I have some of the best conversations in cabs. Today, it was with Charlotte driver Michael Barnes. When I told him I was on my way to a TV show, Charlotte Today, to talk about mindful eating, he immediately brought up the topic that many people are furiously chatting, tweeting and debating about -- should New York City ban drinks larger than 16 ounces?
Michael had some strong feelings and he graciously shared his insightful comments. He is adamantly against the idea. In fact, he worried that making it a law would have the opposite effect. People may want it just because they "can't." It might "just tick people off." He indicated that huge drinks were not "good" for him, but he didn't want anyone else to make the choice for him. This brings up an interesting point.
Instead of taking away the choice, why not teach people how to make better decisions? For example, when you realize that a regular 20-ounce soda has 65 grams of sugar (more than the recommended limit for your day!), it makes you think twice. He also said, "Have they seen some of those New York City deli sandwiches? They are several inches thick. Why don't they start with that?" His point being -- how do you choose which foods should be "okay" and which foods should be "banned"? If the Big Gulps of the world are taken away, what is next on the list, he wondered. Do we want to live in a world where the government controls what we eat? That is a huge, multilevel topic to tackle.
People have lots of opinions for and against this idea. Another woman, a 42-year-old nurse in Charlotte, indicated that she doesn't choose Big Gulp sizes for what she called the "pee factor." If I drank that much," she said, "it would just result in me being very uncomfortable." She couldn't understand why a drink that big was even necessary. She indicated that we should make food more "practical." She wished that instead of taking away unhealthy foods that they would focus on increasing the availability and affordability of healthy options.
Tweeters and columnist "for" the removal of these drinks have given the example of "trans fat." Back then, removing trans fat from restaurants and packaged foods also caused great controversy. Trans fat is harmful to our health in many ways (increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, for example). People had no idea they were eating it. While it caused some initial resistance due to the change in taste, it is no longer as controversial.
Leslie, A 35-year-old yoga instructor, thinks that Bloomberg hasn't done enough. Why not get rid of all the "garbage food"? She indicated that "We don't need to drink our calories. Some people don't really think it "counts," despite having as many calories as a meal, it can cause havoc to our blood sugar and isn't filling.
At the end of the day, whether you are for it or against it, the controversy is not such a terrible thing (sorry, Mayor Bloomberg!). The proposal created discussion and made people think about the issue on a deeper level. Getting the conversation started about what and how we eat is always welcomed. I challenge you to ask someone to share their opinion about it today.
Please feel free to post your thoughts or join the debate on twitter @eatingmindfully or "Like" my facebook page for free mindful eating tips.
See Dr. Susan Albers' new book, But I Deserve This Chocolate: The 50 Most Common Diet-Derailing and How to Outwit Them. She is a psychologist for the Cleveland Clinic and author of five books on mindful eating including 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and Eating Mindfully 2nd edition (order now!). Her books have been noted in O, the Oprah magazine, Shape, Prevention, Health etc. and seen on The Dr. Oz Show on TV.
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