As the Saying Goes: What You Don’t Know…


Apparently, a few weeks ago, all of the food in Philadelphia got a whole lot less healthy for you overnight.

I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but things I had been eating with regularity — burritos, hamburgers and bagels — had immediately gone from perfectly reasonable lunchtime fare to only-as-a-special-occasion indulgence with startling speed. OK, so the food didn’t actually get worse…it was just that Philly became the latest city to institute a new rule requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts for all menu items.

This is no fun.

Look, I was never kidding myself into thinking that the Qdoba burrito the size of a Nerf football constituted a “diet” item, but I was so happy living in my fantasy world, with at least some modicum of plausible deniability.

Obviously, the new regulations were put in place to help make people aware of what they’re cramming into their gullets, although it sounds like plenty of folks are happy to keep on ignoring the numbers even if they’re confronted with them. I’m torn…on one hand, I don’t think anyone is kidding themselves when they’re eating fast food, but on the other hand, I’m not a big fan of being made to feel guilty or shamed when trying to grab a Filet o’Fish.

As if it wasn’t depressing enough, the same policy is headed to my home state of New Jersey later this year.

My co-worker was the first to experience this wake up call, and she mentioned it when she brought her lunch back to her desk. Neither of us were particularly keen on being confronted with our poor lunch choices. But she did notice a silver lining:

“The good part is that each of the menu items has a calorie range. I’m going to go ahead and always assume that my sandwich is at the lower end of the range.”

Sure, that quarter pound burger likely only clocks in at 410 calories if you order it without the meat, but I’ve been willing to fool myself in the past, so why can’t I keep the fun going now?

Talk me though this, ES’ers…I know that NYC enacted this a while back, so have you been able to look yourself in the face knowing that your lunch packs enough calories to feed a small village? I thank you in advance for your advice in the comments. (Note: Actually eating more healthfully is not an option, so please don’t bother to suggest it, wise-ass.)

(Photo: Ed Yourdon)

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  • Glenn Beck February 16, 2010  

    This is the latest example of Obama Bin Laden’s quest for a muslim totalitarian state! If we, AMERICANS, want to eat fat food then let us do it! Is he, Barack HUSSEIN Obama suggesting that we’re too stupid to make decisions for ourselves!? Aren’t our taxes high enough!? Follow me to freedom!

  • Tim February 16, 2010  

    I’m all about it. If you want to eat lighter, then you have the information. But, if you want a day, or two, or eternity off from the healthful, you can take pride in your choice – calories be-damned. It also helps point out the seemingly (but not) healthy options – 1000 cal. salads and such. 100% support.

  • BS February 16, 2010  

    The place I find it most helpful/revealing is at Starbucks. Who knew some of these coffee drinks could have 700+ calories? Not that I’m above gorging on 700 calories, but if I’m gonna do that, I’ll just go get ice cream, not “coffee.”

    At McD’s it doesn’t really make much difference because I’m not exactly shocked at how many calories are in a Big Mac. Although it does seem odd from a fairness perspective that only fast food restaurants have to do it. Is it fair for government to choose only this section of the industry to regulate? Yes, a Big Mac has an ungodly amount of calories, but probably no more than a steak dinner at a five-star French restaurant, so why single out the calories in one over the other?

    Of course, McD’s is unhealthy in many, many other ways — which is why I’d prefer if rather than posting the calories they made them post the ingredients/parts of the animal that actually go into that “meat” they serve.

  • erica February 16, 2010  

    500-1300 cals. for the chicken nuggets??? how can there possibly be such a huge range for what the menu specifies is 10 nuggets? how about, rather than posting the calories, they post the actual ingredients? seems like that would be much more effective: instead of people complaining of being made to feel guilty, they’d be just plain grossed out.

  • Kara February 16, 2010  

    Wow. Obama bin Laden? Wow. I’m speechless at the sheer ignorance of that comment – comparing the President (who by the way had nothing to do with the labeling of calories at a STATE LEVEL) to a man who wantonly killed thousands of innocent people in a horrific attack. I feel sorry for you Glenn Beck, if you equate calorie counting with genocidal murders.

    Now, back to the subject at hand – obesity is epidemic in the US. You would be knock down surprised at the number of people who have no freaking idea that what they’re eating is high in calories. If more people realized how many calories they were putting into their bodies on a daily basis, they might think twice about what they were eating.

  • gansie February 17, 2010  

    the issue is, this isn’t just an individual’s problem. the health of the nation is the concern of everyone. we’re all connected – health care, taxes, earmarks, subsidies – and when there’s an epidemic we all need to be vigilant. michelle obama has chosen childhood obesity as her area of interest: i think it’s time we’ve faced the fact that no one has any fucking idea what they’re eating.

    @erica, @BS – i like the ingredient idea, especially the meat in quotes.
    @tim – 1000 calorie salads scare the shit out of me. it’s just not fair. why does food have to be so confusing?

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