A subtle shift

I ate lunch at Panera today, and there was something new on the menu: calorie counts.

It didn't mess with my head as badly as this prior experience, nor did it rattle me for very long. It annoyed me and upset me a bit, in no small part because I wasn't expecting it.

The calories were listed on the right-hand side of the menu, next to the price. The description of the food was listed on the left. When I was deep in the ED, I would have picked everything out beforehand if I couldn't weasel my way out of the occasion, so I could make absolutely sure I wasn't eating one single calorie more than I had to. I would have asked for the chips (if my meal came with that--it threw people off my trail) and saved them "for later," neatly disposing of them when no one was looking. Early in recovery, I would have made a minimal attempt to ignore the information, and then have found the lowest calorie item and ordered that. I would have gotten the apple or the carrot sticks as a side dish, but I would, in fact, eat these.

I was able to be much more calm and rational. Instead of finding the item with the lowest calories and then deciding if I would order that (as long as I didn't hate anything integral to the dish), I looked at the different dishes and then checked the calories.

In an ideal world, the calorie information would just be numbers, like the metric tons of methane produced by flatulent bovines. "Party facts," my undergraduate advisor called them. But over a decade of an ED means that facts aren't just facts. They're very emotionally charged facts. They're not just numbers, nor are they going to BE just numbers any time in the near future.

Given that fact, I did the next best thing: I tried to make the (irrelevant) information as small a part of my decision as possible. I did order a yummy entree salad with a hunk o' bread on the side. It fulfilled my meal plan requirements. The number was also within the "acceptable" limits. Was there something else on the menu I might have liked more? Probably. Were the calories a factor? Yep. Were they the only factor? Not really.

The big difference wasn't that I overcame my calorie-counting compulsion* and felt the shackles fall from my ankles. The difference was that I could be much more rational and healthy about my decision-making process. I could focus on what I might want to order AND the calories. Usually the first factor was almost completely ignored. As long as I didn't hate the lowest calorie item, that was what I ordered. I freaked out and all semblance of sanity went out the window. This time, it didn't. This time, I was able to step back for a second, take a deep breath, and do what I needed to do.

*I get obsessive about numbers in general- the OCD and the AN pretty much fed the compulsive counting.

6 comments:

Sarah said...

I noticed this last Thursday when I went to Panera for my usual Thursday morning Bible study. I found it so distracting that I could barely order. I KNOW what is on the menu and I know what I like; I even know (approximately) off hand how many calories the major things I get are. I just didn't like seeing it in front of me AT ALL, especially since some of the calorie counts were so high (of things I never order, but still.) I was disturbed all morning and it really bothered me that I couldn't just "get over it" and ignore it like everyone else was doing. This post helped me frame my reaction in more positive way: I DID make progress. I still ordered what I wanted, ate it all, and moved on. Thanks Carrie!

Coco said...

I had a recent experience at Panera too. I hadn't been there in awhile either and was a little taken aback when I found the calorie counts beside each item. I admit that I let the calories influence my decision more than they should have. Next time, I'll be prepared.

Kate said...

Like you and the previous two commenters, this threw me for a loop a bit, as well. I did my darndest to just ignore them, but it felt almost rebellious to do so. Like I may as well have been telling my grandmother to shove it.

But I went in the door for a creamy tomato soup, and though it was absolutely the most caloric of the bunch (who'd've thunk?), I enjoyed every bit of it. And had I ordered something else just because of the calorie count, I wouldn't have.

Victories all around. :)

Miriam said...

Calories counts suck and make life complicated...I wish it was easy to just "listen to our bodies" and be able to obey our fullness and know that EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY if we allow ourselves to become full.

I'm proud of you for this shift. It's quite wonderful :)

Special K said...

I completely resonated with the "party facts" line...facts always are given power because we attribute them to "good" or "bad" ...but really, our thoughts are that...does that make sense?

Find renting computers said...

I noticed this last Thursday when I went to Panera for my usual Thursday morning Bible study. I found it so distracting that I could barely order. I KNOW what is on the menu and I know what I like; I even know (approximately) off hand how many calories the major things I get are. I just didn't like seeing it in front of me AT ALL, especially since some of the calorie counts were so high (of things I never order, but still.) I was disturbed all morning and it really bothered me that I couldn't just "get over it" and ignore it like everyone else was doing. This post helped me frame my reaction in more positive way: I DID make progress. I still ordered what I wanted, ate it all, and moved on. Thanks Carrie!

Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home

ED Bites on Facebook!

ED Bites is on Twitter!

Search ED Bites

About Me

My photo
I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

Drop me a line!

Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com



nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote



Archives

Popular Posts

Followers


Recent Comments