EAT THIS NOT THAT — and other absurdities on NBC

Just when you thought that it couldn’t get any worse…

In the first hour of The Today Show on 10-28-11, they featured dietary advice that will almost guarantee obesity and disease; then, in the second hour, they ran a story about obese women who intentionally gain weight so they can qualify for insurance coverage of their gastric by-pass surgery. When does the madness end?

How could anyone think that a book like this might be good for your health?

First for the dietary advice, they brought in their regular “healthy eating” expert, David Zinczenko, the editor-in-chief of Men’s Health Magazine and the author of EAT THIS NOT THAT, the No diet weight-loss solution. As a warm-up for the holidays, he was on the Today Show with Brian Williams (who was standing in for Matt Lauer).

As with their normal routine (about once a month), they feature four meals that you can order in restaurants — this week it was UNO Chicago Grill, OutBack Steakhouse, IHOP, and The Cheesecake Factory. Now if you’ve been to any of those places lately, you’re well aware that it’s next to impossible to order anything remotely close to healthy from the menu. But the likely “take-away” from this segment for the average, un-informed, viewer is that you can.

Here’s the drill:

  • The Set up. They show you a horribly unhealthy meal with over 2,000 calories and loaded with saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol.
  • The Equivalent. Then they show you that eating that meal is like eating 62 slices of bacon, 27 eggs or 55 chicken nuggets.
  • The Healthier Choice. Finally, they close the deal by suggesting you that you can order a fairly healthy meal (at the same restaurant) if you skip the “killer” first meal and choose one with far fewer calories, less saturated fat and sodium.

David Zinczenko

While going through all of the above, they’re making jokes while Brian Williams nibbles on the bacon. And the sad part of this story is that NBC, Brian Williams, Zinczenko, and the restaurants involved probably think that they are providing the public with important information that can help them lose weight and be healthier. NOT.

They’re just adding to the confusion that exists everywhere in the media today. And they’re providing some free advertising for restaurants who specialize in unhealthy foods. 

Let’s take a look at the four recommended meals:

  • All derived from 40 to 60 percent of their calories from fat. (a healthy range is below 20%.)
  • All of them featured animal products, contained saturated fat and were loaded with cholesterol.
  • All but one had far too much sodium for the number of calories provided.
  • With less than 20 percent of their calories from whole plants, not a single one of the meals would qualify even for the 1-Leaf level of our 4-Leaf scale.

What about it doc? Will insurance cover my gastric bypass or do I need go gain a little more weight?

All they’re really doing is adding to the confusion and reinforcing what most people have already concluded, “Since they give us different advice every day, I may as well eat what I want.” And if they eat enough, they will someday be sufficiently obese to qualify  for gastric bypass surgery to be paid for by their insurance company.

Note: Lately I have been adding a short video clip to my blogs and thought of adding one of Mr. Zinczenko today – but decided against it. It would just be a waste of your time. But if you really want to see what I’m talking about, you can find it in about two seconds on YouTube.

Making a Difference. On the Evening News with Brian Williams, they usually end the show with their “Making A Difference” report. And it’s usually a warm and fuzzy story about people helping people in some way. But, what if NBC, and indeed all the networks, really got serious about making a difference and started replacing all of the confusion with clarity — on every single show?

Well, we all know that is not likely to happen. But someday the truth will come out. Today, we have some great people, books, blogs and websites that are doing their part. But eventually we’re going to need to leverage the awesome power of the media to get our message of clarity to billions of people around the world.

Authors J. Stanfield Hicks and J. Morris Hicks , working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

We know that an eventual return to the natural plant-based diet for our species is inevitable, but will the pace be quick enough to avoid the massive onslaught of environmental, economic and social horrors that has already begun? Maybe we just need to think differently as in…“Thinking differently” and changing the world…

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

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About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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4 Responses to EAT THIS NOT THAT — and other absurdities on NBC

  1. I am faced with hostility and condescension when I post plant-based nutrition guidance on two prominent websites. In the est Training, in 1979, it was pointed out that “Anger shows a high degree of interest!” Thus, I post countering material and I know that many readers gain value from the back and forth comments. Go and get in your oar in the discussions, thanks:

    Dr. Duane Graveline’s site (SpaceDoc) — he has been severely damaged by statins therapy

    The “New Atkins Diet Book” on, since March 2009 —
    And here is some upbeat personal publicity that we were surprised with — on my 20 year old daughter — a plant-strong nutrition person for the last 8+ years after all of us participated in Dr. McDougall’s 10-day “Total Health Solution” clinic in Jan, 2003:

    Now to go to a very healthy veggies brunch at “China 1” with our older daughter, Irene, visiting for the weekend, a Junior majoring in dance at Cal State U – Long Beach CA.

  2. cacatua21 says:

    Well you have more “stomach” than I if you got to the gastric bypass bit on the Today Show, though I suppose you can grit your teeth and chalk it up to doing research or something like that.

    This segment was only about the lesser of evils. As you have observed, there was nothing even remotely healthy presented as an option at these restaurants, if indeed they even have such ingredients on hand, as the typical customers who go there are likely expecting to load up on the rich, greasy , animal produce-laden offerings.

    It is truly unbearable seeing the commercials on TV, hawking all of this crap, like Outback Steakhouse, taking something at least healthy like an onion and then ruining it by deep frying it. I’m sure that any veggies at these places are either used as garnish, or are a token afterthought at best.

    There needs to be a chain of restaurants that serve healthy, whole foods. It has to be a chain because while you may have vegan restaurants at least on the east and west coasts, here in the midwest they are a rarity. There are probably a few in cities. The last time we dined out at the typical Iowa roadstop restaurant, while my husband was chowing down on a huge hamburger and fries the best I could come up with was about 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce and a styrofoam tomato with Italian dressing on the side, after having them remove the bacon and cheese from the salad. I did get a veggie burito at a Mexican place, having them omit the cheese, but later found that refried beans typically have lard in them. :o( So unless it is a salad sandwich at Subway on the closest thing I can get to whole wheat bread or some Asian food (All of that WHITE rice with Chinese food!), there isn’t much reason to eat out around here. Personally, I’d rather cook and eat at home than go through the hassle, given the choice.

    • jmorrishicks says:

      Well, I must confess. I never watch the Today Show from start to finish. I watch the first few minutes on my DVR each morning with my bowl of fruit. I always look for interesting stories to share with you and thought that the “gastric bypass insurance” piece helped balance out the extremes of absurdity that we all witness daily in our “sick” society.

      • cacatua21 says:

        I only listen to the show in the background while doing my parrot chores. Usually I can escape to something better after the first 1/2 hour or so, because as you say, there is so much absurdity. Can’t help but remember the young woman not too long ago who is hoping to keep gaining wieght up to 1000 lbs, or a record weight. She “seems” quite happy about it, and I wonder how much longer she will even be able to stand and walk, and think of the strain that puts on her heart. It is so sad, for so many reasons. Then there are those who become anorexic trying to lose weight, and some of them then lose their lives instead. There you have some extremes, both having to do with weight, initially anyway, and both life-threatening.

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