More on food and obesity


I’ve never eaten at a Claim Jumpers restaurant, and thanks to this article I never will. That’s two days’ worth of calories they’re serving there. The baby back ribs are 8 times the calorie load of a KFC Double Down!

And that doesn’t include the sides.

As I mentioned in a previous post, posting calorie counts is a sensible thing to do, although the evidence that it has any effect is pretty iffy so far. Posting calorie counts like these ought to be law. The article makes it clear that doggie bags are expected, but do people know that they need to split the Whiskey-Apple Glazed Chicken into three separate meals (at least)?

Thing is, picking a restaurant or ordering from the menu is a tiny decision (except at fucking Claim Jumpers). By itself, no big deal. As a habit, it is a big deal.

But a lifetime is built out of all those tiny choices. Careers are built that way, and many people don’t look at these choices in a systematic way.

This ties in with the teaching article I posted about a while back: For a long time, people were convinced that very good teachers had this ineffable, unmeasurable thing called “talent”. They were “good teachers” and they seemed to spring from Zeus’s head fully formed. It’s only recently that researchers are making a strong push to truly analyze the behaviors of talented teachers to see what techniques they use. Once the behaviors are well understood, they can be taught to everyone.

Which ties into writing, too. I’ve posted before about how I think of writing “talent,” and I think it’s very much a teachable thing (at least to a certain degree).

All of these amount to making numerous tiny decisions: Which side to order? How to ask the students to pay attention? How to describe this characters? Each task comes with differing degrees of complexity, but there are smart choices to be made and unfortunate ones, and the unfortunate ones drag you down.

That’s why I spent a great deal of time studying other writers. I needed to get past my ideas what what worked/didn’t work and see through to the successful strategies.

With food, though, that’s extra hard. So many of the strategies I see are about changes people can’t make (such as moving to a walking-friendly neighborhood), can’t afford (join a gym, buy more veg), feel like punishment (did I mention the gym? And the veg?) and fly in the face of their own physical demands.

A lot of it seems to be anecdotal, too. Jared ate veggie sandwiches at Subway! Bill gave up all white food! I’d like to see a detailed, large-scale analysis of how people who succeeded in losing weight did it, without the moralizing.

3 thoughts on “More on food and obesity

  1. I love Claim Jumper’s but I only eat there about once a year (usually for my birthday). I understand your point, but not only have I never even considered eating one of their meals in one sitting (it’s always two or three for me), but with as much money as I pay there, the only way for me to justify it is to make sure it’s more than one meal. I guess there may be others who feel differently.

  2. Harry, where’s the article about teaching you mentioned? I can’t seem to find it, and I’m really interested in reading it.

    I’m sure you can show great teaching techniques to anyone, but I’m wondering how far it goes. Do you think talent might play at least some part? I mean, anyone can write and anyone can play a musical instrument, but not everyone can be great at it, even with lessons.

  3. Chris, the original teaching post is here. And some people will learn better than others, but we’ll only truly know how much can be taught when we’ve tried to do it for a while.

    And I certainly buy food intended to last more than one meal. I’d never order a pizza otherwise.

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