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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Making Counting Count

by Josh (bio)

This is an actual meal I ate, with Ken Craig. It was magical. 
I know my first post on this site almost got my Man Card revoked, but I thought I would post today about something extremely manly in hopes of redeeming myself: calorie counting.

You see, I have kind of an obsession (read: addiction) to food. There was a time in my life where I was enrolled in culinary school with plans to be a chef. I love little more than eating and making delicious food. But I also don’t love being fat. So I try and run, with varying degrees of frequency and make smart eating choices, with varying degrees of frequency. Luckily my wife is an amazing cook and a healthy eater, so usually at least two of my three meals a day are pretty balanced and good for me.

There’s been a lot of hullabaloo in the media lately about restaurants, particularly fast food restaurants, posting the caloric content of their menus along with the prices. In fact, as part of new regulations by the FDC, calories will be required by mid-2012. Presumably, this is a way to fight the rising epidemic of obesity in the United States. But I kinda have to question that. If you are going to McDonald’s and ordering the 50 piece McNugget, two large fry and two large soda combo, will knowing it contains approximately one bajillion calories actually change your mind? Did you think, before you saw that number, that you were ordering something healthy? Will you decide, in a fit of prudence, to switch one of the large fries to a side salad? Somehow, I don’t think so.

Doesn’t common sense tell you that when you go out to eat fast food that, unless you are at Subway, you are eating totally unhealthy crap? You go because it is cheap, and convenient, and it tastes good. Oh, so deliciously good. (Seriously, don’t you want some McDonald’s french fries RIGHT NOW?) When you want healthy, you cook at home with fresh, local ingredients using recipes you read on Goop.

So I am not sure how I feel about this calorie-posting-law thing. I eat out a lot when I am working. Maybe it is a good thing to be more guided towards healthier choices when I am out. PRO: The other day I was at Panera and saw that the tomato soup had 320 calories while the Black Bean soup had 180. So I got the Black Bean, and I enjoyed my meal as much as I would have if I had gotten the tomato soup and I saved some calories (I also got a giant cookie - it is Panera! How can you resist?) CON: Do I want to know that the large fries at Five Guys contains 1,464 calories? Did I just ruin your day? Because it ruined mine when I found out.

I often wonder how other men deal with their caloric intake. Do you just eat whatever you want whenever you want because you do enough pick up basketball games and rock climbing on the weekend that it doesn’t matter? Or do you tell the Sandwich Artist at Subway to hold the cheese and go easy on the mayo? Since my lifestyle is not naturally active, I need a little help. Is knowing the calories in a Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger (1,010 - surprise!) the answer? Or does it really just take common sense and a few more miles added to my runs?

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