March 2009


In order to honestly follow the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan, I read lots of nutritional information in order to calculate the Point value of what I eat and drink.  A Point is determined by the calorie, dietary fiber and total fat content contained in a particular serving.  These values are usually easily found on either the label of the food items I buy at the grocery store, or in the nutrition guides provided by many restaurants.

It makes me a little anxious when a restaurant – especially one that is part of a national chain – fails to keep nutrition guides on hand for customers.  Its one thing for a restaurant to run out of guides to give to it’s customers from time to time, but it is another thing when they either don’t have at least one copy on the premises that they can “loan” to customers concerned about nutrition, let alone refuse to keep them on the premises at all.

skylinechili-logoYesterday I ate lunch with two friends at a Skyline Chili restaurant here in Louisville.  On a couple of pervious occasions when I’ve dined at Skyline, my request to see a nutrition guide was met with a refusal to provide one followed by an assurance that “You can find the guide on the Skyline Chili website.”

I finally got around to downloading and printing the Skyline nutrition guide after lunch yesterday (www.skylinechili.com), only to discover that what I thought was a “healthy” item that I chose for my lunch was in fact OVERloaded with calories, fat and sodium!  The Southwest Chicken Wrap (NO dressing included) contains 670 calories, 30 grams of fat and 6 grams of dietary fiber.  This translates into a whopping 15 Points!  The sodium amount? A whopping 2,040 milligrams, which is nearly ALL of the amount of sodium a person consuming 2,000 calories per day should eat for the WHOLE day!  So just because a menu item contains the word “Chicken” does NOT necessarily mean it is sound nutritional choice!  The Chili Cheese Fries at Skyline Chili I would expect to be oozing with calories, fat and sodium.  But surely NOT one of their chicken items!

If a restaurant doesn’t want to make it easy for it’s customers to access it’s nutrition guide, it leads me to believe that they are serving food that they are NOT particularly proud of.  Then again, I’d be ashamed too if my food was high in calorie, loaded with fat and oozing with sodium!  Such is the case of much of the food served by Skyline Chili.

Skyline Chili is hardly the only fast food restauarnt service nutritionally-challenged food!  Hard to believe I’m sure (HA!!!), but McDonald”s sells it share of crappy food as well.

bigntastyhamburger1

When it comes to “delicious-but-nutritionally-crappy” fast food, have you heard of the Big N’ Tasty hamburger at McDonald’s?  The fast food giant considers this sandwich  competition to Burger King’s Whooper hamburger.  The Big N’ Tasty is a “Whopper” alright, weighing in with 460 calories, 24 grams of total fat and only 3 grams of dietary fiber.  The sodium content is also fairly high: 720 milligrams – which is 30% of the daily recommended amount of sodium a person should have if they are consuming 2,000 calories per day.

The Points value for Big N’ Tasty hamburger: 11.  A 12” Veggie Delite Submarine Sandwich from Subway, complete with two slices of cheese, lots of fresh vegetables, one ribbon of lite mayonnaise and two ribbons of Sweet Onion Sauce (or another fat-free condiment) is also worth 11 points.  If I have a choice between burger on a round bun or a foot-long submarine sandwich, if I have any sanity I’ll choose the submarine sandwich anytime!  It is much more filling and a lot lower in total fat and sodium than the burger.

The biggest problem I have with the Big N’ Tasty hamburger is the five tons of MAYONNAISE they load on the sandwich (which is why I think McDonald’s should re-name it “The Mayonnaisebuger”)!  A fellow Weight Watchers member pointed out that the mayonnaise content of the sandwich alone probably accounts for at least 25 percent of the sandwich’s calories (and the Point value).  But does McDonald’s provide nutrition information on the value of the same sandwich withOUT the mayonnaise?  Of course not.  So figuring the Points value of a mayo-free Big N’ Tasty hamburger would be rather subjective since I don’t have the nutrition values for this healthier version of the sandwich.  I’m sure the volume of mayonnaise dumped onto the sandwich will vary from burger to burger.

My point to all of this rambling?  I’m finding that for myself restaurant foods (especially those sold by fast food restaurants) often lack substantial nutritional value and are usually larded up with total fat (even though they may boast of being “trans-fat-free”) and contain a level of sodium that verges on being dangerous (remember that excess sodium contributes to high blood pressure).

I’m embarrassed to admit that my ability to “estimate” the Point value of the foods I eat (when I am too lazy to read the nutrition information) is pretty pathetic.  Examples: for nearly two years I’ve estimated the Points value of the Big N’ Tasty hamburger to be 7 (NOT 11) and if you would have asked me what I thought the Point value was for that Southwest Chicken Wrap (hold the dressing) that I had for lunch yesterday at Skyline Chili. I  would have guessed it to be no more than 8 – 10 (as opposed to 15 Points).

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These Are Some Of My "Recovery Pieces" -- What Are Yours?

These Are Some Of My "Recovery Pieces" -- What Are Yours?

My approach to recovery from food addiction incorporates many sources of information and support.  I have found that my “Al-A-Carte Approach” to recovery (which is only approach that makes sense to me) offends and even outright angers numerous fellow addicts and “earth people” alike.

Some of the support I seek out for my recovery comes from 12 Step-focused resources (e.g., literature from the Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon and Overeaters Anonymous fellowships).  My food plan comes from Weight Watchers and my exercise plan is centered around Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ To The Oldies videos.  Both my food plan and my exercise plan have the input and approval of a whole host of health care professionals. My faith in God keeps me stong in my recovery. My connection with other addicts (of every sort — NOT just food addicts) reinforces my commitment to sane eating, one day at a time.

What I just listed in the previous paragraph are the major sources of support for my recovery effort.  They are by no means the only sources of help.

I give myself permission to “add” and “subtract” from my list of resources as often as I choose.  Although I don’t believe I could stay in recovery without God’s help — so hopefully He will always be on my “short list” of where I seek help.

Sometimes it makes me want to S-C-R-E-A-M when fellow addicts and “earth people” “Should All Over” me (e.g., “You SHOULD try ______ diet”, “You SHOULD exercise at least ___ minutes per day OR your exercise really does NOT count!” “You SHOULD avoid (this food)… to loose weight”, “You SHOULD be losing weight faster!”, etc.). The only thing that  keeps me from losing it on the know-it-alls (and MOST of the time I don’t lose my temper on them) is remembering that when people (regardless of their “best intentions”) offer UNsolicited advice, they are acting out of their own co-dependency issues.  So their “SHOULD-ing” isn’t about something being flawed or defective in my approach to recovery (though after being “should-ed on” I’ve often gone away feeling attacked or demeaned).  Rather should-ing is really about the need of the “should-er” to control one or more aspects of another person’s life (e.g., MY life) that is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS in the first place.

Whether you refer to your recovery approach as “Al-A Carte” or think of it as being a puzzle (or mosaic) with many pieces, the various pieces/parts/elements/sources that make up YOUR recovery process are uour’s to choose as we see fit. So the self-appointed Committee of Should-ing Know-It-Alls SHOULD keep their hands off our stuff and keep the focus on their stuff.  Not that it is my job to control the should-ers.  I think I’ll leave that job to God.