Yesterday on the Today Show, Matt Lauer interviewed chef Michael White as he demonstrated how to make lobster eggs benedict. That’s just wrong, I thought while envisioning the enormous amount of calories, fat and cholesterol in this breakfast dish. “Here’s the problem with eggs benedict,” said Lauer. “It’s all about the timing.” No, here’s the problem, I said back to his HD image. It’s gonna kill you.
To prove my point (if to no one else but myself), I did a little research. Did you know, according to food.com, that one serving of lobster eggs benedict contains a whopping 1,256 calories? On top of that, it has 86 grams of fat! That’s 132% of our daily recommended intake. It also contains 296% of our daily cholesterol and 2,645 mg of sodium or 110%. Yikes. About the only good thing in this dish is its 22 grams of protein.
So now I’m on a mission to stop this madness.
Let me first start by saying: If there ever was a person who was all about personal responsibility, it is me. I strongly believe each of us needs to take complete ownership for our own choices and that includes how we take care of our bodies (or don’t) and what we put in our mouths. That means stop blaming your mother, your sister, your ex, your boss or your dog for a weight problem, drinking problem, couch potato problem…you get the picture.
Having said that, the media should also be doing its share. We live in a country where 25% of our population is dangerously obese and obesity-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease continue to rise. We should all be alarmed and band together to fight this epidemic (if not to improve our own health, then to solve one of our nation’s other mounting crises: health care costs). Instead, we turn on the TV to watch cooking demonstrations for a “classic” dish that makes my arteries clog just looking at it.
First of all, why couldn’t Lauer have stated the staggeringly unhealthy amounts of calories, fat and cholesterol in here? After all, we’re moving towards a nation where all restaurants will soon be required to do so. Even the recipe for this dish that is listed on the Today website doesn’t list nutritional content. That’s misleading if you ask me. Don’t we all have a right to know what we’re putting in our bodies? Furthermore, don’t they have a responsibility to tell us?
Secondly, shouldn’t the top-rated morning news show (which attracts over 5 million viewers a day) practice better judgment in what they promote? Showing a recipe for such a grossly unhealthy dish like lobster eggs benedict is just plain irresponsible. They wouldn’t think of promoting cigarettes or sunless tanning, would they? No, because they can kill you. But so can a heart attack.
Finally, where are the guidelines? We blame fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and packaged food companies all the time for their roles in our obesity and unhealthy epidemic. Why shouldn’t TV be called out too? Cigarette commercials were banned from TV years ago, ads for alcohol are banned from prime time and even Hollywood has drastically reduced tobacco’s screen time. So why not take it a step further and include food? I’m not proposing strict laws against unhealthy recipes (not only would the red tape be prohibitive; I’m still a journalist who believes in the freedom of speech), but how about management stepping up and saying, “You know what? We’re all in this together, so we’re only going to promote healthy recipes from now on.”
Aside from Today, there are, of course, other shows that do the same thing. The Queen of Comfort Food herself, Paula Deen has been under fire for years for her unhealthy recipes. There’s even a blog devoted to her southern-fried food attitude and how it contributes to our expanding waistlines. Bloggers Maya Goodwin and Jocelyn Greer think there should be a public health warning on her show every time she utters (in her syrupy southern accent):
I’m gonna start with 2 cups of sugar…I’m gonna add one cup of packed light brown sugar. I’m gonna add two-thirds a cup of white corn syrup. I’m gonna add two-thirds of a cup of butter – sounds delicious doesn’t it? And I’m gonna add one cup of heavy cream.
So to Matt and all the other TV hosts out there, I say: If a recipe consists mainly of butter, cream, eggs and/or sugar, that’s probably a good indication that you should exercise responsible journalism and promote another dish. Or some other breaking news like the plight of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or whether Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock should be dating.