Saturday, July 16, 2011

How I See Food

To me, the whole world is a Taco Town.  If you're not sure what I'm referring to, I highly encourage you to view the Saturday Night Live skit, Taco Town at  You'll have to watch a short commercial first.  What I can eat and what other people can eat has such a stark contrast.  I see the whole world eating Taco Town Tacos.  So what's a Taco Town Taco?
It's a crunchy all beef taco smothered in cheese, lettuce tomato and special southwestern sauce.  Then it's wrapped in a soft tortilla with a layer of refried beans.  Then it's wrapped in a corn tortilla with a layer of monterey jack cheese.  And, it gets even awesomer when it's covered in a gordita shell and smothered in a layer of guacomolito sauce wrapped around the outside.  But it gets bigger!  It's baked in a corn husk filled with pico de gallo then wrapped in a crepe with egg, sausage and portabello mushroom.
Then the whole thing is wrapped in a Chicago style deep dish pizza.  But wait, it's not a Taco Town taco until it's rolled up in a blueberry pancake, dipped in batter and deep fried until a golden brown.  Finally, it's served in a tote bag filled with spicy vegetarian chili.  This sounds insane right?  Well, a quick search for these images on Google proved that it wasn't so far fetched.  It's amazing how many people have actually tried making this at home!  Not only did they make it, they ate it, too.

This huge monster of a taco probably sound outlandish to most people, though.  But, the thing is, anytime I go out to eat I see Taco Town Tacos.  Not literally, but metaphorically.  Take this Baconator from Wendy's for example.  My husband loves these.  Admittedly, he does not eat one very often, I can only remember him eating one or two in the past year.  This thing is huge.  If I tried to eat it, I would probably only get a couple bites in.  Then, I'd spend the next hour with nausea, sweats and the feeling that a baseball sized glob of food was stuck in my esophagus.  I can't even imagine trying to eat this thing!  The burger alone weighs 300 grams, that's about 10 ounces or 2/3 of a pound.  My poor little stomach will only hold 4-6 ounces.  It has 930 calories (that's over my 800/day goal), 58 grams of fat, 195 mg of cholesterol and 41 carbs.  About the only thing it has going for it is 58 grams of protein, but then again, look at all that burger, cheese and bacon.  Of course it's going to have a lot of protein.  Unfortunately the calories, fat and cholesterol are not worth it.
KFC's Double Down was something that repulsed me even before surgery.  Using fried chicken as the bun?  Seriously?  And people raved about this.  I didn't take the time to look up nutrition facts.  I just know that it makes me sick just looking at it.  I do like KFC's grilled chicken, though.  Our local restaurant only recently started serving it.  It was delicious.

Even a Big Mac from McDonald's just looks so huge to me now.  How did I ever eat one and still be hungry?  You could remove two of the buns and one of the patties and it would still be too much for me to eat.

There's even a local Mexican restaurant whose claim to local fame is a burrito the size of your head.  Who can eat that??  Apparently, a lot of people can.  But not me, and for that I'm grateful.

Now, I know what you're thinking.  The only reason I feel this way toward food is because I've had surgery.  That's partially right.  I think that having the surgery has put a lot of things into perspective.  The portion sizes in this country have increased dramatically.  Just look that this burger from 20 years ago compared to today's burger.  The calories are almost doubled!  It's no wonder we are an obese nation.  We need to get portion size under control.
 Who's to blame?  Us?  The restaurants?  Fast Food?  Busy lifestyles?  I think it's a combination of everything.  We wanted bigger sizes and the restaurants gave it to us.  We got too busy to make homecooked meals so we stopped in the drive-thru too often. 

So, if you haven't had surgery or don't plan to, how can you get your portions under control?  First of all, eat from a smaller plate or bowl.  We also eat with our eyes.  If our plate looks full, we are more likely to eat less.  Secondly, eat slow.  Allow the food time to hit the stomach and for the stomach to send a signal to your brain that you are full.  Often, overeating is because we are simply eating too fast.

Focus on protein and fiber.  These are the things that will fill you up and keep you full longer.

Limit bad carbs.  This includes potatoes and pasta.  If you must eat carbs, opt for whole grain.

The general rule of thumb is half of your plate for veggies, 1/4 for protein and 1/4 for grains.  However, this will be different for bariatric patients.  We must always eat our protein first and this will compose the majority of our meal.  We should have about 4 oz.  Then, we eat our veggies.  If, and only if, there is room left for grains, then we can have them.  The majority of the time, however, there will be no room left for grains. 

The first time I went to Denny's post-op, I swear my eyes just about popped out of my head when the waitress set the plate down in front of me.  I couldn't believe how big it looked.  I ended up eating about 1/4 of the meatloaf, 1/4 of the green beans and a few bites of the potatoes.  I took the rest home and got 2 more meals out of it.  It's not that much different today at 6 months post-op.  I always at least have one more meal whenever I go out to eat.  Gotta love sleeve leftovers. 

I even started ordering my steaks medium rare because I knew when I brought them home to heat them up, they'd cook a little more and I hate well done steak. 

So now that we've established that I'm repulsed by portion sizes, what do I think is an acceptable fast food portion size?  Check out that picture to the left.  That would be it... minus the soda, of course.


  1. Good post!
    Philip loves the Baconator, too. I like to steal his bacon. :)
    We rarely go out to eat (this is a financial issue more than anything- we just can't afford it), but I almost always order an appetizer and I still only eat half of that, and then have the other half at home the next day. Portion sizes are definitely out of hand, for all the reasons you listed.
    At Cracker Barrel, I always order the vegetable plate- four veggies. I always make one of them chicken & dumplings, though. :)

  2. I don't understand why people eat fast food, it's gross. the other day I had a cheeseburger from mcdonalds because I needed something on my road trip to pick up my dog, and it was so digusting to me. Glad I'm back home now and will eat normal food. I have never been a big eater, i know that's hard to believe considering my weight issues, eh? But it's true!