Can diner obesity be predicted? And if so, do chefs have anything to do with it?
A new survey of executive chefsattending culinary conferences (which means their cooks are back at the ranch, cooking) shows that most chefs serve large portions because customers want them, and perceive better value when they get them.
The real issue is individual responsibility: if chefs put a meal in front of you which you ordered on their usually large plates and platters, are they responsible if you eat it all?
No, they’re not.
Anyone who has dined out in the last 20 years knows that restaurant eating is a crapshoot in calories. Even when a meal’s calories are posted, studies show they are usually underestimated by 30 percent or more.
Besides, cooks outside of formulaic fast food measure most foods with their eyes and hands, not with scales.
But chefs are no more to blame for diner obesity than doctors are for patient weight gain.
And yet, small changes in the environment in both restaurant and medical office could do a lot to help patrons of both.
Restaurants could use smaller plates, narrower and taller glasses, and yes, even display nutritional information plus a grain of salt.
Medical offices could offer better accountability mechanisms for patients, lifestyle change programs instead of diets and referrals to programs and websites that work well such as ediets and peertrainer.
And both chefs and docs could benefit by knowing a little more about nutrition.
Surveys of physicians shows that physician obesity can be predicted. Stress at work and home, and eating food provided at the office and in the hospital are the major predictors.
Chefs surveyed think counting carbs and fat grams are more important than calories in preventing obesity. Which was not what I was taught.
Eating out means eating more calories and fat…unless you learn how to read between the lines on menus.