Eat This Not That Game
Release Date:April 07, 2010
Summary:The infamous Eat This Not That book consolidated into the setting of a game. The horror.
Diet book are always big sellers.
French Women Don’t Get Fat, The Okinawa Diet, The China Study, Dr. Atkin’s New Diet Revolution, and The Best Life Diet are but a few of the the most notable diet books from the last decade, each one acclaimed in its own right, each one later lambasted, and each heavily featured on various bestseller lists. Anyone can argue that one such diet will make you lose weight rapidly, but that another is better for your heart, that this other diet will give you the clearest complexion, but no one can truly say that one diet is better, overall, than another – or, at least, not any one of the modernized diets we see lining our bookshelves today. Many physicians today agree that some generalized form of a Mediterranean diet is the healthiest one to subsist on, if we define healthy in terms of a localized population with a low incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and a host of other modern conditions. The principal aspects of this diet include a high consumption of olive oil, legumes, grains, fruits, and vegetables; a moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), wine and fish; and a low consumption of meat and meat products. Of course, dietary jargon like moderate consumption often fall on deaf ears – how do we define moderate? Everything, after all, both diet and people, is relative to one’s own health and experience. Dietary factors, really, are only part of the reason for the health benefits enjoyed by these cultures – genetics, lifestyle (notably heavy physical labor), and environment are also involved. The putative benefits of the Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular health are primarily correlative in nature: while they reflect a very real disparity in the geographic incidence of heart disease, identifying the causal determinant of this disparity has proven difficult. Here is where my dad would pump a fist in the air and exclaim, with all the enthusiasm of a closet theorist, the correlation between cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and Vitamin D.
One diet book bestseller that has been captivating people around the country doesn’t so much advocate a diet, in the traditional sense, as it advocates a simple substitution method when eating out. Their motto? Eat This, Not That! Rather than require readers to plow through literature on why certain foods are better than others, or vaguely telling readers to eat only moderate amounts of something, Eat This Not That instead takes a visual approach, inundating readers with pictures of food commonly eaten at fast food establishments, or during holidays, common snacks, breakfasts and more. The idea of the book, and its recently released app by Men’s Health Magazine, is to familiarize people with the concept of which foods are healthier – mind you, on a modest scale – than others of seemingly equal caloric value. If anything, the idea is pared down to the simple, but everlastingly true dogma of “calories in, calories out” – if you eat less, you will weigh less. Obviously, this isn’t a diet book that focuses on health, per se; if it were, then it wouldn’t advocate eating at fast food establishments. The meal substitution principle is a good one, though, because many people do dine at these establishment on a frequent basis, and if you can’t deter them from eating there, you may as well steer them toward the better choices.
The Eat This Not That app takes the visual principle a step further by plugging it into a game – a transportable one, at that. I’ve often lamented at how little people read, but the fact of the matter is people are highly visual creatures – when it comes to diet books, or recognizing portions and alternate food options, images are key. There won’t always be nutritional information available for everything you eat, and even with the caloric information now required by law for many places, there’s still no solid verification that people will always be interested, or patient enough to read this information and make better choices. With the Eat This Not That game, users will slowly become adept at recognizing which foods offer them the best bang for their health; they’ll learn, along the way, that mashed potatoes, while heavy in their own right with cream and butter, still make a more well-rounded choice than a slice of sweet potato pie. A shortbread cookie, while smaller in size, and seemingly innocuous and unassuming, has nearly three times the saturated fat of a chocolate raspberry brownie, which clocks in a modest 5 grams with 370 calories. The game presents you with two images, and you must decide, based on appearances alone, which is the better choice based on potential levels of saturated fat, sodium, and calories. As the clock ticks down, nutritional info starts popping up, to help you make a more informed choice, but you’re only docked points if you play in the speed round.
Many of the foods contained within this game are establishment-specific, like a Wendy’s Frosty or a Double Whopper with Cheese and Fries from Burger King. The game is particularly exceptional in this regard, for sorting out the caloric, sodium, and saturated fat values for these foods because I, personally, find it very difficult to weigh my options at these places. A burger is a burger, to me, so how do I know which one actually has four times the amount of already catastrophic sodium… and why? It never ceases to amaze me the disparity in calories and fat between two, seemingly identical entrees. Other foods featured in the game, however, are a bit more vague in origin, labeled simply as “slice of pumpkin pie” or a “blueberry cheesecake.” A blueberry cheesecake from Lindy’s in New York may very well be a heart attack on a plate, but not all cheesecakes are made in the same ilk. Portion sizes, too, remain vague in the slice arena. A quarter of a pie slice of pumpkin pie could very well rival a small slice of cheesecake; of course, this is making the argument against standard pie slice sizes, which frankly, I’m sure most people are unaware. Some choices make me scratch my head, it being completely obvious to anyone which is the healthier choice, but then I have to remember the general state of the nation: we’re obese, on a cattle scale, and most people probably will choose that deep-fried crab cake with 19 grams of fat and 300 calories over the 12 shrimp cocktail with sauce, averaging around 165 calories and zero fat. Sometimes, you just want that turducken.
Regardless of personal choices, Eat This Not That is a host of information on things we really don’t want to know about. The true success of this game, and book, lies in the scare tactic when users realize, with horror, that a salad from Wendy’s, with all its innocent iceburg lettuce, can range up to 700 calories, making a burger the unforeseen better choice. It may not be a revolutionary diet plan, and it may not be the most accurate in its representation, but it does fascinate you (albeit in a somewhat horrific and masochistic way) into making wiser decisions… and for a nation that scares itself silly over trite, inconsequential things, that isn’t a bad thing at all.