Friday, June 17, 2005

That's when they say that too many calories are bad for you.

"How many calories are you supposed to eat if you're on a diet?" he said.
"About a thousand. Well, I usually aim for a thousand and come in at about fifteen hundred," I said, realizing as I said it that the last bit wasn't strictly true.
"A thousand?" said Tom, incredulously. "But I thought you needed two thousand just to survive."

- the hilarious Bridget Jones's Diary

It's becoming increasingly common for people to watch their calorie intake these days and strive for a healthier lifestyle. With all the fad diets that have been going all around the world (South Beach Diet, Atkins Diet, Scarsdale Diet, The 3-Day Diet, The Seven-Day All You Can Eat Diet, etc.), it's easy to just pick and choose from among them.

I'm all for healthy eating, although in the Philippines that'll be more of a challenge. Vendors line up on the sidewalks hawking their street food, McDonald's and Jollibee seem to be expanding at a record rate, and if you haven't noticed, your suki sari-sari stores carry a lot of junk food. If you do want to eat healthy, you'll have to cough up some cash, from 100-250 PHP. Per meal, mind you.

The local chain food stores, such as the abovementioned, have now made it part of their mission to offer to the public more healthier alternatives, such as salads, on their menu. In the US, they're also doing the same thing. McDonald's, for example, has deli sandwiches and more salads with variety. Surely that's a good thing?

At first look, it is. A quick look at the web quickly dispels the notion that these new additions are "healthier alternatives". The McDonald's Leaning Tower Italian Toasted Deli Sandwich packs in a whopping 610 calories, 30 grams of fat and 2060mg of sodium (including the sauce and cheese) (scroll down the page) and to reiterate, that's just one sandwich.

Your favorite Starbucks coffee/beverage isn't safe either. If you're currently on a diet and wondering why you're not losing weight as fast as you should, it's likely you're forgetting to exclude your favorite drinks.

In this January 2005 ABC news article, it says that

Beverages are a significant, if little recognized, source of calories. Many dieters make the mistake of thinking they're doing everything right but are still not losing weight, because they ignore the calories they drink, said nutritionist Dr. David Katz. He calls these liquid calories "renegade" calories.

For instance, when you're drinking that Starbucks Frappuccino, you're drinking three cheeseburgers worth of calories.

You also may be drinking more calories than you realize in other drinks, such as a small mocha latte from Dunkin' Donuts.

"If you think about the 290 calories in it, then compare it to a small order of french fries from McDonald's," he said.

I think, for that many calories, I'd rather eat the three McDonald's hamburgers, but then that's just me. Plus, it's probably cheaper.

In Ontario, Canada, they've developed a program called "Eat Smart". If you and your family want to eat out at somewhere with healthier menu choices, look for the Eat Smart symbol. The symbol guarantees healthier food choices on the menu and by request, exceptional standards in food safety, and 100 percent smoke-free seating.

Maybe in the Philippines we can implement the same program or come up with something of our own. We may not rival the US in obesity, but there's no harm in giving people healthier alternatives, right? Surely our health should be a priority?