Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Health Group Bashes Menu Items... So What?

I just read this little blurb of an article on Yahoo:

Health Group Bashes High-Calorie...

In a nutshell, this group is attacking Denny's, Applebee's, Cold Stone Creamery, and The Cheesecake Factory (among others, I'm sure) for offering items on their menu that exceed a healthy amount of calories, fat, and/or sodium in one portion.

As someone who has become very conscious of my diet in the past year, I was a bit stunned when my reaction to this article was anger... at the "health group."

Diet is about choice.  Really, truly, it is.  Offering an unhealthy choice is fine.  It shouldn't be a secret that a grilled cheese sandwich with four fried mozzarella sticks inserted therein is unhealthy, but apparently this "health group" feels that people will somehow be "led" to make unhealthy choices because this sandwich exists.

Picture the process:

Diner 1: I think I'll try this grilled cheese sandwich with fried cheese inside of it!  That looks tasty!
Diner 2: I don't know, Phil, do you think it's healthy?
Diner 1: Cornelius, it's Denny's.  Everything here is absolutely healthy.  Everyone knows that.
Diner 2: You're right.  Let's hurry so we can get back to the hospital before they figure out we're gone and lock down the ward.
Diner 1: Right you are, Horace.

Seriously, it's Denny's.  No one eats at Denny's for their health, but there are actually plenty of healthy choices to be made there if you want to.  No one is stopping anyone from ordering the salads or egg-white omelets.  Or from going to a different restaurant.

What really cheeses me, though, is the condemnation of The Cheesecake Factory.  That is one of my favorite places to eat precisely because of the huge variety of options.  Healthy?  Sure, order a weight-management salad or a serving of edamame.  Reasonable?  Sure, order a lunch salad, a lunch portion of several entrees, or almost any other choice.  Decadent?  They've got that too, including the thing that condemns them in the eyes of the "health group": red velvet cheesecake, which is 1500 calories a slice and so delicious I briefly saw into another dimension when I ate mine.  Of course, I ate two bites of it.  That's all I could eat, but I would hate to think that due to pressure from a "health group" I wouldn't even have the option to do that.

People have the right to make unhealthy choices.  If you are forced into making healthy choices simply due to lack of options, you will not form healthy eating habits, you will learn to accept what you're given and not take any responsibility for your own health and happiness.  It's like those kids who go nuts at the first opportunity because their parents were too strict: lack of agency equals a lack of responsibility and maturity.

So I say, "health group," lighten up.  Have a piece of cheesecake.

You've earned it.