Healthy Dining Finder

Hi. I’m in Boulder, so please forgive me if this makes less sense than usual. This is my first time at such an altitude; I am pounding the water. I’m hoping to be in better shape in the morning.

The thin air is making my heart race. My pulse has been as high as 130 today just sitting still. I’ve totally lost the plot a few times today, too – I got all the way to the end of the hallway in the hotel and couldn’t figure out where 431 was…turns out you can’t get to it from the hall that starts at 401 and ends at 426. I stood there, confused, for a moment, then realized that 431 is not between 401 and 426. Amazing.

At any rate, I won’t be cooking for a few days, but I hope to have a restaurant to review in the next couple days. I have high hopes for a place we’re planning to visit, but in the meantime I wanted to note a restaurant industry-sponsored site that piqued my interest.

The idea behind The Healthy Dining Finder should be pretty clear from the site name. The site will go live in the summer. It’s a product of the National Restaurant Association.

Right now what’s available is a demonstration of how the site will work; basically, restaurant operators will submit nutrition information for “healthy” options on their menu (it’s not clear that there are any stipulations on what constitutes “healthy”) along with their restaurant’s location, cuisine, and price level information. Consumers will be able to search the information and find restaurants serving healthy fare nearby in the cuisine and at the price point they prefer.

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Soda consumption down; first time in 20 years

There was this story making the rounds today about the beverage recommendations of a batch of experts. A recommendation that Americans drink less soda is prominent among them. It turns out they were heavily financed by Unilever, (parent company of Lipton Tea) and though one of the researchers says they were not swayed by the contribution, there have been complaints from the American Beverage Association that the recommendations give short shrift to milk and show too much acceptance for alcohol. (The ABA, of course, represents the manufacturers of non-alcoholic beverages. It’s hilarious to watch the carefully indignant press releases fly sometimes.)

At any rate, the natural companion to this piece is an article in the Times with the news that soda sales fell last year for the first time in 20 years. They don’t say with figures where the shift is going, though I think most people could tell you much of it is bottled water.

That Times article mentions a study in Pediatrics that found a direct correlation between the consumption of soda and other sweetened beverages and weight gain in teenagers. They delivered cases of low-calorie drinks to the teens and the teens lost weight.

Cue the previously-mentioned American Beverage Association:

The American Beverage Association, the trade and lobbying group for the beverage industry, criticized the study, saying that the weight loss occurred only among a “small, select group” and that the teenagers lost weight because of the loss of calories, not the absence of sweetened soda.

Uh, the absence of sweetened soda was the absence of calories.

“It stands to reason that anyone could lose weight if calories from any certain food or beverage are removed and not replaced by other calories,” the association said in a statement.

Of course they would. It’s just really easy to remove a lot of calories by removing sweetened soda.

Let’s Learn About Trade Associations

I came across a good one today: the Tortilla Industry Association. You should click through just to see the little mascot at the top of the page.

Apparently they’re right in step with the trends, as Americans are eating more Mexican food than ever before.

Okay, that story was just a bonus. I really just wanted an excuse to link to that cute little anthropomorphized tortilla.