The Olive Garden Breadsticks and Our Ever Expanding Bellies

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September 17, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

olive garden breads

Are these innocent looking breadsticks really to blame?

The Olive Garden, an Italian-American food franchise, well-known for its unlimited breadsticks, all-you-can-eat pasta bowls and overstuffed salads is under attack. No, not from kitchen pests or “Mama Linguini” because they “stole” her secret spaghetti sauce. And, surprisingly, not because they no longer keep those addictive breadsticks coming to your table.

It’s because they still do.

Let me, in between bites of my penne pasta, try and explain.

The Wall Street based hedge-fund Starboard, recently lambasted The Olive Garden for, among other things, “overfilling the salad bowls, adding too much dressing to all salad items, not keeping the amount of olives (6) to corporate policy per bowl” (wait, isn’t this the “Olive” Garden?) and perhaps, the most egregious, unforgivable act of all?, “not limiting each customer to one (1) breadstick and not bringing another basket of breadsticks unless specifically requested by the customer.”

Did Starboard go a bit overboard in its red-hot critique of the restaurant, a grilling that went on for over 300 pages?

olive garden starboard

Starboard CEO who wants to keep the breadsticks away from customers

Well, the deeper we dig into our pasta bowl the more we find and not just macaroni. We also find that Starboard is seeking to wrestle away control of the Board of Directors of Darden Restaurants, Inc., which owns The Olive Garden. And, until very recently, also was in the “Bubba Gump” business, aka, The Red Lobster.

Starboard claims it just wants The Olive Garden to be more competitive with rivals like Chipotle, The Macaroni Grill and Fazolis, but it seems clear they want more from The Olive Garden than just a tasty, sampler-size appetizer.

But. Wait.

Regardless of whatever chicanery Starboard has up its well-pressed Wall Street sleeves, have they stumbled upon a greater evil?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) thinks so. Now, for those of you who are repeat readers of this blog you know I like the CDC. I really do. They do lots of important, though sometimes bizarre work (see my previous blog on tanning beds and sex and drugs and maybe a little rock ‘n roll).

Their recent research on our ever-expanding American bellies, published in this month’s Journal of Medicine (American Medical Association) cites some alarming though hardly shocking news. We, Americans are getting fatter. More specifically, our bellies are getting more apple, um, grapefruit, no, basketball-shaped. Yep, that’s it.

olive garden big bellies

If only I had said no to the chocolate cookie desert

In fact, now over 55% of Americans are considered “abdominally obese.” (What I said above just more medical-speak). With the greatest increase in obesity among women, who now join the over 2/3ds of adult men in the obese category.

That would be women with a waistline of 35″ or more and men with a waistline of 40″ or more. But other than no longer fitting (stuffing yourself in?) into your 80s inspired spandex (please, don’t) this gut-busting trend has very real health consequences.

Seems that the more belly fat we get the more “visceral fat” we store in and around our major organs and arteries and that means while you may still be able to waddle up to the buffet bar our heart and lungs may simply say “No mas.” Or, as Ralphie on The Simpsons says, “Time to put granny in her forever box.” Ouch.

olive garden ralphies dad

Ralphie’s Dad who is no stranger to “abdominal obesity.”

But are all-you-can-eat pasta, endless buffet bars, mountains of sugar in everything we eat and drink and cheese-infused pizza crust (Peyton, you and Papa J should be ashamed) really to blame for our basket-ball sized bellies?

Short answer? Yes.

Longer answer? Still Yes, but with a qualifier or two.

According to the CDC, plastic additives (BPA) as well as common pesticides all tend to reduce our good hormones that combat fat and lethargy and increase our bad hormones which makes us go, “Sure, I’m not really hungry but why shouldn’t I eat another triple-meat patty with a secret sauce made of fat?”

Why not indeed?

Now, in fairness, the svelte folks at the CDC also cited factors such as a reduction of daily exercise, too much time on the computer and/or X-box and less recuperative sleep (not getting at least 7-8 hours a night) as well as a continuing trend of literally larger dinner plate sized portions as all conspiring to make all Americans “plus-sized.”

olive garden beer belly

Thank goodness that beer isn’t to blame for um, beer bellies.

Which of course, brings us full circle back to The Olive Garden. Or as the spoil-sports at Starboard probably call them “Those evil breadstick bandits.”

So, who is to blame here? Starboard for threatening to cut off our breadsticks and pasta (which just makes me angry, and I tend to eat more when I’m angry), pizza-makers for injecting even more cheesy-fat into our crust, Ponderosa for its eternally-flowing chocolate fountain desert or us for our seeming inability to say No?

I think we all know the answer to that question. It must be the pesticides.

Now, pass the breadsticks and let’s hope our waiter didn’t read that dang Starboard report.

bengal-tiger-why-matter_7341043

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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38 thoughts on “The Olive Garden Breadsticks and Our Ever Expanding Bellies

  1. Patricia B says:

    AMEN to that! It is not up to any organization, government or private, to tell people what they can and cannot eat. It is, however, up to parents to teach children self-control. We have had a couple of generations that have grown up without those lessons. I am not a skinny little thing – but I try and limit my intake of sugars and fats. Other than that, I eat what I enjoy in reasonable size portions. Just because it is on the plate doesn’t mean it needs to end up in my stomach! I listen to my body, eat when I am hungry, and leave food alone when I am not. I don’t need the government or a private watchdog agency to tell me what to eat or when I can eat it.

  2. Jacki G says:

    If someone is going to overeat at a restaurant they are probably just as likely to overeat at home. I think taking away unlimited breadsticks will just irk people for many reasons. One, many people dont need someone telling them what they can and cant eat. Two, some people can eat all they want and never gain a pound and be in good health. Or, some people might be active and it be fully ok for them to eat 4-5 breadsticks. And three, unlimited breadsticks is part of the Italian experience! In fact, overeating is part of the Italian experience. I am not trying to encourage unhealthy behaviors, but it is all about balance. If you eat too much one day (which is usually oh so worth it with Italian food), simply cut back the next day or exercise a little more. I do realize that this is not so plain and simple for many people. However, I dont think that the answer is limiting or banning the number of breadsticks a customer can have.

    I love Italian but I love Mexican food even more. Please dont ban unlimited chips and salsa!!!

  3. Brenda G says:

    I confess I LUV Olive Garden and the breadsticks. My friends and I go for soup, salad and B-sticks from work at least twice a week. But last week and this is in Atlanta area, our waiter did say that he wasn’t supposed to bring us a second basket and he did and I noticed that in our salad there were like only 4 olives, so we said hey what’s the deal and he said that they are under tighter control. What? This is what makes OG so good! And Jacki, I don’t even care about exercising the next day!! PS: Very funny blog Dr. R!

  4. Anthony B says:

    This is a funny post and informative…I am Italian and I love their Zitti and baked pasta, for a moderate priced place they do a nice job. I live in Michigan and I gotta say it’s worth the drive for me (about 20 minutes). And I agree with others that say I’ll eat what I want, I am a big boy and don’t need rules to tell me when or how much. Basta!

  5. Bobby G says:

    First, Chief Wiggins is the MAN, second, if we all want to eat ourselves silly and expand our bellies then so be it! It’s our right as Americans!!

  6. Rebecca L says:

    As the mother of 2 teenage sons I can tell you: a basket of breadsticks means different things to different waist lines. I can smell a breadstick and gain 5 pounds. My 16 year old football player could eat a basket and lose 5 pounds. Wouldn’t it be best if we both have the opportunity to decide which level of consumption is best for us? Sheesh. I never thought of myself as an anarchist, but I continue to creep closer to that philosophy.

  7. Angela B says:

    It is called SELF-CONTROL. I know a lot about this as I once was 300 lbs and now weigh about 180. I got so big because of myself and the food that I chose to put into my mouth. Really it seems that everything you can put in your mouth these days is bad for you. You have to know that you can have a little and not a lot. You have to be mindful of portion size and the amount of carbs, fats, and proteins you are taking in. Our stomachs are about the size of our fist and just think about how big one pasta dish from Olive Garden is; not to mention one bread stick is around 350 calories. However these establishments don’t force us to come eat their and eat everything. People need to start taking accountability for themselves and quit blaming everyone else. Over the next few years we are going to see everything start to change to Healthier ways because it really is becoming a fad. The establishments could reorganize and offer healthier foods and calorie tables on their menus. Some people can eat everything and never gain a pound to; however they are not healthy and when they get older it will greatly affect them. America needs a new Food Life-Style, not diets. One good treat or meal every once in a while is okay, but when it becomes a daily basis that is a big problem.

  8. Theresa L says:

    I was not drawn to this blog because it was the first one in line, but because I see Olive Garden as a love/hate relationship. I am not a frequent customer, however I have been several times in my life. I absolutely love their food, I think it is very delicious. Have I ever experience the never-ending breadsticks, pasta and salad? No. Why you ask? Because I am too full within the first 10 minutes of eating my 1st round that I can never make it to the 2nd. To tell you the truth, I do not know why I would still go to olive garden. Yes, it’s addicting. But it is the reason behind why it is so addicting. As explained above, the owners of Olive Garden purposely create their food that way so that you are less likely to use the “never ending” option. Also, I did notice the last time I went there that you had to ask for a second basket of breadsticks. I really am not a fan of their salad anymore either. They drench that bucket in so much dressing it makes it “un tasty”. I would like to order their salad with the dressing on the side and see how they react. The pesticides is what makes it so “tasty” and filling. They attract all their customers with the “never ending” saying thinking that people are getting their money’s worth…but in the end Olive Garden is the one making more money. I definitely agree that restaurants like these are adding to the Obesity epidemic but there a lot more factors that come in to play as well. Lack of exercise, sleep cycle, stress, genetics, etc. I am definitely a “health nut” in some ways, but I too can be suckered in to these menus from time to time. With all the articles out there and warning signs of eating bad and not exercising, you would think America would finally build it into their brain that this is a red flag for us. I speak for myself when I say, “it’s time to stop breaking into our piggy banks and start shopping around the isles”.

  9. David M says:

    I think the obesity issue is a combination of the environment, our genes, the food industry and our being too busy to do the right thing by slowing down and doing the right thing. Take the environment: we’ve become a tech-run society of gadgets where we can do more in less time, but somehow have less time for ourselves. Is that our fault or the machine that forces us to live outside our means and therefore makes us beholden to our jobs? We’re talking debt here, and Americans seem to have a lot of it! Then there are our genes (and I am not speaking of the ones we’re trying to squeeze into). Our genes has a lot to do with how our bodies consume and process food and energy. That’s why some need to exercise more than others. Then there is the food industry, those profit-driven evil folks who have made cereal into a dessert that can practically be eaten for any meal. There are more chemicals and byproducts and stuff I cannot even pronounce on the food labels. And you can forget about truth in labels when it’s really nothing more than gobbledygook to begin with. And yes, we get home, the kids are tired, so you either order out or make a mad dash for the fast food restaurant. Do people even sit down for dinner? Are dinner tables sales on the decline? But back to those fast food restaurants with highly processed, fatty foods chock full of calories and sodium. Yum! Just grab a big burger, fries and drink (and don’t skimp on the dessert) and you’ve easily consumed 1,500 calories at one sitting. That’s pretty much an entire day’s worth of caloric intake (the recommendation is some 1,500-1,800 calories per-day and around 50-60 grams of total fat for the average American). But I digress. Whose fault is it? Are we not grown up enough to make the decisions of what, when and how to eat? Is the reason Americans are in debt because of advertising? So is the reason we’re fat because of what’s in our food or because we’re just plain consuming too much … goods and foods. I say it is both! Guilty as charged! So I sentence you to an hour a day of hard labor … uh, er, I mean exercise!

  10. Mara says:

    Keep those breadsticks and salad coming! That’s the reason I go to go to the Olive Garden. I don’t want some executive regulating their policies so they can make more profit and I get less food. But we, individually, should be more responsible and control how much we eat. Ultimately, it’s our health we should be worried about. I say get some exercise, eat a little less overall and you can still have your salad and breadsticks with moderation, as always.

  11. Tammy H says:

    My boyfriend and I just ate at an Olive Garden and yes, I counted the olives! There were 4!! When I asked for more I was told that those “aren’t unlimited” and they didn’t bring bread until my BF finally said “hey aren’t those unlimited?” My waiter gave us a dirty look and brought 2, that’s right, 2, sticks. I actually told him about this blog and he said, “well, they are cracking down a bit.” Whatever that means! Maybe I should try Macaroni Grill instead now?

  12. Car-ra B says:

    I personally do not agree with Starboard’s push to limit customers to one breadstick. THE AUDACITY! I think they went overboard and obviously don’t have anything else to do with their time if they are writing a 300 page dissertation on Olive Garden breadstick protocol. With that being said, obesity is a very serious issue in America that needs to be addressed. But it’s bigger than Olive Garden and their delicious, endless, carb-overload breadsticks. I seriously had to look up Starboard and see who would even suggest a breadstick cutback… they are investors of Darden’s. Makes sense! I think it’s more about money than my will power and how many breadsticks I consume. Now I’m craving Olive Garden breadstick, salad, and Minestrone… Lol.

    PS: If their policy is to only provide six olive’s per bowl then they fail because I definitely get extra olives. Thanks Olive Garden!

  13. Niku L says:

    America really is a fat nation. When I migrated here from the Caribbean, I was surprised to see that they put cheese on everything! and bacon too, and ranch dressing, and Mr. Krab’s secrete sauce. But on a serious note- In my country we eat a lot of fruits, legumes, starch, and roots. There are only two fast food restaurant franchises (yes, one each) in the entire country and those are KFC and the recently newly established Subway. The country is very big on agriculture and it is typical to see a wide variety of healthy and fresh foods at the City market every day. Yet, while those healthy foods are more accessible than the two fast food restaurants in the entire country, there are still quite a few obese citizens in the country. That is because even though they can easily go pick a mango from a nearby tree, those people CHOOSE to devour unhealthy foods of unrecommended portions and skip exercise. My point is, it is not only access or availability of unhealthy food that causes obesity, it is is individual choice not to practice healthy habits as well.

  14. Joshlyn D says:

    Hello all!

    Hope all is well! This posting was enjoyable to read had me laughing the entire time reading. I myself find it challenging to eat and continue to eat right! Just the other day I was grocery shopping comparing prices on good food for you verses mediocre or what some would say bad for you. I came to the conclusion at check out eating healthy is EXPENSIVE! How come? If the CDC, the government, or the people at Starboard want all Americans to live and eat healthier, why not do something about pricing to make it affordable for all!

    We know that when we’re grocery shopping and price matching true indeed we should go with the healthier choice but when its a difference of two to three dollars, most Americans are going to go with the lesser value. Not that they or we want to continue to eat unhealthy and harm their body but just the simple fact that they just couldn’t afford it. That two or three dollars could already be accounted for in the upcoming week for gas, the difference on a bill, or a much needed necessity like a prescription.

    Yes I blame organizations and restaurants that amplify or make their food tastier just to make that extra buck or to keep us coming back, but some is our fault as well. It becomes our fault when we stop exercising, when we ignore the fact that we may have eaten an hour ago but just because our stomachs are rumbling we tend to eat again, when we opt to add sugar or salt and any other seasonings to things that may already be seasoned. We have to be stronger mentally when it comes to eating, how much we eat, how many times we eat, and what we eat. It’s not easy and like I said before, I myself am undergoing a complete health makeover!

    I honestly think that it’s a mental thing. Tome if you have discipline; being able to say no, back away from the table, or choose a side salad verses fries you can cut down on having that basketball belly! As for Olive Garden, I absolutely love their salads. Believe it or not I am not a salad eater but when I visit their restaurant I tend to eat the salad. Of course the unlimited breadsticks are a winner in my book but does that make it right or healthy for my body? No, I just eat then exercise making healthier decisions for the remainder of my week. Heck even adults need a little rewarding from time to time!

  15. Heather W. says:

    I do feel as if companies (any company) should adhere to policy. Whether or not the breadsticks are tasty is not the question–they are. But was Olive Garden at fault for violating the policy that stated one breadstick per customer? According to the post, yes they were. Now, I have been THAT customer that gives the waiter or waitress a grumpy look if he or she doesn’t automatically place enough breadsticks on the table to go around in a sufficient amount of time. I am also that same customer that will take note if a waiter or waitress doesn’t replace my inevitably empty bowl of breadsticks WITHOUT my request. However, I’d feel more confident if Olive Garden would just adhere to the policy and not spoil us “pasta-eaters” with an unsatiable amount of dough. If they would skip this rule, how many other policies are they breaking?
    Maybe they should make hungry customers sign a waiver at the hostess stand and another one before placing down that huge bowl of crispy salad with a sprinkle or two of extra mozzarella cheese. “I hereby release Olive Garden and all its affiliates of any liabilities that may occur due to abominable expansion..” Feel free to finish the rest.;)

  16. imcdpa says:

    This is a classic story! I love it! But, alas, is anyone really surprised? This is corporate America doing what it does – shaving off at margins to increase the bottom line. Has 0 to do with belly fat and CDC recommendations and everything to do with shareholder / CEO / corporate profits. Just like the factory that ships jobs to Mexico to make widgets at a $10/hour labor (or more) savings, food establishments are constantly looking at the item “costs of good sold.” Olives at 7 or (gasp!) 8 per bowl add up when you serve X bowls at X days over X establishments. This is yet another reason why I generally refuse to eat at chain restaurants.

  17. Jill V says:

    One of the biggest reasons I hate to go and eat at Olive Garden is because of their breadsticks :/. My mom loves the Olive Garden and if she has her choice it’s always to eat there. And I wouldn’t mind eating if you went in….sat down…ordered…then got your food. But no….EVERYTIME we eat there, mom groans before the meal comes out saying, “man, I don’t know if I’ll be able to eat my food…I’ve eaten way too many breadsticks.” Now, my mom is petite…and too many for her is like two; however, she eats too many too much. I agree with many of my colleges in that there is a huge weight problem, especially here in the United States. Diabetes is at all-time highs. Many studies have proven that even many of the medical conditions individuals have today is due to overeating and being overweight.

    While I don’t shun things that are given for free…or an added bonus…perks if you will, I do say that there should always be limits. Limits should be made especially on consumption of food, not only for the sake of our bodies but for the sake of our environment. And yes, I care about both!

  18. Luke E says:

    I must say; I am a fan of the never ending soup, salad, and breadsticks. Call me what you will, but my wife informed me that we were going on a carb cleanse after Thanksgiving. So naturally, when I threw our Olive Garden leftovers away Monday afternoon (day one of our cleanse) I may or may not have shoveled a couple of forkfuls of pasta carbonara. I may have even eaten a breadstick! Please don’t tell on me! I remember reading a synopsis of the Starboard report. It is pretty incredible how much money OG is wasting according to Starboard. On the flip side, how many folks go to OG over Carino’s, Macaroni, or Carrabba’s just because of the soup, salad, and breadsticks. Just saying. However, I will say our portion sizes are incredible. Furthermore, I struggle with portion control. When I am at home it’s no big deal. My wife and I try to cook just one meal at a time. The benefits are portion control and no left overs. I can also see multiple sides of the issue. In many cases restaurants can serve more for less. So, I can understand a restaurant trying to lure consumers with larger portion sizes especially when it doesn’t cost them any extra. However, America’s waist size isn’t the restaurant’s fault. Grant, we have no idea what we are eating and how bad it is for us. At least at home we can have more control. I am in favor of posting nutritional information on menus and online. However, when I go to eat out, I don’t care how good or bad it is for me. I’m going out for taste not a healthy option. Then again it’s not an everyday occurrence. We shouldn’t be afraid to indulge, but we should do so in moderation.

  19. Cenetta B says:

    I have to say, that I love Olive Garden. I love the pasta, and love the breadsticks. Olive Garden = Yum. However, I am ridiculously aware that eating out isn’t the best idea if you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet. Unfortunate, but true. Then again, that’s what take home boxes are for. I pay $14 for a heaping helping of pasta, I have two dinners. America’s obesity problem can be helped through American’s self control….but I can’t say getting more for my money is a bad thing.

  20. Tricia P says:

    I do not think Olive Garden is too blame for America’s ever expanding waistlines. While they may offer unlimited amounts of food, people make the decision to overeat. If they overeat at Olive Garden, then they are most likely overeating at home. Their eating habits at Olive Garden are part of their normal, not an exception to their ordinary behavior. Limiting the food available at Olive Garden won’t eliminate America’s obesity problem; raising awareness and spreading knowledge about nutrition will.

  21. Katherine R says:

    This is an interesting blog with an interesting report. This is definitely a new trend, with Michelle Obama being the advocate for healthy living. I have several comments about this subject. First, Olive Garden, while very unhealthy, is not the only restaurant that should be under scrutiny. Fast foods restaurants have been transforming but are still pretty unhealthy. Cheesecake Factory, Outback, and pizza delivery places all have extremely unhealthy foods. Even items at the grocery store can be very unhealthy. When I say unhealthy, I am defining it as added sugar, high levels of calories, fat, and sodium, and those hidden ingredients.
    Next, there are several parties to blame here. Yes, it is the restaurant that adds so much butter to the meal that the butter is settling at the top. At that point, it is excessive. Customers have bread on the table; do not bring any bread out. It is just wasting your restaurant money anyway. Meals have added hormones and pesticides, use a different vendor. This is when the restaurant is to blame. The vendor is to blame when they continue to add these preservatives and additives only to make more money. The CDC is to blame when they allow these extra ingredients into our food. They could ultimately save the day, but they rather not be the bad guys. The real person to blame is the public. We are the ones that could do something about it. We could advocate for our health and bring attention to those pesky pesticides. We could have better self-control and tell ourselves to only have one, maybe two breadsticks. We could do the research to see where we should and should not dine. We have the ultimate power in this marketplace and over our bodies.

  22. Larry M says:

    Interesting read

  23. Larry M says:

    This reminds me somewhat of the controversy surrounding Michael Bloomberg’s desire to eliminate the “large” sodas in New York City in an effort to combat obesity, especially among teens and younger children. While I think this is a wothy cause (after all it would help reduce overall health costs by controlling diabetes and other obesity related problems) part of the soulution, at least in my opinion, will have to focus on changing attitudes toward the causes of the problem, not just trying to eliminate them. What to say a person who cannot by a 32 ounce soda would not by two twenty ounce sodas instead? Would the next step then be to eliminate the ability to ourchse any sodas at all? Unfortuantely, there is no easy answer for this issue. Simply eliminating the ability to purchase large sodas is the opening volley in a long fight toward controlling obesity in all age groups.

  24. Kelsey G says:

    This was a very interesting yet disappointing article. Many times we get caught up in trying to blame someone else for our problems or our own personal downfalls. We have to develop a sense of self control when it comes to many things not just pushing the breadsticks away. We have become a very unhealthy country due to the bread sticks at Olive Garden the value meal at Burger King and the extra large pizza at Papa Johns. Everyday you see commercials about different specials on the television about food special and who does not like a good deal? We must take control of our own health and be willing to pay a little more for a healthier meal instead of settling for pizza, burgers, and pasta. If we do not take control of our own lives we will end up ending our own lives due to what we are putting in our bodies.

  25. Caitlyn says:

    Addicting is an understatement when describing those yummy breadsticks from Olive Garden. Over eating is very common when going out to eat, especially when there are an unlimited amount of breadsticks delivered to your table. Although over eating causes obesity, and obesity is a major issue in America today, it is nearly impossible to regulate what people eat. People should be able to eat what they want, when they want, and however much they want. Obesity or no obesity, people WILL eat what they please.

  26. B. Alston says:

    And let there be “bread”…We as Americans (a large % as reflected by the CDC data) have fallen into the “super-size me” cult and our health is the fee of participation. I must admit that I am enjoy a good dinner at Olive Garden and have never turned down a breadstick, but, this article has me rethinking the next time I reach for the basket and their offer to add the grated cheese to the salads. I commend the report as it is another “wake-up call” for us to be more aware and intentional in the choices we make at such restaurants and even at home.

  27. It’s a weird relationship that Americans have with food. If we get reasonable portion sizes in a restaurant we think we’re being cheated out of something. But then when we eat the huge portions and all are overweight, then we constantly are trying to exercise it away and lose weight. When are we going to realize that we need to cut back to normal sized portions and not feel like the restaurant is trying to cheat us simply because they’re not bringing enough food for three people.

  28. hlwaits says:

    Olive garden is not the problem and unlimited salad/breadsticks should not be banned! It is our fault that we do not have the self-control to eat a moderate amount of food at these restaurants. The bad things that are put in our food are to blame but mostly the things we chose to eat every meal is what is the blame. Exercise, eat at home for the most part if possible and control the food that goes into your mouth when eating out. I travel for work and it is very difficult to eat healthy on the road. I try my hardest to pick healthy places to eat or at least heathier options at those restaurants.

  29. Alesia W says:

    I think it is up to each individual to monitor their own food intake. On the other hand, I would like to see companies take more responsibility for the additives that are in most food in groceries and restaurants. It’s always shocking to me the poisons that the FDA gives its stamp of approval for. YES I should say no to a cream-filled cupcake; that is obvious. But apparently if I make myself a simple turkey sandwich with artificial ingredients in the bread, pesticides in the tomato and lettuce, and cloned meat then I may as well have just said yes to the cupcake. People are quick to say, just read the labels go organic when possible. I am just a man (woman) doing the best I can with the time and money I have. I don’t expect to always be able to buy premium ingredients all the time, but my choices should not include poison, ever. I say all that to say this. Yes responsibility is on the consumer, but there should be a few restrictions put on the merchant. I want to be able to trust the choices I have when it comes to food. I can say no, but how do I chose the best poison?

  30. Good ness, don’t we all need to cut back???? In this country we are so bombarded with huge portions, it’s a shame. I work hard for me and my husband to lose a few with what we eat at home. Eating at the Olive Garden is a huge no-no…for many reasons!

  31. Lauren Harrell says:

    While I do agree that self control is paramount, obesity is quickly becoming a greater health crisis in the US. It is interesting to think about…bartenders have the authority to “cut off” someone who has had too much to drink, but waiters cannot tell someone to stop with the breadsticks. Granted, someone intoxicated my leave and get behind the wheel of a vehicle – the point is the same. You can die from obesity just like you can pickle your liver with alcohol. I personally appreciate the trend towards more disclosure so that you know how many calories you are about to consume and can make an educated decision based on your own body and health.

  32. Taylor B says:

    Seeing how it is three years after the starboard report, I think its safe to say that it had no effect on Olive Garden bread sticks since I just went yesterday and had endless bread sticks and salad. Obesity, I guess, can partly be blamed on restaurants super-sizing things. But at the same time they are just appealing to what people like. Going to Olive Garden every once in a while is not going to make anyone obese. Honestly, it is about self control and making good choices. There are more and more healthy, organic, or vegan restaurants opening up because of the demand for it. I don’t think we should blame the food providers on obesity, I think we should blame ourselves for making bad eating decisions. It is all up to the individual and I think we need to stop blaming other things. I have lost 15 pounds all because I changed my eating habits, exercised more, and stay disciplined. Now that I have lost the weight I can treat myself if I want to. My parents have also lost a substantial amount of weight and they have been overweight for 20 years. It is about discipline, not about how many bread sticks are on the table. Either don’t eat there if you can’t control yourself or limit how much you eat out.

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