One of the oddest truths in modern American society is that a lot of poor people are fat. As I talked about in Survival of the Fattest, starvation has always been the problem, not obesity. But our modern poor are far more affluent than their counterparts of even a century ago, and the staple foods that once kept the wolf from the door (bread, noodles, cereals, rice and beans, etc.) are now side dishes for higher protein, higher fat entrees. And with middle-income folks finding they no longer have to plan meals because there’s a Burger Sovereign on every corner, we’ve got a huge segment of the population eating poorly.
A friend of mine recently had back surgery, and his doctor refused to do the surgery until my friend dropped some weight, as the extra poundage was a major contributor to the back pain. His doctor told him something that he found odd– the doctor said to keep track of what he spent on food for a month, then double it the next month. That’s all. No direction on what to eat, just to spend twice as much on food as he had the previous month. Suddenly he and his wife had to rethink their meal patterns– filet instead of hamburger; salmon, tuna steaks, asparagus and mushrooms. Meals that had been for special occasions now happened every day. My friend figured the doctor was nuts, and wondered what the doctor would say when he gained weight from all this fabulous food. The appointment day arrived, and the scale said– my friend had lost nine pounds. Huh?
Getting Satisfaction Faster
There are a number of factors at work here. First, high-quality proteins tend to be leaner than low-quality proteins. Unless you buy the fattiest ribeye you can find, an average-sized steak is going to have less fat than the same serving of hamburger meat, and since a lot of it is on the outside of the cut, it’s probably going to stay on your plate or end up in your dog’s dish. That fat all goes into the grinder for hamburger, and unless you cook it to death and drain it completely, that fat is going right in your mouth.
Second, we think differently about sides. Nobody puts a nice steak on a bun and covers it in mayo and ketchup. And even with butter, a baked potato is lower in fat and calories than fries (just avoid that whole “loaded” concept). Salad? You’re more likely to have a green salad with fresh veggies along with your steak; that burger is begging for potato or pasta salad, baked beans, potato chips, etc. Think about your entire meal at a steakhouse versus your typical Burger Sovereign or outdoor BBQ meal.
What’s probably most important, though, is the concept of thinking about your food, planning it, and enjoying it. You take more time with a “special” meal, and you enjoy it more. People talk about “grabbing a burger”; when was the last time you heard someone talking about “grabbing” filet mignon? The more you savor your food, the more satisfied you are, and the less you eat in the long run. You may also find some new foods that you never knew you liked. Being willing to spend more on your food will show you the difference quality makes in most foods (here’s one– cheap caviar is disgusting, but a good malossol sevruga is one of the best things on the planet). This stuff is going into your body; it is the fuel you are using to think, move, do your job, and care for your family. Aren’t you worth more than a greasy burger and soggy fries, or a plate of Hamburger Helper?