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I don't know if I've ever been in an Applebee's before, if I have it has been no more than once. This is the sort of place, while apparently an icon representative of America's culture, my husband and I tend to avoid like the plague. But by an unavoidable series of events we landed in Generic Chain Restaurant Generic Strip Mall, USA.

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(As an aside, I can confirm that Applebee's does not, in fact, have a saladbar on its premises).

We were seated at a booth by a very personable and pleasant host. (As another aside, I might mention that this host had some sort of facial disfigurement or birth defect that resulted in mild speech pathology necessitating him to speak rather slowly to be understood. I applaud Applebee's for hiring someone like this and putting him in this very visible and people-oriented job. I don't think he made any mistake in where he seated us, rather just doing as he was told).

 I sat down and realized I had to perch on the edge of the banquette seat to reach the table, as did my husband, but thought no more of it. We sat at the strangely proportioned table with long waits in between all the requisite steps, giving us plenty of time to observe the surroundings. We had time to observe that two women had tried to sit down in a booth but gave up and reseated themselves at a table with movable chairs. Shortly thereafter a waitress came by and asked them if their new place setting was better.

This prompted me to start comparing the banquettes where we were sitting to the ones that had been vacated and indeed, the other ones, compared to ours, were closer together. The edge of the banquette bench was underneath the table surface in the regular booth, whereas in the one where we sat, there was some distance between the edge of the banquette and the edge of the table, maybe 8" or so if I had to guess. It was late lunch time so not very crowded, so we were probably just seated so as to distribute the work load among the wait staff. (As yet another aside, there seemed to be tons of staff all over the restaurant, outnumbering the customers, yet the service was really slow).

Anyway it seems that there is indeed a specially designed section for larger customers now at this restaurant. As obesity statistics indicate, more and more of the population is becoming overweight, but I would not have suspected that businesses were starting to accommodate this need.  On second thought, I have  heard of that such accommodations being made in such places as stadium and movie seats, and airline weight/baggage guidelines redesign.  But, Applebee's can sort of be held responsible for contributing to the problem at the very least. Most of the menu was off-limits to me because of both self-imposed and no-choice dietary restrictions. Even what I could have, I had to modify as a 'special request' to be able to eat it, (fortunately that was possible), and my husband also made special requests just in order to 'healthify' his meal (e.g. no fried food or high fat condiments). It seems like most of the menu items are either fried, or have cheese, or best of all worlds, are fried cheese. I wanted a plain vinaigrette dressing for my salad, no can do, the waitress enumerated a list of at least ten dressings, and if they didn't have cheese or bacon, or both, in them, they were one of many, many varieties of ranch dressing. There are lots of chicken dishes to choose from because, you know, chicken is so healthy, but then it's larded with four kinds of cheeses, fried garnishes, or both, or other tasty but not so healthy additions.

   
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Seriously, does that look appetizing?

I'm sure they are responding to what customers want to eat, but they and other establishments have to take some responsiblity for conditioning people into wanting these foods. There was no nutritional information on the menu, nor a 'healthy eating' type section either. In New York City restaurants have been banned from cooking with trans fats and requires calorie counts posted. Many people complain that this is dictatorial nanny-state behavior, but I want to have the option of not having trans-fat in my food and knowing what is in it.  I was shocked at Dunkin' Donuts to learn that a bran muffin has almost twice as many calories as the chocolate eclair! Seriously! Studies show that this posting has no effect on how much people spend, they just alter what they purchase. Which is a win-win!

Obesity statistics are sobering, with over one third of the population considered obese, and the associated health risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc., are well-known. Increasingly, Type II diabetes is becoming a problem in (pdf) younger and youngerpopulations.

Of course exercise plays a part in the overall picture but some food is just plain unhealthful and nearly impossible to 'work off'.  I don't know how frequently people, uh, frequent, places like this, but I have to say, you have to be used to eating that kind of food to enjoy it. In other words, rich, calorie and fat-laden food is an acquired taste.

There is some good news on this horizon, such as Michelle Obama's Let's MoveCampaign to combat childhood obesity. Obviously the success of that remains to be seen. And the USDA's Food Pyramid has been redesigned to a Food Plate, where fruits and vegetables take up a larger portion of the daily diet. But I'm skeptical that financially strapped schools will be able to find the budget for these most expensive foods - fresh fruits and vegetables. And would the kids even eat them? (If Jamie Oliver's Food Revolutionis any guide, the answer is no).

I don't know what the answer is; I wasn't raised in a particularly health conscious dietary family, not by any stretch, but somehow it became important to me. I wonder what it would take for Americans to want to eat healthy. As healthcare becomes increasingly expensive and out of reach for many Americans, one of the few ways we as ordinary citizens have to control health care costs is by prevention and maintaining healthy lifestyles.

Note: going to Applebee's menu for pictures, I did see they had an under 550 calories section and a Weight Watcher's section online. However, neither of these choices were in the menu I was given and I specifically looked for them.

Update: Thanks for the Rec List! Now, I am going to get something to eat! j

UPdate II: Thanks so much everyone for your participation in the diary, and contributing with such insightful, astute and informed commentary making it much more valuable than my original work.

Bon Appetit!

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  •  Tip Jar (161+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    googie, theKgirls, Azazello, DSC on the Plateau, historys mysteries, litho, grannyhelen, blue aardvark, liz dexic, Shotput8, Texdude50, johnny wurster, exlrrp, alliedoc, panicbean, cardinal, gchaucer2, Matt Esler, poco, cyncynical, Matt Z, Cedwyn, OLinda, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, snafubar, blueoasis, Dude1701, felagund, joanbrooker, Oh Mary Oh, martinjedlicka, Susipsych, DBunn, luvmykona, implicate order, rantsposition, GMFORD, tobendaro, zerelda, the mom in the middle, FiddleDeeDee, Darmok, CharlieHipHop, klompendanser, MA Liberal, wishingwell, sallyfallschurch, mofembot, PinHole, fearisthemindkiller, Josiah Bartlett, xgy2, zedaker, Catte Nappe, envwq, Sybil Liberty, kingyouth, mrsgoo, collardgreens, strangedemocracy, lineatus, HylasBrook, jeff in nyc, gooderservice, StrayCat, djtyg, MufsMom, beltane, leftywright, JonBarleycorn, maybeeso in michigan, wader, Anne Elk, fiddlingnero, dotsright, tardis10, pixxer, peggy, progressiveinga, ekyprogressive, RubDMC, xaxnar, Susan from 29, FlyingToaster, ER Doc, allergywoman, flowerfarmer, Little Flower, blue jersey mom, MadRuth, shaharazade, Temmoku, Hill Jill, alyosha, quaoar, Tamar, cotterperson, dlemex, SoCaliana, slapshoe, eru, neverontheright, NMRed, here4tehbeer, Joes Steven, GenXangster, Statusquomustgo, freelunch, bythesea, Loonesta, nio, Otteray Scribe, copymark, fizziks, Fishgrease, 5x5, Preston S, commonmass, satanicpanic, Silverleaf, The Hindsight Times, elwior, susans, Organic Mechanic, maxcat06, Radiowalla, Seamus D, Eddie L, smileycreek, peteri2, greycat, Lorikeet, begone, oldliberal, Mnemosyne, aufklaerer, stwidre, Swill to Power, jennifree2bme, JD SoOR, KathleenM1, Bluesee, msdobie, SneakySnu, mikeconwell, greengemini, Merry Light, regis, aoeu, Its a New Day, Lujane, CJB, Pinko Elephant, Black Max, BYw, JVolvo, jem6x, jayden, ItsSimpleSimon, Bulldawg, glendaw271

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:41:03 AM PDT

  •  At first I thought this was a commercial (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theKgirls, eXtina

    "all you do is make pronouncements without substantiation."

    Hi extina from your favorite pea brain-lol

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones."

    by roseeriter on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:52:55 AM PDT

  •  interesting commentary (23+ / 0-)

    though I don't think you can hold Applebees responsible for the desires of their customers.

    Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

    by dhonig on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:53:43 AM PDT

    •  I think it's debatable (33+ / 0-)

      And why I illustrated the point about NYC banning trans fat and requiring calories be posted. It has not affected sales negatively, it has just shifted people's consumption habits. For the better.

      I think companies do have social responsibility. In this case find at least something healthful to offer - for me it was a struggle to find anything to eat there.

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:57:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Then don't go to that restaurant. (35+ / 0-)

        As long as they are up front about what they offer, I don't think they have "social responsibility" beyond that.  Their "responsibility" as a business is to offer a product that their customers want.  

        Does a donut shop have a "responsibility" to offer something besides donuts?  a fried chicken outlet?  If they want to in respond to customer demand, fine.  But if they don't think it sells well, they don't have a "responsibility" to offer it.  

        People who don't like the offerings of a restaurant simply can decide not to go to that restaurant.  

        •  There is obviously a need (8+ / 0-)

          that is not being filled, illustrated by this diary (desperate for food, offered only this choice)a nd the numerous comments therein.
          they are obviously not offering something that at least some people want. whether it's commercially viable is a question.

          I think the issue is more complicated than you make out, don't go there. People do have to eat. And ideas about food are taught early, so someone has the responsibility to teach good eating habits or at least know what is good! and it aint' happening in schools that's for sure.

          "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

          by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:37:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  People do NOT have to eat in THAT RESTAURANT (28+ / 0-)

            It's not complicated at all.  People do NOT "have to eat" at Applebees.  or McDonalds.  or Dunkin Donuts.  There are, oh, grocery stores?  

            And there ARE restaurants that offer healthy choices.  I don't think it's too much to ask that people choose a restaurant that serves the kind of food they want.  If I go to a Sushi restaurant (I don't eat sushi) it is not the restaurant's problem that I can't find anything I want to eat.  If they WANT to offer something else because they think it's good for business that's their right.  But they don't HAVE to offer what I choose to eat.  It's my responsibility to make choices, and the choice starts with my decision where to eat.

            I agree that people need to be taught about nutrition.  But that is the responsibility of parents and schools.  If you think that is failing, then that's where to focus efforts.  It is NOT  the responsibility of a private business to "educate" the public on what food choices they make.  It is the responsibility of a private business (1) not to be deceptive and (2) to offer what they believe is best for their business.  

            •  There are grocery stores? Come on. (34+ / 0-)

              I am (at the moment) sitting in a hotel waiting for my children to get up.  We are in Cincinnati at my oldest daughter's graduation.  What am I supposed to do?  Rent a hotel with a kitchen?  If I did, I would have to buy everything to prepare a meal and bring the dishes from home.  This trip is not about spending the day trying to prepare a meal, or find a restaurant where they have the perfect menu, close to the hotel etc.  

              I repeat:  Oh, come on.

              I hate to quote David Frum here but this may be more apropos, coming from him, "Yes the American media always loves a freak show. But a political party does not have to cooperate."

              by alliedoc on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:55:54 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oh, "come on" right back. (28+ / 0-)

                If the choice of what you eat is that important to you, it is up to you to make sure your desires are accommodated. It is not up to a private business to make sure your desires are accommodated.  If that involves extra effort (a car, a longer walk to a restaurant, special orders in the hotel restaurant; planning in advance), that is your responsibility if the choice is important to you.  You know you will have to eat while you are in Cincinnati.  If the choice of what will be available to you is important, it is up to you to make sure you know what your options are.  When you travel, that requires extra effort on your part.  Private business has no obligation to make sure you don't have to expend that extra effort.  If the food choice is not as important as the extra effort, that, once again, is your decision.

                I travel for business all the time.  I also MAKE A CHOICE as to which hotels I stay at.  It's no secret (1) what kind of food choices are offered by a hotel restaurant; and (2) what kind of food outlets are nearby.  In fact, many hotels ADVERTISE the fact that they are close to this food outlet or that food outlet.  That goes into what hotel you choose to patronize.  If I won't have a car when I travel, when I decide on a hotel, I look at (1) the hotel's food offerings; (2) the hotels' gym (I want to work out, so it is MY RESPONSIBILITY to choose a hotel with a gym); and (3) any nearby food outlets.  Does it require some effort on my part?  of course.  By I'm not entitled to have private businesses offer what I want so that I don't have to expend any effort in making choices.  

                •  Your glibertarianism is wearisome. (17+ / 1-)

                  We, the people, have an elected government, and we can use that governmental power to dictate that businesses not poison us. We can tell businesses not to pour toxic waste into the lake, because we want the lake to be clean. We can tell restaurants to put healthier choices on the menu, or at the very least calorie/salt/fat contents, so that we know what we're putting into ourselves. And we can tell them not to allow smoking, so that the rest of us--and the employees--aren't poisoned by toxic smoke.

                  All of this is settled law. Go ahead and "go Galt" if you want; in fact, please do. Something tells me you're the sort of ass who thinks he ought to be able to smoke in a restaurant or an airplane, anyway.

                  •  You are so wrong. (14+ / 0-)

                    I don't smoke at all, by the way, and I support restrictions on smoking because of the science on secondhand smoke.  

                    Technically, the government CAN enact the legislation you contemplate.  I, however, would not vote for anyone who says they WOULD do that.  

                    I do think there's a limit on what government should be doing.  And telling a restaurant that it is somehow responsible for people choosing to patronize that restaurant is where I draw the line.  

                    •  Sigh. (10+ / 0-)

                      When the restaurant presents food choices as healthy and delicious, when in fact they are neither, they're lying. When the restaurant chain spends tens of millions of dollars marketing their restaurant as the grammatically-inaccurate but compelling "Eating good," the people have a right, through their government, to demand the restaurant prove this, and provide food options that actually are good.

                      And if you support restrictions on smoking because of the science on secondhand smoke, how can you not support restrictions on horrifying fatty high-calorie foods? The science is equally compelling.

                      •  Not only is the problem that (6+ / 0-)

                        "eating good" is grammatically inaccurate, but also that it is defined by the reader. What one person thinks of as "eating good" would be another person's "why are you eating that kind of crap?"

                        I had a coworker recently tell me that he would rather eat at McDonald's rather than Panera simply because it is less expensive. I used my phone to show the caloric/sodium/fat/etc differences between what he eats and what I eat.

                        It really didn't matter in the end to him. He equated "good" with "cheaper." I hope he saves all that money he is not spending on lunch for his future artery problems.

                        "Love/It will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/It will set you free." - Mumford & Sons

                        by kingyouth on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:33:03 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Two points. (12+ / 0-)

                        1.  Disclosure is fine.  McD's has nutrition info in all of its restaurants.  I'm ok with requiring disclosure where it is not an undue burden on a restaurant, like for chains that sell the same thing every day everywhere.  (It would be too onerous for some of the small restaurants here in New Orleans that change their menus every day, for example, to print and publish complete nutrition info on every offering every day.  For those, "non-deception" -- not being deceptive about what is going into a meal when asked -- would be enough.)  

                        2.  The difference is secondhand smoke means YOUR choice affects MY lungs.  Your choice affects my body.  When it is something that an adult chooses to eat, that is not the government's business.   Disclosure so you can make a choice is fine -- I'm ok with that.  Government requiring that a private business offer a certain product -- when the restaurant itself does not wish to offer that product -- is not.  Perhaps once in a while there is something that is so bad and has no redeeming characteristics that the government should step in and discourage it, like smoking, through things like taxation.  But I don't think, for example, the government should say, every 7-11 that offers cigarettes for sale must also have this much floor space offering fresh vegetables for sale.  

                        Here's a question for you.  Alchohol is really bad for you, too.  And of course, we all support drunk driving laws, because that is when one person's choice endangers others.  But it's really bad to drink a lot.  So, do you support restrictions on when adults can drink, and how much?  How'd that prohibition thing work out?

                        Here's my distinction.  I would vote for a politician who said a chain like McD's has to make nutrition info available.  That's disclosure.  The politicians who said that McD's can't offer toys with happy meals would NOT get my vote.  It's not about the toys.  I raised kids, and we did the McD's Happy Meal and play area thing once in a while, in an effort to teach "all things in moderation," because I believe that what is forbidden becomes enticing.  But I would not vote for a politician that believes McD's can't sell me a Happy Meal with a toy because other parents are unable to resist their children's demands for a Happy Meal toy.  Again, it's not about the toys; it's about the kind of role government should play in my every day life.  Any politician who would say, well, some parents can't parent well, so we'll outlaw this for everybody, that's a politician who has a radically different view of what government should be doing than I do, and that radically different view of the role of government would be a deal-breaker for me.

                        I do not believe that the role of government is to restrict my choices in the private market, or a private business' choice of what products to offer, because other adults cannot make what the government believes are appropriate choices.  

                        •  Do you find it apprpriate for (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          allergywoman, shaharazade, eXtina

                          govt. to restrict marketing any products to kids?

                          "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

                          by tardis10 on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:59:31 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I think that depends, (5+ / 0-)

                            primarily because I am a big proponent of the First Amendment.  It depends what you mean by "marketing products to kids."

                            It would have to be, in the words of the SCOTUS,  "narrowly tailored to meet a compelling government goal."   In other words, restricting the kinds of commercials that can appear during tv shows specifically tailored to children (Sesame Street type stuff) might be narrowly tailored.  

                            Telling McD's they can't use Ronald McDonald in advertising campaigns at all is not "narrowly tailored," in my view, and a First Amendment problem.  

                            I believes the government should be very very hesitant to try to restrict the rights of some adults because other adults cannot make what the government believes are appropriate parenting choices.  

                          •  So apparently it's just perfectly OK with you (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            eXtina

                            that an enormous corporation uses a happy clown to make kids want to eat the garbage they market? Parents can't band together and demand that this cease? They just have to individually sit there and cover their ears when their kid, who by definition doesn't know any better, demands that garbage? And make no mistake: what McDonald's sells is garbage.

                          •  You're the parent. (12+ / 0-)

                            It's up to you to raise your kids, not McDonalds.   If you don't want your kids to eat there, don't buy it for them.   You don't have to give in to the demands of your children.

                            Disagreeing with your premise doesn't make people libertarians.   That's a pretty huge stretch.   Second hand smoke is one thing, but people eating McDonalds or Applebees has no affect on you if you don't choose to eat it.  

                            The Patriot Act: IOKIYAD!

                            by Beelzebud on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:51:26 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  But crappy food choices DO impact (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            hooper, eXtina

                            all of us in the form of higher health care costs across the board.

                          •  Do you have kids?...nt (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            eXtina
                          •  Sure, I'm all for parents taking responsibility. (7+ / 0-)
                            Parents can't band together and demand that this cease?

                            Sure they can. Band together, get other parents on board, and tell McDonald's that until they drop the happy clown and the marketing to kids, they won't get those parents' business.

                            They just have to individually sit there and cover their ears when their kid, who by definition doesn't know any better, demands that garbage?

                            When I was a kid, I "demanded" all sorts of things—sometimes loudly, sometimes in ways that I'm annoyed the shit out of my parents. Some of them I got, and others I didn't. My parents were wise enough and mature enough to not give me whatever I demanded, and invariably they provided an explanation as to why. My brothers and I would whine and scream and cry, but that didn't mean we got what we wanted. That's what good parenting is.

                            So, in short... yes. Parents have to tell their kids "no, we can't go to McDonald's" when they demand it.

                          •  I just asked my kid (4+ / 0-)

                            to look hard at Ronald and judge whether he was a very nice man. That did the job pretty well.

                          •  Well, that's because... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            northsylvania, eXtina

                            he's a c-c-c-lown....

                            *runs and hides in corner, trembling*

                            "I can't come to bed yet! Someone is WRONG on the Internet!" - XKCD

                            by SingularExistence on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 03:07:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Rec button busted (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            eXtina

                            or I would.
                            Shortly thereafter the kiddoh tried to run off a clown at his cousin's birthday party with a giant inflatable hammer. Well done, son.

                          •  felagund, as a parent (5+ / 0-)

                            my children's feelings on McDonalds are close to their feelings on the anti-Christ.  I had to tell them to tone it down around their friends who like McDonalds, as I didn't want them alienating their friends.  
                            I just told them from a very early age, anytime they wanted a McDs toy, that I'd be happy to get them the cheep toy of their choosing, just not from an establishment that forced us to accept its grade D meet and nasty, poison oil.  I tried to teach them that I respected their bodies and health too much to allow them to eat such crap.  My brain washing worked almost too well -- I get what you're saying, but I've got three kids, and all three despise the hell out of McDonalds, and it was not hard to get the message McDonalds food = poison into them.

                            "On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps...of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again."

                            by middleagedhousewife on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:50:09 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Grrr. Meat, not meet. Sorry. n/t (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            eXtina

                            "On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps...of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again."

                            by middleagedhousewife on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:53:48 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I know plenty of parents (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            eXtina

                            who do just that.

                            Kids are going to be confronted with choices like these their entire lives. How else are they going to learn to choose right when they're adults?

                            "I can't come to bed yet! Someone is WRONG on the Internet!" - XKCD

                            by SingularExistence on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:30:45 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Minor correction. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            eXtina

                            When it comes to commercial speech, the test is not that any restriction needs to be "narrowly tailored to meet a compelling government goal."  It is a significantly lower standard.  It's called the Central Hudson test.

                          •  I know that's technically the test (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            eXtina, VClib

                            for commercial speech.   I still think telling McD's they can't use the Ronald McD symbol for their franchise crosses the line.

                            And if you go there, where does it end?  What if McD's uses a cute puppy?  Is that banned?  What about a bunny?  What about a beach ball?  What about a big slide?  Who gets to decide whether a symbol or an ad appeals "too much" to kids?  What if the research shows the ad appeals to BOTH kids and adults? What if the favorable research shows 80% favorable for kids, 60% for adults?  Who makes the decision whether that's "marketing to kids"?

                            How involved should government be in telling a  private company what they can, and cannot, say in their ads, beyond assuring that it's not factually deceptive?  

                          •  I only wanted to correct your implication (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            eXtina

                            that commercial speech somehow receives the same protection as artistic or political speech, which it does not.

                        •  Food choices and the attendant health (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          hooper, eXtina

                          issues efect all of us in higher health care costs.

                          •  The problem with that thought is (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            SingularExistence, eXtina, VClib

                            that poor food choices in moderation, or rarely, are not problematic.  Ice cream is not problematic in and of itself -- it has redeeming qualities (it tastes really good and gives people lots of pleasure) and, eaten in moderation or rarely, it's not a huge health issue.  The problem is that some people make the choice to eat it too often to the exclusion of better choices.

                            The fact that some people do not make the choice to eat it in moderation, but instead make bad choices regarding ice cream, does not mean that the government should force Baskin Robbins to sell fresh vegetables.  

                          •  Yes, but nobody wants hydrogenated cottonseed oil, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            eXtina

                            or gmo corn oil, or "beef extract" in their french fries.

                    •  The science on obesity is just as (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      eXtina

                      compelling as that for smoking... Still don't want restrictions on empty calories?

                      Corporations are driven by the bottom line, not by concerns for health, safety or the environment. This is why we need government regulations.

                      by the dogs sockpuppet on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:45:10 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Secondhand calories? (6+ / 0-)

                        You gonna finish that?

                        I don't think dining and smoking are the same things, don't have the same issues.

                        Stop. Stand up. Make a sign. Walk around in public. Be polite and orderly and the rest takes care of itself. Want to shake up the Plutocrats? Demonstrate your attention to politics.

                        by Quicklund on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:59:59 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Really? (5+ / 0-)

                        If somebody eats a 1200 calorie burger next to me, it's going to make me gain weight?

                        That's fascinating!

                        Tell people something they already know and they will thank you for it. Tell them something new and they will hate you for it.

                        by ToeJamFootball on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:07:31 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  No, but that poor slob who (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          hooper, eXtina

                          can't afford the cost of his healthcare will effect the cost of your healthcare costs too.

                          •  And dialysis expenses from high-fuctose corn syrup (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            the dogs sockpuppet, eXtina

                            will overwhelm the Medicare budget pretty soon.

                            Libertarianism is imo a developmental disorder, the personality stuck at the "I don't wanna" or You can't make me" stage.  It runs deep in the American character and may end up killing the planet.

                          •  What is your solution then? Prohibition? (0+ / 0-)

                            Should we arrest people for whopper possession? Should we force them to the gym at gunpoint? Or should we educate people and give them choices which they make themselves.

                            We should encourage healthy behavior, but forcing people to be healthy is dangerous. Where does it end? Can I tell people they're not allowed to go cliff jumping because it's dangerous. Maybe we should all live in bubbles and then we can all be healthy and Medicare will be saved!

                            Education and providing good choices are a societal responsibility, the choices themselves are up to the individual.

                            Stop complaining, start protesting

                            by Johnnythebandit on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:16:02 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  We need to change our politicians (0+ / 0-)

                            and the influences upon them.  When agri-business is rewarded for the shit they put out as "food", that is a problem.

                            When subsidies go to the producers of the foods that we know are bad for us, that is a problem.

                            When the whole system is set up against people without money, that is a problem.

                            There are political solutions to this, outside of "let the individual decide".  When there is no choice, it's pretty hard to make a good choice.

                            With regard to Medicare....if more people have access to doctors for routine maintenance and education during their lifetime, the chronic diseases that are eating up Medicare won't be such a problem.  When diabetes is treated early, kidney failure is less of a problem, cutting down on the expensive treatment that failure entails.  When high blood pressure is treated with medication, heart attacks go down, cuttoing down on the costs of heart surgery.   So, when everyone is covered by insurance and they CAN go to a doctor on a regular basis, gradually the costs come down because the expensive treatments aren't needed so often.

                          •  I agree w/ a lot of that (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm all for single payer and preventative medicine. I also am sick of the big ag subsidies and how big business is running the show in DC.

                            If people went to the doctor regularly they'd likely hear what they should and should not be eating. A government ban is unnecessary and wrong. A few cookies once in a while never hurt anybody.

                            Stop complaining, start protesting

                            by Johnnythebandit on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 08:27:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Well, we'll be paying their medical bills... (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          eXtina

                          Corporations are driven by the bottom line, not by concerns for health, safety or the environment. This is why we need government regulations.

                          by the dogs sockpuppet on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 03:39:56 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  The trans-fat ban in NY resulted in a quick (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      eXtina

                      and significant drop in heart problems.  

                      Everyone bitched for the month leading up to the ban, then soon forgot all about it.

                      Everyone's saving money on healthcare, and some are saving their own lives or those of their loved ones.

                      Would you be against this?

                  •  oh lol (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    eXtina

                    you think people thought mickey dee's was healthy

                    •  To be fair... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ThinkerT, eXtina

                      ...you actually can get decent stuff there. Apple and yogurt salad, yogurt and fruit parfait, oatmeal and fruit cup at breakfast time, grilled chicken snack wraps. Oh, and the Asian Salad is back. However, most people go there for Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets.

                      Health care should not be a privilege for the few, but a human right for all.

                      by Pris from LA on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:06:26 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Oh my, what (5+ / 0-)

                    a great word..."glibertarianism"...thank you for this word to describe the Randian "galtism". Ass, indeed...

                    "Make it so", Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the Enterprise.

                    by brainyblond on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:09:16 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Stop with the hyperbole and ad hominem attacks (10+ / 0-)

                      I agree w/ the "glibertarian" and my beliefs are basically democratic socialism. The government can make businesses disclose certain things (cigarette warnings, nutritional info etc.) I am all for this. I also support things like a high minimum wage because it is fair and good for everyone.

                      Where I draw the line is when personal choices are restricted. I indulge in BK or McD's every once in a while when I really high or drunk. And I really enjoy it. I know it's bad, but it's enjoyable and it's MY CHOICE. I know that obesity is a concern, but we should encourage healthy eating and living through education and free choice. Hell I'd even support free socialized gym memberships.

                      But if after all that, some dumbass chooses to eat KFC and watch deal or no deal all day then that's his choice and I don't have a right to force him to act differently.

                      Stop complaining, start protesting

                      by Johnnythebandit on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:07:02 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  If you eat those things in moderation they're (5+ / 0-)

                    great.  They taste good (depending on your taste).  The problem isn't that they offer them, or even that they run a business selling them.  It's that people think eating it regularly is a good idea.  If you're eating at places like that more than once a week, you're doing it wrong.

                    They're a restaurant near me that makes it's money selling expensive high end deserts and alcohol.  Should they be forced to offer salads? If you want a salad, go across the street if you want a chocolate soufflé and glass a French wine, you go there.

                    Why shouldn't people be able to chose to indulge themselves? Or run a business catering to people who are indulging themselves?  After all people are willing to pay good money for something they enjoy and don't do often.  

                    We have another restaurant in town that specializes in have the best French fries, again that's great, as long as you use good judgment, and enjoy it with moderation.

                    I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

                    by Futuristic Dreamer on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:20:53 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Exactly right. (5+ / 0-)

                      It seems that some would like to restrict restaurants from serving anything that would be bad for you if that's all you ever ate.  Good grief, what would happen to barbecue joints?  I happen to love barbecue, but there's no way in hell to make it healthy for you, so I only make it a few times each season.  
                      What this reminds me of, in a way, is the folks that want to "dumb down" entertainment media so that nothing is available that isn't appropriate for a seven year old.  

                  •  You tell them by NOT patronizing their business! (3+ / 0-)

                    For fuck's sake, I don't think ANYBODY at Applebee's is claiming their shit is health food.

                  •  I don't think it's "Going Galt" (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    eXtina

                    I think it's common sense.

                    "Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

                    by dancerat on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:46:40 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I agree with you... (10+ / 0-)

                  ...to a point.

                  I travel for business all the time as well and have zero choice as to where I stay (it's dictated by the client). This sucks when I end up at a place like I was stuck in last week, where there was no gym and the only breakfast options were fried, fatty, or starchy. Most people who travel for business face similar challenges.

                  HOWEVER - and this is a big HOWEVER - that doesn't get anyone off the hook. You can't just throw up your hands and say, "Oh, well, they made me stay here so might as well load up on the pancakes." It means you have to prepare more thoroughly, have a backup eating plan, pack healthy snacks in your suitcase, and take responsibility for the choices you can control. Yeah, it's a pain in the ass, and when it's late and I'm tired I don't always follow my own dictates. But I don't expect the government to pass a law forcing Courtyard By Marriott or whatever to make me an egg-white omelette because I don't eat their creamy scrambled eggs.

                  "I can't come to bed yet! Someone is WRONG on the Internet!" - XKCD

                  by SingularExistence on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:50:45 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I don't necessarily think my point was about only (0+ / 0-)

                    me.  It's just a fact that when it gets hard to make healthy choices, most people don't and the end result is a steady evolution towards fat and salt.

                    On this trip to Cincinnati for my daughter's graduation, we ate out twice (a thai place and a mexican place).  Thai is pretty fatty, Mexican not so bad.  We got stuff at the grocery store that we could snack on (lunchibles, apples, strawberries, and juice).  We ate at the luncheon for the graduates (burgers, vegi burgers, fruit, and stuff that you would expect).  Breakfast at a really nice place I can't remember.  So, mostly OK, for a few days but I would not have wanted to eat out twice a day forever.

                    I hate to quote David Frum here but this may be more apropos, coming from him, "Yes the American media always loves a freak show. But a political party does not have to cooperate."

                    by alliedoc on Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 09:07:03 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  You both make some good points (9+ / 0-)

                  You seem to be talking past each other a little bit, but certainly raise some interesting issues to discuss about the intersection of corporate and personal responsibility.  It's a bit like tobacco companies; what responsibility do they have to make their product safe?  None, apparently, but they can be reigned in by the way that they advertise their product, for example.  We can also make them contribute to the damage they cause by assessing certain taxes.  We can limit where their product is made available, etc.

                •  Just 2 months ago (8+ / 0-)

                  I was "trapped" when a group decided to hold a pre-meeting meeting at a local restaurant much like Applebees.    The place happened to be where we could all reach it easily and was midpoint between us.

                  At the time I was still getting over a hospital stay.  I must have very low fat in my food or end up back in the hospital.  There was nothing low fat on the menu at all except for salad and--because my guts were still recovering, at that time I could only have cooked veggies.

                  After talking with the waitress, who was helpful but had no solution, I ended up getting some "chicken patty melt" sandwich, then scraping off the cheese and removing the skin.  I ended up with a piece of bare chicken--that seems to have been fried.   And my contortions couldn't have been pleasant to watch by co-diners.   There are times when conditions force us to eat in places we'd not choose on our own.  It would have been nice to have had an option of just getting skinless chicken and veggies as an option....  

                  "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." -Terry Pratchett

                  by revsue on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:11:36 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I have to watch fat content... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    eXtina, revsue

                    ...or my liver punishes me. See, I had my gall bladder removed in 1990. Nobody knew at that point that The Pill can make you more susceptible to gall bladder disease and stones. I know a woman who will tell you that she's borne children and had gallstones, and gallstones are way more painful.

                    After a Cholecystectomy, your liver will continue to make bile to break down fats. The more fat you eat, the more bile your liver makes. And...well...draw your own conclusions. Gonna stop there so as to not risk TMI.

                    Health care should not be a privilege for the few, but a human right for all.

                    by Pris from LA on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:10:40 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes, I'd had gall bladder removed about 1970 (0+ / 0-)

                      and was recovering from a mystery bout of pancreatitis.

                      The diet changes seem to be keeping it from returning for now, and may it ever be so!  I definitely pay more attention to the places I agree to meet with others--and carry a couple of breakfast bars with me now that I could have with coffee in a pinch.  (Can't just skip the meal, being diabetic.)   Oh for the days when food was just...food.  And was fun!

                      "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." -Terry Pratchett

                      by revsue on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:06:58 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Businesses have to be licensed. (5+ / 0-)

                  It is completely reasonable to require that, in order to do business, restaurants have to maintain health and safety standards for customers and workers. So yes, you are entitled to regulate restaurants and mandate they list calorie counts in order to do business in your locality. Stop giving up before you start.

                  "This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it." -- Keith Olbermann

                  by allergywoman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:18:02 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  The types of argument you are making in this (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TiaRachel, PsychoSavannah, eXtina

                  comment could easily be used (mutatis mutandis) to argue against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  They also sound like the types of arguments Paul Ryan is making in favour of his scheme to vitiate Medicare.  Of course senior citizens are all perfectly capable of reviewing myriad insurance plans (with all their fine type) and picking exactly the right plan for them.  

                  We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

                  by Observerinvancouver on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:38:11 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Same argument, different context (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    SingularExistence

                    I think it's a stretch to argue that figuring out what restaurant food is bad is as difficult and complex as figuring out the finer details of insurance plans.

                    An argument isn't usually good or bad in and of itself - context matters.

                  •  BIG DIFFERENCE (0+ / 0-)

                    If I go to Taco Bell I will pay a couple of bucks for a meal and then get diarrhea. As long as I don't go more than once a month I don't face any long term consequences from Taco Bell.

                    On the other hand if I get a bad mortgage I could lose my home and be in serious debt for years.

                    Food, like music religion books or drugs is part of culture and freedom of expression. Mein Kampf and Scientology are just as unhealthy than Burger King but I wouldn't argue for them to be banned.

                    Stop complaining, start protesting

                    by Johnnythebandit on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:40:16 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Are you familiar with the term... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  eXtina

                  ...."food desert?" Perhaps you should acquaint yourself with it before going all Ayn Rand condescending on us.

              •  the tofu tollbooth! (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                eXtina, wishingwell

                It's complicated. - Desperate Housewives

                by Cedwyn on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:23:27 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  yes while travelling, sometimes there are (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Prairie D, allergywoman

                very few choices of restaurants and also while staying in a hotel too.

              •  My family camps (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                eXtina

                We travel with a cooler, a propane stove, and a weeks worth of food.  We've been known to pull our car over on the side of the highway and make sandwiches.

                We avoid chains like the plague.  Bad food, bad prices, all around blow. When we eat out while travailing we sample the local restaurants and cafes. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  When we can't find anything local that's appealing, we'll go to a grocery store (towns along the highway have them) buy bread, cheese, and fruit if we don't have any in the car.  

                You have fridge in the hotel, you can at least eat breakfast and lunch there, then wonder around and find somewhere half decent for dinner.

                I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

                by Futuristic Dreamer on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:52:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  It depends... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                eXtina

                ....when I was at a friend's wedding in Kansas, I got a hotel room with a mini-kitchen, and was able to get to a grocery store and buy food - the hotel had pots, pans, plates, and utensils in the room.

                I saved money and had healthier food - usually cereal and orange juice for breakfast, and a sandwich with fruit for lunch.  Of course, barbecue with friends for dinner might have ruined it....

                9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

                by varro on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:59:12 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  When I'm behaving... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  eXtina, varro

                  When I'm behaving and travelling, I usually hit a supermarket for bread and fruit and eat it as nighttime snack and breakfast.  For lunch, well, anything goes.  

                  I know Denny's has lots of awful choices, but aren't there a few good ones as well?  

                  2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

                  by Yamaneko2 on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:51:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Occasional scarfing down food is fine. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                susans, Caipirinha, eXtina

                It's the daily intake that really adds up. I eat healthy in the house. Whenever I can choose, I try to choose healthier restaurants. Once in a week I'd go get a burger and fries.

                So in case I'm stuck at midnight in a hotel and I'm hungry and the only thing that's open is a McDonalds, then I'd go there. I'd eat one big junk meal from them. But the next days? I'd go back to eating healthier things.

                Sometimes in certain circumstances you can't avoid eating at greasy joints. But that doesn't mean you have to eat there everyday.

              •  Yes, traveling is where it really hits me (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                googie, eXtina

                the lack of choices and decent nutrition in restaurants in this country.  We rarely eat out, but on road trips, once the sandwich fixings run out (or threaten to spoil due to lack of refrigeration), it's tough, and you are stuck with whatever restaurant is in reach.

                "On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps...of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again."

                by middleagedhousewife on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:39:06 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  You can eat cheese, and sour cream and fried food (10+ / 0-)

              . . .  if you care to without damaging your body if you EAT LESS and get exercise.

              I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

              by CherryTheTart on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:58:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Do you travel by car? (6+ / 0-)

              Sometimes you DO have to eat at McDonalds, because it's the healthiest option between here and there along the Interstate.  I try to pack lunches on road trips, but it's not always feasible over multiple days.  And even many medium-sized towns have nothing more healthy than an Applebees or Cracker Barrel.

              You've been fooled by April, and she's gone. . .

              by cardinal on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:00:57 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  sort of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eXtina

              but the more we learn about things like transfats, the more we realize that certain dietary commonplaces are just as bad, if not worse, for people as, for example, cigarettes. Most states (and many countries) now ban cigarettes in restaurants, but the argument against such bans often fell along the lines of, "well, you don't have to go to that restaurant if you don't want to."

              Is there no prerogative to support public health, to encourage healthy eating, to make eating establishments safer for the people who frequent them than they currently are?

              And my baby's my common sense, so don't feed me planned obsolescence.

              by vadasz on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:27:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  There is a need that isn't being (15+ / 0-)

            filled, but Applebees didn't set out to fill that market gap.  Chipotle did and they are doing pretty well - and their food is pretty decent actually.

            I travel a lot for work - I work really hard when I am on the road - and I am a food snob - I have a really tough time finding decent food when I am on the road.  I am serious when I say that I wouldn't go to an Applebees unless I was actually literally starving - and knowing myself - I would probably look at the menu and look at the food being served and walk out before I could get through the task.

            In any case, I have spent years thinking about how I could come up with a chain restaurant that I would like to eat in that wasn't centered around sandwiches or burritos.  I am still thinking.  It is not that easy to strike that balance between having every item on the menu be always available - 365 days a year and all day every day - making the food easy enough for a less experienced kitchen team to execute WELL - and finally also making a profit.  When and if I finally figure it out, I will invite you to the grand opening.

            •  I look forward to the day! (5+ / 0-)

              In the meantime I cheer on Jamie Oliver.

              I think the distribution aspect you have hit on is the key.

              I wound up having onion soup (no bread no cheese) and spinach salad (no bacon).

              "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

              by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:18:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Why is that even a desirable goal? (4+ / 0-)

              One of the worst aspects of the modern American food industry is its standardization. Why should people be conditioned to be comfortable only if they can find predictable food that is mediocre at best, and usually awful?

              Many years ago, the LH and I drove cross-country twice in the space of a couple of years. We didn't have tons of money. When we were camping, I generally shopped for groceries and cooked, but if we were staying in a town, we ate dinner in a restaurant.

              There weren't a lot of national fast-food chains yet, and especially in the midwest we ate at a lot of places that had very, very limited menus - typically steak, chicken, pork chop, or chopped steak. But you could at least get the meat cooked to your taste, and there were fresh (overcooked) vegetables on the plate with it. Once or twice, we had really good dinners; once or twice, we had really horrible meals. By the time we made it to the Rockies (trout!) we were pretty bored. How could someone actually want to be that bored? Or even more bored?

              One of the reasons for travel used to be experiencing differences in geography, climate, culture, and yes, cuisine. Americans have become coddled infants who want their travel destinations to be amusement parks decorated with imitation world landmarks, serving the same crappy food they get at home. Why do they bother?

              The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

              by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:16:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, I travel in my work a lot and (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sidnora, SingularExistence, eXtina

                my hours during those stints can be really, really intense.  Finding food at all in some places is difficult.  Especially in airports where there are never any mom and pop joints anymore.  

                But I think the reality is that people do need fast food options from time to time in our society.  That doesn't mean that I don't think that most people over indulge in that sort of outlet - I do believe people should be taking more time to cook for themselves and go to a local restaurant when they have the money/option.  There is a need and a market and the reality is that there are very few choices in the chain model that offer up fresh good food.  It is funny because since I wrote the comment to which you have responded about trying to figure out how to design a menu and a chain - I was toying with the idea of something more like an association of restaurants that would qualify to be in that association based on specific criteria having to do with quality and freshness of ingredients, adherence to quality food and recipes and good taste (which is critical to me).  I thought of those as all being locally owned and operated.

                For me, I usually spend a fair amount of time researching food options before I go anywhere - I also always find the great local restaurants when I know that I will have time for a real meal when I am on the road.  I've suffered through far too many hotel room service meals and other similar miseries on the road not to do the recon before I go anywhere.  My crews are usually pretty happy when they travel with me because I won't eat bad food which means that they don't have to either - lol

                •  I love the association idea (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  eXtina

                  kind of like a CSA for restaurants, rather than for individuals. But I can't imagine what kind of nightmare the logistics would be.

                  I've done a very little bit of work on getting fresh, local food into our enormous school system, and it's no surprise that people throw their hands up when they are confronted with the kinds of obstacles I learned about (for instance, many schools no longer have functioning kitchens - just batteries of microwaves for thawing and heating prepacked meals). It's just very, very hard to do decent quality on an enormous scale.

                  The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

                  by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:19:27 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  But also - one other note - there (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sidnora, eXtina

                are a lot of towns in America these days that simply do not have anything that could be called "local cuisine" unless you count the local francisee's McDonald's or Burger King as "local".

                I remember eating in road houses when I was very young on the road between Nashville and Tuscaloosa.  That was a trip - some good and some bad.  I'd do that now except there are no more road houses for all intents and purposes.

                •  Exactly my point. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  inclusiveheart

                  Even when we did those x/c trips, 40 years ago, local restaurants in very small towns were starting to be supplanted by national chains. We were able to avoid them then, but I'm sure there are lots of places now where our only options would be a fast-food chain or cooking for ourselves.

                  The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

                  by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:22:10 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  "Some good, some bad" (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  inclusiveheart, eXtina

                  That's precisely why the roadhouses died and the fast-food places flourished.  When you go to McDonald's, Chipotle, Denny's, BK, KFC, Waffle House (South) or IHOP (North), you know what you are going to get.  Also, chances are extremely good that you will not get violently ill.  

                  2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

                  by Yamaneko2 on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 02:00:46 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Applebees rarely the first place in town (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eXtina

              Usually a town grows and develops some other chains before the Applebee's comes in.  If some of the talk here is to be believed, you're better off going to McDonalds (grilled chicken wrap with chipotle or honey mustard FTW.)

              2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

              by Yamaneko2 on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:55:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  The free market wins again (4+ / 0-)
          [I]f they don't think it sells well, they don't have a "responsibility" to offer it. People who don't like the offerings of a restaurant simply can decide not to go to that restaurant.
          And if no restaurant offers sufficiently healthy options, you can just shop for reasonably priced healthy food at any supermarket (unless they don't sell any either). This sort of "no social responsiblity" argument works only as far as there actually are options. But while people plainly consider food a personal choice, when most (or arguably in some areas all) the food choices are unhealthy, we end up with the spiking obesity rates that diarist is addressing.

          Off the top of my head, the argument that "there's always a healthy choice" breaks down when the universal situation on the local scale is: 1) consumer/citizen can't afford said choice [hey, tough shit!]; 2) said choice doesn't exist because restaurant/food vendor isn't obligated to provide it; 3) said choice is de-emphasized or hidden because the "free market" wants to sell something else; 4) actually... add your own, there are whole books about this topic.

          Is it nice that the Food Court "free market" provides Dairy Queens, Belgian Fries and Chicken Fried Chicken options for the discriminating gourmand's occasional delectation? I suppose. Do consumers have a responsibility to pay attention to kind and quantity of what they consume? Certainly. But is "does it sell well" the only criteria a restaurant be required to consider for what it wants to put into your body? I don't think so.

          •  See, there's the problem. (6+ / 0-)

            You think the market only works one way.

            In situations where there are a lot of choices, like restaurants, supply does meet demand.

            If more people demand healthy food choices, someone will figure out that they can make a living supplying them.

            But is "does it sell well" the only criteria a restaurant be required to consider for what it wants to put into your body? I don't think so.

            Restaurants don't put food into your body; you do. I agree that there should be a requirement that restaurants disclose exactly what they're trying to convince you to put into your body, but unless there's some restaurant somewhere that force-feeds their customers, the responsibility for what goes into your body ultimately doesn't rest with them—it rests with you.

            •  I don't think the market (6+ / 0-)

              "only works one way". I noted that consumers have a responsibility. But I do think restaurants and food providers also have an obligation to minimum standards that aren't currently being met, and the noxious free marketeer habit of fobbing all that on to "personal responsibility" doesn't cover it. How bad does a food have to be before you'll acknowledge that the provider shouldn't sell it at all? Rhetorically, where is that line? Would Milo Minderbinder's chocolate-covered cotton be OK?

              I've lived in several inner cities and I know that the so-called free market is an utter failure there. There are no grocery stores that sell decent produce; in large swathes of map, there aren't any bank ATMs because the banks won't serve that population. For those people, who don't have money or visibility, the so-called free market provides whatever crap it wants to call "food". Most residents there can't hop in their SUV to go to the nearest Whole Foods, and they're not going to be demanding that the moldy potatoes be replaced with fresh arugula either. They have enough problems putting anything on the table. They simply have to buy what they can, and it's often riding the shitty edge of what health inspections will allow, never mind real food. Someone did figure out how to make a living supplying those people, and it's with weeks-old celery and watered-down generic dish detergent.

              As for restaurants, there are typically a few custom food places that can make a moderate living, but they're no match for the ubiquitous factory-food KFCs and donut shops; people with $2.00 in their pocket are free to "choose" maximum calories (no matter how unhealthy) every time, and in the absence of reasonable alternatives, I don't blame them a bit. But if the people reading spreadsheets shrug and say those areas just like cheap deep-fried junk food, that's a bogus conclusion. By and large, those people aren't ever even offered the choice.

              Various responses to that situation now exist (the farms in Detroit and New Orleans have been featured many times here and elsewhere) but those started outside the current distribution structure. The existing "free market" had decades to fix or just ameliorate the situation, but will never do so, because profit margins are razor-tight to non-existent within those populations.

              •  Would rec more than once if I could n/t (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CoyoteMarti, eXtina
              •  Excellent point (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CoyoteMarti, eXtina

                There are a lot of upper middle class liberals and (particularly) libertarians who love to condemn working class and poor people for making "bad decisions" and go on about "personal responsibility." Great, we all know that personal responsibility is a wonderful thing. I'm all for it. I wish that corporate America would show some of that. Given healthy, affordable alternatives, I'm pretty sure that people in poor rural or urban areas would embrace them. I remember when a Giant opened in a working class neighborhood in DC. It was a top local news story, because it meant that people didn't have to drive several miles into Maryland to get halfway decent produce and meats. And people who weren't lucky enough to have access to a car would be able to walk or take the bus there and get decent groceries for the first time in a long time.

              •  We're not talking about that though (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                eXtina

                We're talking about Applebee's. Where it's very easy to get a plain salad and a piece of grilled chicken with a side of steamed vegetables if you make the effort to ask.

                "I can't come to bed yet! Someone is WRONG on the Internet!" - XKCD

                by SingularExistence on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:36:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Key phrase (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              googie, TiaRachel, eXtina
              In situations where there are a lot of choices,

              There are plenty of small towns in this country where your choice is limited to McD's or Taco Bell. Even back in the days before the fast-food invasion, many places only had one restaurant. I stayed in enough of them to know.

              If you happened to be spending the night in a town like that, you could eat in that restaurant, or go hungry. Or maybe shop the local grocery and have raw veggies, package bread and cheese for dinner in your motel room.

              The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

              by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:22:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  You're dodging the real problems/solutions (0+ / 0-)

            If you can't afford it that's a labor problem. RAISE THE MIN WAGE

            Also if you can't afford something at the grocery store, why are you going to a restaurant which is gonna be more expensive.

            The real problem is that Americans are a bunch of stupid lazy fat ass slobs. The real problem is that we are easily duped by transparent marketing tricks. If schools actually taught critical thinking instead of the blind authoritarianism that most of them push, then maybe we'd be healthier. A healthy body is dependent on a healthy mind. We can't choose vegetables if we are vegetables.

            Stop complaining, start protesting

            by Johnnythebandit on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:27:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not transparent at all (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eXtina

              Marketing is very, very sophisticated. They don't spend billions of dollars every year on campaigns that don't work. It's a science that has been perfected over sixty years and it's completely insidious. There's really no way around marketing. You can resist it, sure, but it's not easy. I'm not going to take the easy, elitist way out of condemning Americans as "fat, lazy slobs" as a way to ease my conscience about not giving a damn.

              •  I give a damn (0+ / 0-)

                If I didn't I wouldn't have taken the time to make suggestions. Raising the min wage and improving education would help to solve our problems with obesity.

                People clearly are stupid, fat, and lazy. Think about how much tv and video games we play. How much crap we eat. How many Americans are ignorant on things like the bill of rights.

                The parenting and education in our country is mostly to blame.

                What is your solution? What do you think the problem is?

                Stop complaining, start protesting

                by Johnnythebandit on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:59:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  In my city some restaurants market themselves (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ToeJamFootball, eXtina

            as "indulge yourself here" and others market themselves as "healthy food here".  I avoid malls and chain restaurants like the plague.  If someone only goes to the "indulge yourself here" restaurants, it's their body, their choice.  I like having that option, and being able to go to restaurants that specialize in unhealthy food that tastes really good once in a while.

            I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

            by Futuristic Dreamer on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:36:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Opting for an eclair over a bran muffin (13+ / 0-)

        actually isn't a great idea though.  The bran muffin is going to have better nutritional value than an eclair.  You can't just count calories - you have to understand the comparative nutritional value of the calories in each item.  Once you figure that part out, you need to figure out what your body needs and what it doesn't need.  Our approach to food is oversimplified and "one size fits all" in a world and a country like ours in particular where you have an enormous range of diversity in the humans we are trying to teach how to eat.

        •  Depends on the recipe. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eXtina

          It's probably a good thing that the calories are listed, since bran muffins have a healthy reputation that eclairs do not.  Bran muffins get their tremendous calorie count from all the fat inside, with hefty doses of sugar as well.  If I remember correctly, they are also quite large.

          Does the fiber inside the muffin make the calories easier to bear?  That's your call.  

          2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

          by Yamaneko2 on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 02:05:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I hate those bland "vegetable medleys" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Futuristic Dreamer, eXtina

        these chain restaurants are so fond of. Tasteless, utterly without redeeming value, IMHO.

    •  No, but we can hold Applebee's accountable... (7+ / 0-)

      for not offering a choice.

      •  Why? There are other restaurants (8+ / 0-)

        in the world and probably there were in that mall, too.

        •  not in this particular instance (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          inclusiveheart, wishingwell

          there was an awful Chinese restaurant, a Five Guys burger and a Brazilian BBQ all you can eat (gorge yourself)
          it was just a strip mall. but i get your point.

          "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

          by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:30:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I would have picked five guys or the BBQ. (10+ / 0-)

            Based on what i know about Five Guys supply chain, they are better than many other chains about getting you fresher higher quality ingredients - which makes sense because they don't make that many things.  The restaurants that offer a ton of selections are the ones that are always going to be serving the oldest and most pre-processed foods - unless they are crazy busy all the time - but even that doesn't change the food warehousing problem you face at a chain.  

            •  five guys (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eXtina, wishingwell, kingyouth

              is !@#$%& awesome!

              It's complicated. - Desperate Housewives

              by Cedwyn on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:19:18 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I know President Obama likes it, but it's not so (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                paige, wishingwell

                great for vegetarians, is it?

                "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

                by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:20:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  From 5 Guys site: (5+ / 0-)
                  Our veggie sandwich and grilled cheese sandwiches are suitable for those who do not consume meat, but please note that our bread contains eggs and dairy. Additionally, our veggie sandwich is NOT a veggie burger. Our veggie sandwich consists of as many "veggie" toppings as you desire and served on our basic bun. You can add cheese if you please. Our bread is toasted, but usually on a separate grill from meat products. However, there is always a chance for cross contamination, so please check at the individual location where you are ordering to be certain. Finally, our fries are just plain potatoes cooked in 100% peanut oil and are suitable for even vegan diets.

                  5 Guys

                  "Love/It will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/It will set you free." - Mumford & Sons

                  by kingyouth on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:45:46 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I don't eat burgers (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Cedwyn, eXtina

                  that I don't cook myself, and I don't patronize fast-food chain restaurants, ever. The one exception I make is for 5 Guys' fries.

                  When I make burgers for dinner I stop there on my way home to pick up the fries to go alongside. They are made with fresh, unpeeled potatoes that are prepared from scratch at the restaurant, and they are teh awesome.

                  The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

                  by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:27:54 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I got a hard thing (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                eXtina, Prairie D

                in my burger the only time I ate there.  I didn't think it was any good at all.  I am extremely picky about the meat I eat.  Eating less and less and only at home.

                And she's good at appearing sane, I just want you to know. Winwood/Capaldi

                by tobendaro on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:51:58 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Five Guys (5+ / 0-)

                is awesome GREASY!   It can't be more healthy for Obama than cigarettes.  Once was one time too many.

                I sympathize with the original diary - sometimes you just have no other choice.  But get the salad with NO dressing or ask for it on the side.  

                In Germany recently, we were at a hotel in an industrial park, with no car.  Breakfast was OK, but no noon or evening food on the week-end (they didn't tell you that on the Internet site) except what was probably a frozen pizza done in the bar area (which was open 24/7).  

                As a diabetic I have to eat something, or will pass out.  Glucose pills & crackers will only last for so long & I had used those up by 4 pm.  Pizza it was  by 8 pm that night, with some take out Wassa crackers added to breakfast.      

                Let's have a little more understanding here, that sometimes people do the best they can.  (Interesting about the booth size, now I know why I either perch or am squeezed.)    

                Why have some attacked eXtina and her/his diary where an observation was being brought to our attention.   It seems some around here are just as rigid as Far Right Wackos.

                This is not news.  

                •  A couple of things... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  CoyoteMarti, eXtina

                  I am not sure that people are "attacking" each other as much as discussing the realities of the situation.

                  On the need to eat front, my ex suffered from low blood sugar and he sucked at planning for the eventuality that there would be no food sometimes when we were traveling and sailing to various islands - I learned fairly quickly after living with him for a few months that I had to pack food suitable for his consumption and also had to be really strategic about making sure that we would hit a restaurant where he could get food at appropriate intervals.  I know how hard that kind of planning can be from experience.

                  But having said that, I had to tell him at one point that he had to take more responsibility for anticipating and managing his own low blood sugar.  I didn't know like he did when his body was starting to need food until he was in meltdown mode - but he did - and he ignored that problem.  He also would do very dumb things like try to wait to eat - either to try to save money or save time or whatever - and that never went well.  Had you been with me in Germany, I would have put you in a taxi or rented a car to go get food that would have kept you safely out of any danger from a diabetic attack.  I would not have thought twice about it.

                  •  The one way taxi (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    eXtina

                    which brought us to the location from a RR station cost $30.  We were lugging 4, wheeled suitcases on 4 wk trip (I wk on a ship).  We are in our mid-60's.  DH has food issues too.  

                    Two days before I had climbed 400 steep steps to the top of Mt St Michael, with my bad knee and diabetes.  Heck, I'm doing pretty damn well, thank you!!

                    We had to take a return taxi the next morning to get a rental car back in the city (closed on Sun).  The hotel info on the Internet did not prepare us for the reality of the geography of the location, nor the absence of available food on a Sunday evening.

                    Yup, too much $$ going too fast in very expensive Europe with the current exchange rate.  We shared the $8.00 pizza and did fine.  Not everyone has unlimited funds to hop in taxis.  

                    Many times on this trip I would insist upon stopping to get take along food at a RR station, small grocery,  before boarding a train going to a hotel.  Krefeld was a whole 'nother world, as we got off at the wrong trolley stop in the middle of a farming area, and had other mis-adventures.  

                    And when traveling with another couple by car earlier,  we insisted upon an earlier lunch than 3 o'clock.  

                    I agree, when you have a medical condition, you have to be pro-active about dealing with it, least it get worse and you are a further burden to others & yourself.  

                    However, SHIT HAPPENS.  

                    Sorry I bothered you with my experience.  We all don't make the same decisions all of the time.

                    Let's have a little more understanding here, that sometimes people do the best they can.  

                    EOM

                    •  Well, your story frightened me more (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      eXtina

                      than anything.  I don't think that I was saying that you weren't doing the best you could.  I sympathized with your predicament, but never mind.

                      •  Thank you for understanding - (0+ / 0-)

                        you had me fooled.  

                        Alas, parental diabetes on both sides caught up with me 3/4yrs ago.  At least I now know what is happening and what to do about it.  That is why we are traveling now, while we can.  

                        I have brought my A1C down from 12.5 to 6.5, with diet, medication & exercise.  And I got plenty of exercise on this trip!    

          •  I'll take 5 Guys any day... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eXtina

            not only do they tell you what farm the potatoes came from but you can actually watch them create your food, unlike most fast food places that do it behind a concrete wall.

            "Love/It will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/It will set you free." - Mumford & Sons

            by kingyouth on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:40:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Avoid strip malls like plague (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eXtina

            I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

            by Futuristic Dreamer on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:37:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  And they are all the same. Unless you find a (8+ / 0-)

          super specialty vegan, vegetarian, healthy restaurant (which are rare in middle america), you are stuck trying to find a chain that has a few not so repulsive items.

          We are not all in Berkeley, you know.

          I hate to quote David Frum here but this may be more apropos, coming from him, "Yes the American media always loves a freak show. But a political party does not have to cooperate."

          by alliedoc on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:57:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I have never (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          googie, inclusiveheart, TiaRachel, eXtina

          really seen or eaten in a mall restaurant that offered healthy food. Even the veggies items like salads are a toxic chemical mess full of additives, sugar and sodium. People say you don't have to eat this food. If you live where that's all that's available and giant fast food franchises of fast non food  have made real food outlets unable to compete or so high end that most cannot afford them this does not seem like a free market.

           Applebee's or another nasty corporate chain is often the only choice. It's not just a question of choosing it's systemic in our society. They food industries and big ag work hard to keep us addicted and unhealthy. Just say no doesn't work very well when our 'free markets' control the food chain and distribution.    

          Even corporate  grocery chain  stores offer mostly crap food. I'm not saying the government should make them offer more but on the other hand this is not a free market when people are not offered affordable healthy food or have the information to make a choice and in many cases don't even know what healthy is.  I am often amazed when I am shopping and I see what some obese people are putting on the check out belt. I sometimes can't believe that they can stay alive eating non food.  Look at what they feed children in schools or sick people in hospitals.              

          •  I am at the point with a lot of grocery (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shaharazade, eXtina

            stores where if I am planning to cook something and a key ingredient not fresh and up to a fairly high standard - I change the meal plan entirely.  I will not buy produce that looks old, weary or even remotely near fading in my fridge.  I tend to shop at a combination of different grocery stores and smaller markets in order to keep freshest food in my pantry.  It isn't easy, but if people spent that kind of time and energy and were discerning they would force retailers to a higher standard and probably lose some weight just expending the calories it takes to get good food - not to mention cooking it themselves.

            In my circle of friends, I am known as the cook/chef foodie.  People always think that my food is really good and what gets me is that so often it isn't my cooking skills that impress them about many of my dishes - they think it is but it is not - it is the quality of the ingredients that I use.  There is a huge taste and experiential difference between really fresh and good roasted vegetables and those that are withered and old.  The recipe is no different nor more difficult in either case - it is just the ingredients.  

            Anyone one of my friends could roughly chop a few types of vegetables, salt them with kosher salt, put some fresh ground black pepper on them, cover the veggies in olive oil, add some plain old dried thyme and then put them in the oven for 40-90 minutes depending on their mood and put a dish out that is as good as mine - IF they bought great ingredients to use.  Variations on this recipe include adding white wine and or herbs de provence.  The prep takes about 10-15 minutes.  The time in the oven is good for opening mail, putting water in the pet bowl, changing out of work clothes, cooking a pot of rice and generally getting settled at home after a long work day.  And these veggies hold up well for days in the fridge!  And, and, and you can roast some chicken breast at the same time or do some nice steak seasoned with pepper, salt and olive oil...  None of this is actually hard - except sourcing the good food ingredients.

            •  I'm called a (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              inclusiveheart, eXtina

              food Nazis in my family and circle of friends. It would be an upgrade to be considered a foodie, also I'm considered a health food nut. I became aware of nutrition and learned about it when I found myself with two new humans to feed. I grew up on convenience food frozen everything and lot's of quivering red meat, the 50's and 6o's liberation of house wives from cooking.

              As a young mother and a DFH I was presented with a world of food that was tasty and healthy and best of all inexpensive.  Nutrition and real food are one aspect of the hippie culture that I am glad I never quit adhering too. I read Diet for a Small Planet and haven't looked back. It's harder and harder in this economy and culture to find and prepare healthy food. Good restaurants can be found in most cities but the vast suburban mall land offers nothing else. Last night we went to a graduation in upscale suburban land and could not literally find anywhere to eat that wasn't a national corporate chain. Like big boxes they are for many all that available.  

              I have mellowed over the years and also learned like you  how to prepare really good meals with healthy ingredients. Our culture considers this to be elitist and somehow not American. As for choice in a way it's like our politics we are sold candidates and worse the choice like with food or restaurants is Coke or Pepsi. It's not good for the planet or the people who believe that this is food.      

               

              •  I am not called a food Nazi because (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                eXtina, shaharazade

                I love food and do not see it as a threat to my life - but rather as an important, wonderful element of my experience on earth.  I spend a lot of time deprogramming my friends and encouraging them to figure out what it is that their bodies need in terms of nutrition and experience and to build their diets on that premise.  

                The problem with much of our cultural attitude towards food is two fold in my opinion. 1. We seem to have an intrinsic mistrust and fear of food - particularly women; 2. We do not understand that each of our bodies are unique machines requiring different combinations of nutrients and vitamins - meaning these blanket prohibitions and fads are not ever going to apply to everyone.  

                I spent my formative years growing up in California - and my parents cooked really good food - they were food lovers.  I was a vegetarian for a period of time until I figured out that my body just wasn't coping well without meat - it was something that I needed and interestingly as I am getting older I need it less than I used to.  

                In any case, I've experimented with all of the variations of eating and not eating over my lifetime and figured out somewhere in my late 20s that I needed to eat what I craved when I craved it.  I figured out that sometimes I could substitute the hot fudge sundae that I craved with some other egg/milk combination food, but I also learned that sometimes I just needed the hot fudge sundae.  Going direct as I started to call it actually cut down the thousands of calories of things that I would eat to stave off the craving for the ice cream concoction before I finally ate the ice cream concoction.  

                I trust my body to tell me what it needs.  That's one reason why going shopping can be an interesting experience because what I perceive to look good or smell really good at the grocery is often exactly what I need to eat.  Sometimes I go and I am captivated by the greens section - others I don't even notice and that's usually when I've had my fill.  In the past few months melons have been on my mind.  I have various theories about why now and what makes them so appetizing and why they are making me feel so good after I eat them, but I won't go into it.  But suffice it to say, I feel better when I respond to my body's various and sundry calls for one food or another.  And I rarely over eat as a result - my body is usually getting what it needs so I don't spent a lot of my time being hungry on this earth - and I am not at all overweight - some of which is genetic - but most of it really has to do with enjoying food and viewing it as my friend and not my enemy.

      •  The only way to "hold Applebee's accountable" (21+ / 0-)

        is to choose not to go there.  

        If you don't like what they offer, don't go there.  It's really not complicated.  

        •  Plus, the point is that because of the type of (8+ / 0-)

          foods that are sold at places like Applebees and nearly every restaurant in America, people are getting used to the crap and viewing it is normal and healthy.  People's tastes change as a result of the types of food that is available and convenient and it gets harder and harder to make healthy choices and it becomes more and more desirable to eat worse and worse food.  We start on the slippery slope and pretty soon the worst food becomes the tastiest.

          I hate to quote David Frum here but this may be more apropos, coming from him, "Yes the American media always loves a freak show. But a political party does not have to cooperate."

          by alliedoc on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:59:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is the problem, well said (8+ / 0-)
            people are getting used to the crap and viewing it is normal and healthy.  People's tastes change as a result of the types of food that is available and convenient

            which I was alluding to by questioning how often customers of places like Applebee's go there, and they have to be accustomed to the taste of that type of food to want to go there

            "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

            by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:05:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  They're not just used to it, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eXtina

              they're addicted to it.

              We're evolved to be attracted to certain foods and tastes that are rare in nature, that signalled valuable sources of calories to hunter-gatherers whose main dietary challenge was scarcity of calories: sugar and fat. Add salt, which was very difficult to obtain prehistorically, and you've got a combination that lights up all kinds of things in the brain. It's hard to say no to those stimuli.

              Once you're used to eating food that has copious amounts of those things, "normal" food tastes very dull indeed. If you have the opportunity and will power to wean yourself off excessive amounts of salt, sugar and fat, in a short while the flavors of normal foods become much more vivid, and too much salt, sugar or fat tastes repulsive.

              The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

              by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:41:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  But that's how freedom works (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eXtina

            I'm really not in the mood to babysit a bunch of grown adults, are you?  If they want to eat junk and die early, it their bodies.  I don't have a say in the matter and neither do you.

        •  Isn't that only half the solution? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TiaRachel, eXtina

          with the other half of the solution being to voice your concerns?

      •  You have to become an annoying patron (3+ / 0-)

        You do have choices.

        Ask for your salad without dressing. Ask them to steam your vegetables. Have them leave the cheese and mayo off your sandwich. If the portions are too big, have the other half boxed up before it even hits the table.

        You're not a prisoner of their preparation.

        "I can't come to bed yet! Someone is WRONG on the Internet!" - XKCD

        by SingularExistence on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:55:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The choice is a different restaurant (5+ / 0-)

        Don't eat there if you don't like the food.  I don't know why that's such a hard concept.  Go get vegetarian sushi down the street, give them your money instead.

        You are offered the choice to not eat there.  Make the choice you want.

        •  That's a fine choice (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eXtina

          if you live in Chicago (or NYC, where I live). Try making that choice in, say, Salina, Kansas.

          The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

          by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:43:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think it's hard for people.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CoyoteMarti, eXtina

          ....in big cities or successful suburbs to realize just how hard it is to find good food in poor neighborhoods or rural or semi-rural areas. I live near Camden, NJ. Good luck finding a restaurant there that serves appetizing food for dinner. 50,000 plus people, many of whom are below the poverty line, and very little access to good food. If you have a car or you've got the bus schedule figured out, you can go out to Cherry Hill and find good food, but that takes a lot of time and effort. I can't shake my finger in condemnation when people are given shitty choices.

      •  yes dont go (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina

        and applebees wont care, if they didn't offer food people would eat, they'd be out of business, it's that simple

      •  Really? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ToeJamFootball, eXtina

        So a steak house now must have vegan options? And Indian restaurants have to serve hamburger? Should the kosher deli be forced to add sausage to the menu?

        Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

        by dhonig on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:44:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  So, who do you hold responsible? This food (7+ / 0-)

      is insideous and it's so easy.  I do hold Applebees responsible for not having items on their menu for people who want to eat lower fat items.  Recently, when I have gone to restaurants, it's very hard to find anything that suits my low fat pallet.  Applebees, certainly.  Atrias (Pittsburgh area).  Cracker Barrel (worst of the worse).  Even the salads have meat (all of them).  It is really impossible to eat healthy in today's restaurants (chains).  Restaurants often have a senior section on the menu, but what about a low salt, low fat section?

      I hate to quote David Frum here but this may be more apropos, coming from him, "Yes the American media always loves a freak show. But a political party does not have to cooperate."

      by alliedoc on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:14:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  People who "want to eat lower fat items" (16+ / 0-)

        should go to restaurants that offer them.  You don't have a right to go to a restaurant that is up front and honest about what they offer and insist that they offer something else.  

        If the public stops patronizing restaurants without a low salt, low fat section, those restaurants will get the message.  

        A restaurant has an obligation not to deceive the public.  They do not have an obligation to offer items that they do not think will sell well or be what their customer base wants.  And the restaurant  is entitled to make that decision.  

        •  Most restaurants actually go out of business (5+ / 0-)

          Forcing them to meet one groups ideal meals is a sure way to make sure more fail.

          My problem is I don't go to many because I am reactive to corn. Most people have no idea how many things have corn products or by products in them.

          Make-up, soap, toothpaste, anything with corn syrup or corn starch... But I don't demand that they stop using corn because it makes me swell up , get oozing sores and sore joints. I just don't go to restaurants that much any more.

          I don't want one group defining what I should eat or drink or use. I don't care if they think they are helping out. I find it judgmental, offensive and arrogant.  I don't care if they think I should want to live to be 100 if I have to live as a machine following their programming. geesh this is the same thinking that takes children away from loving parents because they think some of the parents consumption habits are wrong.

          Fear is the Mind Killer

          by boophus on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:40:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I am really dubious about the idea that (3+ / 0-)

        you or anyone else who cares about what they eat would patronize a place like Applebees with any regularity even if they did offer selections on the menu that you might - in concept - really want to eat - and reality being a completely different issue - even if they took the meat off of those salads - I would bet that you wouldn't be happy or enthusiastic about the quality of the salad they served.  Fresh food just doesn't work well with their business model - or any fast food business model for that matter.

        Fun fact: You know why McDonald's doesn't offer the option of tomatoes on any of their burgers year round?  Because they actually have a level of quality standard that is high enough for them to decide that they can only deliver at that level during the summer when tomatoes are readily available.  That doesn't stop a "store" like Applebees though...

        •  I have only been to Applebees once, long ago. (0+ / 0-)

          No, it's not my thing, at all.

          I hate to quote David Frum here but this may be more apropos, coming from him, "Yes the American media always loves a freak show. But a political party does not have to cooperate."

          by alliedoc on Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 09:15:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  What an inane comment (4+ / 0-)

        sorry, but why must somebody be held responsible? Applebees offers what is on their menu. If you don't like what is on their menu, don't go to Applebees. If you don't like what's on their menu and you do go to Applebees, and if you absolutely must hold somebody responsible, get up, go to the restroom, and look in the mirror.

        As for how difficult you find it to eat in chain restaurants, why do you go to chain restaurants? I a vegetarian, bordering on vegan, and I don't go to Ruth's Chris. Can you guess why? On the other hand, I got "stuck" going to Chili's the other day with a group, and had absolutely no trouble at all finding something that suited my diet. Here's what I did --- I asked.

        If you don't want to eat at a chain, don't eat at a chain.

        You don't like Atrias? Go to Aladdin's, .99 miles from the Atrias Mt. Lebanon location. You can walk there.  Or you can go to Double Wide Grill, with vegetarian and vegan options, if you're willing to invest 16 minutes.

        Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

        by dhonig on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:42:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I just visited the Applebee's website (0+ / 0-)

        They have numerous items on their menu that are either lower calorie / lower fat or could be prepared differently upon request to make them lower calorie / lower fat.

        So I just don't get this argument at all.

        "I can't come to bed yet! Someone is WRONG on the Internet!" - XKCD

        by SingularExistence on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:42:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There you have it. Exactly what I was (0+ / 0-)

          saying that they should do.  Good for you.  Wonder how the salt is.

          I hate to quote David Frum here but this may be more apropos, coming from him, "Yes the American media always loves a freak show. But a political party does not have to cooperate."

          by alliedoc on Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 09:19:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  How would you like your cheese? (10+ / 0-)

    Fried? Or breaded and deep-fried and smothered with more cheese?

    Forget about the under 550 calorie menu... the portions are child-size. Basically, the same food, but smaller portions. I usually go with a salad and dressing on the side at the mega-calorie restaurants.

    No one ever died from laughing too often

    by googie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:55:23 AM PDT

    •  I became a Homer Simpson vegetarian. (7+ / 0-)

      The show started to gnaw at me, making me associate Homer with a desire for butter on your bacon.  I started getting grossed out by things like the picture (above) and suddenly just didn't want meat.

      I hate to quote David Frum here but this may be more apropos, coming from him, "Yes the American media always loves a freak show. But a political party does not have to cooperate."

      by alliedoc on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:16:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I just don't go to restaurants like (19+ / 0-)

      that unless I have been running around a lot and not eaten for about 20 hours.  Even then I  often will try to find a bag of nuts or something to tide me over until I can get to a place where they will serve me a meal that consists of ingredients that are much closer to their origins.

      The biggest problem with the chains - in most cases - is that the food comes to the restaurants through distribution systems that often really elongates the time between harvest and getting to a table.  They offer all those fried things because they are easy to prep at offsite factories and frozen to ship to the "stores".  

      The calories are a killer, but the fact that the ingredients have been over-processed and been waiting to get to your table for so long often means that they have less nutritional value - and that's the real issue.

      People think that calories are the only measure, but if you eat something highly caloric that gives your body a lot of nutrients and vitamins, you're better off and less hungry afterwards than if you ate a cup of sugar with the same number of calories.  A lot of people don't get that.  And the truth is that that's why people are so obese in this country.  Their bodies are starved of food with nutritional value and so they are always hungry even if they've eaten thousands of calories in one meal.

      •  This is where education needs to come in (11+ / 0-)

        where something like Michelle Obama's program could do something like this. Education about this

        People think that calories are the only measure, but if you eat something highly caloric that gives your body a lot of nutrients and vitamins, you're better off and less hungry afterwards than if you ate a cup of sugar with the same number of calories.  A lot of people don't get that.  And the truth is that that's why people are so obese in this country.  Their bodies are starved of food with nutritional value and so they are always hungry even if they've eaten thousands of calories in one meal.

        I was going to go on a rant in the diary about the government subsidizing HFCS producers, but I just skikpped over that.

        "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

        by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:28:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Forget about targeting just HFCS. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eXtina

          You've no clue how political and fraught with lobbying influences our government nutritional value information is.  That plate she introduced - sorry - that was a really big loser in my opinion - and it is because all of the big food companies always have too much influence over what is said.  The food labeling in this country is pathetic.  It is entirely driven by marketing.  There used to be a list of every vitamin and nutrient in a given can along with total calories (per serving - everyone complained that the serving size was unrealistic - but that was a food lobby influence) - anyway, you used to be able to figure out what was in those cans - these days all I know is that they are either "low salt" or "low fat" - which is BTW all just food trend marketing BS.  My chocolate bars are freakin' low fat - so what?

          I am going to slow down here and just stop writing this comment because I actually could write a book about it and it drives me crazy how industry and the government are more and more dumbing down even some of my extremely smart friends with their marketing bullshit.

          •  or potato chips - No Cholesterol, YAY!! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            inclusiveheart

            I guess that makes them 'healthy'.

            Totally agree about the influence of the food industry in politics and the uselessness of the food plate.

            "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

            by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:50:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No trans fat, either. haha. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eXtina

              But i must take exception to inclusiveheart's assertion that the information we need isn't on the packaging - it is, if you're willing to turn the box around. You can still find out the caloric and nutritional contents. But the stuff on the front is indeed misleading.

              The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

              by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:49:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I like cheese (9+ / 0-)

      Some crusty bread, a hunk of blue cheese and a bottle of wine.  Heaven.

      •  If I had my druthers (8+ / 0-)

        it would be Dungeness crab, crusty sourdough bread and a couple of glasses of Chardonnay!

        No one ever died from laughing too often

        by googie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:46:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Last night for dinner: (6+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          googie, Pluto, gramofsam1, sidnora, ratzo, eXtina

          spicy crab lump sautee, rice, and steamed broccoli. And a bottle of my wife's favorite sauvignon blanc.

          The missing part of the equation we are discussing is the fact that nobody cooks at home anymore. I am still a novice cook, but there is nothing I enjoy more than putting on my apron and cooking for my wife.

          If people started cooking more and better at home, I doubt they would decide to eat such crap when they left their humble abodes.

          "Love/It will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/It will set you free." - Mumford & Sons

          by kingyouth on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:54:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Absolutely! n/t (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kingyouth, gramofsam1, eXtina

            No one ever died from laughing too often

            by googie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:10:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I applaud your cooking (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            googie, eXtina

            I love to cook myself, and you are absolutely right about the connection between home cooking and discerning taste. There are terrible home cooks (RIP, Aunt Esther), but more good ones.

            The problem is that with moms & dads both working long hours, sometimes multiple jobs, for marginal wages, just to keep things together, they don't have time/energy/ or even money to shop and cook. Fresh food costs more than the junk in the middle of the supermarket, and more than McD's too.

            The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

            by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:55:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  All due respect, but (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eXtina, sidnora

              both my parents worked those long hours, scraped money together however they could, had two very active sons, and still managed to create a well-organized diet for the family.

              If we as a society continue with the meme that fresh food is too expensive and that McDonald's is better to eat because it is cheaper, then we should only fault ourselves with the levels of obesity that we have in this country.

              We must think of the human body as an investment and that spending a little more now saves so much in the future when we get sick less, have less complications if we do get sick, and that we can live longer, healthier lives.

              "Love/It will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/It will set you free." - Mumford & Sons

              by kingyouth on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 02:35:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Point well taken. (0+ / 0-)

                not much different from my parents' story, now that I think of it. We went out to eat about once a month (Chinese!), and it was a big deal and a treat.

                The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

                by sidnora on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 08:31:07 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Making me hungry. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          googie, eXtina

          could I add a salad and switch the Chardonnay to a Sancerre? Heaven!

          The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

          by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:50:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  There's the problem right there (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eXtina

      "Portions are child-size."

      No, they are not child-size. They are the size we all should be eating. We're so conditioned to demand overflowing plates and "value for our money" that we've lost all perspective on what a real portion should look like.

      "I can't come to bed yet! Someone is WRONG on the Internet!" - XKCD

      by SingularExistence on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:44:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We have curtailed a lot of our eating (19+ / 0-)

    out and the restaurants we do frequent have healthy food choices -- not cordoned off in a special section of the menu, just good healthy yummy meals.

    I remain livid about kid food choices. Chicken is always breaded and fried. Everything comes with French fries. Why do restaurants insist on developing such horrid habits? My kids don't eat like that at home. I have to choose between awful kid food or ordering huge adult sized portions for them. I used to order something my daughter liked and we split it, which worked well for both of us, but as she got older she wants her own meal.

    It's madness...

    “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein

    by theKgirls on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:56:32 AM PDT

    •  Not just restaurants (10+ / 0-)

      Have you seen what school lunches typically offer these days?

      This year I started bringing my own home-cooked lunch to work after three years eating exclusively in my school's cafeteria.  When I went to the doctor a month ago, I had dropped three pounds and my cholesterol count had dropped thirty points.

      And kids eat that junk every day...

      Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
      ¡Boycott Arizona!

      by litho on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:04:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It sounds like cafeterias are the worst (6+ / 0-)

        we can certainly hold them responsible, they are not trying to make a profit, and they are teaching children's eating habits that encourage eating out at such places when older.

        "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

        by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:12:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They are trying to make a profit. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eXtina, historys mysteries, cindem, cai

          But the point is that they have a clientele that has no other options and should be directed to prepare food that is better quality - of course the problem with that is that they use foods that come through the companies like Aramark - giant cans of overcooked and over processed beans, bags of frozen friend chicken fingers, and so on - and I expect a lot of them are at the point where everything is just microwaved at the site - yick.  If it wasn't for a really fantastic pizza joint that served my college campus when I lived in the dorms, I would have starved to death because I couldn't bring myself to eat the cafeteria food.  About the freshest thing they served was iceberg lettuce - which has little nutritional value - and that was probably waiting in a warehouse for a few months before it got to the "salad bar" which also offered canned preserved beans, beets and tomatoes that no self respecting person should ever be forced to eat.

        •  people like are you are why (0+ / 0-)

          people link hank hill vote republican

      •  I heard a radio call in show on making cafeteria (6+ / 0-)

        food healthier, like it is some big quandary on how that can be done. Dietitians, nutritionists, all were involved and the big suggestion was to serve low fat milk. Yeah I guess that might help a little, if kids drink a gallon of milk per day, maybe. But more importanlty kids have always been drinking regular fat milk and we've never had this problem before - so the problem must be in what is now being done differently, not what has been the same - DUH!

        And then they went on and on forever about checking kids body mass index to determine if they truly were fat, to spare embarassment or something, and a caller called in saying very logically - come on, you know if a kid is fat you don't need to do all kinds of testing. and the answer, increase physical ed. shouldn't be a question - just do it! equally, for all.

        "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

        by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:22:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Phys. ed is a problem too. (7+ / 0-)

          Unless it's quite different than when I was in school.

          As the youngest, shortest, and among the clumsiest in my classes since elementary school, I found that the gym events and sports were all difficult for me, to the point of humiliation at times. I grew to detest phys. ed.

          The gym teachers showered attention and praise on the athletically gifted students, and ignored or disparaged the rest, as I remember it.

          The hideous yellow uniforms for girls, the highly embarrassing showers, continued the bad memories into high school years.

          •  How about simple recess (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dinazina, eXtina

            for elementary children? Just go outside to run and play.

            Schools don't even do that anymore.

            "Love/It will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/It will set you free." - Mumford & Sons

            by kingyouth on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:57:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't think it's enough (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dinazina, kingyouth, Pluto, eXtina

              I really beleive the typical modern day American diet is the main cause of the obesity.

              I used to think it was just a matter of exercise.  But then I tried it out myself.  I didn't really lose much weight until I stopped going out to eat and especially eliminated fried foods and soda pops.

              Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

              by yet another liberal on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:01:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think of it as a start... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dinazina, eXtina

                When I was young, my parents couldn't keep my brother and me in the house. Same went for the other kids in the neighborhood. And yes, we had video games, 200 channels, etc., but we would have rather played sports in the dark than hang out at home.

                I think exercise and eating well go hand in hand. Many people are lazy because the food they eat is not the proper "fuel" to help move their bodies.

                "Love/It will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/It will set you free." - Mumford & Sons

                by kingyouth on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:17:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  My rule of thumb on the kids menu (10+ / 0-)

      is either grilled cheese (because at least it didn't travel hundreds of miles, get stuck in the freezer for a few weeks and then make a quick trip to the microwave before it hit our table), or some type of pasta/grilled chicken thing if available. I always ask for veg to be substituted.

      And...although a little more high falutin' than the Applebee's, PF Changs actually has great kids selections and they're pretty cheap.

      "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

      by grannyhelen on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:16:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  French fries are cheap (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eXtina

      for the restaurant and have a wonderful profit-making margin.

      The same thing can be said for soda.

  •  I'll gladly go hungry (12+ / 0-)

    And in fact I have, before I'll even set foot in one of those places, much less buy a meal there. I avoid fast-food chains like the plague.

    "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

    by Ivan on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:58:41 AM PDT

  •  I Wish They Had Never Invented Fried Cheese! (14+ / 0-)

    Sure, "rich, calorie and fat-laden food is an acquired taste." but it is a gradually acquired taste that keeps increasing and is hard to get rid of.

    I had thought that my diet was reasonably OK.  I tend to snack but on healthier things.  I eat a lot of fruit but have a very chaotic lifestyle that lends itself to eating the wrong things.  Still, I thought I was OK.  

    HOWEVER, recently I got seriously sick (heartburn like symptoms that were new to me seem to be caused by too much Advil and caffeine) and had to look at my diet.  I quit caffeine cold turkey and suddenly had no headaches.  That means that I didn't need Advil.  As I started focusing on my diet, I quit all the crap that had infiltrated my diet.  Again, I wasn't too bad but could have been better.  Now, without trying, I have lost 12 pounds in about two months.  I thought my weight gain was due to my hysterectomy.

    Point is, our diets are never as good as we think due to the constant pressure to eat more fat, salt and crap.

    I hate to quote David Frum here but this may be more apropos, coming from him, "Yes the American media always loves a freak show. But a political party does not have to cooperate."

    by alliedoc on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:07:55 AM PDT

    •  It is a constant pressure isn't it (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shotput8, googie, alliedoc, Matt Z

      It is impossible with today's lifestyles to prepare all your own food, or even good food sometimes.

      I do hold places that cater to the easiest, basest instincts in us somewhat responsible. And the 'healthy' choices that are offered, indicate they don't know how to do healthy or what it is. It's not that hard.

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:11:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Even canned tuna has added salt. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina, OLinda

        You have to find "no salt added" tuna.

        I hate to quote David Frum here but this may be more apropos, coming from him, "Yes the American media always loves a freak show. But a political party does not have to cooperate."

        by alliedoc on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:52:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why aren't you eating salt? (5+ / 0-)

          Are you doing this diet change with a pro or are you doing it yourself based on what you've read in the media?  I ask this because the truth is that salt is not bad for most people who do not have high blood pressure problems.  In fact, if I personally listened to the anti-salt people, I would be hospitalized fairly quickly for dehydration.

          •  My son is hospitalized at this (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            googie, inclusiveheart, eXtina

            very moment because of a precipitous drop in his sodium level.   Too low is just as dangerous as too high.

            He's stabilizing and will probably be released soon, but low sodium is serious.

            •  I hope he gets out soon - feels better (!) - (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eXtina, gramofsam1

              and carries his own salt around from now on - that's what I did back in the late 80s when it was all the rage not to have salt in anything.  

              When I travel - particularly on planes - I'm always foraging for those little salt packets to fortify my food and I never take less than a litre of water per two hours of flight on the plane with me.

          •  That's true of (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eXtina

            moderate amounts of salt, not an excessive amount, for otherwise healthy people. And you have more leeway, because you're a vegetarian. If you eat meat and fish, you need less, since they are natural sources.

            The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

            by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:59:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My mother, grandmother and I all (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eXtina, sidnora

              share a problem with hydration and salt balance.  My poor grandmother had to live with my grandfather being totally salt-free because of his high blood pressure for like 40 or 50 years.  Meanwhile if she didn't keep her salt intake on the high side she would experience the same issues that my mother and I do if we don't get enough salt including dizziness, fainting and dehydration.  I've been hospitalized once and cared for in med tents at concerts two or three times.

              There are more factors including what activities you are doing, how hot or dry it is out and whether or not your blood pressure tends to be on the low side that can be important considerations in how much salt you should eat.  Humans need salt - the question is how much does each unique person need and that's where these blanket dictates to stop eating salt really start to be dangerous for some of us.

              •  Most blanket dictates (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                inclusiveheart

                are dangerous for some people. The whole one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition in this country is only one of the many things that drive me nuts. For instance, I am sure there are some people who would be better off eating little or no animal protein, and some who'd be better if they made it the focus of their diets. Some who'd best use diary as their main protein source, some who are completely intolerant. Some who thrive on nuts, and some who can't digest them.

                And those needs can even change in a single individual, with age or physical changes: I used to be able to eat as much salt as I pleased, but as I've aged my blood pressure has crept up, so I don't go crazy with it. And I had to give up caffeine at the age of 28.

                Humans have had such diverse evolutionary responses to the diets that were available in their particular environment.

                The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

                by sidnora on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 08:39:45 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The other thing that makes the US (0+ / 0-)

                  particularly tricky is the diversity of people in this country.  It isn't like speaking to say the population of the Netherlands which is comparatively homogenous in genetic background.

                  I've done a few projects around minority health issues and the studies show that different populations have different risk levels.  And of course just at the baseline of kinds of humans, women and men are different in general as well.

                  •  Very good point. (0+ / 0-)

                    some minority dietary sensitivities are just glaring, e.g. the Native American propensity towards diabetes; if the population were homogeneously Native American, the general diet would have eliminated the "trigger" foods long ago (or more likely, the trigger foods wouldn't have been around in the first place).

                    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

                    by sidnora on Tue Jun 14, 2011 at 03:29:09 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  How do "we" make them "take responsibility" (5+ / 0-)

    or, as another poster said, "hold them accountable"? If it's by not patronizing that restaurant, that's fine.  That's exactly how it should be.  

    People CHOOSE that restaurant.  That's their right.  If people want restaurants that guarantee no trans-fat, or put nutritional information on the menu, that's their right as well.  

    As long as they do not lie to the public, so that the public can make their own choices, I think restaurants are entitled to make their own decisions about how to respond to the desires of their customers.  

    •  I think doing something like no trans-fat (5+ / 0-)

      requires a little prodding from the nanny state, see my example of NYC. Many food items contain trans fat that no one would ever be aware of.
      The new law hasn't harmed business at all in NY. I think if we want the government to start paying for our healthcare, they have a right to start implementing healthier eating habits. Obviously we're not at that point but these are issues to consider. (i.e there's no 'free lunch, lol)

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:25:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do not agree at all. (11+ / 0-)

        I think there's a point at which people have to take responsibility for themselves.  If they want low-fat healthier items (as I generally do) it is up to them to make those choices -- and that includes the choice of where to eat.  If I want low fat and healthy, I don't go to a fast food fried chicken place.  But I don't have any right to tell other people they cannot choose to patronize a place that serves only fried foods, for example.  And I don't have any right to tell a restaurant what kind of food it must offer if the restaurant does not agree that the kind of food I think it should offer is the kind of food that will sell at a level the restaurant wants.  

        I would make certain exceptions for disclosure of things that are difficult or impossible to discern from a menu -- like whether trans fat is used in preparing food.  But for obvious things that are clearly disclosed (if the menu says "fried" or "cheese," that's obvious), that is up to (1) the restaurant to decide what it thinks will sell the best; and (2) the customer to decide if he/she wants to patronize the restaurant based on its offerings.  

        At some point we need to hold people accountable for their own actions.  And at the very very least, people can take responsibility for their own choices in deciding which restaurants (if any) that they patronize.

        I don't think government has any role in "protecting" people from making the choice to go to a restaurant that doesn't have the kind of healthy food offerings that you and I would want.  

        •  the point is such choices are extremely (11+ / 0-)

          limited to non-existent. You seem to live in some utopia of unlimited variety of food choices, missing the whole point of the diary that we arrived at applebee's not entirely by choice but rather because of a lack of one.

          If people are completely accountable for their own actions then they are completely accountable for their own health care, no subsidy, and no government paying for it for them, there's no 'free lunch'

          "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

          by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:42:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Grocery stores? You don't have any? (10+ / 0-)

            The "lack of choices" argument is ridiculous.  Here's the deal:  You don't have to eat in a restaurant.  Period.  People do it because they like what a restaurant offers, or because it's more convenient than preparing a meal themselves.  Not because they "have to."  Eating in a restaurant is entirely a choice.  Completely.  And if you make that choice -- to eat in a restaurant -- you are responsible for for that choice.  You CHOSE to eat that meal at Applebees.  Just like I may choose NOT to eat at Applebees because I don't like what they have to offer.

            You have no right to say, well, I want a restaurant that's convenient to me that offers what I want, so if there is nothing like that now, I have a right to expect the restaurants near me to change what they offer to suit my desires.   There's no Thai restaurant near my house, so my ability to "choose" Thai food is more difficult -- it means I have to go out of my way to get some.  Does that mean I have the right to expect the Italian restaurant near my house to offer a Thai choice?  Of course not. There's an Italian restaurant.  I can choose to go there or not.  A private business opens and offers what they choose to offer.  If I don't like it, I don't patronize that business.  

            "We" don't have the right to dictate to Applebees what kind of food they must offer.   "We" have the right not to patronize Applebees if we don't like what they offer.  

            •  Do you just travel by yourself? (7+ / 0-)

              Actually, your argument is quite absurd.  You never went places because the group did?

              Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

              by yet another liberal on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:01:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Of course not. (5+ / 0-)

                I travel by myself, with my family, and with others on business trips.  

                Is it Applebees' responsibility that the group I am traveling with choose to go there?  

                I am not berating anyone for making unhealthy choices about where they eat. I do it myself from time to time -- based on convenience, or because I want to splurge, or whatever. So, sure, I've gone to places that I would, myself, choose not to go to, because my group went there.  THAT'S NOT THE RESTAURANT'S RESPONSIBILITY.  

                  What I do disagree with is that a private business is somehow responsible for my choices.  

                •  I've wanted an electric car my whole life (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  eXtina

                  And the "private" businesses really haven't provided the choice.

                  I think energy is a decent enough analogy to food.  I suppose we could all choose not to eat to heat the house.

                  Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

                  by yet another liberal on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:53:35 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  There just isn't that much choice (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  dinazina, peggy, googie, eXtina

                  Especially when you travel.  It's really bad.  The choices are quite limited and most of them are unhealthy.

                  Here's another issue.  It's not just me.  I have to get my kids to realize what healthy eating habits are.  And at the same time they are being enticed to drink a gallon of soda pop.

                  It isn't one restaurant's responsibility, but there's something else going on that is promoting unhealthy eating habits and providing limited choices (certainly not promoting healthy choices).

                  Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

                  by yet another liberal on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:58:10 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Don't agree (4+ / 0-)

                    There are always grocery stores.  And even most convenience stores offer some fresh fruit (apples and bananas), plain crackers or bread and orange juice.

                    And where there are chain restaurants there's almost always a sub shop where you can order a sandwich put together any way you wish.

                    The federal government is basically an insurance company with an army. Paul Krugman

                    by Heart of the Rockies on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:44:03 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Travel to east tennessee sometime (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      sidnora, eXtina

                      But there is good BBQ.  However, if you're a vegatarian, you're pretty well hosed.  If you're a passenger especially.

                      Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

                      by yet another liberal on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:53:01 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I've been to Knoxville for a convention (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        coffeetalk, ToeJamFootball, eXtina

                        Had no problems with the food, and we are pretty conscientious in this household about what we eat.

                        Just went to the yellow pages and found 78 sandwich shops and 59 delicatessens in Knoxville.  Cannot imagine that even the smaller towns of eastern TN don't have a sub shop or grocery store with decent selections. This isn't to say the area is a vegetarian's delight or wonderful for anyone who wants low fat, low sugar food.  But I cannot imagine it would be impossible to find quality food with a bit of looking and flexibility.

                        The federal government is basically an insurance company with an army. Paul Krugman

                        by Heart of the Rockies on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:02:50 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  They don't keep good hours either (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          googie, eXtina

                          It is forever etched in my memories of those many times of driving from Atlanta airport in the dark and nothing is nothing open and nothing and nothing is open ...

                          But one time we stopped in this couple hundred year old house in Atlanta that was converted to a really groovy pizza joint.  They had these awesome "mushroom-man" cartoons painted on the walls and the music was awesome.  There was some rave mix of a Tupac song that was pretty cool.

                          Ok, it's not all bad memories.

                          Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

                          by yet another liberal on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:11:03 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  See my comment below (0+ / 0-)

                            I grew up in the 40's and 50's.  Stores were closed in the evening and on Sunday. In small towns and rural areas they were also closed on Wednesday afternoons.  Somehow we survived.

                            The federal government is basically an insurance company with an army. Paul Krugman

                            by Heart of the Rockies on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:45:40 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  In fact there are not always grocery stores (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      eXtina

                      Please see video above.

                      •  I don't shop at Walmart, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        eXtina

                        but there are over 4000 Walmart stores of various sorts in the US.  One is never all that far from a Walmart or Sam's Club.

                        Hey, I grew up when groceries were closed after 6 pm and all day Sunday. In rural areas, most stores closed on Wednesday afternoon as well.  In addition, there were no large restaurant chains or fast food restaurants.  No food shipped in from Chile, Mexico, China or Australia.

                        You know what?  We did just fine.  Partly because we had modest expectations and mostly because we planned ahead and frequently took our own food when we traveled.

                        The federal government is basically an insurance company with an army. Paul Krugman

                        by Heart of the Rockies on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 02:03:01 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  you've obviously never been in (0+ / 0-)

                          the section of southeast Chicago just outside of Gary. Unless you count McDonalds or Church's Chicken as "food," one could starve to death, particularly if one doesn't have a car.

                          Please investigate the concept of "food desert." I think you may be surprised at what many, many poor people in the U.S. face (next up: many of them don't have internet access or decent pubic schools or playgrounds, either!)

              •  than that's your fault (0+ / 0-)

                you choose your group

            •  it wasn't near my house, I was travelling (4+ / 0-)

              that's the point. I can't go for 8 hours without eating.

              "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

              by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:02:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Um, you didn't know you would be traveling (10+ / 0-)

                by car?  You didn't know you would need to eat?  

                You had no ability to plan for that?  

                It may not be as CONVENIENT for your to make the food choice you want to make.  That's absolutely true.  I understand and agree with that.  However, that's not Applebees' responsibility.

                If the food choice was more important than the convenience, that's your decision as well.  It's not Applebees' responsibility to assure that the food you want to eat will be conveniently available to you.  It is their responsibility to offer the product that they want to offer, and that they believe is best for their business.  

                I am not berating you for choosing Applebees.  I eat at less than healthy places from time to time.  What I do disagree with is the notion that "we" should dictate to a private business what kind of product that business should offer its customers.    

                •  no, it was one of those things that just happens (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  googie, PinHole, klompendanser

                  that you can't plan ahead for. the trip was supposed to be quick and short and was unexpectedly dragged out.  It happens.

                  "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

                  by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:24:00 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That's fine. But that's NOT the restaurant's (9+ / 0-)

                    responsibility.  It is a rare, rare, situation in this country when there's only one food option within, say, an hour's drive by car.  It is a rare, rare situation when there's only an Applebees and nothing else -- no grocery store, no 7-11, no other restaurant -- within an hour's drive.  

                    No food outlet that I know of has a captive audience that is literally forced to eat there if they want to eat at all.  Yes, other choices may be much more inconvenient for you.  But that's not the fault of the food outlet.  If you choose this restaurant over the inconvenience of going elsewhere, that's fine.  Good for you.  But that's not the restaurant's responsibility.  

                    •  perhaps you need to step back (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      googie, sidnora, Caipirinha, eXtina

                      and consider that not everyone travels frequently to have developed the coping skills you have.

                      The last time I was at a hotel was last winter for a funeral. Normally, it would have been a day trip but there was a blizzard happening so I needed a hotel. It was a good-sized college town, so I'm pretty sure there were grocery stores and healthy restaurants, but after driving for seven hours (normally it would have taken two to get that far), assuming they were even open I was in not in the mood to try to find plowed roads to get to them. Given the stress of the situation, no I could not go without food, and yes I was "forced" to eat at the hotel restaurant. The choices were appalling, and a "salad" of wilted lettuce and rock hard croutons with no dressing would not have been sufficient to get me through the stress of the day nor the funeral the next day.

                      Yeah, under different circumstances things would be different, but they weren't. Unlike you, I think it might be a good idea to "force" -- horrors -- restaraunts to offer a few "healthier" items for people with no alternatives. A grilled cheese sandwich would have been manna from heaven that night.

                      You go to war with the TROLLS you have, not the TROLLS you might want or wish to have at a later time.

                      by klompendanser on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:50:17 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I think what coffeetalk is saying (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        BoxNDox, SingularExistence, eXtina

                        is that it is okay to eat at such restaurants when you NEED to. It's the eating at such restaurants every time a person is out and about that is the problem.

                        Even if the public was to "force" restaurants to create "healthy food options," it would be their version of healthy, which probably wouldn't even be truly healthy.

                        "Love/It will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/It will set you free." - Mumford & Sons

                        by kingyouth on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:04:38 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  While I understand your (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          googie, sidnora, eXtina

                          point, it isn't quite on point with my example. "okay when you need to" wasn't strictly my meaning...my food choices were not "okay" with me; and as I pointed out, a grilled cheese sandwich might not be "healthy," but it certainly would have been a  low-overhead, simple alternative for the restaurant to have on its menu...a restaraunt at a hotel on a major interstate, where the vast majority of people are travelers and not locals looking for a night out.

                          The hotel had no in room fridge or microwave; it was not even the hotel I had intended to be in (that was 60 miles and probably another 3 hours of driving in the weather conditions we were having), so carrying my own food would not have been an option.

                          Sometimes "forcing" little changes are necessary and they don't have to be costly to the restaurant...I would have gladly paid $10 (the average price of the menu offerings) to have a grilled cheese sandwich that night.

                          You go to war with the TROLLS you have, not the TROLLS you might want or wish to have at a later time.

                          by klompendanser on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:41:35 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                •  you're kind of missing the point of the diary (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  googie, peggy, gramofsam1

                  in that this country has gotten so overweight and oversized that they are now making special booths in restaurants for the customers to fit into. That is a problem! and I'm not singling out Applebee's for creating this problem but they're certainly contributing to it.

                  "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

                  by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:25:27 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  My disagreement is where you lay responsibility (8+ / 0-)

                    I agree that there is a problem with weight and health.

                    The responsibility for that lies squarely at the feet of adults who make choices, and of parents and schools for educating children.   They have the responsibility to assure that they make healthy choices most of the time, and unhealthy choices with less frequency.  It is NOT the responsibility of a restaurant that offers products that the public wants to buy.  

                    •  Okay... you made your point already n/t (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      klompendanser, sharilynn, peggy, eXtina

                      No one ever died from laughing too often

                      by googie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:37:36 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  coffeetalk, above you admitted (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      peggy, googie, eXtina

                      that you sometimes don't adhere to what you are preaching to eXtina.  

                      Why do you continue?  Have you had too much coffee this AM.  You seem to be arguing for the sake of arguing.

                      As I tell the dog when he has picked up something he shouldn't have (or spots it) or is toxic:   Leave It!!!  

                      •  I think you misunderstand what I said. (5+ / 0-)

                        I said I don't always eat healthy foods.  (Very few people always eat healthy foods.) That's one point.  That may be where you say I "disagree" with eXtina. Most of the time, I try to eat healthy.  But whether  I do or not is irrelevant to my second point.  

                        My second point is that it's not the responsibility of the restaurant whether I do, or do not, choose to eat healthy foods.  And it's not the responsibility of the restaurant to change their offerings to suit my personal choices, unless the restaurant wants to.  

                        I am completely in favor of people putting pressure on restaurants by choosing not to patronize those that do not offer what they want.

                        I am not in favor of some notion, expressed by some here, that "we" need to "hold them accountable" if "hold them accountable" means something more than (1) requiring honesty and disclosure about what they are serving, and (2) having consumers put pressure on restaurants by choosing not to patronize them, and letting them know why.

                        To the extent that some have implied that government should step in and require restaurants to offer certain kinds of food -- that's where I vehemently disagree.  

                  •  I applaud them... (5+ / 0-)

                    ...for offering booths that accommodate larger customers.  
                    Sure, it would be great if people made an effort to get down to a healthy weight. But that's their choice, and in the meantime, they ought to be able to go out to eat without having to use a shoehorn to get into their seat.  Or would you rather they just become shut-ins?  
                    As for the "special booths", I'd be curious to compare the size of a typical chain restaurant booth to one of fifty years ago.  I wouldn't be surprised if these restaurants, like the airlines, have shrunken the size of their seating over the years in order to cram more customers into the same space.

                    •  That last thought (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      eXtina

                      is just silly.

                      Restaurant space, even in midtown Manhattan, isn't measured by the square inch the way seating on airplanes is. It's on the ground!

                      The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

                      by sidnora on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 12:11:24 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't begrudge them providing the booths (0+ / 0-)

                      but I think it is a sort of minefield. There was no need to put us there but they did, then there were two people who might have wanted to sit there but were put somewhere else. Who makes the decision that these people are over the line and should be steered to the larger booths? Maybe someone would be offended if they're borderline? Or do they think customers will find out about them and come in asking for those seats?

                      It must have been a weird conversation at corporate making that decision and they sure didn't hand down any guidelines unless those were to ignore them and seat people randomly.

                      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

                      by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:04:34 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  I have learned to use grocery stores (8+ / 0-)

                on the road actually and I have been able to figure out good road food options doing that instead of going to a restaurant. I prefer a sit down meal always, but when that is not an option grocery stores often end up being a really pretty good option.

                Now, having said that finding a grocery store in some places is nearly impossible.  I worked in Oklahoma City for a few weeks a year for about four years and never managed to find a grocery store - when I asked the locals where I could find one the directions they always gave me led me to a gas station convenience store - I always felt that that was quite telling!

            •  in fact, not everybody does have grocery stores (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eXtina

              On the road trip / Applebee's point -- which indicates access to a car, disposable income, etc. -- you're right. I roll with AB & J (almond butter and jelly) and apples rather than Applebee's, and my road-trip gut thanks me for it.

              But.

              A large portion of the obesity epidemic in the U.S. has to do with poverty and lack of access to basic, real food. Just one of thousands of stories that you can find on the issue:
               

          •  so what you're saying (0+ / 0-)

            is a health care subsidy is an excuse to pry into everyone's life and dictate what restaurants eat. what's next, is some boffo from the government going to knock door to make sure everyone exercises 60 minutes a day, big brother>

      •  something I've noticed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina, tobendaro

        is lots of food products that advertise "No trans fat!" have lots of saturated fat, usually from palm oil. I wouldn't be surprised if restaurants in NYC have been doing the same. I just try to avoid processed foods, cook at home, and when I do eat out, avoid chains and eat sushi, Thai food, etc. where these things aren't so much an issue. Of course you're not going to find these kinds of options in a suburban mall, but you wouldn't catch me dead in a place like that anyway. I really hate malls-- they make me disgusted with humans as a species.

        "We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have democracy, but we can't have both."-- Justice Louis Brandeis

        by ubertar on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:41:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  So you want to decide for all what they should eat (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina, majorityvoice, ToeJamFootball

        or deny them health care? So the government should micromanage everyones diet? But who's ideals should be made into do this or 'just go away and die' laws?

        What about people who cannot afford the dictated diet?

        Fear is the Mind Killer

        by boophus on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:46:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No but there has to be some kind of balance (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          historys mysteries, poco, PinHole

          there's a lot that can be done short of 'micro managing'. Like, not giving in to food manufacturer's lobbies, providing enough budget to schools to feed healthful foods, the education to know what is truly healthful (not this low fat low cholesterol mind numbing constant propaganda we hear) and enough laws to make a healthful choice an option.

          I think people have to take some responsibility for their health if they expect to have their health care covered by others.

          "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

          by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:53:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know about Applebee's (14+ / 0-)

    menu specifically, but at a lot of mainstream eateries you can order a plain baked potato, and ask for steamed vegetables (or even salsa) to put on it. Years ago I used to stop at Wendy's when I was on the road, because they had (I would guess they still do) baked potatoes and you could select your own trimmings.

    ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

    by sillia on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:20:25 AM PDT

  •  Haven't been to an Applebee's (6+ / 0-)

    in 17 years and have no plans to.

    if I'm going to eat something that I know is bad for me I'll go to Cracker Barrel and get chicken n' dumplings. Normally, my partner and I cook 5 days out of the week and visit the farmer's market on Saturdays for the week's items we need. This lowered by cholesterol by 30% (in conjunction with some meds.)

    The worst offender to get rid of though was all the processed sugar. I love a Dr. Pepper, but its not on the diet.

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:39:15 AM PDT

  •  I got seated in a booth like that (6+ / 0-)

    at a Claim Jumper.  I almost asked for a booster seat.  The food wasn't good enough for me to want to go back.

    I'm more inclined to take offense at being 3F more than once (if you don't know, 3F is "fat, female and [in my case] fifty").  The staff feels entitled to serve everybody else first.

    The last time this happened, I didn't mind the family party with the baby who got seated just after me being served first, but the couple half my age who came in almost ten minutes later was enough to make me walk out.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:39:58 AM PDT

    •  claim jumper sucks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TFinSF

      i ordered a steak and when they brought it out, the mashed potatoes had gravy on them!  who the fuck serves gravy on a steak plate?!?!  but if that's the way they want to do things, at least warn people in the menu:  We are so clueless -- all marketing and no food sensibility to speak of -- so we will be serving gravy with your filet mignon.

      i will NEVER go back there.  never.

      i mean, sure...i'm just being a persnickety snot, but such things are very serious business for someone with a food allergy and gravy contains flour.  if your menu doesn't tell people exactly what they'll be getting, you suck.

      It's complicated. - Desperate Housewives

      by Cedwyn on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:49:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't get (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, googie, cindem, SingularExistence

    why people feel they need dressing in order to eat a salad. If it's a good salad, and just a bunch of lettuce, there's no need for it.

    "We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have democracy, but we can't have both."-- Justice Louis Brandeis

    by ubertar on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:44:05 AM PDT

  •  Applebees (8+ / 0-)

    My partner and I go there a few times month not because it's fantastic but it's very close to home. Their menu indeed has a 550 calorie section because that's all I order.

  •  Haha (12+ / 0-)

    The "free" market works wonders.  Free refills on that soda pop?  Would you like a bigger seat?  Isn't that white sauce delicious?  Oh, yes, it's made with heavy cream.  Would you like a bigger seat?

    People that tell me I can just eat somewhere else should give it a try while visitiing inlaws in bumfuck appalachia.  Each person in the family can go to whichever restaurant they like, we have noting but time and choices OMG, so many choices, you can have Coke or Pepsi and Sprite and they come in 1/2 gallon containers!  Don't be shy, drink up.  Would you like a larger seat?

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:51:58 AM PDT

  •  Couldn't disagree more here: (19+ / 0-)
    In other words, rich, calorie and fat-laden food is an acquired taste.

    I go with the reasoning that famine was a real danger earlier in the history of our species. We had to be hard-wired to prize rich, high-calorie food, to take advantage of it when it was available, much as we're hard-wired to enjoy sex. Problem is, food is now abundant in much of the world, and the programming is unnecessary. Worse, it's often very distracting.

    Interesting diary, though. Thanks.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:54:54 AM PDT

    •  ok, maybe deep fried food then (5+ / 0-)

      I go for long periods of time without any and then when I 'go back', I find it kind of disgusting and overwhelming.

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:56:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Last night (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina, karmsy, Cedwyn

        I ordered french fries!  It was the first time I got an order of french fries in about a month.  I was biking, and I was starving and it was cold, so it was ok.

        Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

        by yet another liberal on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:58:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I live in one of the real foodie towns. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          yet another liberal, karmsy, eXtina

          Portland, Oregon.  One of the food trucks (they still have the truck) has expanded and opened in a building in one of the small parks downtown.  Violetta's.  They do burgers, soups and salads, using local ingredients (I think the farthest they buy from is about 200 miles away).  They also make the best fries in town.  

          The stationary spot is between the main library and the bus stop I use to get home, and sometimes I stop in for a small fries (a reasonable helping for one) with harissa ketchup.  

          Last night I had dinner there - a turkey burger, sweet potato fries and a beer.  I was hungry again by breakfast time, which is a guarantee that their portions are reasonable.

          Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

          by loggersbrat on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:33:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The stuff has to be per-fect for me (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina

        to bother with it. Fries made with old grease? Or soggy, lukewarm stuff? Forget it.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:11:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Taste CAN be changed back to good food. nt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FiredUpInCA, Leo in NJ, eXtina
  •  I agree entirely (12+ / 0-)

    Last year, on Veterans Day, Applebees gave free dinners to veterans. I thinkk this was a really generous offer and I appreciate it.
    But when I went there I found there was little i wanted to eat. I am  a heart attack survivor and I WILL eat healthy or I won't eat----I'll go to a grocery store and buy my dinner. (done it)
    So I usually eat at home. 10 years ago, I used to eat one, sometimes 2 meals out every day. NOw I don't eat out once a week and its always at restaurants I know and have the food I want.

    Which came first? the chicken or the egg? So with restaurants--they want to give the public what it wants but they also set the styles.
    One thing is portion control. The average American is used to getting a PILE of food on their plate and the restaurants want to accomondate.
    We didn't use to be this way, the obesity epidemic has happened in the last 40 years, not uncoincidental with the rise of fastfood places

    My son owns a restaurant in Santiago Chile, it's quite popular. They use nothing but fresh bread and ingedients every day. There's no preservatives in bread in Chile.  I eat there when I go there, grilled chicken or fish, salad with Oil and vinegar.
    You see a huge difference in obesity in Chile, not near as many. It's just starting to grow there. One of the things is portion size and ordering everything ala carte.

    It's the American diet that does it but it seems everybody must find their own way out

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:03:56 AM PDT

  •  PPACA requires calorie labeling on menus (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, fearisthemindkiller

    and menu boards.

    The FDA is apparently still developing the actual regulations but it should be implemented nationally in the next year or so.

  •  Great diary. (4+ / 0-)

    It  brings up serious issues about the culture of food in the U.S. and its promotion.  I agree that adults are responsible for their own food choices, but children are not.  They are either brought up in healthy food environments or not.  They can be 'trained' to crave sugar and fat and it is very difficult to reverse these learned cravings and behaviors.

    I particularly like your take on health insurance as it relates to one's life choices.  Thanks.

  •  Interesting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BillyElliott, eXtina

    In Montgomery County, MD, restaurants already list the calories on their menus.

  •  I once wrote the management of Applebee's an (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    email when the restaurant I went to had Fox News on.

  •  I'm sorry but I don't understand (13+ / 0-)

    the point of your story.   Granted, the mental image  of you in the booth was funny but ... when I don't like where they sit me I simply ask to get moved or even suggest where I would be more comfortable.  You could have done something about it.  And there are others who need the bigger space ... very tall people, very pregnant women, people with other  conditions who need more room, etc.  I think it is nice that they have places to accommodate them.

    As to the menu, you can ALWAYS order things on the side or ask for something to be left off.  I don't usually go to chains but when I do, I realize that I have entered into their space and do what I can to make it better for me.  True, much of what they serve is HIGH in both calories and carbs and fat ... but I don't have to eat it.  They would not sell it if there was no market for it.  

    I must admit that I am prejudiced against your stance ... I particularly loath people who moan about calories, etc. as they order cake a la mode,  or who (and this is my favorite) want to know if they can use olive oil to replace the lard in tamales.  If you are worried about something, then don't eat it.  The way to change the way people think is by education and example, not by making fun of them.

    Perhaps your best way to influence things is to write to
    Applebys and express your displeasure with their menu and service.

    "Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion, is safe." Robert Browning in 'Ceuciaja'

    by CorinaR on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:53:32 AM PDT

    •  I'm not complaining about the plus size booth (0+ / 0-)

      I wasn't really that uncomfortable, no need to make a fuss since I was already making so many special food requests. In fact it took a while to realize that that's what it was. I am just really surprised that there is now obviously enough of a segment of the population to warrant providing one, but especially that the restaurant thought of doing so. And I never thought of the pregnant women needing extra space so forgive me.

      I am definitley not one who moans about calories while eating cake a la mode. I haven't eaten any sugar or dairy in almost 3 years. and I mean NONE.

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:12:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Are their menus regional? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    susans, eXtina

    Here in the PNW at my local Applebees we have a large selection of fresh salads, salmon, weight watcher's endorsed meals, soup and salad lunches, etc.  Of course there is the usual fare of burgers and calorie loaded items.  But I can have a low cal meal by the choices i make from the regular menu and the food is good.  Maybe other stores dont have those options.  Also, I have never eaten in any Applebees anywhere where the staff have been anything   but warm and friendly.  Hmmmm....

    I have been in a lot of Applebee's and I have never seen
    large seating.  How rude of them to place you there! I am sorry this happened to you.

    We all have photographic memories. Some people just don't have any film.

    by fireflynw on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:59:30 AM PDT

  •  If you think Applebee's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FiredUpInCA, eXtina

    is bad--and it is--take a look at the calorie and sodium content at Panera Bread. It's unbelievable. Example: a plain bagel contains 290 calories and 460 mg of sodium. Mediterranean Veggie sandwich: 590 calories, 1400 mg sodium. The place is a heart attack waiting to happen.

    Link to their nutrition calculator here.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 07:59:31 AM PDT

    •  oooh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eXtina

      That is one of my go to's when desperate.  I get soup and a salad.

      And she's good at appearing sane, I just want you to know. Winwood/Capaldi

      by tobendaro on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:19:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's still not good... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina

        Example: Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup, 170 calories, 1590 mg sodium. Thai Chopped Chicken Salad, 390 calories, 1330 mg sodium. They're the salt kings. If you get the fruit cup you're safe, but everything else is loaded.

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:32:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Everyone should have to read (5+ / 0-)

      "Eat This, Not That".  I think it would make people realize that if you eat out at restaurants as a regular substitute to buying and preparing your own food, you are going to gain weight.  Salads?  Doesn't matter.  Sandwiches and soups?  Doesn't matter.  If you eat at restaurants more often than not, you are consuming an unhealthy amount of fat, calories and sodium.  

    •  I eat bagels for the calories (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      paintitblue, eXtina

      It comes with other nutrients, then I do stuff and burn the calories.  Shock.  You should be eating about 500 calories a meal, the sandwich and bagel are healthy.  If you're eating much less than that, you're starving yourself.

      I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

      by Futuristic Dreamer on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:51:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In defense of Applebee's (5+ / 0-)

    The Weight Watchers approved items, plus their own 550 calorie items, taste better and fresher than the rest of the menu.

    Otherwise, Applebee's is very folksy. A lot of items that aren't "food," but nicknames for food: shooters, sliders, trios, etc. Much of it tastes like its sprayed with grease. Every drink or dessert has mountains of whipped cream on it. Not that I'm high class, but I had to learn a whole new language when I began to work there part time 2 years ago.

    It was a different world for me, and I can tell it's different than what you're used to, but for many Americans, this is the best they do. It's this or McDonald's.

  •  It's not just restaurants and school cafeterias. (4+ / 0-)

    Have you looked into the average bonehead's shopping cart when you are at the grocery store?
    Eight cubic feet of soda, chips, processed fud, sugar-crusted cornholes, Double-Ore Stuffeos (two heavy metals with icing on the outside and inside), every manner of crap to tickle your palate and gag reflex simultaneously.
    Many restaurants cater to nutritionally heedless pigs, because that's the growth market.
    When traveling by car, I go with a cooler, and freeze half the beverages to help keep it all chilly.

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:05:40 AM PDT

  •  Have you read about "The Heart Attack Grill" ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    majorityvoice, eXtina

    It's in Chandler, AZ.  If you weigh more than 350 lbs you eat for free.

    http://www.nlcfpc.org/...

    If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner. H. L. Mencken

    by Keith930 on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:06:22 AM PDT

  •  I was on vacation (4+ / 0-)

    with my in-laws in upstate NY and they chose Applebees before we went to a film. It was really unappetizing, just the worst sort of what I call "corporate food", created in some lab in Kansas for "mouth-feel" and full of fat and salt.

    I remember finding a salad and eating some of it but would never choose to go to one. Thanks for posting this diary. Food is fuel and corporate food is incredibly bad fuel for your body. It always surprises me because people wouldn't put a terrible fuel in their car that made it run sluggish and slower but they will readily put bad fuel in their bodies many times a day.

  •  was at Applebee's last night... (7+ / 0-)

    I go there maybe 1-2 times a year.  The one I was at last night has been configured the same way since it's been there, so I'll assume they don't have a fat section.

    Not defending them, but I like Applebee's because they generally have some kind of lesser calorie choices.  Everyone I meet there with can find something they like.  I'm not always trying to save calories though, and last night that wasn't my goal.

    I'm going to have to agree with coffeetalk today.  I am a fat woman, medically obese.  I was a fat girl, and have had smaller periods in my life, but I have mostly been a fat woman my entire life.

    If you are sensitive about being fat, you should lose weight.  Seriously.  I have never blamed anyone else for my fat status.  Unfortunately, I have been blessed with good health, and therefore have had little to no incentive to lose weight permanently.  I have complete control over the width of my behind.

    No matter what marketing these restaurants have to get people there, or how cheap the tacos are on Sunday, or how many fat-laden items are on the $1 menu, I can say no.  I have taught my son that since he could understand.  

    I'm just a girl, with a gun...

    by whatever66 on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:25:24 AM PDT

  •  Yumm...a platter of goo, with chunks. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fizziks, eXtina

    I haven't eaten in an Applebees in years, in fact eschew most fast food places. (Tho about twice a year I get this Quarter Pounder yearning, and submit, then regret. A vicious cyle.)

  •  Applebee's give free food to veterans on V day and (4+ / 0-)

    treat them wonderfully.  I had one if not the best cheese burger in the world and it was not greasy.

    There's light food on the menu if people choose to watch their calories but for the most part there are many establishments with just as much or fattier foods.  I knew my meat was of better quality (in fact real) at Applebee's compared to Mc D's or any of the other hamburger joints.

  •  Interesting discussions. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, eXtina

    This was priceless:

    It seems like most of the menu items are either fried, or have cheese, or best of all worlds, are fried cheese.

    "Don't act stupid just because you know how to"--

    by CT Voter on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:33:00 AM PDT

  •  Food wasn't healthy when I was growing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Panurge, eXtina

    up, but the portions were 1/2 or less than today. At the local diner or seafood place (the two restaurants where I grew up) a hamburger was just a little patty on a bun smaller than which exists today. At the seafood place, the plates were tiny plastic circles that had two veggie indentations molded into them along with a larger one for whatever the main dish was. But it was like three tablespoons of grits, three of greens and 4-6 ounces of fish or chicken.

    Actually, even the McDonalds of that era had way, way smaller servings--and ordering a Big Mac (now one of the chain's smaller sandwiches) was considered  slightly crazy.

    I do not think that kids are exercising less than 30 years--at least not the kids I know, who are at sports practice every day.

    Pareto Principle: 20% of the people do 80% of the work.

    by jeff in nyc on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:41:04 AM PDT

    •  They still have the regular burgers. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eXtina

      I'll have one or two Big Macs a year.  When I go there, I tend to get a Snack Wrap or (a little less often) the McDouble; it's just enough, and I don't feel bloated after I'm done.  After all, how can you really call it enjoying yourself when you feel like you're gonna burst afterward?

      The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

      by Panurge on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 04:11:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was recently at Applebees (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    googie, eXtina

    for the first time in a long time because friends wanted to go there.  I am on a low sodium diet. Even the low cal meals were so high in sodium I had to take a water pill the next day.  Yep, they bear responsibility for providing the means to the addiction to this kind of food.

    The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion. Molly Ivins

    by MufsMom on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:41:15 AM PDT

  •  What did you expect? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kingyouth, Book of Hearts, eXtina

    You're talking about a chain restaurant where the "cooks" open up pre-cooked bags of food and reheat them.

    They are giving us fat ass Americans what we want.

    You want to change it? You're going to have to change the consumers.

  •  Ignore the menu (5+ / 0-)

    I have a friend with significant dietary restrictions. He can go into most Applebee style chain places and get a plain grilled chicken breast, plain baked potato and steamed broccoli, for example. All those things are "on the menu" and it's no problem for the kitchen to plate them without adding all the sauces, toppings and goo.

  •  Are you bragging or complaining? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    Slow thinkers - keep right

    by Dave the Wave on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:43:57 AM PDT

    •  Are those the only two choices? (0+ / 0-)

      I tried hard not to be sanctimonious or judgemental or self righteous. I do find it stunning that there is enough of a segment of population now to justify building special size seats. Diabetes is epidemic and it's a national concern, not an individual, considering that most Medicare recipients are chronic patients and they are trying to take it away. This is the first generation that is not expected to outlive its parents. This is not going in the right direction.

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:17:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Latching onto fads (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Book of Hearts, eXtina

    When you do offer lighter alternatives (less sugar, less salt, less fat, whatever it may be), there are those who take that as an excuse to go overboard. As in this line from the John Goodman character Dan, on the Roseanne series from several years ago:

    That's that low fat margarine. You're gonna have to double up on that.

    It's a rapid-fire joke line, but it represents an attitude. That was in the era when Nabisco introduced SnackWell's. And I know people who, buying into the hype that they were eating something healthy (as if HCFS is a healthy ingredient) actually did "double up" on them.

    Resident Palin - even if she did take up residency in the White House in 2012, it's too painful to use the "P" word combined with her name

    by lotac on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:45:22 AM PDT

  •  It's both scary and sad. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fizziks, eXtina

    I find it so disheartening what people think of as "good" food. A colleague once convinced me to go to Applebee's - this was about 20 years ago now - saying it was such a great place. It was middle-of-the-road, rather boring, I thought. As a Pollanite living in Food Heaven, I am tempted to turn evangelical on them (image of walking around Applebee's and McDonald's and Taco Bell handing out copies of Food Rules - LOL!) but it's too big and too deep a problem. Unlike you, people actually choose to go to this place to eat. {{sigh}}

    Pollan's Rule: Cook! What two people eat for dinner: My 365 Dinners 2011

    by pixxer on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:59:33 AM PDT

  •  Applebee's will have nutrition information... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gramofsam1

    on their menus by 2014, as will any restaurant with more than 20 locations.  It's a requirement in the Affordable Care Act.

    Applebee's is definitely a place to avoid if you want to be healthy.  They do have a few weight-watchers friendly meals, but their appetizers and sides are usually high in calories and fat.

    You can't simultaneously fire teachers and cruise missiles!-Jon Stewart

    by djtyg on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:00:04 AM PDT

  •  We went to Red Robin for my (5+ / 0-)

    daughter's 12th birthday this week (her choice) and I wished they had oversized booths.  I am nearly six feet tall, our son is 6' 4" and broad shouldered;  I felt as if the four of us were squeezed into a doll house.  The menu was the usual fare;  not terribly healthy.  I had a salad with chicken and dressing on the side  We don't go to these places much anymore because they are too expensive for a family when you add in tips, etc.  I would rather grill at home or get carryout from someplace I really like.

    Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.

    by chicago minx on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:03:49 AM PDT

  •  Layers of cheese and sauces (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fizziks, eXtina

    characterize almost everything I see on the menu at most restaurants.  I don't recall this being the case in past decades.

    I'm sure restaurants love it because cheese and sauce can hide a multitude of sins in the underlying food (if any), and they make the dish look overall larger. Another new trick I've encountered is throwing shredded lettuce on top of the dish, as if that negates the negative health impacts of thick layers of sauce and cheese. The last time I ate such a dish at a restaurant, I was sick for two days.

    My reaction to this disturbing trend has been to stop eating out.  I'll make an exception for Eat'N'Park, which makes a good effort to cater to dietary needs.  But, there are none in my state, so I encounter them only on vacation trips.

    •  I had the all you can eat soup and salad for $6.99 (0+ / 0-)

      the first serving was the salad on a big plate with a small soup bowl on the same plate so it looked like a lot of salad. for the refill I got a second serving of salad only and it came in a small casserole dish and looked much smaller that way. it made me laugh

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 05:21:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Go ethnic (0+ / 0-)

      There are many small cafes that offer healthy food at a good price.  Even here in rural Colorado.  And I'd expect non-chain restaurants in general would be better able to accommodate individual requests than those with set menus, standardized cooking and serving procedures, etc.

      There's a lot more out there than chain restaurants, if you look and ask around.

      The federal government is basically an insurance company with an army. Paul Krugman

      by Heart of the Rockies on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 06:55:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I can't eat there, either. (0+ / 0-)

    They make no effort to help those of us with food allergies, so it doesn't surprise me they don't do a damned thing for anyone else with food differences, whatever they are.

    "This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it." -- Keith Olbermann

    by allergywoman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:14:21 AM PDT

  •  There's an easy way to express your disdain.... (3+ / 0-)

    for Applebee's.

    Don't eat there.

    Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

    by Sirenus on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:16:13 AM PDT

  •  I went to Applebee's once (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fizziks, eXtina

    to have an inexpensive steak and baked potato, because that's what I wanted.

    Unfortunately, the Applebee's I chose did not serve baked potatoes. Not even special order.

    I asked about it, and the waitperson said that the menus of individual Applebee's change according to "the neighborhood." Apparently, nobody in that neighborhood ever wanted baked potatoes -- they only had those awful concoctions like the one pictured in the diary, mounds of potatoes smothered in fried, fattening junk.

    I've never been back again.

    "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

    by Brooke In Seattle on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:16:16 AM PDT

  •  The size of the booth has more to do with height (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    than girth.  I'm 6'3" and my wife is 5'3", so when we dine out and sit in a booth, she's always comfortable and my legs won't fit under the table.

    "Because I am a river to my people."

    by lordcopper on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:20:34 AM PDT

  •  a local diner chain in our area (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whatever66, eXtina

    has healthy things on the menu, in addition to the unhealthy stuff but I wasn't that aware of it all that much because I only went a couple of times with my younger daughter (it's a big treat for her).
    I know the African American community suffers from high rates of heart disease.  A couple of months ago there was a large group of people, all African-American, sitting in a big corner booth.  When their food came, I saw that they had all ordered strawberries instead of hash browns -- their breakfasts were the opposite of the food you saw on the menu at Applebees:  lots of fruit, no cheese, no bacon, whole wheat toast.  
    It's clear that when there are good choices, many people will be happy to make those choices and, as you said, spend just as much as they would have spent on unhealthy food.

    If, in our efforts to win, we become as dishonest as our opponents on the right, we don't deserve to triumph.

    by Tamar on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:23:16 AM PDT

  •  In their defense (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    they have healthy choices all up and down their menu, and most items come with a vegetable.  That people buy what is in the pictures, doesn't surprise me.  It's a bar.  

    I agree with you on the franchise itself.  

    We have a family owned Mexican restaurant next door to an Applebee's and the Applebees is mostly empty.  Buy local.  

    I have predicted, for a long time, that all that's left for these people is to start playing in their own feces. But even I never predicted they'd freeze it and use it as a dildo.

    by Nada Lemming on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:23:51 AM PDT

  •  Plate sizes (6+ / 0-)

    Also notice the size of the plates that these restaurant chains use. They are gigantic compared to the plates sizes of past generations. So not only is the food fattening and unhealthy but in order to make it appear like a full plate the servings are much bigger. One simple solution would be to make the plates smaller in diameter. It would take smaller servings to fill the plate. Doing so would probably be more profitable for the restaurant and most customers would never even notice.

    This is no longer about simply being overweight. When I go out to eat I am stunned by how morbidly obese everyone is getting. It's shocking and sad.

    •  I've worked at an Outback Steakhouse (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heart of the Rockies

      for 12 years. There's exactly 14 tables, non-booths, that allow for morbidly obese people to sit. It used to be that you'd see one or maybe two obese people at a time. Within the past two years, or so, I've noticed that there are times when the 49 table restaurant is one third full, and we're running out of tables to sit obese people at.

      The numbers on the animated map above are still skyrocketing. What is the end game here?

  •  I'm in favor of requiring restaurants (6+ / 0-)

    to provide nutritional and ingredient information for all of their food.  Beyond that, however, it's a matter of people having the right to choose what they eat, even if it's horribly unhealthy for them.  

  •  So they SHOULDN'T accommodate the public? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paintitblue, eXtina

    I get your point about the food not being nutritious but I actually am glad to hear that they have facilities for all the public.  I know that obesity is mostly a matter of healthy habits but that doesn't mean restaurants should ignore the reality of their customers' circumstances.  Asking someone that's obese to squeeze into a booth built for the average person is unreasonable.  And if you're telling me that he shouldn't be making his condition worse by eating there, let me suggest that maybe they were joining a larger group and didn't want to miss the party or the working lunch that's happening there.  

    Good for Applebees.  As for you, be grateful you don't have to use in the extra-wide seating accommodations, or the handicap parking spot....or the segregated fountains

    "They don't think it be like it is, but it do. " Oscar Gamble, circa 1980

    by Spider Stumbled on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:31:12 AM PDT

  •  Portion Sizes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    googie, Pluto, eXtina

    My friends and I once took an overnight trip to Toledo Ohio to go their excellent art museum – we were coming from Canada – Anyway, after a day at the museum, we decided to go for some drinks  and afterwards,  stopped by Taco Bell for some fast food – I ordered the 7 layer bean burrito – decadent ,yes, but I was hungry – when we got back to the hotel and took out our food,  we all joked at the fact that everything we ordered was DOUBLE  the size of what we would have gotten at the same chain in Canada – my burrito was ridiculous!  I think I got through less than half before I bailed – the next day we foolishly went to a Denny’s restaurant for breakfast – again, everything we ordered came in gigantic proportions – none of us could finish our breakfasts – looking around I was taken aback by the fact that about 80 percent of the restaurant was obese – portion sizes are a huge problem – I now notice this at certain chain restaurants in Canada – end of story, my stomach wasn’t right for days after that trip!

  •  Wow eXtina! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, paintitblue, eXtina

    Congratulations! You brought out the inner food snobs in ALL of us today!

    No one ever died from laughing too often

    by googie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:36:53 AM PDT

  •  I've had this idea for years. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10

    If I ever hit like a multi-million dollar lottery, THE thing I'm going to do is open a restaurant called Deep Fried America.   The only thing on the menu will be deep fried items, including Deep Friend Cheeseburgers, etc.  

    The sad thing is that I know it would make tons of money.  

    The Patriot Act: IOKIYAD!

    by Beelzebud on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 09:56:33 AM PDT

  •  this is a great diary, and this is so true (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    googie, eXtina
    you have to be used to eating that kind of food to enjoy it. In other words, rich, calorie and fat-laden food is an acquired taste.

    I am so sick and appalled that some people react with such utter horror to my healthy lifestyle.  

    "Oh my god, how can you live without double deep fried baconator-ranch sliders????  Those are SOOOOOOO good"  (at this point the person has a mini-orgasm)

    They don't realize that their tastes have been conditioned that way by big ag and food, and if they ate differently they could be just as excited about something more wholesome.

    •  That's very true (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fizziks, eXtina

      I found that out, myself, when I changed my eating habits.  I cut out the fast food, cut out anything frozen that could only be zapped in a microwave (which eliminated some of the very worst processed junk out there), cut out anything that had HFCS in it.  And over the span of about a year, my tastes changed.  I tested it and found that the stuff I used to adore and have mini-orgasms over, I couldn't eat because it tasted at best as bland and at worst as really sickeningly awful.  If you presented me a choice right now between a McDonald's double cheeseburger and fries (which used to be my favorite meal) and a fresh salad, I'd jump at the latter.

      Like pretty much any human, I like to indulge myself.  In fact, I think I have more of a tendency to overindulge than most people.  I used to be notorious for the amount of candy I ate, the amount of soda I drank, for ordering the greasiest stuff around, and I got away with it because my metabolism is good and keeps me naturally thin.  This isn't about me having great self-control, nobly turning down the food I really want for the unappetizing healthier option.  I do not have that kind of discipline.  My taste buds have simply changed...and for the couple of junky McD's-type things left that I still find decent-tasting for whatever reason, it's also clear to me now how terrible my body feels immediately afterwards.  It's an effective deterrent, because I know I usually feel good after a meal.  But when you're eating that stuff all the time, the way your body feels is the baseline, the norm, so you don't notice it...it just seems normal.

  •  Sounds to me like (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sillia, eXtina

    there are numerous commenters on this diary who ought to band together and start a healthy foods restaurant chain -- they will make a fortune!!!

    •  You confuse (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eXtina

      Making a fortune with having good health.  Indeed, what's a fortune worth without good health?

      Sorry, getting biblical again, but you know, we worship at the altar of the dollar, clearly.

      Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

      by yet another liberal on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:18:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think it's called... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina

        "...doing well by doing good."  It's not confusion, it's "killing two birds with one stone".

        The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

        by Panurge on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 04:05:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  An empty restaurant is always slow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    i suppose it's because the staff has time to hang around and talk to each other, but service is always slow when the house is nearly empty. And woe unto you if you are the only diners. Then the staff seems to resent you and purposely ignores you. I've been the first into a restaurant for dinner and watched as the secon, third and fourth covers are served while I waited. Perhaps I'm invisible that early in the evening.

  •  Applebee's booths are really small (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paintitblue, eXtina

    My husband and I don't eat at places like Applebee's unless we have emergency mall shopping to do (out of town trips).  We never eat at fast food places.

    We ended up at the local Applebees a few months ago, and sat at a booth.  We aren't big people (I'm just 5'1"), nor are we obese.  But the booth was very uncomfortable.  The space was so tight - only about 2 inches between the table and our chests.  I had the additional problem that the table was too high.  We kept pushing it around trying to adjust the space.  If we couldn't feel comfortable at that booth - how would an obese person - or a large but not obese person, fit?  

    I had a hard time finding anything I wanted to order.  Because I'm small, I try to keep my meals at around 350 calories each, and it just wasn't possible to do that at Applebees.    The menu showed calories for each meal.  Nothing was in the 350 calorie range, starting at around 500 calories for a meal.  That is almost half of what I can eat in a day.  Even most salads were in the 700 to 1000+ calorie range.  

    There is another chain - Friday's maybe? - that we liked a few years ago.  They have small portion dinners that are not bad.

  •  Some of us need more space in the booths... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paintitblue, eXtina, jayden

    ...because of medical issues.  Most booths try to cut me in half.

  •  Applebee's is Applebee's. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, Heart of the Rockies

    I'm not sure what to say.  You are very perceptive and empathic.  You obviously pay attention to your surroundings.  You are very fair-minded. You avoid chain restaurants and this diary shows why.  

    But Applebee's is Applebee's. These places make a ton of money selling junk food at huge profits.  They are just catering to demand.  Individuals will have to modify their own eating habits.

    I don't agree with a blanket ban on trans-fat.  If you want the "none" opinion, fine.  Others might want the "with" option.  The key word is "option".

    (BTW if service was slow when you were there, count yourself lucky. Usually the waitstaff is at your table every 5 minutes (literally) pushing another beverage or another slice of deep-dried pie.  Which s yet another reason to avoice that chain.)

    Stop. Stand up. Make a sign. Walk around in public. Be polite and orderly and the rest takes care of itself. Want to shake up the Plutocrats? Demonstrate your attention to politics.

    by Quicklund on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:44:49 AM PDT

  •  Applebees is a terrorist organization (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    It's destroying citizens lives unsuspectingly and needs to be taken out.

  •  Don't miss the two-for-one (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    sale on potato chips at the supermarket near you.

    There is no two-for-one sale on ice cream this week in SVburg.

  •  One self-congratulating cooking organization (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    says the best burgers are made of 80/20 meat/fat material.

    Maybe the government is levying a tax, because this artery-clogging material sells for almost $4/lb.  

  •  Cheese was about $7/lb. in SV's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, jayden

    favorite supermarket last week.

    SV loves cheese, so this posed a problem.

    SV then noticed a two-pound package for $6.49 for all 32 oz.

    •  Not necessarily a problem. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eXtina, jayden

      It's all a matter of how quickly you go through it.  I put my bread in the refrigerator most of the time so it won't go moldy so quickly.  If the cheese is gonna get eaten eventually anyway, you might as well get the best possible deal.

      The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

      by Panurge on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 04:04:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fat Standards (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, Heart of the Rockies

    I've never been in an Applebees, but now I want to see how fat I would have to be to fill out their fatty booth. I'm assuming that would set some fat standard, as in "he fills one standard fatty booth at Applebees". Obviously the fatty standard on United Airlines is quite a bit different.

  •  What's striking about Friday's and Applebees... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    ...is that the food actually looks worse in the TV ads that it does in person.  

    It's better to curse the darkness than light a candle. --Whoever invented blogs, c.1996

    by Rich in PA on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:40:39 AM PDT

  •  Fatties gonna fat (0+ / 0-)

    Companies should not be changing to accommodate fat people. This is only making the problem of obesity worse. By adapting to the obese people, they are showing that being fat is acceptable.

  •  A book that significantly changed the way I eat (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SingularExistence, eXtina, jayden

    is The Primal Blueprint by "Mark Sisson" and his web site MarksDailyApple.com. After reading, you may not eat 90% of what passes as "food" in our diets.

    I'm trying it for 90 days to see what happens.

    Aside from the way I feel, since reading, I started cooking myself every day, which I almost never did before, and I'm very conscious of not eating hidden things like hydrolized soy protein and all kinds of other crap slipped into almost every processed food. And the per-meal cost is actually lower than most of the restaurants I would duck into for a quick lunch or dinner.

    And within about 10 days I transitioned into eating raw, fresh, organic veggies that I once had to cook, salt, and butter to get down but now find crisp, sweet, and flavorful with nothing added - and I switched from deli meats to organic chicken, lean bison and other more naturally raised meats and fish, which I also find way more flavorful and satisfying.

    We'll see how I feel at the end of 90 days, but so far it's really opened my eyes to the absolute junk I've been consuming my whole life that I thought was somehow nutritious or healthy.

    There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why...
    I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? ~ Robert Kennedy

    by Reality Bites Back on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 02:00:09 PM PDT

  •  The Applebees in our town lists items (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, jayden, Heart of the Rockies

    with "Weightwatcher's" points. I always ask for salad dressing on the side and try to select from the leaner items on the menu.  Of course once in a while I do order fish & chips - but not at Applebees.

    There is a famous diner in our town, "Miner's", with He-man sized portions.  My husband and I order the Miner's burger and have them split it in half!

    One Washington-Gregoire! One Country-Obama!

    by yakimagrama on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 02:46:42 PM PDT

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