May 10th, 2011
02:30 PM ET
Share this on:

Gail Simmons may be the busiest woman in the food world right now. Not only is she about to jet off to Los Angeles to film the next season of Top Chef Just Desserts - she's got a memoir in the works, sits on the board at City Harvest, and hosted last Friday's James Beard Broadcast, Books and Journalism Awards.

We chatted with Gail in the press room at last night's James Beard Restaurant Awards and asked her about her favorite food city and the issue that's sickening our nation.

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. mike

    not sure why everyone is freaking out here. gail makes a very valid point abut people who are obese because they only have access to certain types of foods (cheap and not nutritious/empty calories). i am a big fan of heres. great to see her personality a bit more.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  2. Annoyed

    Thin people always think it's OK to judge overweight people. You can't judge on skin color , religion but you sure as hell can make fun of fat people. Hey, how about some compassion? I agree, less judging.

    Yes, it's all about calories. But quit with the one liners," eat less, move more". Seriously, who doesn't know that already. What you don't know is that when you are 50 pounds overweight, losing is hard work. I'm a single mom on a limited budget, leave at 6 in the morning and come home at 6, make dinner, do laundry, clean, and fall into bed. You know nothing about my life, but if you saw me on the street, I bet you'd think I was just a lazy slob.

    Your superior, smug attitude just shows your shallow personality. At least I can say I'm a kind and caring person. You? Not so much.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Happy Omnivore@Annoyed

      It's as simple as people judging people without having all the facts. And the judging is done in both directions – fat and thin. People who make gross generalizations on any topic are callous clods and often not effectively eloquent.

      There is no single solution to the so-called obesity epidemic because there is no single cause.

      May 11, 2011 at 9:41 am |
      • Jerv

        Hear, hear!

        May 11, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  3. Marshall McLuhan

    Appetite is essentially insatiable, and where it operates as a criterion of both action and enjoyment (that is, everywhere in the Western world since the sixteenth century) it will infallibly discover congenial agencies (mechanical and political) of expression.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:09 am |
  4. Twiggy

    I'm skinny and have small breastesses!

    May 11, 2011 at 3:09 am |
  5. Richy

    SlowNewsDay is what is wrong with all of humanity at its current stage. I would like to know his contribution to human history (which is littered with skinny presidents, skinny scientists, and skinny writers. His self-important arrogance and need to mask imperfections points to someone needing counseling.

    Overeating OCDers need to quit worrying about how skinny everyone *else* is and worry more about their complete and utter transparent lives that are pretty insignificant and meaningless when all is said and done.

    I'm Skinny. That's for me to deal with. You have a problem with that, then I worry that you're avoiding facing your own life's challenges. Just leave me alone. Easy.

    Hmm, It goes both ways buddy. I mean honestly, STOP blaming your unhealthy habits on somebody else or genetics, I mean SURE there is genetic variations that may be harder for people to either lose weight or vice versa, science has proven this and I agree with it but using it as an excuse for being lazy should not be acceptable. And don't try to prove me wrong,I can tell you right now that I came from 350 lbs to where I am now at 215 lbs, No That is by no means at a "healthy" level but I'm getting there and I to used to blame everything on genetics and my parents for overfeeding when In reality it was ME who decided to eat that piece of cake or that extra slice of pizza all while sitting on the couch watching TV.

    Take a look at your lifestyle for once, Honestly, one day take out a piece of paper and write down as I did EVERYTHING that you ate on that day including snacks or drinks and then log any exercise and then add up all the calories that you consumed and I can assure you that you will see for yourself how much you really eat. At this point if you really haven't re evaluated your lifestyle and fixed your mistakes then you are being a selfish ignorant person who is just as equal as any feminist that wants to be treated better than everybody else, at least in my book and you do not have that right.

    Being healthy is about a lifestyle change not using some cheap fast diet products that never work and then go back to what you call "Normal" eating. Also you bash on anorexic people when you are at the opposite end of the spectrum, what's that all about?

    Let me be clear, I HATE lazy people who don't see the damage they are doing to themselves and do nothing about it but if I see a fellow chubby person or an obese person walking outside and doing exercise I will congratulate them and tell them to keep it up. In fact let me write some of my favorite quites that helped me:

    "Whether you think you can or not, your right"
    "I never said it would be easy, I said it would be worth it".

    May 11, 2011 at 12:59 am |
  6. Dizzyd

    I agree, Max, you should strive to be better and you should try to overcome problems. If being out of shape is a problem, by all means, work on it. I just say don't beat yourself up for not being perfect. We all come in different shapes and sizes, so it's NOT okay to beat up on ppl for being different – and that includes being fat. No one is a blight on the record of man, Max, not even you; nor is it breeding weakness to accept your flaws. Eat right, exercise, and don't hate yourself for not looking like a magazine cover. If you accept nothing else I say, at least hear that. (Oh – and enjoy a candy bar – once in a while.) Don't let anyone put you down – and THAT'S what I've been saying all along! : ) Until next time... G'night, all!

    May 11, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • @dizzyd

      *thumbs up* you hit the nail on the head!

      May 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  7. HaHaFunnyguy

    Seriously, eat less and workout more. But if you do wish to be a little piggy, don't come crying to me when the scale breaks when you step on it.

    May 11, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  8. Max

    I do not feel thin enough. I do not feel content with my current status. Why? Because if I become content I will stagnate. I think everyone should try to live up to their full potential; physically and mentally. If one accepts a problem, such as a problem with weight, as insurmountable, how is that a good thing? By allowing people to be content with their blemishes, you're only breeding weakness.

    May 10, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  9. Dizzyd

    Ok – here's what I'm saying. I agree, we should all eat right and exercise. For those taking care of themselves, good! Keep it up. It may also be a stretch to link said epidemic with comments, but think for a sec, do you ever feel guilty for eating a candy bar? Or base your mood on the number on the scale? Or feel ugly when you compare yourself to the model on the magazine cover? That's what I'm fighting against – an industry that profits off ppl feeling bad about themselves. 'I feel good being thin', you say. But do u always feel thin enough? And if you don't, do you beat yourself up? (If you don't, good! Keep it up.) I just say focus on eating right and exercising first and foremost. If u lose some weight, fine and dandy. But don't make it the main focus. For some ppl, it IS hard, no matter how hard they try. They don't need contempt,
    any more than you do.

    May 10, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  10. Max

    Dizzyd is embodying everything that's wrong with the attitude towards health and self improvement in general. Is the fact that 'food tastes good' really worth more than your vitality, appearance, and overall contribution to human history? Do you really wish to stand as a sedentary, overweight blight on the record of man? Wouldn't you rather embody Michelangelo's David?

    May 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • SlowNewsDay

      Max is what is wrong with all of humanity at its current stage. I would like to know his contribution to human history (which is littered with fat presidents, fat scientists, and fat writers. His self-important arrogance and need to mask imperfections points to someone needing counseling.

      Anorexic OCDers need to quit worrying about how fat everyone *else* is and worry more about their complete and utter transparent lives that are pretty insignificant and meaningless when all is said and done.

      I'm fat. That's for me to deal with. You have a problem with that, then I worry that you're avoiding facing your own life's challenges. Just leave me alone. Easy.

      May 11, 2011 at 12:41 am |
      • Max

        I'm an artist. I make paintings and plan on doing restoration work or education after school. So my contribution would be the preservation of cultural documents. But I was trying to suggest that if everyone attempted to live their lives reaching for perfection, physically and mentally, the human race would benefit. Also you should google how to use parenthesis

        May 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  11. Dizzyd

    See? These childish, misinformed comments are why we have an 'obesity' problem to begin with. It's easier to make fun of ppl for being fat, and think that they just need to stop 'stuffing their faces'. It's so easy to feel superior 'cuz you're thin, but believe it or not, acc. to a Mayo Clinic study, even ppl who are thin could have 'hidden fat' (so much for that)! And believe it or not, thin people can be just as out of shape if they don't eat right or exercise. I don't say you guys don't have a point, but acting snide is not helping ppl to get out TO exercise. All I'm saying is treat ppl with respect. Oh, I know – that's no fun. More fun to laugh at ppl for being different. What effective brainwashing the diet industry has done.

    May 10, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Julia

      LOL unless i'm hiding fat in my organs I don't know where it would be. My body fat percentage is that of an athlete at 18%. Also yes, skinny-fat definitely exists, but it's still more healthy than fat-fat.

      I'm not laughing at people for different.

      I'm laughing at people for being lazy and fat when there's something they can do about it, they just make up tons of excuses and choose not to instead.

      You're implying that I'm brainwashed by the diet industry– I don't support the diet industry in anyway. I don't buy weight loss aids or diet scams– I eat healthy and exercise.

      May 10, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
      • San Diego citizen

        What a wonderful life you must lead. I am happy for you.

        My sister in law has cerebral palsy. She is perfectly normal from the waist up, but from the waist down, she has almost no control. She used to burn more calories than the average person just making her way across the room, which helped her stay reasonably trim, since any sort of exercise sent her muscles into spasm. As the years have passed, her body has developed arthritis in all the stressed joints and she is now confined to a wheelchair. Exercise is more out of the question now than before.

        My point is, you have no idea what someone is going through until you walk a mile in their shoes. With or without crutches. And it's not just calories in, calories out. It's also your rate of metabolism. So don't be so high and mighty and quick to assume that someone is just too lazy to get off their ass.

        May 11, 2011 at 12:19 am |
      • wa coast

        "I'm laughing at people for being lazy and fat when there's something they can do about it"

        Uh, why bother laughing at them for any reason? Really think that'll help anything?? How about a lot more compassion and a lot less judging.

        May 11, 2011 at 1:57 am |
      • It sure is easy in your world

        What about the fat or obese people who work out every day? Who work at high movement jobs? Who eat only fresh, organic foods?

        Conversely, what about the tiny, thin people who eat non-stop junk food and play video games all day, when they aren't sitting in an office?

        Everyone is different. And if you notice, it's only ever the born-thin, die-thin people who feel like everyone should come by a svelte physique easily if they'd just do ONE SIMPLE THING, like a change in diet or exercise. Will that work for some people? Yes. But there are also many other reasons for obesity, such as having access to good foods or to a way to exercise, having fat genetics, having a slow metabolism or a worse disease, such as Lupus, which requires regular steroids.

        You don't know. So don't judge.

        May 11, 2011 at 10:56 am |
      • Goober Grape@julia

        I'm laughing at you because I'm fan and you're ugly .....

        and I can lose weight.

        May 11, 2011 at 10:57 am |
      • Goober Grape@Julia

        I'm laughing at you because I'm fat and you're ugly .....

        and I can lose weight.

        [Yeah. THAT'S what I meant dammit.]

        May 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Julia

      also what do random comments on an online article have to do with the nationwide obesity problem? That's just stupid

      May 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  12. Tyrone Biggums

    The simple problem is that there is too much cheap junky food out there.

    May 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Panera

      And the root of the problem is that theres too much expensive healthy food. Why should a salad cost 40% more than a cheeseburger?

      May 11, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  13. Dizzyd

    I get tired of ppl always assuming that 'obesity' (sic) is a result of eating too much when even experts admit it's more complicated than that. And one can't assume that weight loss is always the answer. As long as the 'ideal body' is impossibly thin, and being fat is denigrated as unattractive and unhealthy (when in fact you can be fit and STILL be fat – there are studies out there that show it, as well as articles that show that there's NO SUCH THING as a miracle diet pill OR a diet that works long-term – and don't get me started on weight-loss surgery) ppl will always be made to feel inadequate – even those supposedly 'normal'. What we NEED to do is focus less on attacking ppl for being fat (believe it or not, we don't eat any more than you do) and more on overall health. 'Cuz we don't mind the way we are, we just think we shouldn't have to change what we look like to be treated with dignity and respect.

    May 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Steve

      If you're fat, you should lose weight.

      May 10, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
      • Mary

        So if someone was to gain weight due to medical problems and or their prescription drugs to treat those problems, you would call them fatty and try to humiliate them at any time or cost?

        A diabetic that has insulin resistance is a loser?

        A heavy person with bad knees can only blame it on their bad eating habits – and it's their own fault. Being fat makes your knees hurt?? Ask Ralph Macchio if that's his problem.

        I agree eating correctly is very important. But TOO MANY PEOPLE are TOO JUDGMENTAL and downright MEAN without knowing a persons circumstances.

        My daughter has had a digestive disorder and she has been throwing up everything for almost a year. Last fall she had her gallbladder taken out. It did not correct the problem. She lives on soft foods, like soups, yogurt and nourishment shakes to keep from malnutrition. The result? She has gained 25 pounds since last year. People are very rude to her. With her medical problem she is facing a feeding tube or having her stomach stapled. The problem is that her stomach isn't pushing her food into the next level of her digestive tract so it sits there and sours. But the same people that judge her weight gain will judge her medically necessary surgery.

        Some of you people get off your high horse and show some compassion.

        And yes, believe it or not, many (not most) obese people are battling the disease!

        May 11, 2011 at 11:20 am |
      • FatSean

        Most diabeetus in this country is caused by lifestyle choices.

        May 11, 2011 at 11:45 am |
      • Goober Grape@FatSean

        Flaming ignorance frequently shines thru in one's spelling & grammar.

        [unless it was a typo]

        May 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
      • Jerv@Goober Grape

        I think FatSean meant that tongue in cheek. Chill out dude.

        May 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Julia

      While I agree that there is no magic pill and I even disagree with surgery, the fact of the matter is that an incredibly small percentage of people are 'fit and fat'. The rest are simply fat.

      The long and short of it is calories in vs. calories out. I'm tired of people blaming genetics, and everything under the moon except for that they eat too much. GUESS WHAT? If you hardly move at all (drive to work, sit in an office all day, etc) you don't really need very many calories. GUESS WHAT? 'Thyroid Issues' are hardly ever really the case, I maintain a weight of 120 lbs with said 'thyroid problems'

      I agree that healthy is what we should be shooting for here but it's simple: very few fat people are fit. The rest need to lose weight to become healthy. EAT LESS, MOVE MORE.

      May 10, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • Julia

      I missed this gem:

      "(believe it or not, we don't eat any more than you do) "

      lol yes you do. That, or maybe I need more calories because I GET OFF MY ASS?

      May 10, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
      • PertyMundane

        Julia, I love you. You're so very sanctimonious.

        Believe it or not, I was 360lbs and eating an average caloric intake of 700 calories a day – less than half of the recommended amount when I sought medical help with my weight.

        My doctor and nutritionist looked at my food diary in disbelief – so they asked me if I'd allow my kids/husband to do a video diary, of how I cook and how I eat. Sure enough – 700 calories – average. Some days more, some days less. But never over 1000 calories a day.

        It took them a while to figure out that my obesity wasn't caused by over eating and inactivity – it was caused by starvation. My body had started hoarding every little bit it could into fat because it was pretty darn convinced tomorrow there wouldn't be any. So we didn't change my activity levels any, but they had me slowly start increasing the amount I ate. Eating more frequent meals was the hardest thing for me to do, because I just wasn't hungry. The irony of being so huge and having to eat MORE never left me, and I always felt stupid about it. Fat people – as I'd been told my entire life – are fat because they eat too much and are lazy.

        But sure enough, as I increased my caloric intake to 1500 calories a day, I slowly started losing weight. As I maintained 1500 calories a day, it started pouring off. I lost 190lbs, not by exercising more and eating less, but by exercising the same and eating MORE.

        I have to wonder how many other fat people are out there, who like me, are starving themselves into obesity because they bought the story that fat people are fat because they eat too much.

        Obesity is complex, and people are different – you hurt more than you help by simplifying it so much. Thank god I had a doctor and nutritionist who looked outside the "fat slob" box.

        May 11, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  14. Suvir Saran

    I wish I knew Gail Simmons better.
    Thanks Gail for speaking as you did.
    Hopefully more of us will connect the dots around obesity and poverty – and begin sowing the seeds of change.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Max

      Does it really need to be said that if you eat too much, you'll get fat?

      May 11, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Corvus1

      Not that simple, Max. Obesity does not always come from overeating, and overeating doesn't always lead to obesity. Educate yourself.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
| Part of

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,974 other followers