I was sitting at the bar of a local fine-dining establishment, having dinner and chatting with the co-owner about nutrition, when she said, earnestly, “You mean, sugar is a carb?” I’m not kidding. This woman, who is seriously obese, blames her obesity on her “lack of discipline” and being “married to a chef.” “I work in a restaurant,” she said. Sheez…
“I know sugar is the enemy,” she continued. But for someone in her position – she clearly has an influence on the menu– to know virtually nothing about nutrition, is shocking. I’m tempted to go into another rant about how we got into such a state of affairs, but you’ve read enough of those. Instead, let me illustrate the point with further evidence of her thinking, and how that influences her and their business.
I hadn’t been to this neighborhood restaurant in a while, so I took a good look at the menu: Two soups, seven appetizers, and eight or nine entrees. One soup was a creamed squash, the other a chowder, the latter by definition loaded with potatoes. I was interested in the creamed soup so the wife checked to confirm that it contained no flour. It was not, but I wasn’t hungry enough for such a filling starter, so I passed.
Then, to my surprise, the first appetizer listed was a plate of fried potatoes. Five of the other six appetizers were salads. The seventh was calamari, dredged in flour, dipped in cornmeal and deep fried – three good reasons for me (or you) not to order it. Some of the salads looked good though, especially hearts of artichoke and a burrata.
Several of the entrees were also appealing: two fish entrees, an osso bucco, and a pork chop. All the entrees were accompanied by a vegetable and a starch, which of course could be switched out for extra vegetables. However, since I was not hungry, I settled on just the artichoke salad…and it was very good.
The young amiable bartender made me a good drink and I settled in. That’s when the co-owner joined me and we got into conversation about nutrition. I told her about how I had lost over 170 pounds, starting in 2002, and was still down 150. She said that was very good, but she didn’t ask how. It was a sign she didn’t want to change her way of eating. I told her anyway: VERY LOW CARB, I told her. I started on Atkins INDUCTION, which is just 20 grams of carbs a day.
She told me she did Weight Watchers. When I asked her, rudely, why she was not successful, she explained that she was married to a chef. I let that pass and instead mentioned that she and I – both of us – were at a disadvantage to many in the population, like the bartender, who was skinny. She and I were victims, I said, thinking that would appeal to her. We, like millions of others among us, had a bundle of genes in our makeup that had been “expressed” over the years by our eating too much sugar and other processed and refined carbs.
Her response was, “I think that’s up for debate.” She averred that a meal had to be “balanced.” Her problem, she said, was “discipline.” I countered that when you eat mostly carbs, you’re always hungry. With protein and fat, your hunger is satisfied. She responded that a large serving of broccoli satisfied her for hours. We were going nowhere.
“Potatoes have a lot of fiber in them,” she continued. “I like potatoes.” I now understood why the potatoes were the first item listed on the menu, offered as an “appetizer.” And I now also understood why the seat I took at the bar had a half-finished plate of potatoes in front of it that the bartender removed. I had taken the co-owner’s seat and had interrupted her dinner of fried potatoes.
I had another drink and another salad, the burrata – which was also very good. That was all I could salvage from the night’s foray into re-educating the world, one person at a time.
But I did get subject matter for another blog on the state of nutrition in this world, and my fasting blood sugar next morning was 87mg/dl. That’s good.But what’s going to become of us if we’re not even interested in knowing and learning about nutrition. If we’re so fixated on a “balanced” diet, getting lots of “fiber,” and blaming others for the food choices we make?