Different strokes for different folks.

                                                                            This strayed from the original article but the point is that for people who love food the thing is to balance things. The most important thing is to be healthy. Jason Perlow going on about tofu ... well, how long is that going to last? I'll be willing to start a pool about that.

                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                              I checked out Perlow's new blog. Lots and lots there about vegetable soups and grilled mushrooms and pulses. PULSES I tell you! He seems to be really doing this ... I'm as surprised as anyone. On another board I read, a similar debate is going on (with Perlow involved) about obesity and diabetes. This is a good discussion .. I'm glad we're having it.

                                                                              1. re: yumyum

                                                                                Yes, I'm -really- doing it. I don't have much choice in the matter.

                                                                                1. re: OffTheBroiler

                                                                                  Good for you! I do wish you good luck with it. I know how hard it can be to change any deeply ingrained pattern -- and eating in moderation trips most of us up. The mushrooms looked delicious!

                                                                              2. re: rworange

                                                                                In all fairness to Oprah, I read most recently that she has been diagnosed with a thyroid problem.

                                                                                Everyone has their own unique journey. Balance and moderation and exercise, in spirit and in form, that might work for one might not work for another at all. Each has to find what works for them, while achieving their other wants, eg love of food. Unfortunately, some might have to work a lot harder than others in finding that magic combination for their particular set of genetic and environmental circumstances.

                                                                        2. re: Minger

                                                                          Among other things, a major weight-loss via dieting tends to wreck the metabolism. Your body is getting less food than it needs to operate (thus, burning calories), so it becomes more efficient, making it harder to lose weight and easier to gain it. People who have lost a large amount of weight have metabolisms that are similar to people who are starving.

                                                                        3. re: rworange

                                                                          it's a little bit of everything, isn't it? genes, what you eat, how much of it you eat, how often you eat it... for rworange, genes are the dominant player, for Minger exercise and diet do it. no 2 people have the exact same body and thus no same nutritional outlook will have the same effect. while you have to consider both, genes and moderation are almost separate factors... you can have all the moderation you want but if you don't have the genes, it almost doesn't matter. and vice versa.

                                                                          i know a woman here at work who must be close to 400 lbs, and does nothing to hide the fact that her breakfast consists of mt dew, cookies, and doritos, that she eats like this all day. perhaps she is genetically pre-disposed to being obese, but she also is not doing anything to help herself. so kudos to rworange for not going "f it all" and eating crappy, for being educated about it, AND for not going to the opposite extreme and eating only lettuce.

                                                                          i've struggled with my weight in the past, more my perception of it than my actual weight. in high school, i wanted to badly to be one of the skinny girls, and while i wasn't fat by any means (i was definitely average body size on all the charts), i was never a size 0. when my husband met me, i was a slim size 5 - but i also wasn't really eating much of anything. it took me a long time to realize that i never would be part of the size 0 set. i've been athletic most of my life, in sports in school and in the past few years getting back into it. i spent all of 2006 working out pretty hard core - 60 to 120 minutes on a spin bike (or road bike, outdoors) plus 15 - 20 minutes abs, every day. i lost weight, toned up, i was definitely in great shape, but i was never tiny. i'll never be a size 0, and hell, i'll probably never be a size 6 (i hold onto the dream of being a size 8, but not enough to give up risotto permanently ;). it's just not my body type.

                                                                          i spent most of 2007 pregnant, and within 3 months of having the baby was back into my pre-pregnancy pants. which was a shock to me, seeing as how i was not working out. that's not to say my body is back to normal (i've still got work to do) but i was able to lose the pregnancy weight without doing much. i guess my metabolism is better than i thought, and cutting dairy out of my diet (due to problems with nursing the baby) did it for me. which is not to say i'm not ready to get back to my exercising - i love working out, and whether it actually helps or not, i feel better about having that extra spoonful of chocolate mousse knowing i'll be working it off in the morning. ;)

                                                                          i'm also a big proponent of eating FOOD, actual FOOD. i think part of america's obesity problem stems from the WHAT - eating so much stuff that is fabricated, processed (including sugars), not real, fresh food. it just can't be good for us. i'll eat fat, in moderation of course, but real fat - lard, the lovely strip attached to a rib eye, bacon... not the saturated/trans/etc crap you find in a bag of chips, or the god knows exactly what goes into a chicken mcnugget. "processed cheese food" has got to do something worse to your insides than a lovely slice of real actual cheddar. i think all that plays into the equation too.

                                                                          ok if you read that all, i congratulate you... feeling very rambling today. :)

                                                                          1. re: mrsjenpeters

                                                                            Mrsjenpeters, I am confused... may I ask how tall you are? I am a about 5.85 and when I am REALLY slender (but not anorexic), I am a size 10 or a 12 !!! I look great when I am a size 12!!!

                                                                            So, you can understand that I was always at a loss with this sick obsession with size 0 (or 2, 4, or even 6) in this country.
                                                                            (unless someone is pretty short).

                                                                            About pregnancy and having babies. It was not clear to me, if you did or did not breast feed for a longer period. But my experience was, that breast feeding (besides being very important for the child's health all around) really helped me shed all the pregnancy pounds -and more. I was young and not on any "diet", but to be able to cope with getting so little sleep, I jogged, but only 20min 3times a week.
                                                                            I got almost too skinny. When I finally stopped breast feeding, things went back to normal.

                                                                            1. re: FoodWine

                                                                              i am 5'6" and am currently a size 12 (was a size 10 - 12 while working out). and yes, i absolutely agree that is a NORMAL size.... it was during high school where all my running buddies were SO much tinier than me and i felt SO big (and was a size 6 or 8 then). my cc/track coach also made comments about my needing to lose weight at the time, all of which made me very insecure about it. i am much happier with my body these days and don't feel the need to be tiny anymore, and understand that it's just not in my genetics to be (lots of sturdy irish, polish, and german stock!). it took some growing up to realize this. sorry if that wasn't clear. :)

                                                                              i did forget to mention that about the baby as well - yes, i have been breast feeding since he was born and still am. definitely a big help on the weight loss. hoping to continue through 12 months. still haven't been able to get back on the horse in terms of working out (trying to figure out how to fit it into the schedule as i work full time as well, without sacrificing the few and much needed hours of sleep i get), but i'm not overly concerned about it yet. :P

                                                                              1. re: mrsjenpeters

                                                                                Thanks, mrsj...
                                                                                I want to clarify that I did not intend to criticise you about the sizing thing, but rather I was critical of the overall trend in this country. Sorry, if it sounded the wrong way.

                                                                                Sorry to hear that you had to endure comments about having to lose weight (that in my mind amounts to bullying) by the coach... a person who should know better and set healthy examples.

                                                                                Congrats on your baby, by the way, and enjoy! Mine are all grown up now, so those times are just "sweet" memories. ;-)

                                                                                1. re: FoodWine

                                                                                  oh i didn't take it as criticism and i fully agree with you - there are many things (hollywood and evil coaches alike) which contribute to that trend, and they're all very wrong, and it makes me very sad.

                                                                                  like i said, i really had to grow up to grow out of that mentality, and i give no small amount of credit to my husband... he had been a chef for some years, so when we started dating, he really opened up that world to me. i had grown up in a household where we had a huge organic garden, fruit trees, etc, but no cooking at a gourmet type level (not bad mind you, just nothing relevatory), and mom made all our bread/cookies from scratch until she went back to work, and still whenever she could (and i don't think she EVER brought home a store bought pie), so i grew up with a clue, but my husband really awakened a passion in me about it all. once i discovered this world of delicious goodness, i pretty readily gave up on the last vestiges of the societal constructs on what is "acceptable" in the womanly form. and now i LOVE good food; i can't read and learn enough about it; i love having little food projects to learn about new foods/techniques/etc. i'm beyond obsessed; it's a compulsion. ;)

                                                                              2. re: FoodWine

                                                                                There are a lot of cultural elements as to what is an acceptable size. In Korea, I don't think you can even buy clothes at a regular store if you're over an American size 8. You would have to go to an "ajima" store (for middle-aged ladies who like to wear elastic pants). A Korean friend of mine who is about 5'4" and about 145 lbs bemoans that there's nothing fashionable she can buy in Korea. She's easily a size 8-10 here. Conversely, the mother of one of my friends (who's Haitian) is so happy that she's gaining weight in her older years because she's getting curvier and "filling out her clothes" better.

                                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                  I laughed very hard when I read this. I so do not buy clothes in Korea, or in shops with Korean fashions! I am fighting the "ajima" thing, but I must admit I have a fondness for elastic pants. I call these pants "my eating costumes". But now that I am trying to be more moderate with my portion sizes, I am finding regular pants to be very helpful. It is hard to continue to eat when your buttons are bulging and your pants are fighting back!

                                                                                  1. re: moh

                                                                                    He he. Even though I'm technically an ajima, I'm doing my very best not to become one (though you can't escape your fate). Haven't gotten to the eating costume stage yet. ; )

                                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                      My eating costumes have more to do with whether I can spill/drip on them without it showing too much or whether I can reach across the table without dragging my sleeve in something.

                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                        I was thinking exactly the same thing about my own eating costumes, Ruth!

                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                          Well, I must admit that all my eating costumes have to resemble splattered tomato sauce or have a pattern that will hide all sorts of spills. When I'm really eating, I look a little scary. Perhaps clown-like.

                                                                                2. re: mrsjenpeters

                                                                                  This is a small part of your post, but I wanted to respond a little to what you say about your co-worker. She sounds a lot like a woman I used to work with, who had grown up very poor, and probably malnourished. I don't know what your co-worker's background is like, but there's some evidence that childhood malnutrition can lead to obesity later on, especially given that in our present food system calories are cheap and nutrition is expensive. There are kids now who are malnourished *and* obese. It's even possible that the overeating is a response to being malnourished, but of course if the available food is junk, you can stuff yourself and still be malnourished.

                                                                                  Even if I didn't care about my weight or my health, I wouldn't breakfast on mtn dew, cookies, and doritos (yuck!), so it's not just a matter of self-control, it's a matter of what foods (or edible substances) a person has learned to eat. One thing that does seem to be very keyed to environment, especially early childhood diet, is food tastes. There are exceptions -- I have a friend who grew up on a boring, bland, mid-century American diet, and when she finally ate spicy food it was love at first bite. But that's unusual. Retraining food tastes is extremely hard to do. I would be horrified if I had to live on chips and soda, and I presume the reverse is true for people who have been eating nothing but junk food their entire lives. It's a very difficult problem.

                                                                                  1. re: jlafler

                                                                                    Eating preferences are definitely involved here, though it also has to do with emotional satisfaction, and with the "epigenetic" factors such as what you were fed in the womb, as an infant, as a child.
                                                                                    As described in judith moore's book "fat girl," many people feel emotionally attached to food. I think people are kidding themselves here if they don't acknowledge that as essentially the PRIMARY factor that leads to obesity.

                                                                                    So blame your parents for the way they ate, the way you were nourished with food, and emotionally. I am thankful to be able to eat mostly what I want and not gain, except when I eat sweets: My father grew up on a very healthy southern-italian diet of vegetables, legumes, etc. and has never had a problem with his weight. My mother's family loves the milk and meat-fat goodness of polish meals, though the only overweight people on her side are clinically depressed.
                                                                                    there is also evidence that one's relationship to weight gain is also influenced by what your mother eats while you're in the womb, whether you were breast fed, as well as what you ate as a child. My fiancee is the equivalent of a professional athlete in terms of the training and capacity he has, yet he has a terribly hard time losing weight. He has never been actually overweight, but both his parents have always been.

                                                                          2. I'm not the only one to notice this (a commenter on Eater.com alluded to it), but there seems to be an element of "stunt eating" in the Fat Pack food choices. As in, whoohoo, I can cram pounds of fatty pork into me, ain't I cool? It's the same mindset that leads to ordering food so spicy that the only discernible flavor is "ow." I understand the daredevil aspect, but it seems to me something one would (sorry) outgrow.

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                                                                            1. re: small h

                                                                              This is exactly what crossed my mind when I originally posted the article. This is spectacle eating. An eating disorder for men.

                                                                            2. I don't think the obsession w/ fat is over. Witness the ever popularity of pork belly and all things porcine (which I love!)
                                                                              I particularly appreciate restaurants that serve a good helping of greens and veggies w/ the meal. Sadly, I spoke w/ the chef at my favorite restaurant about how he might reduce meat and add more veggies (you have to order veggies separately if you want them). He told me: people expect to see a large portion of meat on their plate. Yes, I love their cooking, but I often go across the street to a natural food restaurant where their emphasis is more on veggies, soups and salads -- less heavy and no less delicious.

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                                                                              1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                                Meat is a flavor. Fat is a flavor. These days I find that adding too much of either to a plate isn't unlike adding too much salt or sugar.

                                                                                Wasn't always that way, but the more I learned about food and cooking, the more I found myself getting bored with the last third of a big steak... then the second half... soon the last three quarters. In other words, a little can go a long way when applied creatively.

                                                                                I will make an exception of a good burger with a fresh tomato and some thick bacon.. sometimes you just gotta have it. But not every night, or even every week for that matter.

                                                                              2. Mr. Shaw represents a sever case of a food lover that is also a food addict and a compulsive eater. His eating preferences of meat and saturated fat represent the basic attitude of most American toward fruits and vegetables which is very narrow minded. Even in top restaurants you cannot get a good vegetable salad as you can eat in any ethnic Greek, Turkish and Midwestern restaurant.

                                                                                Food addiction is a disease that usually results with obesity or other disorders such as bulimia (mainly with women). Many food addicts understand the consequences of overeating but cannot stop it (like alcoholics) and some develop a denial mechanism of questioning all the scientific evidence gathered so far about overeating and about inherently damaging food like saturated fat and carbohydrates, using past (and possible future) scientific mistakes as a reason not to trust current scientific knowledge. There are normal people that eat everything but do not eat excessively (without any special effort to diet). The main problem of compulsive food addicts is that we all must eat thus it is so hard to fight food addiction. Part of the problem is the culture that we live in. The French eat horrible food health-wise but most are slim since they eat small quantities. Americans eat large quantities and are addicted to sweet taste due to the food industry crime of loading food products and beverages with sugar.
                                                                                I fight obesity for many years. I am a food lover that eats everything but I have always been disturbed by top chefs that ignore any health considerations and load everything with excessive amounts of saturated fat (butter, lard, margarine etc.) and/or processed sugers.

                                                                                As the abandon use of drugs and alcohol in the sixties killed so many people at young ages until it became cool not to smoke and destroy your body – the same should apply to food lovers.
                                                                                The future of food lovers eating must be health sensitive. A cool foodie should be slim and adore vegetables, fruits, fish and other healthy food. Fat steaks, pork belly and alike should be limited to special occasions.

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                                                                                1. re: SYCRoberts

                                                                                  All those girls above who allow their clothing "size" to rule their lives, need to remember that clothing manufacturers are VERY different in their cuts of the cloth. I am a robust woman, but my closet contains clothing that fits .. some have tags that say size 6, some say size 16, and everything in between. You can't let the tags numbers in the stores or the numbers on the scale tell you when to feel good about yourself.

                                                                                  I used to blame age and genetics for my chubbiness. Then my uncle (25 years older than I) went on a serious diet and lost 30 lbs., blowing my two favorite excuses out of the water, Now, however, he's no fun to dine out with -- "I can't have this, only that, and only this much" etc, etc. Not that we were pigout buddies, its just that people who let this rule their lives seem to have lost some of the spirit of occasional indulgence.

                                                                                  And one of the most important things I've learned is that you can't exercise away a bad diet. Even if you run 5 miles every day, that extra bowl of ice cream every night IS going to catch up with you.

                                                                                  I was pleased to read this NYTimes article, and will clip it out and keep it handy. Did I actually see that Mario Battali was going to try to lose some weight? I can't wait to see that happen. I love that guy, and would hate to see him gone too soon, or succumb to diabetes, et al.