How to Spoil Dinner

Yesterday the grandchildren were in safe keeping with their parents and my husband had no commitments so we decided to get a few things done around the yard, do a few errands, then head out for dinner and a movie. In keeping with my so-called diet, I thought I would eat lightly during the day so that I could use the bulk of my calorie allotment for dinner. But unfortunately, after all that yard exercise, I had indulged and had only 300 calories left.

By the time five o’clock rolled around, we barely had time left to eat before the movie.  On the way home we passed a Wendy’s, and the idea hit us both at the same time. Starving, I could almost smell their broccoli and cheese baked potato even though we were two blocks away.

Now, mind you, we hadn’t entered a fast food restaurant (except for necessary pit stops on motor trips) since the 1980′s. I remembered with fondness Wendy’s hamburgers, but the baked potato was of prime importance since it had the best shot of being low in calories, and I remembered it being big, delicious and filling. I was right about the last part.

Much to my dismay, things had changed. Never mind that the choices seemed healthier – that was fine and good – and thankfully they did still have my baked potato. What spoiled my “back to the future” experience was that the calories were posted next to each item! How could they ruin my meal like that? Now don't get me wrong. I am fully aware that caloric postings are a great boon to healthy eating. But... truth be told, if healthy eating is your norm, there are times you'd rather enjoy the party than encounter a party pooper.

So I started to wonder if the numbers were exaggerated – possibly it was a CYA tactic (that's CYA, not CIA - although I guess that's possible,too) that was implemented in order to avoid being sued over a customer’s weight gain. (Any self-respecting fast food chain knows you can be sued over just about anything.)

Since I couldn’t decide whether or not the numbers were inflated, the posted calories forced a choice. The hamburger was 230 calories, the broccoli and cheese potato was 330. I went with the potato. My husband had the potato as well…PLUS a junior hamburger! I was still hungry and deficient in will power – especially with temptation in front of me (the potato, not my husband). Let me just say, the meal was delicious, but the 560 calories did not go down well!

Question: When eating out, have posted calories influenced your food choices? If so, how do you feel about that?

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