Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eating well vs. dieting

I just saw this article in the NY Times. Entitled Instead of Eating to Diet, They’re Eating to Enjoy, the author talks about how people are choosing to pay more attention to what they eat than counting calories. The first paragraph:
AFTER decades of obsessing about fat, calories and carbs, many dieters have made the unorthodox decision to simply enjoy food again. That doesn’t mean they’re giving up on health or even weight loss. Instead, consumers and nutritionists say they are seeing a shift toward “positive eating” — shunning deprivation diets and instead focusing on adding seasonal vegetables, nuts, berries and other healthful foods to their plates.

A little further down:
The market research firm NPD Group gets a glimpse of national eating habits through the food diaries it has collected from 5,000 consumers since 1980. The percentage of those consumers who are on a diet is lower than at any time since information on dieting was first collected in 1985. At the peak in 1990, 39 percent of the women and 29 percent of the men were dieting. Today, that number has dropped to 26 percent of women and 16 percent of men.

The diarists also report eating more organic foods and whole grains, said Harry Balzer, an NPD vice president.

“Instead of trying to avoid things, they’ve started adding things,” Mr. Balzer said.

Even the Calorie Control Council, which represents makers of commercial diet foods, notes the percentage of people who are dieting has declined — to 29 percent in 2007 from 33 percent in 2004.

And there are other indicators of a shift in eating habits. In May, the market research firm Information Resources reported that 53 percent of consumers say they are cooking from scratch more than they did just six months ago, in part, no doubt, because of the rising cost of prepared foods.

And then there's this:

[T]he more time people spend on tasks like food shopping, cooking and kitchen cleanup, the more likely they are to be of average weight. The Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture found that people of normal weight spend more time on meal-related tasks than people who are overweight or underweight.
Since I can't remember how long the Times makes articles available before sending them behind a fire wall, I want to also note that the article references these books (none of which I've read, by the way, but all of which I've heard good things about):

Good Calories, Bad Calories (by Gary Taubes)
In Defense of Food (by Michael Pollan)
What to Eat (by Marion Nestle)


TECH said...

I've often heard -- and don't know if it's true, but I think it makes sense -- that the rise in processed foods (most of which contain sugar in some form) led to weight gain.

Sugar, by the way, is in almost everything these days. Besides oil, sugar is the second thing we Americans are addicted to.

Kirsten said...

Yup, that's the argument being made now. Got the audio of Pollan's _In Defense of Food_ at our public library and listened to some last night; that's definitely a lot of what he's talking about. The subtitle really says it all: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

If you want, I'll let you know when I return it.