Last week my normally predictable husband made an unexpected U-Turn by Whole Foods, where we were headed for lunch at their salad bar, like many other days. When David first turned the car around, I thought uh oh, his mind is going…but then I realized – g a s p – he’s taking us to Friendly’s!
This was too good to be true! I had suggested this a few times before, that we stop in for an after-dinner treat. He is right that I can be a bad influence, as I have no shame in getting down and dirty with a sugary delight.
He wouldn’t have made an about-face had I not mentioned it again that moment, so I was glad I did. I know he likes making me happy, and this act of spontaneity certainly did, which I told him. Our afternoon change of plans was off to a fun start.
As we approached the parking lot, we focused on what we’d have: for David, a lunch of fried clams, fries and maybe a fribble; for me, either that or a burger. There was no doubt that my meal would include some kind of sundae at the end.
After David opened the menu, he asked if I noticed the top of it where Friendly’s posted the recommended daily calories for the average person per day: 2,000. I hadn’t seen it, and I didn’t care about it either. I just wanted to proceed with our indulgence, without too much thinking.
A few seconds later, I felt myself sliding into a downward spiral. As I looked around the menu, I noticed that each item had a calorie count.
This was not something I wanted to deal with at Friendly’s. It’s one thing at Honey Grow or Salad Works or Whole Foods, where the goal is to eat a healthy lunch. It’s altogether different when we want to pig out and chose Friendly’s for that exact reason.
I searched for the fried clam platter and noticed it has a calorie count of 1,720. WOA. This was dangerously close to the daily Friendly’s recommended limit of 2,000 calories per day. It was about 1 p.m. at the time. Did this mean I was done eating until tomorrow, given I had already consumed a few hundred calories for breakfast? That wasn’t going to happen.
Then I looked for my other option, a cheeseburger, again in a platter format: the burger is 860 calories, fries 330 or onion rings 270, and the cheese another hundred or two, depending upon the selection. I’d be digesting at least 1,300 calories for this lunch – if I devoured all of it – but better than 1,720.
A small sundae for dessert would be some 300 calories, so I could have both and end up about where David would be with his fried clam platter alone. But, if I went for a regular-size hot fudge sundae, that would give me a total lunch count of a couple thousand calories. At that point, I’d be eating into the next day’s calories, literally.
Before long, all of my happiness in diving into a Friendly’s lunch went out the window. I would have considered walking out had I not lured David there in the first place, because frankly I had lost my appetite. The thrill was gone.
What we didn’t get at the time was why on earth would a place like Friendly’s list the calories for each item? It canceled out the potential fun of going there, and isn’t that the point of it?
On a side note, during the meal we laughed a lot about the dichotomy.
When I got home, I googled calorie count on restaurant menus and learned that in recent years it’s become a federal requirement for food establishments to list calories for every item.
The thinking behind this is to create a healthier society by making information readily available for those who would therefore make better decisions. It comes on the heels of publicizing other ingredients such as trans fats, saturated fats, sodium and so on. Clearly, the intention is good.
But, I’m still craving that sundae I didn’t have last week…another U-Turn may be in order.