Go on, dig in, but keep portions small

EATING WELL

March 03, 1992|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Contributing Writer

Wouldn't it be great if you could eat all kinds of delicious food and remain slim and healthy?

This sounds like the impossible dream, but the French appear to be doing it.

In the fall of 1990, the American Institute of Wine and Food, with Julia Child as catalyst, invited 50 taste and health leaders to meet in Boston to tackle the "good food" vs. "good-for-you food" problem.

Their major point of agreement was, "In matters of taste consider nutrition and in matters of nutrition consider taste. And in all cases consider individual needs and preferences."

In other words, choose the foods you like, but ease on down the middle road.

They also emphasized variety, moderation and balance in eating, evaluated over a period of several days. That means eat everything you want but not all at once.

I'm guessing this is what separates the French from Americans. The French just don't eat massive portions.

Americans want big. Unless we're stuffed we feel cheated.

"All you can eat" restaurants are a good example. These are a good deal for lumberjacks and longshoremen. Unfortunately, most folks, with limited fat and calorie tolerances, try to get their money's worth and end up overeating. By a lot.

And desserts come in portions that are just too big.

McDonald's has followed up its health-conscious McLean DeLuxe with a double quarterpounder with cheese, for heaven's sake. (To its credit, the commercial shows one of the few men in the country big enough to eat that much!)

It's time we started focusing on quality and portion control.

Several months ago I had dinner with three dietitians in Dallas. The food was unbelievably wonderful.

The food was not fat free, but lower than you'd expect from a gourmet restaurant. Each entree came sauced, but lightly. The portions were small, so we ate every bite without feeling stuffed. And we were completely satisfied.

That's the way dinner should be.

It's easy, of course, when someone else does the cooking, but what will you do at home?

Try a little real cooking occasionally.

Both Julia Child's "The Way to Cook" and Jacques Pepin's "Today's Gourmet," for example, teach excellent cooking techniques, but with significantly reduced fat, smaller portions of meat and more fruits, vegetables and grains.

They've found the middle of the road, and so can you.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.

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