Sunday, February 03, 2008

For God's sake, repeat after me: There are no bad foods

That's what I feel like saying to the idiots who now want to "salvage" the ridiculous Mississippi bill that would prohibit restaurants from serving food to people considered obese.

Who will be labeled obese, and by whom? Let's not even go there. For now, let's stick with a higher power of absurdity, worthy of Beckett, and talk about the latest twist on this bill: Use it to Save the Children.

Forget about saving the adult fatties, according to this latest spin; let's stick to saving the innocent children. Under the new provisions, children would not be allowed to eat in certain fast food restaurants without a parent present. (Sounds like the concept behind R-rated movies, doesn't it? Do you know the danger you child is able to be exposed to?)

According to John Banzhaf, the idiot behind this new spin,

obese children would still be permitted to order most of the items on a fast food menu. "For example, at McDonald's, even a Double Cheeseburger and Quarterpounder, or a Filet-O-Fish or McChicken, has fewer than 500 calories. Those food items the child should not be served include: the Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese (740 calories), Premium Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich (660 calories), several deserts [sic], etc.

What's the cutoff here? 500 calories = OK, 600 calories = instant obesity?

Banzhaf, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, needs a lesson in psychology. Actually he needs lessons in a whole lot of other fields, but let's start with psychology. Does the term forbidden fruit hold any meaning? How about banned books? See, we humans are constructed to always want what we cannot have.

And when it comes to food, that goes double. The biggest reason why 95% of diets do not work is that depriving yourself leads to later cycles of binging. You tell your body it can't have chocolate, and watch your chocolate cravings soar. Whereas if you tell your body, Chocolate's fine, no big deal, work it into your day if you really want it, well, your chocolate consumption will over the long term drop. A lot.

Do we really want a double quarter pounder with cheese to become the Holy Grail of a generation of children? Cause that's what will happen should your ridiculous plan come to fruition.

Here's another pearl of wisdom: The more we try to micromanage our metabolisms, the more badly we fuck them up. Dieting leads to eating disorders and even more weight gain. How about, instead of banning foods like they were chapters of Lady Chatterley's Lover, we invest in teaching children the joys of intuitive eating?

Oh, yeah, that would take a complete cultural paradigm shift. And it wouldn't make for such a great sound byte.

P.S. I don't eat at McDonald's; I don't like their food. My kids have never eaten there. I'm not a shill for the fast-food industry. I'm a reasonable human being who believes that people come in all shapes and sizes, that you can be fat and healthy, and that discriminating against and humiliating fat people seems to be the new national sport. Whatever happened to baseball?


Anonymous said...

It sounds as though he still wants restaurants to weigh and measure children before deciding what they can eat, too, if I'm reading this right. That's just a wonderful idea on all kinds of levels.

Of course, to make it easier on the restaurants - it's not really reasonable to expect each one to have scales and tape handy - perhaps we could mark obese children in some way to indicate their status and warn the cashier about what they can order. A facial tattoo, perhaps. A brand on the cheek. Something.

vesta44 said...

Amen. I read this and just saw red. I knew it was only a matter of time before they tried something they thought would be less offensive, but geez louise, less than a week? And I'm sorry, don't even think about messing with my kids or grandkids. Talk about a mother bear in rampage mode when her young are threatened, he ain't seen nothin' yet.

Carrie Arnold said...

Our. Society. Is. Totally. Messed. Up.

So what, instead of "would you like fries with that?" we're going to hear "can I please see some ID?"

I'd give them the smooshy faced kitty award, but they'd probably decide the damn cat was low fat and feed it to their children to prevent obesity.

Fiona Marcella said...

My cat isn't low fat - he's chunky and wonderful!

I DO occasionally eat in Macdonalds and enjoy it. It's a treat to my god-daughter who usually has 3 square meals prepared freshly and economically at home by her chef of a mother. My daughter (the one WITHOUT the eating disorder) eats there far too regularly and she's a scrawny little madam. As Harriet says, people come in all shapes and sizes, and they should ALL be allowed to enjoy the same liberties.

RioIriri said...

Look what I found at the grocery store:


Harriet said...

Gah! Rio, that's appalling. And speaks to the Puritan dichotomy, all right. Eat this and live forever. Eat that and die young and in terrible pain/stigma. Egads.

Anonymous said...

Banzhaf's first lessons should be in the history of civil rights (he should know something about civil rights law). This idiot thinks that "modifying" this proposed law to discriminate against children only "fixes" what's wrong?

Think again:

A law that discriminates against children for no good reason still discriminates.

A proposed law that is nothing but raw bigotry against those who weigh more than the misbegotten fashionable ideal being re-jiggered to take in only kids? It's still raw bigotry.

Food is food, whether one likes it. Or not. Calling some food "bad" and some "good" because one can't (or won't) eat it is not for the law to decide; we are not talking about contaminated or adulterated food here.

Using fat people/their kids as weapons as ways to harrass legitimate businesses into, ultimately, bankruptcy because YOU don't like them or they are considered ideologically "impure" to you? Not acceptable.

Trying to push through legislation because of your"concern" about the "health" of fat kids with the intention of using the same--if it becomes law--as a weapon of mass litigation for fun and (your) profit at the expense of justice?...

Oh...wait...that's Banzhaf's M.O., isn't it? Suing for fun and profit...whether the case filed is really worth the court's time and energy or not.

Your Honor, I rest my case. :-D

RioIriri said...

Good lord, is this Banzhaf guy a busybody.

I may have to take down some notes and blog about him a little.

I am so sick of people using "THE CHILLLLLLLDREN" as an excuse to push their agendas.

samsi77 said...

Since research has already shown that discussing ED with kids is counterproductive might we be able to generalize that society continuing to ruminate about what is good/bad, healthy/unhealthy, etc might also be counter productive. It seems to further fuel the "epidemic" rather then doing anything effective. I find this disgusting!

Harriet said...

You got it, Stephanie.

Ricardo said...

This comment will never be approved, since I am one of those politically incorrect anti-fat acceptance types.

Still, as a former fat child (until I joined Weight Watchers and kept the weight off for thirty years), I did a double-take at your assertion that there are NO bad foods.

And you write about issues that concern CHILDREN? Hey, I don't agree with the legislation either, but that is because I am a libertarian and do not believe that government bureaucrats should be running our lives.

But I sincerely hope you are not a mother; it is frightening to think that fat mothers will now encourage their kids to EAT ANYTHING THEY LIKE in order to justify mom's obesity. Forget about broccoli and spinach, oh child, and eat nothing but Jello pudding pops and Krispy Kreme donuts for breakfast.

Harriet said...

Sure, I'll approve your comment, because I'll be glad to show you up for being an IGNORAMUS. (Hey, I know how to hit the caps key too!)

I laughed my head off at your comment. Do you know any parents who give their kids Jello pops and Krispy Kremes for breakfast? Because I don't. No, wait, I take it back. I did know a family who served ice cream and sprinkles for breakfast sometimes. And guess what? They're all thin.

Can ya read, Rick? Cause if you've been reading this blog or any others, you should have picked up on the fact that the "no bad foods" concept isn't an excuse to eat nothing but sugar. It is instead a concept based in scientific research as well as common sense that acknowledges the fact that we are omnivores. We are designed to eat anything and everything. Those of us in the fat acceptance movement (and by the way, we're not all fat, Rick) believe in a positive relationship with food. Eating joyfully and well.And--oh my God, Rick, some of us even like vegetables!

Your problem, Rick, isn't that you're politically incorrect. It's that you're IGNORANT. You also seem to be under the sway of what we call thin entitlement: I lost weight, and it was damn hard to do it, and so I'm better than you.

I believe I'm just as good as you, Rick, whether I weigh 95 pounds or 595 pounds. That I can be HEALTHY whatever my weight--and healthy means eating a wide variety of foods and enjoying them. Healthy means exercising because it feels good, not to lose weight. I just came back from an hour of international folk dancing, and I feel great.

Oh, and by the way, I am a mother, and a mother who helped save her kid's life when that child nearly starved herself to death from anorexia. Those Krispy Kremes sure came in handy during her recovery.

I suggest you seek knowledge before you blast off making judgments about others. Most of us are far better informed than you.

Anonymous said...

Harriet - Rick is a troll. I first spotted him over at RioIriri's blog. I also saw him at Kate Harding's blog.

Since you approved his comment, that will just invite him to be even more hostile. But I know you have good judgment (and a good blog), and can handle yourself!

And Rick? Give it up. We all know what an asshole you are by now.

Anonymous said...

Once again, economic interests will likely be the ones that prevail here. Many parents (fat, thin, or in between) will probably balk at having their children weighed and measured as a condition of being allowed to eat out, and many kids of all sizes will pass on the humiliation as well (they get enough at school, thanks). What happens if there are fat and thin kids in the same family -- will the family take only the thin kids out? Unlikely. So that will mean a whole lot of people staying away from restaurants. I can't see restaurant owners finding that even vaguely acceptable.

Even if they're going to restrict by age only, not BMI as such, how many little kids really want to eat Double Quarter Pounders (that is, how many could actually finish one) anyway? Those foods are eaten mainly by bottomless-pit teenaged boys, most of them skinny as flagpoles.

Anonymous said...

Harriet: One billion
Rick: 0

"Whatever happened to baseball?"

Sekkund bazemen is
eatin ur Kworter Pownderz
taykin ur steroydz
sighnin ur endorzmentz
whiffin all bawls

(I'm sorry; sardonic ridicule is the only way I can deal with this right now. (My grandpa was a catcher in the Minors.) I'm resting up for the title bout with gnarly thunderheads coming out of GWU.)

Anonymous said...

I'm still picking up pieces of my head; it exploded after I heard about the first-run of this legislation.

The first thing I thought of (and again: still picking up pieces of my head, so this might not even be relevant) when I read about "let's ban kids from buying double quarter pounders (or whatever) is the kids who used to hang out outside the convenience store on the corner of State and University when I was in college, and beg the college students going in to buy them beer. They'd even offer a "finder's fee!"

This kind of legislation is ridiculous.

The other thing? I'm SO glad Mississippi has apparently solved ALL its problems of poverty, education problems, lingering racism (whoops, not so much, considering these bills), health care for the poor, environmental issues, etc., etc. and can now move on to micromanaging other people's lives.

(That was sarcasm, in case anyone is wondering).

I don't know. I fear that a time is coming - a time in my life - when I will be forced to jump on a scale before I can buy food, and the food I will be permitted to buy (type AND amount) will be tied to what that scale says. And if that comes to pass? I will do my damnedest to find a country that does NOT do that, and go there, and claim I am a "dietary refugee."

Anonymous said...

Oh but there's such a great precedent..after all prohibition completely eliminated the evil of alcohol from our society and everybody stopped drinking because the gubment said so. Also, there were no more alcoholics ever again.




Anonymous said...

I hate to spoil good reactions and energy, but Banzhaff would love nothing more than for his publicity stunt to become news and get even a fraction of the reaction that the Mississippe legislation received. This does not and should not get any reaction or publicity. IMHO.

It was a press release.

A press release is not news until people make it news.

Anonymous said...

*cough* BIG BROTHER *cough*