I’m back after a week or so of no posts (my apologies) and thought I would continue to share with you some of my mind boggling findings in the USA catering systems.

To keep those of you interested up to speed, my meeting with Sodexo has been pushed out multiple times, but as far as my inbox tells me, this Wednesday we should begin, I promise to keep you informed of what happens following this!

So back to the food here. I know this is definitely not confined to the dining halls of campuses, however, the underlying problem is clear everywhere I have been in the States so far. Marketing messages by food companies are devious and confusing! I even sense there is some mixed messages going on, so that on one hand healthy options are being promoted, whilst on the other hand, the totally unhealthy options are being pushed as well!

Here is an example of what I saw today. One dining hall had ‘the balanced way’ leaflets at the very entrance for students to pick up on their way in to eat, my initial thoughts, fantastic! However amusingly (at least to me it was sadly), another dining hall had a sign for an EATING COMPETITION at the front where you walk in! mixed messages..no!?











There is also a big container of fruit as you leave the dining hall which specified- please do not take more than 2 pieces of fruit each! Now this wouldn’t seem so absurd if everything was limited, however given we are eating in a dining hall where you can take as much of anything as you like, and the ice creams, refined sugary breakfast cereals and white bread remain free for the taking literally all day, I find it astonishing that the fruit is what is being limited (when we pay a hefty sum for our meal plans!).

I also thought it was great when I went to one of the coffee shops today on campus that there was an option to make your drinks ‘skinny’ (maybe the terminology could be improved to minimise any psychological harm, but thats a whole different story), however, as soon as I reached the check out, there were these MASSIVE cookies for the taking. Now think about it, a little bit of full cream milk vs the mega sized cookie is not going to hurt in regards to calories, saturated fat or sugar, so maybe just leaving the drinks as they are, and skipping the cookie offerings would make the most sense?
















It is not just in the college dining halls that I have been exposed to this. When walking around a mall in Albany the other weekend there was a sign that said “healthiest mall dining hall in America” or something along those lines (don’t quote me please!)- I instinctively got very excited about this..to my disappointment, Dylan pointed out that this sign was referring to a pizza place! (Obviously) I was still curious so I have taken a few photos to show you what I believe they meant by healthiest…






What it seems like to me is that if a place puts on a calorie count they automatically feel they can promote themselves as “healthy”. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to be transparent in this situation and show people the calorie counts, however a meal that has over 1000 calories is probably a little excessive if you ask me for most people! (Australian readers, thats around 4,200kJ which can be close to 50% of a persons energy requirements for a day!)

There was also a stall in the dining hall where Sebastian and Tobias ate from which amazingly had written on the packaging “Good Mood Food”- I’m sorry, but from my knowledge, tryptophan, selenium and a few other nutrients are what help boost seratonin or minimise anxiety..I’m not so sure curly fries and refined white bread will leave you feeling great in the long run! But hey, Sebastian appeared happy whilst eating his lunch! (I think it was the carbohydrates boosting his seratonin production momentarily!)

So there you have it, mixed messages continue by the marketing teams and there’s a world full of evidence building up here as to why obesity is on the rise..

For now, the Travelling Dietitian x

About The Author

Kara Landau aka "Travelling Dietitian" is an Australian Accredited Practicing Dietitian based in New York City. She is a world explorer, healthy foodie, social butterfly, and barre class lover. When she isn't trying new cuisines, researching new product innovations in the health food space, or speaking to the media on behalf of her food industry clients, she can be found quietly conjuring up her next idea in how to make this world a healthier and better place.

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