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You Ask, I Answer: Calorie Posting

Posted Aug 24 2008 2:01pm
Andy, I love to cook. I think I am speaking for most chefs and those that love to cook, we are not specifically thinking of calories when we create a dish!

Therefore, I must HEARTILY DISAGREE on your stance on the Food Network and other places that don't offer calorie counts.

I don't want, nor need, the government to step in and force laws on poor, creative chefs who are cooking dishes from their cultures and hearts.
Where is people's sense of self-responsibility?

I'm not an idiot. There are plenty of recipes that I've looked up on the Food Network site that I KNOW are going to be fattening.

I don't like the thought of government going so far as to overstep their boundaries in the guise of "protecting Americans from themselves!" You are going up a slippery slope indeed. Where does it all end? People have to be responsible for their own health and what they put in their mouths.

BTW, it's the FOOD Network, not the HEALTH Network.

Paula Deen is a Southern cook, Ina Garten is not tiny and neither is Guy! I don't watch any of them for low fat recipes, I have my Weight Watchers cook book for that.

I love watching Paula Deen and all the butter she puts in her recipes. I might use that recipe for a special occasion AS IS butter and all, I might try to make it lower in fat or I might just enjoy watching her make something so decadant!

Please, don't take the joy out of cooking with this idea of forcing calorie counts on everyone! Let common sense prevail!

-- Laura Lafata

Miami Beach, FL

It appears that the main point behind my video was misinterpreted.

I am not asking for any interference. I am not telling anyone at the Food Network to decrease butter in recipes butter or replace heavy cream with skim milk.

Similarly, I am not asking Paula Deen or Barefoot Contessa to "do their part" for health and wellness by offering lower-fat recipes.

All I am saying is, “cook whatever and however you want, but inform people of caloric content.”

I do not want heart disease warnings alongside recipes, nor do I want television chefs to follow guidelines like “include at least one whole grain in every dish."

Each chef is master of their culinary domain, and they should exercise complete freedom in their kitchen.

Deep fry a stick of butter for all I care, just let people know how many calories there are in it.

Laura, it appears you are a health conscious person. Therefore, I have no doubt you are good at spotting high-calorie dishes and knowing what constitutes a "splurge."

Not everyone has that knowledge, though.

I can’t tell you how many times, when giving a nutrition workshop, I have had people ask me what the word “calories” on a food label means.

There I was talking about the benefits of whole grains and someone asks me what number they should pay more attention to -- calories or protein. Eek!

I have taught several workshops on making smarter choices at fast food restaurants.

Whenever I do one of these, I ask attendants to guess the number of calories in a large Big Mac meal.

The average response is says 800 calories -- 640 fewer calories than the correct answer!

It is very easy for people who are informed about nutrition to think the rest of the world is.

Guess what? As th above examples show, many people are completely in the dark -- even those who think they aren't!

This is why, as a future dietitian, I find the posting of calories to be helpful. A lot of people I have spoken to were surprised to find out that a low-fat muffin at Starbucks contains a mere 40 calories less than a full-fat one, for instance.

Posting calorie information does not take away personal choice. It simply allows consumers to make more informed decisions.

On another note, it saddens me that many chefs scoff at the idea of “healthy cooking” or making meatless dishes.

Many of this country's most famous chefs erroneously think there is no such thing as "vegan cuisine," and that asking for a sauce on the side ranks up there with double homicide.

I have shared many highly nutritious delicious recipes on this blog that even the unhealthiest of eaters have loved. It's the least I can do to dispel the myth that healthy eating consists of steamed carrots sprayed with PAM.

I do not expect Paula Deen to start counting calories, but why not provide that information for people looking to lose weight who would never even consider that one of her “individual” chicken pot pies packs in almost a day’s worth of calories?

Armed with this information, viewers can make a variety of choices -- have the recipe "as is," save the potpies for special occassions (rather than twice a week), make smaller potpies (thereby reducing calories), or find creative ways to cut down on calories by toying around with ingredients.

Healthy eating is obviously an uphill climb for many; why not give them a little boost?
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