The kids’ great-grandmother was visiting for the past week or so, which gave us the opportunity to eat out much more than usual. Since March is National Nutrition Month, I wanted to close out the month with a few brief thoughts.

IHOP: Come hungy. Leave in an ambulance.

It IS possible to eat healthfully at even the most questionable of restaurants. We visited the International House of Pancakes one morning, where, among all the 1000-calorie entrees (bless IHOP’s high-carb heart, they provide a basic nutritional breakdown — printed in unobtrusive light gray — on their in-store menu) I found some remarkably reasonable ones. I dined on a modest grilled tilapia fillet with steamed broccoli florets. Forgoing the Hollandaise sauce (which, bless them again, they serve in a small dish on the side), I sprinkled on mild jalapeno Tabasco sauce instead. I admit, it’s a more unusual choice for breakfast, but it worked for me!

My next point: the fish was wonderfully petite. It wasn’t worthy of any “Oh, you should have seen the SIZE of that fillet” comments. It was served on a plate, not a platter. And it was perfect. As a culture, we’ve become accustomed to expecting mega-sized entrees with enough food to feed a family in sub-Saharan Africa for a week. We expect to finish the meal stuffed, unbuckling our belts and leaning back in our chairs with a huge sigh. And, oh, do we love getting a great deal! So much so that at some point, we ignore the fact that the food may be of lesser quality, as long as we get a lot of it.

Having said all that, do you really even need to read what I’m going to type next?

Is it any surprise that as portion sizes have increased — as “value” has increased — so have waistlines and with that the incidence of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis and certain types of cancer? Factor in the cost of health care, and that “value” maybe a bit too expensive for all of us…

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