Stars and Soda

Beyonce’s recent multi-million dollar deal with Pepsi has sparked a heated debate: is it ok for celebrities to endorse junk food?

An article in the NY Times launched the debate last week, and more folks are chiming in. As one commenter pointed out, a star would never align themselves with a cigarette brand in this day and age. Of course, no one will deny the dangers of nicotine, while the dangers of food are a little foggier. We’ll be the first to say that soda is A-OK… in moderation. But given the fact that over-comsumption of soda is the leading cause of obesity and diabetes in children, is it morally ok for celebs – especially those who have a massive influence on kids – to shill for junk food?

Beyonce isn’t the only culprit – Alternet rounded up a list of more celebs who have signed on with mainstream food brands. Then Coca Cola surprised everyone with an ad admitting to the dangers of too much soda.

We’re not sure where the conversation will lead, but we’re glad it’s happening.


How to Begin a New Year’s Diet (Without Dieting)

January 1st means a brand new year, and for many… a brand new diet. Sigh. This year, instead of setting yourself up for the failure (and deprivation) of yet another diet, why not try a different way?

Believe it or not, the holidays are the perfect time to begin watching what you eat. And we mean that literally – watching what you eat, not changing! Over the next week or so of holiday feasting, use the 80Bites App to simply get a sense for how much you’re eating. Enjoy whatever you like – whether it’s grandma’s famous casserole or a few cookies off Santa’s plate. As you eat, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. At what bite count do I stop feeling hungry?
  2. What time of day am I hungriest?

The goal is to simply notice your response to the food. By the time January 1st rolls around, you’ll have a deeper understanding of how much food your stomach really needs. You’ll also begin to understand when your body likes to eat. These are the first two concepts of the 80Bites Plan: Quantity and Frequency.

Whether you know it or not (and you may believe there is no way you can enjoy Christmas cookies and still shed pounds!), you’re on your way to becoming a more conscious eater. Happy New Year!

Grandmother Secrets: Cooking With Crisco And Staying Thin

As the holidays draw near and we gear up to indulge in Grandma’s classic dishes (cheesy potatoes! pumpkin pie! honeybaked ham!), it seems timely to explore a longstanding mystery: if this is how our grandparents ate, how come it’s OUR generation with the obesity problem?

Those black and white photos don’t lie – folks were trim several decades ago. You may chalk it up to nutritious home cooked meals, walking everywhere, etc. Except most Grandparents will tell you otherwise.

They ate greasy burgers, fries and full strength soda at White Castle. They drank frozen juice concentrates diluted with tap water. The “fresh” vegetables were canned or frozen, except in summer. And lots of Crisco, of course – every home had a tub of it. That’s why the fried chicken, fried potatoes, grits, piecrusts, and cakes tasted so good!

OK, so the trimmer bodies of the 50’s weren’t due to more wholesome meals. Let’s take on the myth that we were exercising. Well, health clubs didn’t start until the 1970’s, and even then most women didn’t go. Sweating was unfeminine. Ladies preferred to sit and played Canasta, or read a book or write letters.

Then why are we fatter than our grandparents?

The simple, unvarnished, scientifically researched answer from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is that we just plain eat more. The CDC reports that women today eat 22 percent more than women did in 1971. Go back to 1958 and the number is 30%!

So if over-consumption got us into this mess, why didn’t we all just eat less? Because in the 1980’s, the food business became media savvy and perfected their message. They convinced us that we needed the magical trifecta: eat only foods that are “healthy”, exercise like an olympic athlete and drink loads of water.

Grandma didn’t opt for a kale salad instead of that juicy pot roast with mashed potatoes. She just ate a reasonable portion of the pot roast. So as you’re faced with your own family’s holiday feast, allow yourself to relax a bit and enjoy that Crisco. And maybe play some Canasta.

(French) Food for Thought

We were thrilled to attend a conference this week at the French Culinary Institute exploring French and American perspectives on how we teach kids about food. It was a lively panel and a fun discussion, and there were some eye-opening revelations.

One standout was a study on chocolate cake. Specifically, what comes to mind when you’re presented with a slice:

In this particular study, both French and American people were asked what they equated with chocolate cake. The French reactions varied from “celebration” to “family”. The overwhelming American response? “Guilt”. Yikes!

Now, we’re certainly not saying the French way is the right way to eat. But this study certainly highlighted a big issue with American diet: the “guilt” (or shame, anxiety, etc) that results from eating foods we deem “bad”.

Some food for thought for the weekend: what if knocked the idea of “bad” food altogether, and instead strived to find a balanced way of enjoying all foods?


Why Is CNN Making a Big Deal About Arab Obesity?

Is it because America is no longer the fattest country in the world? According to a recent CNN report, Kuwait now has that distinction: 70% of the adult males over 15 and 80% of the women are too big.

Or is it because American fast food is blamed for causing the obesity epidemic?  CNN reports on the popularity of our fast food chains, which were introduced during the Iraqi war.

Specifically, the CNN segment focuses on a 37 year old man suffering from a very American problem: obesity and its consequences. He already has Type 2 diabetes, and his excess weight makes daily life difficult.

While America is being blamed for forcing fast food upon the Middle East, the irony is that Kuwait is taking the same misguided steps as America did to solve the problem. Kuwaitis are trying the band-aid solutions of exercise and “healthy” foods even though America is a shining example that these tactics simply do not work.

In spite of many studies that challenge these beliefs (TIME , “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin”; NY Times, “Debunking the Hunter-Gatherer Workout”), the media continues to herald intense exercise and the overeating of “healthy” food as the only way to cure obesity.

In America, we’ve seen the results of decades of so-called weight loss “solutions”: the highest obesity rates in history. The simple – but very often ignored – solution is for people to start closing their mouths sooner and opening them less often.  We’ve begun to shift the conversation here at, but we have a long way to go. Hopefully the world – America included – will get wise that history will continue to repeat itself unless we take a different route.

Reverse Psychology

This advice for parents with underweight children is spot-on… for overweight kids as well! Amazingly, a lot of the suggestions provided – turning off the TV during dinner, eating at set times during the day, not filling up on liquids during a meal – can just as easily be applied to overweight folks (adults, too) as underweight. Check out the full list below:


Preview: The New and Improved 80Bites App!

The launch date for 80Bites v. 2.0 is just around the corner, but we can’t contain our excitement about all the new features and wanted to share a sneak preview with you! Sam Stomach, the new 80Bites mascot, is there with you for every bite, cheering you along (and making you laugh):

We’ve also added improved graphing features that allow you to more easily keep track of your daily bite totals (we even let you know if you’re chewing too quickly):

You can view your overall weekly progress at a glance with new color coded graphing:

We look forward to hearing your feedback – check back soon for launch updates!

Julia Child: The Original “80Biter”

Today marks the 100th birthday of Julia Child! Julia was a true visionary: not only did infuse the food world with her vivacious energy, she inspired Americans to savor cooking – and eating – as a true art form. She is a true culinary hero, and the original “80Biter”.

Julia Child


In fact, we were lucky enough to get a letter from Julia herself, praising 80Bites! Back in 2001 our program was called Diet Directives, but our philosophy of quality over quantity – and savoring every delicious bite –  remained the same. As Julia was notorious for her reluctance to endorse products, it was a true honor to be recognized. Check out the original letter from Ms. Child here:

Cheers to you, Julia! Thank you for paving the way for good eating.

Flying the (Food) Friendly Skies!

Anyone who has suffered through wilty salads and cardboard chicken at 30,000 ft. can attest: airline food isn’t the greatest. We’re making a case for airline food, though, because they do offer SOME redeeming qualities.

QUANTITY: Meals designed to fit on a tiny airplane tray kind of have to be quantity-friendly. Check out this snappy clear tray from Lufthansa, a perfectly satisfying lunch that gets the 80Bites stamp of approval:


QUALITY: Yes, we’re serious! Some airlines are upping the ante for food quality, and a company called Quodpod is helping. Their their cool airplane food carriers feature sliding compartments that allow for hot and cold dishes:

BALANCE: Airline food trays, with their perfectly adjoining compartments, encouraging the often-forgotten art of food pairing. While taste may be debatable, airlines tend to offer balanced meals: a complimentary combo of proteins, carbs and veggies. When you’re preparing meals at home, keeping this empty airline food tray in mind will remind you to add different elements. Variety guarantees maximum meal satisfaction, on the sky or on the ground.

The Food Dollar Funnel

Ever wonder where your food comes from? You likely have a 1-in-10 chance of guessing right. In the groundbreaking novel The End of Food, author Paul Roberts includes a fascinating diagram that breaks down the food industry with shocking simplicity.

While there is nothing wrong with buying products from these corporations, it’s a helpful reminder that the food industry – like any other business – is about making money, and selling as much product as possible. Recognizing when you’re being “sold to” is a great first step to taking back control of your stomach (and your dollars at the supermarket). Food for thought!