In a surprising comment made during a popular UK radio show, the founder of one of the largest Pizza chains in the United States and United Kingdom told listeners not to eat too much pizza!
In an interview with host Adam Shaw on BBC's Radio Four program, John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John's pizza, was asked whether he was concerned about the British government's recent actions in the fast food restaurant business to help put the brakes on obesity.
Schnatter said, "Pizza is actually healthy for you if you don't eat too much of it. You can't eat five or six slices but if you eat one or two slices it's very nutritious."
Laughing, Shaw replied, "I'm not sure your investors would want to hear you tell people, 'don't eat too much of our pizzas!"'
Across the web, bloggers and tweeters have been putting in their two cents. Some say he was a little TOO honest. Others say this was either the worst PR screw up ever… or the best PR move ever (you know what they say about "bad" publicity).
Although I wouldn't call pizza health food, I think his advice to eat pizza, but only in moderation was the responsible thing for a fast food owner to do at a time where obesity is reaching epidemic proportions, not just in the United States but in the U.K. and other countries as well.
Moreover, it was just plain good diet advice! One reason people are failing to control their weight is because of all-or-none thinking, i.e, "I can't eat ANY pizza EVER again!" or, "I have to follow my diet 100% or not at all."
In my experience, all or none thinking is one of the biggest causes of diet failure. It's far better from a psychological perspective to eat your pizza; simply enjoy it infrequently and in small quantities.
Think of you on a diet like a pressure cooker on a burner. The longer you keep that pot on the heat, the more the steam pressure builds up inside. If there's no outlet or release valve on that thing, eventually the pressure builds up so much that even if it's made of steel and the lid is bolted down, she's gonna blow, sooner or later.
Well, in the beginning, you might think your willpower is made of steel and that you're bolted tigher than a submarine hatch, but the longer you're on a diet with no relief, the greater the pressure builds up until YOU blow your top… and that means massive binge eating.
But if you let off a little steam in the form of a "free meal" (or two) and enjoy that slice of pizza (or whatever is your favorite 'poison') on occasion, that relieves the pressure. Alas, you never even feel the urge to binge… because you HAD your pizza and the urge was satisfied. Since the meal was planned and you kept the calories under control, it had little or no effect on your fat loss results.
This topic of conversation was prompted on the BBC radio show during a discussion about how the Pizza business was doing during the recession and about efforts to stem the growing obesity crisis in the UK.
Earlier last month, The Food Standards Agency in the UK started negotiating with UK food, pub and sandwich chains to display calories on their menus to try to provide education about healthier options for consumers who eat out frequently.
The move is similar to one made in New York City last year, where restaurant chains that have more than 15 locations must print calories on the menus. According to an article in the British Medical Journal, this has resulted in an average reduction of 50-100 calories for each food order. Not much, but at least it's something.
In the case of pizza, a 2.2 ounce thin-crusted slice of cheese pizza could have as little as 190 calories. One slice of "meat lover's" pizza, on the other hand, could set you back almost 500 calories! If you knew the difference, would it change what kind and how much you ate?
I'm totally in favor of posting calories on menus, despite the critics who say it won't make a difference. I think anything that raises calorie awareness is going to affect behavior in a positive way and help make for better food decisions. Whether it should be mandatory by law is debatable. I say, let the restaurants decide and then let the marketplace sort itself out.
I would be more likely to recommend or support the restaurants who opted to post calories, increase their range of healthy choices… and on that rare occasion, have a CEO who actually says, "Eat my food, but not too much!!"
Now, if we can only get those Mcdonalds's execs to say the same thing!