information you might not really want

For most of my life I’ve been weirdly obsessive with food and calories. I adore eating – it’s one of my favorite pastimes – but over the course of my days on earth I’ve gone through periods of strange behavior. There was the time in high school when I gave up eating for Lent, the four months or so when I kept a “food journal” to catalog and curb my intake (a stunt I repeated at age 23 without much success), the two years I was a “pretend vegetarian”, and that bizarre stint in college where I lived on kalamata olives and scrambled eggs with cheese. A side effect of my odd fascination was that I became a walking encyclopedia of food facts. I knew how many calories were in a Milky Way, a Triscuit, an egg, an apple, a Drumstick ice cream cone, or five dill pickles. If it wasn’t entirely unhealthy, it was certainly compulsive.

Although perpetually dieting, I would, on occasion, allow myself a binge. This usually coincided with a school field trip or some similar circumstance where I was trapped in a restaurant with a bunch of teenagers. On one such outing, I was delighted to walk into McDonald’s and find a handy brochure that detailed the nutritional information for all their fast-food offerings. That day, I got fries, barbecue sauce, and a cheeseburger (605 calories), topped off with a dessert sundae (330 calories) and washed down with a diet coke (0 calories). I could calculate all those numbers easily with my new brochure, which I proudly taped up in my locker that afternoon.

But I’m older now. Wiser. I don’t need that kind of weird crap cluttering up my head.

Today, I popped into Starbucks to get a coffee for my boss. While waiting for his venti nonfat cappuccino with whip, I perused the selection of oddball gift items and informational material. Something caught my eye. You, Starbucks, and Nutrition. It is absolutely incredible. Did you know that one serving of whipped cream has 95 calories? Or that their mocha syrup actually has a good amount of iron? I don’t frequent Starbucks, so the information has no practical use in my life, but I’ll bet I can spend the better part of the rest of the afternoon reading up on the fat content of the Frappuccino.

And the McDonald’s flyer? you can get the gist of things right here. So maybe I’m still weird about food, but at least I got over that whole olives-and-eggs thing.

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