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Calorie Angst

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Jennifer Gingsberg: The other day I met my good friend Karen for lunch at one of those trendy, Los Angeles cafes where ridiculously thin and overly-Botoxed women pick at their salads with dressing on the side. The waitress came over to take our drink order and Karen flipped through the menu.

woman in cafe

"I would like a nonfat latte. Wait ... what is that '40' next to it?" she asked the waitress.

I looked at the menu and sure as sh*t, the number 40 was right next to the words "nonfat" and "latte." What could that stand for? I know the economy sucks, but they certainly couldn't be charging $40 for a latte (even in Beverly Hills!) Perhaps it was the price in rubles!

"Calories," the waitress replied, as if she was speaking to a moronic child. "We have a calorie count next to all items on the menu."

I immediately perked up. What a brilliant idea! There is nothing more than this neurotic chick loves than counting calories. One of the most stressful parts about eating at restaurants is I am never quite sure how many calories I am consuming. This innovative menu has solved a lifelong riddle for me.

I was all set to get a soy chai tea latte, my favorite beverage in the world, when I quickly glanced at the calorie count. What the f&*#? 162 calories for a soy chai tea!!!

"I will have a bottle of sparkling water with lemon," I conceded, cursing myself for allowing those stupid numbers to control my decision.

Karen and I perused the menu to order our lunch. I was immediately drawn to the Grilled Chicken and Smoked Mozzarella with Pesto sandwich. But at 682 calories, I would have to pass! How about the Avocado and Nori Seaweed Wrap with Wasabi Aioli? That couldn't be too bad, right?

536 calories! Are you kidding me? For a piece of seaweed and avocado wrapped in a whole-grain sheet of cardboard? It must be that evil aioli ... maybe I could get it on the side. Or forgo it altogether so I won't be tempted ...

This was getting ridiculous. The waitress approached our table and I was beginning to panic. I needed to make a choice. I quickly flipped over to the "Salads" page.

"I will have the Organic Tofu Salad. With the dressing on the side." I breathed a sigh of relief.

387 calories.

18 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenny April 10, 2009, 9:43 AM

Okay, it’s sad that people feel this way when they eat out. Order what you want, have half boxed up so you can eat it for lunch tomorrow. Split it with a friend. Food is joyful, Americans make it an enemy and we are still fat a miserable.Once you make peace with food and portion control life will be much better.

b April 10, 2009, 10:53 AM

By the way, calorie counting is an archaic weightloss/weight maintenance program. Not all calories are created equal. You could eat 5,000 calories of fruits and veggies and reap only positive benefits while 150 calories of cookies will stick to you like glue. It is true, however, that most wasted calories come from beverages and that by and large we are underhydrated. So, nice choice with the water. But quite trying to compare apples and snickers bars as if they are in the same category. :)

mom2two April 10, 2009, 11:04 AM

Excellent point b (above) a better measure of what to choose would be the glycemic load of the menu items. Jenny also makes an excellent point.

Anonymous April 10, 2009, 11:04 AM

I’m vegan I don’t need to count calories.

Anonymous April 10, 2009, 11:30 AM

What’s the point? Just eat what you want and be happy. Besides, who cares anyway. Next time have a milkshake or a big piece of cheesecake. You’ll be just as miserable…but at least it’ll take good!

kris April 10, 2009, 11:41 AM

I eat what I want but, moderation. I exercise 6 days a week and generally lead an active life. So you what when I do go out I don’t look at the calories or count them but, I do make sure that when I get that full feeling I stop, the rest can go home for my husband’s or my lunch the next day. I found what works for me is portion control, knowing when to stop, and healthy choices.

Marianna April 10, 2009, 12:00 PM

I think some people are missing the spirit of this piece. It’s obvious to me that is not meant to be a serious dieting article. Rather it seems more like a parody illustrating how absurd and obsessive our relationship with food has become.

jennifer howard April 10, 2009, 12:13 PM

I agree with Marianna…I thought it was hilarious!!!

Jenny April 10, 2009, 1:17 PM

Yes it was meant to be a funny article but the fact that the menu calorie count changed the authors mind on what to order, something that didn’t sound like she enjoyed the choice is not funny.

T April 10, 2009, 3:43 PM

I’d rather have a cheeseburger from McDonalds than tofu any day - even if it puts a bit of fat on my buns… no pun intended!

Anonymous April 10, 2009, 5:02 PM


Heather Burt April 10, 2009, 6:33 PM

I wish every restaurant gave the calorie count….I know it would help me to make better choices, even if it is just by absolute embarassment…If I am having a fat day, I would be mortified to order a high calorie meal! I need that since I have willpower issues!

Anonymous April 10, 2009, 7:38 PM

What’s the point? Just eat what you want and be happy. Besides, who cares anyway. Next time have a milkshake or a big piece of cheesecake. You’ll be just as miserable…but at least it’ll take good!

Lauren April 11, 2009, 12:55 AM

I think this article was written to show how crazy/wrapped up our society can be in weight, calories, control, etc. - The author is not recommending anyone goes on a diet or promoting calorie counting! if anything, i think the article is saying the opposite.

Paige April 12, 2009, 1:33 AM

Hilarious! Such an accurate count of what some women go through, and we should all laugh at ourselves for worrying about our weight. Every woman does!

Sue April 12, 2009, 7:52 PM

So far I enjoy your articles on your blog better. Happy Easter!

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Pepper May 22, 2011, 10:55 AM

That’s not just logic. That’s really senislbe.

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