Saturday, 9 August 2014

"Ooh, I've etten some stuff!" - eating out should be fun not part of a calorie-controlled diet!

We eat out more than we used to and this is reflected in the proliferation of eateries, restaurants, takeaways and other businesses serving our desire for social eating. And the nannying fussbuckets have had eating out in their sights for some while.

So far the main target has been the fast food takeaway - the chip shop and all its ethnic and creative variations. In particular the nannies hated the big US chains - McDonalds, Burger King, KFC - with their shiny outlets and smart marketing. So when righteous criticism was levelled at the takeaway the references were to these celebrations of greasy American food.

Today the average person (in the UK at least) eats out between one and two times per week and this demand is met mostly by places that offer relatively cheaper food - pubs, curry restaurants, fish and chips, pizza and so forth. It's hard to find how often people go to more fancy restaurants - for many people the answer is never but for others its a special treat. We used to go to (the now sadly closed) Weavers restaurant in Haworth for birthdays, anniversary and as a pre-Christmas treat.

So when we go to these restaurants - for a special occasion, a treat - we're not going to do this:

"Go for wholegrain or wholemeal breads, protein rich foods like lean meats, chicken, eggs and pulses and plenty of fruit and vegetables.

"Be careful with high fat extras like cheese, bacon, sour cream and mayonnaise on burgers, wraps and salads and avoid larger portion sizes.

"Avoid ordering fried sides and sugar sweetened drinks, as this will quickly increase the calorie content of your meal. If you do fancy a fizzy drink then select a diet version. If your meal does not come with vegetables or salad, order some on the side, or ask to swap a higher fat side such as chips for an undressed side salad or fruit bag instead." 

Instead we've going to pig ourselves a little big, drink a little more than normal - have something that is good for us, something the fussbuckets have forgotten about. It's called a 'good time'.

Our rediscovery of eating as a social activity is fantastic as is the fact that so many more of us can afford to do what my parents couldn't do - take their families out for a meal. But, as with all the ways in which our modern consumer society is so much better than the society of our youth, the nannying fussbuckets want to tell us that somehow it'll all end in tears. For these sad folk - who want us to have a 'fruit bag' (whatever that may be) instead of a bowl of lovely chips - everything is a problem. When we're not destroying our health with our enjoyment of life, we're threatening the planet by emitting carbon or some such scientific mumbo jumbo.

The world's po-faced puritans believe that all this pleasure and enjoyment represents a cost to society. They do not care one jot for the benefit we get from eating out, they simply want to nag us about how we're eating too much when we visit the restaurant:

"The message is that eating fast food or out in restaurants should be the exception not the norm as it can be very bad for you. In addition to the extra calories consumed people also ate more sugar, salt and saturated fats than when they are home-made food."

What this ghastly nanny fails to realise is that this is entirely the point - eating out is an indulgence, a joy and a pleasure. At the end of the meal we want to push back the chair, a big grin on our face, and say; "ooh, I've etten some stuff!" And quite frankly nibbling on a few salad leaves while feeling virtuous simply doesn't cut the mustard.


No comments: