What 2,000 Calories look like NYT Photo article
December 23, 2014 4:33 AM   Subscribe

Ever wondered what a days worth of calories looks like in fast food form? Well wonder no more! Here, we show you what roughly 2,000 calories looks like at some large chains. (Depending on age and gender, most adults should eat between 1,600 and 2,400 calories a day.) Researchers have long understood that people are more likely to finish what’s on their plate than to stop eating because they’ve consumed a given amount of food. It’s “the completion compulsion,” a phrase coined in the 1950s by the psychologist Paul S. Siegel.

There has long been debate about what amount and what kind of calorific intake a healthy adult needs per day, but by focussing on the 2,000 amount, the NYT has compiled a picture list of what a meal of at least 2,000 calories at several well known fast old outlets looks like.

The article is long-form with embedded pictures so no unnecessary 'gallery views'.

Here's a calorific rundown, but really don't just rely on the text, in this case pictures really do say a lot more than mere words:
  • POTBELLY Orange Mango juice (250), big Italian sandwich with mayonnaise (1,088), chips (220), cookie (420).
  • CHIPOTLE Carnitas burrito (945), chips and guacamole (770), Coke (276).
  • SHAKE SHACK Double ShackBurger (770), fries (470), Black and White shake (760).
  • RUTH’S CHRIS STEAKHOUSE Cowboy ribeye steak (1,690), martini (230).
  • P.F. CHANG’S Spinach (120), dumplings (195), orange beef (565), pad thai (580), caramel cake (430), wine (125).
  • OLIVE GARDEN Salad (150), breadstick (140), Tour of Italy sampler (1,500), quartino of wine (230).
  • IHOP Classic Skillet, with sausage (1,880); orange juice (110).
  • MAGGIANO'S LITTLE ITALY Zuccotto cake (1,790), cappuccino (220).
  • CHEESECAKE FACTORY Farfalle with chicken (2,410).
  • SONIC Peanut Butter Caramel Pie Shake (2,090).
  • BURGER KING Double Whopper with cheese (1,070), onion rings (410), vanilla milkshake (550).
  • MCDONALD’S Crispy Chicken sandwich with bacon (750), fries (340), Coke (200), McFlurry with Oreos (690).
  • WENDY’S Baconator Cheeseburger (940), Potato with bacon and cheese (520), Caesar salad (250), Coke (320).
  • SUBWAY Cold-cut combo (375), chips (230), chicken noodle soup with oyster crackers (155), cookie (220), Buffalo-chicken salad (360), Coke (200), egg-and-cheese flatbread (370), juice (100).
  • STARBUCKS Java Chip Frappucino (460), latte (190), orange mango smoothie (270), grilled cheese (580), popcorn (125), sausage croissant (410).
  • PIZZA HUT Meat Lover’s Stuffed Crust pizza (880), baked wings with blue cheese (340), Mountain Dew (440), two cookies (360).
  • HOME PREPARED Yogurt with fruit and nuts (210), toast and jam (85), coffee (2), beef stir-fry and farro (400), diet soda (0), pretzels (220), pear (100), chicken and arugula (490), Brussels sprouts and squash (55), water (0), wine (120), cookies (200) Butternut squash hash with fried egg (175), turkey chili (410), tortilla chips (120), water (0), coffee (2), chicken wings (280), berries with yogurt (130), orecchiette with chicken sausage and broccoli rabe (435), beer (155), ice cream with poached pear (370)
The salt and fat intake that would occur by eating any of these single 'meals' is generally not measured.

The article does include several embedded links with studies on how healthy (or not) specific fast food outlet offerings are.
posted by Faintdreams (128 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's interesting that in order to get the total calories bumped up to 2,000, a number of the meals use milkshakes instead of the standard cola. It reminds me of my High School lunch program that was structured so that you had a choice in beverage everyday: Milk or Milkshake. No points for guessing what I and most of my friends chose on a daily basis.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:46 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, personally, I think that a lot of calories would be saved if the "home prepared' diet soda was used in the restaurant examples. Also, how does a tortilla have 300 calories in it? That seems insane to me.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 4:55 AM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yay Starbucks! I deserve a treat for reading this article.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:58 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


The day I make a serving of Brussels sprouts with only 55 calories is the day I hang up my cutting board for good.
posted by ftm at 5:13 AM on December 23, 2014 [65 favorites]


Yeah, plus I never eat just one serving of Brussels sprouts, because the olive oil and pancetta and balsamic make them delicious.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:16 AM on December 23, 2014 [18 favorites]


Eating one meal that has way too many calories won't make you fat. Eating in a culture that supports obesity and enables bad choices makes you fat. Western Fast food like McDonalds & KFC is huge in Japan, yet they have almost no obesity compared to us in Catholic Europe / the US. Which is not to say the Japanese approach, where being overweight is a total no-no and will get you discriminated against, shunned by society and probably fired from your job is correct.

What is harmful, is that we have the worst of both worlds, we laugh and discriminate at fat people and then rather than having effective scientifically backed support systems to help them we throw advertising and incentives for eating at them and also try and are so scientifically illiterate that we encourage dubious weightloss remedies and pseudoscience. These fast food meals are the symptom not the cause.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 5:16 AM on December 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


Was this article sponsored by Subway? It's clear that they were sandbagging by picking as many low calorie items as possible to optimize for bulk; they could have just as easily gone with something like a foot long chicken-bacon-ranch melt for the sandwich (1000+ calories) plus some other items that would not have appeared to be very large, as they did with the rest of the options. I will note also that the "home-cooked meal" is plated on a ridiculous number of plates that are spread out over a larger area. This whole article seems to be mostly an exercise in photographic sleight-of-hand.
posted by indubitable at 5:19 AM on December 23, 2014 [59 favorites]


Wow, this article sure was eye-opening! I was going to eat an extra-large milkshake for breakfast, but instead I think I'll prepare myself some butternut squash hash and arugula and fresh berries and yogurt and beef and broccoli rabe and whatever the hell farro is. Because I certainly have the time and refrigerator space and the only thing preventing me from cooking twelve servings of vegetables a day was the knowledge that fresh vegetables are better for you than fast food. Thanks, New York Times!
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:25 AM on December 23, 2014 [91 favorites]


Was this article sponsored by Subway? It's clear that they were sandbagging by picking as many low calorie items as possible to optimize for bulk

No kidding. They note in all the captions that most of the restaurants featured also have lower-calorie menu items, but the Subway text doesn't mention that Subway also serves a shitload of gut-bombs, too.

whatever the hell farro is

I give my wife the side-eye whenever she brings a new grain into the house ever since the quinoa incident, but it turns out that farro is really good. (and quinoa still smells like dirty dishwater)
posted by uncleozzy at 5:29 AM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


I will note also that the "home-cooked meal" is plated on a ridiculous number of plates that are spread out over a larger area.

Their point with the home cooked meal is that you can eat a full day's worth of food for under 2K calories; it's on a bunch of different plates because it's three different meals.

how does a tortilla have 300 calories in it? That seems insane to me.

It's a Chipotle tortilla, have you seen those fuckers? You could make a balaclava out of one. 300 cals is their standard count for it on their website. Even a 8 inch fajita tortilla is like 120 cals, the Chipotle one's got to be like a foot wide.
posted by Diablevert at 5:29 AM on December 23, 2014 [14 favorites]


Can this thread turn into how to cook farro recipes? (And other interesting grains.) I always want to try them but all the recipes I find are for low calorie south beach paleo raw hoodilyhoo or "and then add a cup of parmesan and twelve ounces alfredo sauce per serving!" I'm aiming for middle ground but I haven't got anyone to trust in this arena.
posted by Mizu at 5:34 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Tortillas in general have about 230 kcal per 100 g, as per USDA. So it may seem insane, but food science is not done according to what things seem like.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 5:36 AM on December 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


a java chip frappuccino and one of those frosted snowmen have almost the same amount of calories.

they have calorie counts on all the snacks and i thought i was seeing it wrong but those dang cookies are 400 calories. pound cake, brownie, croissant, are all less than those adorable snow man cookies your kids probably want.

i however, lurv me some java chip frappuccinos. but i can only have like one a year because dang, calorie explosion.
posted by sio42 at 5:37 AM on December 23, 2014


Yeah, carbs are sneaky fucks. I may snark about the obviousness of fast food being bad for you, but a lot of bready products are surprisingly calorie-dense, and even if you're nutritionally savvy it's hard to pick up on it. There's an Au Bon Pain near my doctor's office and every time I go in I'm floored at how they can cram five hundred and eighty calories into a relatively bland muffin. And you know people are like "Muffins! Those are better for you than fatty sausage, right?" At least fried foods and cakes and ranch dressing are honest about their junkiness, and delicious.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:46 AM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


It feels like this article should have more of a point. It just kinda sits there.
posted by smackfu at 5:46 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hey Mizu, no recipes, but if you're trying to cook interesting grains on a weeknight I can heartily recommend a pressure cooker!
posted by ftm at 5:47 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Farro cooks pretty much like pasta, which makes it pretty easy for a weeknight as it is. It works as a pasta replacement (with sauce and veggies or meat), as a breakfast grain (like oatmeal), or in a cold salad. I'm sure there are traditional recipes featuring it, but ain't nobody got time for that. I just pretend it's rice or pasta.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:56 AM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


That steak and martini look DAMN good
posted by stinkfoot at 5:58 AM on December 23, 2014 [24 favorites]


I feel like this article, aside from the fairly obvious wealth privilege and laugh-at-the-poor-who-make-poor-choices and the bizarre bias (kind words for Olive Garden and P.F. Chang's? really?) is also asking the wrong question. I don't want to know how easy it is to hit 2000 calories at a restaurant - I want to know how easy it is to get a 700-800 calorie meal that is tasty and doesn't leave me hungry again in 2 hours.

I think the reason people like Potbelly, (me anyway) Subway, and Chipotle (not me) is because that task is fairly easy - in contrast it is nearly impossible to get a satisfying meal at Olive Garden without eating 1500-2000 calories.
posted by contrarian at 6:01 AM on December 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


Someone explain why I can't get food with the calories of home-cooked food at restaurants. Like, everyone says the solution to the terrible first world diet is to prepare food at home. Why is that? Why do we have to cook our own food just to ensure that it isn't a greasy deathbomb? Why do I have to use my time for this?

This is why some people think Soylent is a good idea. In the last thread about it, everyone seemed to be dismissing and laughing about Soylent. But it seems to be the only way that a person intensely dedicated to not cooking can get a normal caloric/vitamin intake. (And Soylent tastes terrible, so you've gotta be really dedicated).

I actually do enjoy cooking for myself, but still... why do I have to?

> Hey Mizu, no recipes, but if you're trying to cook interesting grains on a weeknight I can heartily recommend a pressure cooker!

Yes, a pressure cooker is so key. It's revolutionized my kitchen.
posted by sixohsix at 6:06 AM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Someone explain why I can't get food with the calories of home-cooked food at restaurants.

Because those restaurants go out of business. Seriously, that's what happens.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:09 AM on December 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


Tortillas in general have about 230 kcal per 100 g, as per USDA. So it may seem insane, but food science is not done according to what things seem like.

The people I know who do day labor in the farm fields fuel that work with stacks of tortillas, plus something with flavor. Tortillas are perfect work food; eating the blanket-sized ones at Chipotle as part of your sedentary lifestyle is perhaps not so perfect.

I liked the article, but I agree with the comments above that it could have been more consistent in terms of selecting high- or low-calorie options at each place. (I wonder if originally they shot two photos at each, one of the high calorie option and one low, and then for space reasons the article was cut down to just these photos?)

A few years ago I found it really interesting when my partner decided to be more mindful about portion sizes. We spent a few weeks carefully weighing things and calculating caloric densities, and it was shocking how small a "portion" is compared to what is usually provided. (Our actual solution, since weighing and measuring gets boring fast, was to buy smaller dishes; just like the research says, dish size turned out to be a major driving factor in how much was being eaten. Finding smaller dishes, however, turns out to be its own difficulty in an era when a lot of furniture and dishes are being upsized to help fill larger houses.)
posted by Dip Flash at 6:10 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


More than anything else I took away from this article?
How many pots and pans did those three meals at home take up? It's like seventeen dishes.
Let's not even mention the prep time.

We eat Burger King because it's Salt and Fat. This is true. But we also eat it because it takes thirteen nanoseconds to get your meal. 20 if you decide to skip the drive thru.
posted by WeX Majors at 6:11 AM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think the article has the right thing in mind but is horribly guilty of cherry-picking items to hit their marks. Who the hell buys a big mango drink to go along with their sandwich with mayonnaise and chips and cookie?

That said, the Cheesecake Factory entree with 2,400 calories...holy crap...
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:11 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I actually do enjoy cooking for myself, but still... why do I have to?

Because it is moral. If you haven't labored over preparing your food and paid for it with the sweat off your brow, it is impure, and besides, all that extra time on your hands will only leave room for sinful activities like dancing or masturbation.
posted by indubitable at 6:12 AM on December 23, 2014 [29 favorites]


I have that exact steak and martini every year on my birthday. It is delicious.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:13 AM on December 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


I am not at all a regular fast food eater--the exception being airports when I'm hungry and have a finite amount of time between planes--but pointing out the food items in combination or the ones they don't mention are 2K is like saying water is wet.

And once again, we have food shaming for people who can't/won't cook their own meals. Sigh.
posted by Kitteh at 6:13 AM on December 23, 2014


it was shocking how small a "portion" is compared to what is usually provided.

Serving sizes are generally determined by the FDA. They were talking about updating them recently, but I'm not sure if that regulation went through yet. For instance, ice cream servings would double, and a pint would only have two servings instead of four.
posted by smackfu at 6:15 AM on December 23, 2014


A portion of Trader Joe's wasabi peas is 9 peas. 9 FUCKING PEAS.

I like to think that if heaven exists this kind of bullshit isn't true there.
posted by srboisvert at 6:17 AM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


About a year ago, I started using My Fitness Pal to track what I eat and lose weight. Basically, you give it some stats (height, weight, age, typical activity level), and a goal ("lose a pound a week"). It gives you a daily calorie target: stay under it, and you should lose weight (you can also get additional calories through exercise). It's a great dashboard: as I enter what I eat, I see "calories remaining" go down.

If nothing else, by making everything I eat visible, it has driven home just how much I was eating before. I'd see entrees I used to get at restaurants were two-thirds my target for the day. And that excluded drinks. Or other meals. Or snacks. Put another way: no wonder I was a lard ass.

It does not surprise me at all that, even taking out sodas or shakes, these offerings can throw you over 2000 calories/day.

to get the total calories bumped up to 2,000, a number of the meals use milkshakes instead of the standard cola

The first time I had a full-calorie soda while doing this, it was a 24 ounce fountain drink, and came in at like 300 calories--nearly the same as my entree--together, it amounted to a bit over a third of what I was supposed to eat that day. My supper plans (which I had been saving calories for) changed.

The thing is, I probably wouldn't have just had that one soda. I would have filled the cup once more while eating, and then topped it off (OK, more like a third refill) to take back ot my desk.

It's actually a paradoxical thing I've discovered: since starting this, I'm more likely to have a beer--a good beer--than a soda. While it may be 200ish calories, I'm more likely to limit myself to one (for a variety of reasons), and will enjoy it more than mindlessly drinking refill upon refill of coke.

to get the total calories bumped up to 2,000, a number of the meals use milkshakes instead of the standard cola

A fair point. A quick skim of the list shows actual soda--rather than a shake--typically came in at 200-320 calories. 1800 calories in one meal--absent a hell of a lot of exercise (I mean like riding a century)--is still a hell of a lot.
posted by MrGuilt at 6:19 AM on December 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


ice cream servings would double, and a pint would only have two servings instead of four.

Honestly, when I look at the ice cream carton and see that a half-cup serving has only 150-200 calories, I think, heck yes I'll have two.

(Actually, the home-cooked photos here illustrate why I often eat ice cream before bed: that's more food than I usually eat, and if I don't have a snack before bedtime, I'm starving at 2am while I'm trying to get the baby back to sleep and adding "hungry" on top of "severely irritated" is a really bad time.)
posted by uncleozzy at 6:20 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Where is the restaurant that has gone out of business for having the calories of home-cooked foods?
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 6:20 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's a fairly simple solution to this. Split up whatever you get into (at least) two portions. Eat one now and have the rest for dinner. I used to eat out all the time, and before I knew it I was 40 pounds overweight. In the last 10 years or so I've been cooking at home and eating out occasionally. I don't feel as sick as I used to, and I've dropped the 40 pounds. The food is better at home. When I do eat out, I always take some home for later.
posted by jenh526 at 6:26 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd also like this for higher end restaurants.

I'd like to know how many calories are in Au Cheval's burger or the Gilt Bar's orecchiette.

Part of the classist food shaming is that the numbers are available for fast food because of paternalistic legislation yet unavailable for other establishments which provide minimal ingredient information. I'm pretty sure that orecchiette sauce was at least three quarters cream but the menu just said "spicy pork, herbs ". It was delicious btw (but I gained weight dammit).
posted by srboisvert at 6:26 AM on December 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


I feel full just looking at these pictures.

And milkshakes? Seriously? Perhaps if you're from Wisconsin, but I haven't had a milkshake with a burger and fries since they were calling it Burger Prince.
posted by tommasz at 6:35 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Can this thread turn into how to cook farro recipes? (And other interesting grains.) I always want to try them but all the recipes I find are for low calorie south beach paleo raw hoodilyhoo or "and then add a cup of parmesan and twelve ounces alfredo sauce per serving!" I'm aiming for middle ground but I haven't got anyone to trust in this arena.

I actually take a risotto or pilaf approach to a lot of funky grains - not in the "cooking method" sense, but in the "how to customize it" sense. Whatever the grain is, you cook it however it needs to be cooked (boiled, steamed, whatever) and then you also cook some chopped up vegetables or meat or both or whatever, and then mix it all up together into a one-pot meal kind of thing. Maybe add some parmaesan cheese, or maybe not.

Someone explain why I can't get food with the calories of home-cooked food at restaurants.

Because the restaurants give you enormous portion sizes. Think about it - we've all had the "clean your plate!" message drilled into us since we were little kids, so it's now an instinct to eat the WHOLE plate, the WHOLE sandwich, the WHOLE muffin, or whatever. Even if the plate or sandwich or muffin is about the size of a small thatched hut.

Think about it - do you really need the foot-long, even if it is only five dollars? Or would the six-inch suit you just as well? Because the six-inch is only half the calories of the foot-long.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:36 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


srboisvert: Part of the classist food shaming is that the numbers are available for fast food because of paternalistic legislation yet unavailable for other establishments which provide minimal ingredient information.

First, as someone who is logging every calorie, I'm frustrated by restaurants that lack nutritional information. However, it tends to be a function of the number of restaurants the chain has. If the place has only one or two locations, there is a lower probability they will have calorie information. I've been equally frustrated at a high-end places and mom-and-pop diners.

Second, I'd keep in mind this is meant for a national audience, so I can see why they'd want to pick chains that are common around the country. Gilt Bar has one location, in Chicago; I can walk ten feet without bumping into a Subway or Starbucks.

Finally, when you're talking fast food, it's not like high earners don't go to Wendy's for lunch, too, because it's fast, across the street, and it's what they can grab before their next meeting.
posted by MrGuilt at 6:37 AM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I am not sure the right kind of lesson is being taught there.

I know the trend is to shame the poor for their food choices and have "you're doing it wrong" articles on how we are all killing ourselves with the food we eat, focusing on how people in some 1st world countries (US, UK, Australia) are too lazy to cook, to dumb to feed themselves or in some other way deserving of a guilt trip for our food choices.

However, in my limited experience living in developed countries in the European Union, developing countries like the one I was born in, and very poor countries where people get to eat much healthier food than we do, I can see that at least one of these is present:

- The work/life balance is a much respected value and there is time to cook (like in the EU)
- The price of healthy food is not prohibitive (like in my near tropical country)
- The culture is such that gender roles have not evolved to the point where women are out in the workforce, so households have a person who can devote her time to cooking and housekeeping. I am keeping neutral on the subject of oppression because that is another subject. In terms of child rearing and nutrition, these families have more resources than most of us for better or worse

So I'm not sure they should be aiming this articles at us dummies, rather than looking at why people are making the choices they are making. We are not stupid. I would like to cook most of my meals but yesterday I went shopping for fruit and veg and spent a ridiculous percentage of my paycheck, plus turning those into meals can take time and skills I don't have.
posted by Tarumba at 6:37 AM on December 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


People are often surprised at the calories in a tortilla, but tortillas are basically just flour and water, the same as bread. A tortilla weighs the same and has about as many calories as a couple of slices of bread (and usually serves the same purpose), it's just not leavened. At some point some marketing genius convinced people that "wraps" were healthier than "sandwiches," when in fact the calories are usually the same.

I'd like to see a version of this article where all the restaurants got the Subway treatment: what's the most reasonable set of meals one can get there on a 2000 calorie budget.*

* Although in my opinion for most sedentary Americans the 2000 calorie diet is considerably more than necessary for weight maintenance. I think nutrition information should be recalibrated for an adult diet of perhaps 1800 calories.
posted by jedicus at 6:38 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


@indubitable Because it is moral. If you haven't labored over preparing your food and paid for it with the sweat off your brow, it is impure

Yeah, this attitude comes through in a lot of responses I get. It weirds me out. It's classist. Not everyone can afford the time to cook.
posted by sixohsix at 6:41 AM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Someone explain why I can't get food with the calories of home-cooked food at restaurants. Like, everyone says the solution to the terrible first world diet is to prepare food at home. Why is that? Why do we have to cook our own food just to ensure that it isn't a greasy deathbomb?

You are a monkey, and fat, salt and sugar taste good to you. With fat salt and sugar, we can make cheap starches taste delicious. There are ways to make lean protein and vegetables taste delicious, but they require time, effort and expense. It is the restaurant's job to sell as much food as they can as profitably as they can, which generally means using some combination of fat salt and sugar to make it as delicious as possible yet cheap. There are restaurants that instead apply considerable time and effort to the food to make it delicious --- go eat a meal at Alina, 50 sous chefs will have a hand in turning your potatoes into a small cloud of potato essence, with chives --- and they are expensive. The reason people tend to eat more healthily when cooking on their own is that they're not compensated for their effort and are usually willing to take more time, pay more expense, or settle for something less delicious that what they'd get at a restaurant.
posted by Diablevert at 6:42 AM on December 23, 2014 [12 favorites]


The culture is such that gender roles have not evolved to the point where women are out in the workforce, so households have a person who can devote her time to cooking and housekeeping.

It is possible to have a household where two people work and still eat at home. It helps if one person cooks and the other cleans. Doesn't matter which gender does what, but splitting it up tends to be key.
posted by ohisee at 6:43 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


SHAKE SHACK Double ShackBurger (770), fries (470), Black and White shake (760).
It is possible to eat healthier at each chain. You can have a single burger instead of a double at Shake Shack


Or you could refrain from getting a god damned tub of liquified ice cream as a beverage
posted by Greg Nog at 6:44 AM on December 23, 2014 [14 favorites]


People are often surprised at the calories in a tortilla, but tortillas are basically just flour and water, the same as bread.

Most flour tortilla recipes also have some fat in them, like lard or shortening (plenty of bread does as well). Corn tortillas are much better--we compared a package of same-diameter corn and flour tortillas. They had the same calorie count, except the serving size of the corn tortilla was two; flour, one.
posted by MrGuilt at 6:46 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or you could refrain from getting a god damned tub of liquified ice cream as a beverage

But then they'd have to change the name to just "Shack", and that would lead nowhere good.
posted by cardboard at 6:49 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


And don't even get me started on how many calories are in the signature beverage at Radio Shack.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:54 AM on December 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


It's the end of the year, and it's time for Food Shame articles in the great news cycle!
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:58 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


One thing I have really come to value with living in New York is the posted calorie counts in restaurants. I believe they need more than 7 locations nationwide to have to post calories, but I do know that it has caused me to just get a burger off the value meal (typically 400-500 calories) on my occasional fast food foray. The mega combos quickly get up towards the 1500 calorie range. However, those are the items (apart from beverages) that make the most money for the restaurant. How many ads have you seen for Wendy's Baconator vs. the Junior Cheeseburger Deluxe?

That said, almost all of Subway's six inch low calorie sandwiches could easily be returned to the paper mill for recycling.
posted by Hactar at 7:00 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


No matter what Mark Bittman says, cooking your own food (or: your own good food, with variety -- because the death knell of the home-cooked meal is the boredom that comes from lack of variation) from scratch is expensive and time-consuming. No number of pretty photos in the NYT will alter that. It's faster and cheaper to throw in the towel and toss in a bunch of fast food meals or processed/frozen foods, especially when you're just fucking exhausted at the end of the day, which is what most Americans who actually work for a living in this economy are.

It doesn't help that most "food journalists" are pretentious, patronizing snobs who write awful paragraphs like this (in a Washington Post review of a Mark Bittman quick-recipe book): "In many ways, the cookbook is not designed for people like me, childless gastronomes who, when not dining on the town, want to spend more time in the kitchen, not less. I’m not typically seeking out recipes to make Fast Pho or Cheat-a-Little Pizza with store-bought dough or — avert your eyes, barbecue friends — a chopped pork sandwich in 45 minutes. I’m the guy who makes his own guanciale and obsesses over the fire in my offset smoker, staying up all night to maintain the proper temperature to slow-cook a Texas brisket." Yeah, screw you, you guanciale-making, offset-smoker-owning asshole who has the goddamn time to stay up all night watching your fucking Texas brisket slow-cook.
posted by blucevalo at 7:04 AM on December 23, 2014 [23 favorites]


It's the end of the year, and it's time for Food Shame articles in the great news cycle!

Well of course! It's almost time for the annual New Year's Diet I'm Definitely Sticking To This Time, along with an Annual Gym Membership I'll Use For Six Weeks. Got to get motivated!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:07 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


"I’m the guy who makes his own guanciale and obsesses over the fire in my offset smoker, staying up all night to maintain the proper temperature to slow-cook a Texas brisket."

These are usually the sorts of folk who pop up in food threads that talk about poverty/food deserts/obesity and shame people who don't want to cook by telling them how easy it is. And it is! If you have the time/money/inclination to do so. But sadly, lots of folks do not. Shaming them is awful.
posted by Kitteh at 7:10 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


And don't even get me started on how many calories are in the signature beverage at Radio Shack.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:54 AM on 12/23

I know right and then they're all "would you like an extended warranty and batteries with that" and I'm like "um, excuse me I am on a diet." But they ask for my phone number and that makes me feel pretty.
posted by artychoke at 7:11 AM on December 23, 2014 [15 favorites]


I love huge portions in restaurants-- eat half, take half home for the next day's lunch. When the portion is merely a little too much rather than way too much, though, that is dangerous because then I waffle about whether it's worth packing up and end up eating all of it.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:12 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Layer cooked farro on a serving platter. Next add a layer of greens of your choice- I especially like a chopped kale/apple salad with vinaigrette, but you could use a lettuce salad, roasted broccoli, etc. Then on top put a layer of sliced lean protein: grilled salmon, marinated grilled chicken breast, flank steak. This is your Siwash Special. Next time try a different whole grain, but the farro is really good.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:12 AM on December 23, 2014


You are a monkey, and fat, salt and sugar taste good to you. With fat salt and sugar, we can make cheap starches taste delicious. There are ways to make lean protein and vegetables taste delicious, but they require time, effort and expense.

There is a third option... Force yourself to eat things like raw or steamed veggies, brown rice, raw almonds and lean protein like baked chicken and tofu with minimal preparation for a few months (basically, a health food diet). Eventually these things will start to taste good and fast food/burgers/etc will not (at least in my personal experience). I liken the switch those who have gone from a sedentary to active lifestyle. At first, the thought of "exercise" seems like torture. However, after several months of continuous gym activity, yoga or hiking or what have you, most people actually start to look forward to daily exercise--it may even be the best part of their day. The positive reinforcement from cutting out fast and processed food, like weight loss, complements, better skin, greater mental acuity and confidence also keeps the momentum going.
posted by gagglezoomer at 7:15 AM on December 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


Eat the Right Amount of Calories for You. Federal government guidelines which no one listens to.
posted by stbalbach at 7:16 AM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


This whole article seems to be mostly an exercise in photographic sleight-of-hand.

My favorite cut
posted by sylvanshine at 7:17 AM on December 23, 2014


You are a monkey

ape
posted by Greg Nog at 7:17 AM on December 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


Because the restaurants give you enormous portion sizes.

It's not just the portion sizes. Restaurants will cook food in ludicrous amounts of butter or with half a cup of cream because that makes them taste better. Or they will deep-fry something, then dip it in a sauce that's half sugar. One buffalo chicken wing can be hundreds of calories, and people eat a dozen at a time.
posted by smackfu at 7:18 AM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


I know you are trying to scare me but you are making me hungry, smackfu!
posted by Tarumba at 7:21 AM on December 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


People are often surprised at the calories in a tortilla, but tortillas are basically just flour and water, the same as bread.

I think there's a general perception that bread products are "healthy" due to being low in fat and sugar. But in something like a pizza, you are almost certain to get more calories from the crust than from the cheese or toppings. Or on something like a bagel with cream cheese, people will get the reduced fat cream cheese but the bagel is still most of the calories.
posted by smackfu at 7:31 AM on December 23, 2014


(Obviously low carb or gluten free doesn't consider bread healthy, but not many people seem to see the calories as the problem.)
posted by smackfu at 7:35 AM on December 23, 2014


These are usually the sorts of folk who pop up in food threads that talk about poverty/food deserts/obesity and shame people who don't want to cook by telling them how easy it is. And it is! If you have the time/money/inclination to do so. But sadly, lots of folks do not.

I actually saw this yesterday via Facebook, and this was actually exactly my thought about the article - it was going on about how cooking from home was healthier and cheaper, and I was tempted to add the comment "unless you don't know how to cook and the only food shop in your neighborhood is a bodega that doesn't have any produce".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:37 AM on December 23, 2014


I note that they quote the Subway Cold Cut Combo without any condiment, which would be pretty darned unusual.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:39 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't always get a condiment on my sub. Maybe a single stripe of mayo at most.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:41 AM on December 23, 2014


Subway has certainly embraced healthy options in a way most places don't. There's a little sticker on the glass that tells you exactly how to order to be more healthy. OTOH, calling the less healthy sauces "Full Flavor Sauces" is probably not the best choice.
posted by smackfu at 7:42 AM on December 23, 2014


I'd also like this for higher end restaurants.

Restaurants will cook food in ludicrous amounts of butter or with half a cup of cream because that makes them taste better.

I've been trying without success to find a source to back it up but I recall seeing a video of James Beard, America's Ur-Foodie, saying "A gourmand does not count calories". I kind of live by the same ethos, which is why the whole "home cooked food is healthier" thing was always baffling to me. Yeah, it's lower calorie if you don't make it taste good!

Ah, here it is: "A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch."
posted by dis_integration at 7:51 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't like when mefights gripe about articles about food, whenever they mention home cooking. It seems like there's this idea that people are too tired to cook at home after a long day of working to keep afloat, and therefore... the end.

Firstly, I don't like seeing the world as a "too bad, you all lose, don't bother trying" type of place. Yes, many people struggle to take care of themselves and their families. But "trying my hardest to survive" and "able to survive" are not the same thing. It feels to me like we're afraid to tell someone how to do X better because we fear perpetuating a culture that morally stigmatizes those who are unable to do X better. But I think there's an awful lot of people who would be able to do X better, but don't, because our consumer culture depends on them not doing X better. I think that part of helping people do X better is to be super vocal about what a good X is, to give them something else to think about when culture puts demands on them.

Secondly, the point of this article (even dispite potential payola by subway) is that there's an awful lot more calories than you'd expect in some foods, and you can't just trust your gut. That's a good point for anyone who would like to eat healthier. The fact that some people can't afford, or choose not, to be healthy does not change what health is.
posted by rebent at 7:54 AM on December 23, 2014 [21 favorites]


A burrito bowl and a diet soda at Chipotle is about 700 Calories and is a lot of food. I lost 30 pounds while eating there a lot.

This article implies that Americans would eat better if they were better educated in nutrition. I think the reality is that Americans are so over-exposed to nutrition advice that we just inherently distrust everything people say about food. We hear many contradicting opinions about food and the layman has no way to evaluate any of them. The NYT can argue that whole grain bread is bad because calories, but your co-worker will tell you that it's good because micronutrients or something. When you add that to the factors of cost and time, most people give up and eat whatever they feel like.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 8:02 AM on December 23, 2014 [12 favorites]


Does anyone ever eat a burger with a number of patties greater than 1? I haven't ever and I don't think I've even seen anyone do so, and I come from a family of big eaters. I see it on every fast food menu, so people must do, but it just seems like a weirdly excessive thing to do. Most of these orders seems really strange.

Like, I get the feeling these are supposed to be typical meals but a lot of them just seem like strange food combinations put together to get outrageous calorie counts and not actual meals that most normal people eat. (I'd understand that more if every pairing was exactly or very close to 2,000 calories but they range up to 2,500 or more.) On the other end, the Ruth's Chris meal is weird in the other direction: who orders just a steak and martini with no veggies or sides?

This is seeming even more like a sponsored content from Subway.
posted by Kurichina at 8:11 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does anyone ever eat a burger with a number of patties greater than 1?

Hells yes

It is wonderful

It is wonderful when it goes in my mouth
posted by Greg Nog at 8:14 AM on December 23, 2014 [19 favorites]


Does anyone ever eat a burger with a number of patties greater than 1?

When I was a teenager having a growth spurt, I would order triple cheeseburgers at fast food places and still be hungry.

The thought of eating like that now makes me nauseous, but I see plenty of adults ordering them when I stop at McDonalds.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:19 AM on December 23, 2014


The only thing really surprising for me is the IHOP breakfast. I would probably not finish that much food at once - no way I'd be able to eat those pancakes - but I often make a pretty good dent in a breakfast/brunch spread.

I stopped counting calories a few years ago because it did fucked up things to my head and made me a bore to be around. But one thing I learned is the problem with being only 5 feet tall (and a woman with stubborn hold-on-to-those-curves genes and a slowing metabolism) is that 2000 calories a day would be a dreamcalorie budget if I could maintain my weight at that amount. I would bathe in milkshakes. 1800 calories is also plenty of food and then some.

I could probably stand to lose about 5 lbs right now, but the idea of restricting myself to 1400 calories a day is just too much. It would take such meticulous measuring and weighing and counting that it would suck any joy out of my life that losing those 5lbs would provide. When I was counting calories I would actively get angry at my meal plans for the day because I would eat a perfectly reasonable breakfast and lunch and only have 500 calories left for dinner but be hungry by like 3pm. No room in the plan for snacks.

It's easy to say "well just cut out the soda and the cookie" but some of us already don't drink soda, don't eat cookies all the time, love vegetables, are good and consistent home cooks, exercise regularly, always split restaurant portions in half... and still feel like we're failing at food/weight/having a body.

Sorry for acting all pouty - the holidays and a flat tire on my bike I haven't gotten around to fixing have screwed up my exercise schedule and I *have* been eating more than usual and it's got me feeling all crappy about myself.
posted by misskaz at 8:19 AM on December 23, 2014 [26 favorites]


Does anyone ever eat a burger with a number of patties greater than 1?

To be honest, I think the idea of sizing up a burger is a pretty good idea. You can get a small burger with one patty, or a large one with two. Instead of just having a single burger option with a third of a pound patty that is usually bigger than the two patty burgers.
posted by smackfu at 8:19 AM on December 23, 2014


Now I am hungry.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:21 AM on December 23, 2014


The Big Mac, which has been one of the most popular burgers ever for many years, has two patties.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:29 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Force yourself to eat things like raw or steamed veggies, brown rice, raw almonds and lean protein like baked chicken and tofu with minimal preparation for a few months (basically, a health food diet). Eventually these things will start to taste good and fast food/burgers/etc will not (at least in my personal experience).

To an extent I think that's true; over the past year or so I've made a fairly substantial effort to teach myself to eat healthier. I track calories, I exercise. Definitely I've had the experience, since I've made these reforms, of having decided to have a bit of fast food or something and not even finishing it, just because I didn't find it satisfying. Hell, there are a couple takeout meals that used to be faves of mine; the thought of them today makes me faintly queasy.

But it's not like fat salt and sugar have stopped working on me entirely. The past couple weeks with the holidays have been tough to maintain my new eating habits, since I'm constantly going out, or being offered treats, or making them myself.

That's the thing I think is really tricky --- i don't think much about American's virtues or character changed between now and the 70s. I think what's changed is the little things, the little biases that help tip you one way or another. Kids getting driven to school. More people doing desk jobs. Less reason in general to leave the house for things. Longer commutes, larger portions. I make conscious choices about what I eat, but willpower is a finite resource. And an extra 50 calories eaten, 50 fewer burned in a day -- that's nothing. It's half an apple, two crackers, parking 100 ft closer to the store. It'll also make you gain 10lbs, in a year. The thing about weight is that it's not something you can deal with as one big, crisp, clear decision: Today, I shall be healthy henceforth. Dust your hands, we're done. No. Instead, it's a thousand tiny tiny decisions, endless, repeated --- have a bite of this? This handful of chips? Two beers or three? Try the baklava? It's a constant grind, to be conscious of this stuff; far easier to glide. And there are people --- nervous, fidgity ectomorphs, mostly --- whose glide will keep them effortlessly skinny, because their natural impulses are to eat less. That's not most people though, and there's a Sisyphean dauntingness to trying to consciously fight that unconscious drag, all the time. Trust me and my 396 day MFP streak on this.
posted by Diablevert at 8:32 AM on December 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


Thanks for this article. I have been wondering why I gain weight so quickly when I don't exercise. I realize that I'm probably eating 2500 calories a day, which is quite a bit for a 130 lbs male.
posted by wye naught at 8:38 AM on December 23, 2014


This thread is so upsetting, why is everyone's default tortilla made from wheat flour, my ancestors didn't die at the hands of spanish religious fanatics for this shit, this is an oUTRAGE.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:39 AM on December 23, 2014 [17 favorites]


I don't like when mefights gripe about articles about food, whenever they mention home cooking. It seems like there's this idea that people are too tired to cook at home after a long day of working to keep afloat, and therefore... the end.

Agreed on this. There's something I don't get -- the cultures that have always seemed to have the best relationships with food and the lowest rates of obesity in the US are often urban immigrant populations. These folks arrive seem to the U.S. with very little, work insane hours, live frugally, and cook like maniacs. Ethnic markets have the best and cheapest produce. Usually both parents will be working, and often long hours, and frequently 6 or 7 days a week. Car ownership isn't presumed.

Now, granted, a lot of immigrant families have a different standard of how much a person should toil per day, based on the desire to secure a better life (and more leisure) for their kids. They also might have less-than-enlightened beliefs about division of labor between the sexes. But to me this says that the manageability of cooking healthy food has more to do with cultural tradition, values, and standards of living than anything else.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 8:41 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


there's a Sisyphean dauntingness to trying to consciously fight that unconscious drag, all the time. Trust me and my 396 day MFP streak on this.

Some years ago I saw an article (probably via the Blue) about people who'd lost truly herculean amounts of weight and kept them off. 150, 200 lbs, that level of weight loss. And it was indeed really impressive. But one of the women involved in the article talked about how she basically never, ever, not for ten minutes of her day even, stops thinking about food and calories. 100% perpetual vigilance is the only way she's able to maintain. Is it a good way to live? I have no idea. But I know I definitely don't have the bandwidth for it, regardless.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:41 AM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


why is everyone's default tortilla made from wheat flour

Because my tiny Mexican grandmother makes them that way?
posted by Kitteh at 8:42 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'll take the steak and the martini, please.

And then a second martini.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:48 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


The trick is to stay away from Sonic's 32-ounce martini
posted by Greg Nog at 8:49 AM on December 23, 2014 [25 favorites]


It feels very weird right now to think that maybe a martini is a good idea when I get off work in 40 minutes.
posted by Kitteh at 8:52 AM on December 23, 2014


Yeah, you should just get the 16-ounce martini and then keep getting free refills.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:35 AM on December 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


Now I want a gin and tonic over Sonic ice.
posted by apricot at 9:43 AM on December 23, 2014


But we also eat it because it takes thirteen nanoseconds to get your meal. 20 if you decide to skip the drive thru.

1. Get in the car.
2. Find a fast food place that you can eat at.
3. Drive there.
4. Eat something or wait in the drive thru.
5. Drive home.

If it's winter or a weekend, I would also have to put on all my outdoor gear. I won't get into what having any kind of dietary restrictions does to fast food options.

At home, I can throw stuff in the rice cooker or the oven at least as quickly as I could ever get fast food, or do simple preparation to sauté some veggies or make popcorn or whatever, and at home I can chill out with my cats, stop wearing my grown-up costume, or otherwise multitask. I do a lot of batches of stuff for the week and reheating stuff is even more trivial than cooking.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:47 AM on December 23, 2014


The article and its pictures are interesting, but the focus really, really shouldn't just be on calories. Two thousand calories' worth of, say, chocolate in a day (without any other food) will do different things to your body than 2,000 calories of something else (or several something-elses). Articles like this may be more hurtful than helpful. People may think "this cookie is only 100 calories, and I have 100 calories to spare in today's food budget.". What that cookie does to the body needs to be considered. Does it cause an insulin spike and sugar crash? Will you be starving in an hour? What if you ate 100 calories' worth of almonds and cranberries instead?

Food is complicated. Bodies are complicated. Calories alone are no more the measure of a meal than height alone is a measure of human health.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 9:47 AM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


I could probably stand to lose about 5 lbs right now, but the idea of restricting myself to 1400 calories a day is just too much.

At 5 ft tall 1400 kcals net is probably a weight gain amount (sorry for the bad news). My wife is 5'1 and 43 years old and about 105 lbs and her maintenance Net kcals is approximately 1300. I'm 5'10, 47 and 175 and my maintenance is 2047 kcals net (and I am right on the very edge of the overweight BMI for my height).

There are actually two things people need to know. How many kcals are in food and how many kcals they can eat to maintain or lose weight. People are getting smarter about the first but tend to be pretty bad at the second because the 2000kcals number just gets thrown around too liberally without distinguishing Net kcals (after activity is subtracted) from gross kcals (just raw input no consideration of output). Once you get the hang of it though you'll find that there are very few things in life as easily predicted as the effects of food consumption.
posted by srboisvert at 9:51 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Can this thread turn into how to cook farro recipes?

Smitten Kitchen's one-pan farro with tomatoes. Holy goodness, it is delicious. And it's weeknight-easy. And it tastes rich even though it's not at all. Pardon me, I'm going to go buy more farro...
posted by Sheep Who Must Not Be Named at 9:58 AM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


The article and its pictures are interesting, but the focus really, really shouldn't just be on calories. Two thousand calories' worth of, say, chocolate in a day (without any other food) will do different things to your body than 2,000 calories of something else (or several something-elses). Articles like this may be more hurtful than helpful. People may think "this cookie is only 100 calories, and I have 100 calories to spare in today's food budget.". What that cookie does to the body needs to be considered. Does it cause an insulin spike and sugar crash? Will you be starving in an hour? What if you ate 100 calories' worth of almonds and cranberries instead?
Food is complicated. Bodies are complicated. Calories alone are no more the measure of a meal than height alone is a measure of human health.


Calories are the main issue for health these days. Everything else is at the margins and are at the most secondary concerns. All that sugar crash, insulin spike, superfood Dr. Oz bullshit is
peripheral and provides only the smallest of returns (if any at all). Obesity isn't solved by the statistically significant food science effects that produce fractions of percentage point returns for their effort.

Also Height is a primary health measure when discussing obesity (and other things like longevity as well). It is one of only two inputs into the BMI for christ's sake.
posted by srboisvert at 10:02 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Does anyone ever eat a burger with a number of patties greater than 1?

In-N-Out Double Double! Definitely worth skipping the fries for if you're on a diet (animal style fries, on the other hand...)
posted by meowzilla at 10:06 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I learned how important portion-sizing is to weight management because whenever I don't cook at home, I end up ordering food over Seamless and the delivery minimums really get you. I order two meals, intending to save the second one for dinner, but it's just too easy to eat it, and then by the time dinner rolls around I'm hungry again anyway.

That's why I've started ordering sushi every day instead: I can hit the delivery minimums without eating too much. It's not fast food, since it takes an hour, but hey, that's just a matter of planning to be hungry. Good food; no time cost!

I should probably seek help...
posted by I-Write-Essays at 10:07 AM on December 23, 2014


Force yourself to eat things like raw or steamed veggies, brown rice, raw almonds and lean protein like baked chicken and tofu with minimal preparation for a few months (basically, a health food diet). Eventually these things will start to taste good and fast food/burgers/etc will not (at least in my personal experience).

This isn't true in my personal experience. I love steamed broccoli; I also love a nice juicy burger.

That's not to say there's no point in eating healthfully. It's good to accustom yourself to the taste of foods that are good for you. But healthful food doesn't have to be bland. It can be delicious and flavorful--with spices, a little bit of fat (because fat isn't evil), and so on. Making myself munch on minimally prepared tofu is a surefire recipe to make me choose the burger. Put that tofu in a nice udon soup, though, and fuck the burger.

When I look at these images, I see a large amount of rich food -- way more than I would eat in a single meal. I'd have part of that burger for lunch and that shake for dinner. (If I did it everyday, I'd miss the udon.) Food being unhealthy isn't the whole problem. It's that people become accustomed to eating too much food. Americans are eating more calories now than ever, and being accustomed to these incredibly calorie rich foods probably isn't helping, because you don't taste just how rich they are.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:09 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


This kind of thing just makes me feel vindicated about my inability to ever finish a restaurant-sized portion. For years I was mocked and chastised for never finishing my plate, and people still remark on how I "barely ate anything." No! I ate plenty! I ate until I felt full! Restaurant portion sizes are insane! One Chipotle burrito or burrito bowl is two meals for me, 1.5 if I'm really hungry.

Portion size bloat is insidious though, to the point where even though I know I won't be able to finish a larger portion in one sitting, and will indeed save any remainder for my next meal, I still feel a little unsatisfied at getting a smaller portion out of some twisted sense that I'm not getting my money's worth. I don't know how we can fix the problem of our expectations when it comes to restaurant portion size.
posted by yasaman at 10:13 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


At 5 ft tall 1400 kcals net is probably a weight gain amount (sorry for the bad news). My wife is 5'1 and 43 years old and about 105 lbs and her maintenance Net kcals is approximately 1300.

Thanks, but as I mentioned earlier in my comment I did the calorie counting years before so I'm pretty clued in on my personal maintenance calorie budget. 105lbs would be gaunt on me (I'm probably more like 5'1" than 5 even) - even 110lbs would be skinnier than I've been since I hit puberty.

In any case, so far today I've eaten greek yogurt with grapenuts (350 cals) and for lunch I'm having a giant delicious salad from Farmer's Fridge (The high-protein one if you wanna check it out - 480 cals - plus the add-on grilled chicken - 120 cals.) That already means if I were restricting to 1400 (or 1300, who cares at that point) cals, I'd only have 350-450 calories left for dinner! And I know if you exercise you can eat more but I also get ravenously hungry when I get excercise, which makes the few hundred extra calories I "get" to eat not really feel any different.

So basically I've decided, fuck that, I'm gonna eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full and enjoy life. The sucky part is that though I have tried to adopt this attitude, the weird food guilt and body image complexes brought on by a society that puts a moral code on such things persist.
posted by misskaz at 10:34 AM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


Portion size bloat is insidious though, to the point where even though I know I won't be able to finish a larger portion in one sitting, and will indeed save any remainder for my next meal, I still feel a little unsatisfied at getting a smaller portion out of some twisted sense that I'm not getting my money's worth. I don't know how we can fix the problem of our expectations when it comes to restaurant portion size.

Living in one of the most expensive cities in the US, this seems to be mostly a function of real estate prices more than anything else. Restaurant overhead is very expensive, so the only way to offset the base expense of menu items is to make them enormous. Here in Boston there is a big food truck renaissance, which helps to counteract some of those overhead problems; unfortunately the new normal is now so expensive that even a fairly lean food truck operation can still charge $7 for a grilled cheese sandwich.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 10:39 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


This fall I tried removing almost all carbohydrates from my diet (daily 30g allowance), and it almost completely removed my appetite. I was eating as much as I could, and felt satisfied, except I was forgetting to eat sometimes, or had to force myself to eat despite not being hungry.

I couldn't stop myself from losing weight too fast. I lost about 20 pounds in a month before I was forced to stop.

It may be a sample size of 1, but I am betting that avoiding carbohydrates, and especially sugar, is key to hunger management, and hunger management is the biggest obstacle people face to weight management.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 10:42 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, this issue of home-cooked food having fewer calories is nonsense.

I could easily cook you a 1500-calorie/portion entree. I make a truffle mac and cheese that uses heavy cream, asiago, and gruyère, and is topped with breadcrumbs and lardons. My collard greens always have salt pork in them. My cassoulet is probably even worse for you. I will finish a steak with butter, and serve it with duck-fat potatoes. There are plenty of traditional "home cooking" cuisines that are terrible for you- anything associated with a holiday or festival, for instance.

The only advantage to home cooking is that you know exactly what has gone into it, and in what amounts, and can plan accordingly. As others have mentioned, the things that are done to food in professional kitchens (especially corporate ones) to make it more palatable are rarely understood by consumers. This applies to all levels of dining. I would never cook any of the things I mentioned above on a regular basis- the quotidianization of dining out (again, at all levels of dining) can be a real trap.

Everything else is just inputs and outputs.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:07 AM on December 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


I could easily cook you a 1500-calorie/portion entree. I make a truffle mac and cheese that uses heavy cream, asiago, and gruyère, and is topped with breadcrumbs and lardons. My collard greens always have salt pork in them. My cassoulet is probably even worse for you. I will finish a steak with butter, and serve it with duck-fat potatoes.

I'll be there at 6.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 11:21 AM on December 23, 2014 [17 favorites]


That recipe almost gave me a lardon.
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:27 AM on December 23, 2014 [10 favorites]


Also Height is a primary health measure when discussing obesity (and other things like longevity as well). It is one of only two inputs into the BMI for christ's sake.

So yeah everyone, ya'll need to get taller.

...

Did anyone else look at the Chipolte portions and think - well hell, if you're going to have a massive serving of guacamole, yeah, that'll fill ya up. Without the guac, it's not that many calories. Furthermore, if you split that huge burrito between two people, and grab a water with it, it's a reasonable calorie count.

Which is pretty much how I handle eating out - I split my meal with my SO. We don't leave hungry, get an app and a main course, split them both and leave satisfied. It's also a ton cheaper (half the price, top be exact). If you do this you can afford to go out to eat literally twice as often.

I also thought it was a tad disingenuous to have full-calorie soda at the restaurants and then display the (godawful, just drink water instead if you need zero calories) diet soda for the home cooked meal.
posted by el io at 11:28 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


So right on about the diet soda.
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:36 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Me and Mrs. Bartonlong have been ordering any fast food lately (usually just road trips anymore) dry and skipping the fries and soda. It is astonishing and disgusting and messy how much ketchup/mayonnaise/mustard are considered ok these days. I think there is easily 2-3 tablespoons on even medium sized burgers and that is 150 kcals right there. I don't remember that being done when 20 years ago at all.
posted by bartonlong at 11:50 AM on December 23, 2014


Mayo is terrible but ketchup and mustard are pretty healthy. Mustard especially has like zero anything, just vinegar and mustard seed.
posted by smackfu at 11:51 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Who's going to Starbucks for a meal and getting three drinks?
posted by aaronetc at 12:37 PM on December 23, 2014


aaronetc: "Who's going to Starbucks for a meal and getting three drinks?"

It's called a flight and it's classy and refined.
posted by wcfields at 12:50 PM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


I would bathe in milkshakes.

I'm pretty sure that wouldn't count against your daily calorie budget. OTOH, I doubt it would get you clean either.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:56 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, it's the ideal strategy if you want to go through life smelling of yoghurt.
posted by Grangousier at 12:58 PM on December 23, 2014


And who doesn't, amirite!?
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:03 PM on December 23, 2014


I've been trying without success to find a source to back it up but I recall seeing a video of James Beard, America's Ur-Foodie, saying "A gourmand does not count calories". I kind of live by the same ethos, which is why the whole "home cooked food is healthier" thing was always baffling to me. Yeah, it's lower calorie if you don't make it taste good!
That's not the whole story; portions count for a lot too. One of the country's best French confection bakeries is in my town with prices to match. It's mobbed with people (especially of the foodie variety) every weekend. But they tend to order small amounts of food. You don't need 10 tarts if you can get 1 amazing tart. Having that tart be a couple of bucks certainly helps too.

But, frankly, if you're going to a bakery to a) save money or b) sustainably feed yourself your outlook has larger problems. Ideally, being a gourmand shouldn't be about excessive consumption because you'd already know that a pound of cheese isn't 454 times better than a gram of cheese.
posted by whittaker at 1:04 PM on December 23, 2014


This is an old, old concept presented in a somewhat misleading way but I'm not feeling the food shame here. Am I the last person alive who hasn't the slightest idea how many calories I eat in a day, but have reached a point in my life where I'm realizing it would probably good to have the slightest idea?

I'd love to see that "paternalistic legislation" - I might have said, you know, "consumer protection," it seems like one of the less paternalistic ways you could approach the issue and pretty useful - applied to more and fancier restaurants, but it seems obvious that the first target would be chains that serve the same things at every location.

How much does it cost to test the calories in a plate of pasta - do they even do that or just estimate based on ingredients?
posted by atoxyl at 1:52 PM on December 23, 2014


How much does it cost to test the calories in a plate of pasta - do they even do that or just estimate based on ingredients?

A fancy pants calorimeter (which actually burns the food up and measures it!) costs about $7k on amazon. (I love that they're called bombs!) So a bit of a capital investment for a single restaurant, but presumably there have to be labs out there that perform the service, and I can't imagine it could be that expensive.
posted by dis_integration at 2:10 PM on December 23, 2014


Yeah, I've started cooking at home a lot and if anything have gotten fatter. Cf khachapuri.
posted by pravit at 2:15 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also Height is a primary health measure when discussing obesity (and other things like longevity as well). It is one of only two inputs into the BMI for christ's sake.

So yeah everyone, ya'll need to get taller.


It won't help.

I'm 6'4" and 215. I got a letter from my health insurance telling me that I was obese, as my BMI is 27 according to their charts. They would be pleased if I would lose 15 lbs so that I was merely overweight.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:38 PM on December 23, 2014


At 5 ft tall 1400 kcals net is probably a weight gain amount (sorry for the bad news). My wife is 5'1 and 43 years old and about 105 lbs and her maintenance Net kcals is approximately 1300. I'm 5'10, 47 and 175 and my maintenance is 2047 kcals net (and I am right on the very edge of the overweight BMI for my height).
Seriously, don't do this. You aren't qualified to dispense nutritional advice to strangers on the internet based on one woman's experience.

My main takeaway from the linked article, when I read it yesterday, was that I would never in a million years eat most of those things, even if I were to go to one of those restaurants.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:44 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


How much does it cost to test the calories in a plate of pasta - do they even do that or just estimate based on ingredients?

For NYC's law, they say:
It must be based on a verifiable analysis of the menu item, which may include laboratory testing, use of nutrient databases or any other reliable method of analysis. Laboratory testing is not required.
posted by smackfu at 2:46 PM on December 23, 2014


Yeah, you just calorie count your ingredients.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:49 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Force yourself to eat things like raw or steamed veggies, brown rice, raw almonds and lean protein like baked chicken and tofu with minimal preparation for a few months (basically, a health food diet). Eventually these things will start to taste good and fast food/burgers/etc will not (at least in my personal experience).

I hear things like this - and more often the "I stopped drinking soda for an while and now it tastes terrible!" - all the time, and man I wish it were some sort of universal truth. I dropped the constant soda intake from my diet nearly 10 years ago in response to the first time my metabolism shifted, and just that and cutting down on mayo led to me quickly dropping 30 pounds. Then it came back, and I had to change other things. Then it came back, and I had to change yet more. At least this time my bouncing back up 10 pounds is from simultaneously getting complacent about other eating habits, an injury preventing me from my usual exercise, and me not making the effort to find replacements.

But no amount of "healthy eating" makes a buttered up steak or plate of tacos taste less good to me. A decade of avoiding soda doesn't make it so those rare times I allow myself one I don't guzzle it in fevering enjoyment like a man given water after being lost in the desert. And I often go months between indulgences!

You at least disclaimed that this was just your own personal experience. So many people say it as if it's some sort of magical trick to solving cravings, and it's just not true. Not for everyone.
posted by flaterik at 4:16 PM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Because my tiny Mexican grandmother makes them that way?

she has forgotten the face of her father and must go west
posted by poffin boffin at 5:22 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Democracy requires a minimum of 1000 calories a day."--My ninth grade social studies teacher.
posted by Renoroc at 5:30 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


why is everyone's default tortilla made from wheat flour

Because New Mexico food is the best.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:39 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]



why is everyone's default tortilla made from wheat flour

Because New Mexico food is the best.


NOOOO have you made quesadillas with corn tortillas? Because seriously they are the best and so much better than flour tortillas that I can't ever make anything else.
posted by misskaz at 6:21 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


NOOOO have you made quesadillas with corn tortillas?


Isn't that just a pupusa?

*runs*
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:08 PM on December 23, 2014


Isn't that just a pupusa?

I don't know, is it? I'm just a dumb white girl (my heritage is more along the lines of pierogi and such) who only had corn tortillas and cheese on hand one day and thus began the story of my personal discovery.
posted by misskaz at 7:22 AM on December 24, 2014


The fact that some people can't afford, or choose not, to be healthy does not change what health is.

It sure as hell doesn't change what the framing of health is. And that statement (your entire comment, actually) reinforces that framing. Is the implication that if you can't afford to be healthy, or if you "choose" not to be healthy, you don't deserve to be healthy? That's what it sounds like to me.
posted by blucevalo at 9:23 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I really wish someone would do an article with reasonable meals that stayed in the calorie counts. It's fine to say that it's not possible at some fast food restaurants (if it really isn't), but first at least try. It's better to inspire than shock people about what they're eating, and home cooked dishes that require dirtying 17 pots don't do that for most of us.

What would a day of meals eaten out (that stayed within 2,000 calories) look like?
posted by Margalo Epps at 12:15 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


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