It's all in good fun?

By now many of us are familiar with the infamous news of the man who suffered a heart attack last week while eating a Triple Bypass Burger at the Heat Attack Grill in Las Vegas. The very sad part is that onlookers thought it was a stunt and were actually taking pictures of the man’s suffering. Thankfully, as of today, he has survived, but this incident brings up the question, “How did we, as a culture, get to this point?” How did we go from my parents’ generation of surviving the Great Depression by eating dandelion greens and growing gardens out of necessity ~ to today’s Heart Attack Grill slogan that touts, “Tastes Worth Dying For,” and having their 575 lb spokesman die last year at the age of twenty nine?  

And it’s not just the Heart Attack Grill, but popular TV reality shows like Man v. Food where the “big food” offerings of different American cities face off against a pre-existing eating challenge at a local restaurant. During one episode, the show’s host and a group of 40 regional eaters attempted to set a Guinness World Record by eating a 190 pound burger in two hours, in which case “food” won the epic battle with about 30 pounds left of the burger. The Travel Channel, which hosts the show, received its highest rating ever when Food v. Man debuted. Reviews claim, “It’s all in good fun.”

Believe it or not, there’s actually a term for all of this called “food porn.” Basically food porn is glamorizing high fat, high calorie foods and exotic dishes that arouse the desire to indulge in and glorify food. There are many high profile restaurants now sprouting up all over the US that are famous for serving extreme, artery-clogging entrees that customers boast about eating as if they accomplished an Olympic feat.        

All of this reminds me of the story of the frog who died in the pot of boiling water. A frog was sitting in a pot filled with tepid water that was placed on top of a stove. One day, someone came along and turned the burner on; and slowly, but surely, the water became warmer. It was such a gradual, incremental increase of temperature that the frog didn’t notice the heat until it was too late and the boiling water killed it.

Have we become so incrementally desensitized by the sensationalism and preoccupation of eating for disease (aka food addiction) that it’s actually celebrated as a victory to achieve such demise? Is it any wonder that a bag of Doritos can now be considered an afternoon snack before a Super Size Big Mac Meal and large Dairy Queen Blizzard?

It’s all in good fun?

What are your thoughts?






image credit:  flickr by Joel Washing

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Comments (29) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Nora Manwiller - February 24, 2012 6:49 AM

So Sad. Food porn is a good title for it. Destructive, perverted. Real enjoyment of food is an unknown joy for most people these days--just like lifelong monogamy.

Angelique - February 24, 2012 7:51 AM

That thing (burger) looks disgusting.. I want to throw up just looking at it... ew!

Charlotte - February 24, 2012 7:58 AM

I'm appalled. People have too much money to spend on themselves. Or perhaps it is just their priorities - you know, just gratify my desires, never mind the consequences. Why do people do so many other things that are bad for them?

Emily Boller - February 24, 2012 8:31 AM

When I was twenty-years-old, I was athletic, thin and ate relatively healthy. If someone would've told me that by age forty I would be obese, out of shape, and eating leftovers from the greasy pans of meatloaf and lasagna, or gorging on large bowls of frosted mini-wheats with peanut butter and milk before bed, I would've NEVER believed them. Not me! No way in a million years would I ever let myself go. (And yes, by the age of forty I could've easily eaten an entire bag of Doritos, Big Mac, fries, and then a large DQ Blizzard!)

We move from point A to point B by the way of small, seemingly insignificant-at-the-time compromises. No big deal. After all, what harm is there in one candy bar?

At least, that's what I used to think when I was twenty . . . .

Food porn. The addiction can happen to anyone.

Steven - February 24, 2012 8:39 AM

Looks like a fork lift is needed for the burger!

Kate - February 24, 2012 9:08 AM

This is so very sad. I'm faced with the same attitudes in my family. Being an herbalist and vegan, my aunt asked my advice about diet and herbs at Christmas. She has suffered by-pass and aneurism and twisted colon and cataracts and diabetes and a plethora of other ills. At the expense of the government (she's been on disability for 30 YEARS), she has had a dozen surgeries and has taken pounds of meds. She doesn't get better. I told her I would sit down and outline a program. When she received the program in a letter of ETL diet, quit smoking, herbs, gentle exercise, positive thinking, and such that would surely improve her quality of life, she wrote back that she was allergic to being a vegetarian and would never give up smoking. She told me what the 'doctors' were doing that was superior to my advice.

There you are! Although she doesn't like the continued pain and debility, she is content with her drugs of choice in her dying state, subjecting herself to the knife, and gulping poison. My mother, grandmother, father, and others in my family are the same; they ask my advice so they can argue with me about it. They all know better than me even if they all suffer from similar maladies as my aunt.

Patrick - February 24, 2012 9:32 AM

That is just gross. I admit that I used to enjoy watching Man vs.Food.
It's absolutely disgusting the world is just focused on eating bad food.
I have lost 22 lbs trying to eat healthy food a'la Joel Fuhrman and admit that sometimes I have some cheats.
When I do cheat I try to be selective.
For example my wife makes a fantastic Chicken ceasar with a dressing consisting of a whole lemon, some olive oil, bacon bits and tons of veggies and garlic. This dish really makes my life style change well worth it.

Joyce Brooks - February 24, 2012 9:44 AM

As Dr. Fuhrman describes in his book "Eat to Live" we are a nation of overfed "undernourished" people. I was an overweight supermom eating fast food all day because of my lifestyle and I thought I was doing it for my kids. I started to realize it was killing me. I was tired and I had indigestion and heartburn everyday. My mother died of Pancreatic Cancer in 1997. So I became a vegetarian in 2008 and changed my lifestyle. My health improved along with my energy level and I lost 30+ pounds in four months. I saw Dr. Fuhrman on the PBS channel and I am very interested in how he is changing the way people think of food and nutrition. I am an RN and I am thinking of taking a course to become a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I am inspired by Dr. Fuhrman to help people in this country eat nutritious food and improve their lives.

Mike Rubino - February 24, 2012 10:20 AM

Modern mans love affair with rich/harmfull food has reached new low levels . The harm however is not limited to the wronger doers but to everyone as the costs to remedy the illnesses caused escalates beyond control. My opinion is that we as a nation are beyond control . Barring a nuclear war or national disaster man 100 years from now will be a funny looking egged shaped uniform only capable of reproduction by test tube.

Liane1951 - February 24, 2012 10:47 AM

I have no idea why stupidity has become a virtue in this country, but it has.

mike crosby - February 24, 2012 12:00 PM

Since it happened in Las Vegas, want to make a bet? I'll bet that with this person's heart attack and related publicity, business has increased.

I would even venture to say that there are patrons who ask what booth the heart attack occurred and ask to be seated there and order his same thing.

Evelyn Levine - February 24, 2012 12:10 PM

No "fun" at all, good or otherwise...I know firsthand, since I used to be one of those that ate that way. I literally ate my way into a triple by-pass & then, a slow learner, a heart attack, 10 years later. Now, that way of eating is "history"! Thank you, Dr. Fuhrman!

RoseAnne - February 24, 2012 12:18 PM

Thanks to a stream of reality shows and ridiculous sitcoms we have become a nation of people who laugh at (while idolizing) stupidity and who have lost a sense of what it feels like to be truly healthy and happy. Has our everyday life become so boring that we will subject ourselves to any health risk in order to gain a laugh or kudos?
As a high school teacher, I see the horrendous diets so many of our young people choose and am totally frustrated by their mocking attitude toward any warning of what that diet is doing to them. I don't know if they really think they will live for ever or if they don't care if they die tomorrow. Either way - it is sad.

Kenny - February 24, 2012 12:37 PM

To be honest, that burger looks good to me. I am still fighting my addicition to food. I have been following Eat to Live since January and hope to never turn back. But I am amazed at the other commenters how they can look at that burger and be disgusted. I hope to be there one day.

Jean Myers - February 24, 2012 12:43 PM

Gratifying unhealthy desires only leads to more desires that keep growing. True joy comes from within, not from anything one can acquire, whether food or other indulgence.

Learning to meditate/listen to the wisdom within brings strength to start the disciplines that build one's path to true health and happiness. Learning to enjoy healthy food so one has the energy & enthusiasm to offer one's talents to family and community brings lasting happiness.

Other societies such as the Romans also succumbed to gratification of unhealthy desires and then their society fell apart. When we become healthy we contribute to our entire nation's well-being, not just our own.

G. Sirota - February 24, 2012 1:55 PM

I used to lose control of my eating. I loved the flavor so much. The thought of giving up meat or cheese, salt, fat, sugar, just didn't occur to me. Then, when I started to learn about health and nutrition, I started to notice, then tried to make changes. It was hard. I grew up beliveing that protein meant meat, and milk does a body good, so cheese, cream, sourcream, ice-cream must too, right? The more I learned, the more healthy choices I could make. When it came time to totally leave my unhealthy food choices for good, it was scary. I thought I'd be giving up flavor, and the feeling of being satisfied by a filling, delicious meal with textures that I grew to associate with being satisfied. I was wrong. While I do, from time to time still eat meat, and bits of cheese when it's really good, there is no loss of flavor, or saiety with a veggie diet. In fact, just the opposite. Veggies have layers of flavors that meats can only come close too if highly seasoned. I've lost weight without increasing me activity level, I feel better, sleep better. Seriously. Give it a try.

Patrick - February 24, 2012 3:06 PM

A good movie to watch for all out there who still needs to be convinced on how unhealthy food the majority of people out there are eating; is Fork Over Knives.

I urge each and everyone to watch it.
Man what an eye opener!!

Jen - February 24, 2012 3:09 PM

I too find it gross to watch food porn. (love the term!) I never thought I would find even Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives unappealing but I do now. After battling GERD, adrenal fatigue, and candida, eating poorly actually hurts. So I see that sandwich and my stomach and whole intestinal track hurts.

@Kenny. You will find it disgusting after you have been eating well for a while and try to eat something like that. That will do it!

I am far from perfect in my diet and currently am working on giving up alcohol as well. The way Americans drink is also horrendous.

Denise D'Agostino - February 24, 2012 4:00 PM


Your story moved me. While I haven't been the subject for ridicule due to my vegan lifestyle (or at least to the level you have), I always notice the awkward stares while eating a vibrantly colored salad at my desk or drinking a smoothie in the office. Being a 26 year old, most people my age don't understand why I choose to be this healthy or try to avoid bad food etc. Even when I tell them that I used to suffer migraines and that I am now free, they still think it's "weird". Anyway, just wanted to say I think it's awful that you don't get support from your family and I hope you get it in other places. I know it can be tough when you feel like no one is on the same page with you. So glad there's now forums like this for a sense of community! :)

Emily Boller - February 25, 2012 12:31 AM

Just curious . . . .

I was born in the early '60's, and I don't remember food being this much of a sensational & recreational obsession when I was a kid, but maybe I just wasn't aware of it at the time. It's almost as if the American society has an eating disorder, and a minority of the population is swimming upstream against the strong current.

In elementary school, an after school snack was an apple. It was taught not to eat before a meal, because it would "ruin your appetite". The thought of eating today's choices and quantities were unheard of.

Fiona - February 25, 2012 4:21 PM

Americans are so strange. I understand enjoying food - colours, textures, tastes. I understand recreational eating - a sublimely smooth chocolate moose. But I do NOT understand that picture or the bizarre eating you describe. Maybe it would help if you all travelled to other countries to experience how other cultures experience food. Maybe then people could let themselves enjoy food without giving themselves heart attacks.

jEANE - February 26, 2012 11:49 AM

This is in response to Kenny's comment. I used to get
annoyed when they posted pictures of what we shouldn't be eating (felt it just caused my cravings to surface) now it is just "truly disgusting" to even look at. Learning and facing the truth changes everything.

Theresa anderson - February 26, 2012 5:05 PM

Jean M. I loved your comment! What we eat is a personal choice that has tremendously far reaching effects . Unless we know what these effects truly are in our society,we cannot make a totally "free" choice. Disease proof helps us to know if we will just read the vast amount of material on this site alone and take this knowledge to heart. When society looks for affirmation from others with such dangerous behavior, it's yet another sign of the cultural decline all around us.

Bill McGovern - February 27, 2012 9:33 AM

I wish that the producers and "performers" on cooking pornshows had consciences--instead of contributing to our early deaths, that they would show us how to make healthy food appealing.

Joyce - February 28, 2012 3:59 PM

Emily: I think it's television and what seems to be this country's obsession with all things in excess. Reality TV is on nearly every station anymore and much of it is about excess. I think you are right. We had a "balanced" meal three times a day when I was growing up as well (of course, not E2L balanced, but you know). But, as I got older, I noticed more fast food/convenience foods as my mother had to start working after my father died.

Leanne - March 2, 2012 10:11 PM

There are some things I just will NOT eat. That burger above would have to be in the list - ugh!

The one thing people eating this junk just don't realise is how terrific you feel when you eat a clean, healthy diet. They're missing feeling energised, alive and full of life. When I look back on the days I used to eat junk, it's like I was sleepwalking from one day to the next.

But, as one commenter said, you end up eating that rubbish by making poor decisions, one at a time. We live in an obesegenic environment - so much so, that I'm starting to think you really have to have a strong will to put yourself first, ahead of the junk food ads and encouragement all around you to eat rubbish, and simply make the decision to be the best you can be, turning your back on mainstream junk food culture. In my case, it also involved turning the TV off permanently - the ads were too much to deal with otherwise.

Kimmi - March 8, 2012 11:13 PM

This whole story, and that restaurant reminded me of the movie "Idiocracy". How did we get here!?

Bob Luhrs - April 6, 2012 1:50 PM

I think heart attacks are part of our hunter-gatherer past. Once knife-edged tools and weapons were invented, they outdid the tooth and claw of competing species. The best hunters in their youth were driven by their own keen appetites. So they became the worst in age, due to arteriosclerosis from eating all that meat obtained with the dandy sharp stones.

Progress never stands still, and today highly perfected edged tools are used artfully in delicate operations on humans with arteriosclerosis.

Dr. Fuhrman is speaking reason. Yet it can seem like the new corps of fearless leaders! I just tell people I am on an elite, very exotic diet.

Heidi - April 18, 2012 11:23 AM

Yuck! I really don't understand some people's needs/wants to be so disgusting. Nobody needs pounds and pounds of meat, cheese, fat, and bread.

Literally makes me want to hurl.

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