Sometimes Ignorance Really Is Bliss

There are some things I don’t need to know, and there are even more things I just don’t want to know. 

To the media:  You have told me more than I ever wanted or needed to know about Lindsay Lohan’s addictions, Tiger Woods’ escapades, Lady Gaga’s costumes, Mel Gibson’s rants, and Dancing With the Stars’ cast-offs.  Here’s an idea–try filling the “news” with actual “news” that matters.  (And the “bed bug invasion” stopped being news after the first 15-20 times you reported it–enough already!) 

To the lady in line in front of me at the Wal-Mart pharmacy:  I’m sorry your husband left you, your oldest son spent the night in jail for something he didn’t do, and your gallbladder is acting up–but do I know you? 

To my friends and colleagues:  I hate when you’re sick, but all you really have to tell me is that you had an “upset stomach” or the flu.  Telling me how many times you rushed to the bathroom and exactly what took place while you were in there really isn’t necessary; I’m pretty sure I can figure it out on my own.  The more details you provide me, the more likely my quite vivid imagination is going to create some very disturbing visuals. 

It’s not that I don’t care about the trials and tribulations of my fellow human beings; I really am a pretty empathetic and sympathetic person (I swear).  It’s just that  some details (especially the intimate, private ones) fall under the category of “too much information,” and I can probably get through my day/my life just fine without such knowledge.

And if this information overload weren’t enough to clutter my already over-cluttered little brain, I’m now learning that the federal government is preparing to provide me with even more information that I really don’t want to know.

In March of 2010 “The Affordable Care Act” (a.k.a. health care reform) was signed into law, and one of its requirements was for nutritional labeling on all menus in restaurants and food chains with more than 20 locations.  The Food and Drug Administration has been working on the guidelines, which are expected to go into effect sometime in 2011.

Now, I know nutritionists and other health care professionals are elated, and most  consumers think this labeling is a really good idea, too.  After all, America is currently losing the battle of the bulge, and restaurants certainly haven’t been helping the situation.  Most restaurants serve over-sized portions (because that’s what we’ve wanted), and most people tend to eat everything on their plate (because that’s what we’ve been trained to do).  Not only do we lose track of how much we’re eating when we’re dining out, but we also really have no idea how many calories and fat grams are in what we’re eating.

And I know I should be applauding the upcoming nutritional labeling also; my waistline might benefit from a few thousand less calories every week, and my blood pressure might appreciate a little less sodium in my daily intake.  Shouldn’t I be happy that the government is trying to force me to lead a healthier lifestyle?

But … but … but …

The plain and simple truth is that I like eating; it’s one of my favorite pastimes.  And I especially like eating out (somebody else cooking, somebody else serving, somebody else cleaning up–it doesn’t get much better than that).  I want an appetizer (preferably something cheesy and gooey) and a full-course meal, and I want to eat every last mouth-watering bite of it without knowledge and guilt destroying my glorious, gluttinous  experience.  But how can I continue to enjoy my queso dip and tortilla chips at Chili’s when the label on the menu informs me that I’m consuming 1,070 calories, 89 grams of fat, and 3,920 milligrams of sodium on just my appetizer?  And how can I possibly enjoy my second and third slice of Meat Lovers pizza at Pizza Hut when I realize that the first slice alone had 340 calories, 19 grams of fat, and 1,040 milligrams of sodium?

I compare nutritional labels in the grocery store and try to make more conscientious purchasing decisions based on that information, and I try to make healthy food choices when I’m cooking and eating at home (well, except for my morning chocolate).  Can’t I at least have an occasional meal at my favorite restaurants without having to worry about all that healthy stuff?

I know that knowledge is power, but I also know that sometimes ignorance really is bliss.  So how about a compromise, FDA?  Let there be two menus.  Go ahead and require the restaurants to print their new menus with all the nutritional information for those customers who want to make healthy, informed decisions, and then let the rest of us continue to order off the old menus so we can continue to be oblivious … and happy.  Works for me.

And if you refuse to budge on this, then I’ll just be forced to spend my dining out dollars in the small, locally owned restaurants where your rules don’t apply (and the food is probably tastier anyway).  So there.

I just hope they have queso dip.

(And for those of you who enjoy the occasional “adult beverage” or two with your meal, you might be interested to know that these same nutritional labels will apply to everything liquid as well.  You might still drink that dark beer, margarita, or white Russian, but after you see the calorie count, you’re probably not going to enjoy it as much!) 


About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
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13 Responses to Sometimes Ignorance Really Is Bliss

  1. homesteadramblings says:


    • rhonda newton says:

      You would never make it as a hairdresser! I am privy to info that makes me shudder to think that someone feels the need to share about painful intercourse. This person was 86 years old and had a Long Island NY accent. She also said that her husband had the Alzheimer’s! I wanted to tell her that perhaps that was the problem! LOL! I have “spill your guts” tattooed on my forehead, evidentally, and I long to tell people that I REALLY don’t need all this sharing of personal info! Have a great weekend!

      • I know what you mean! I have complete strangers (like the lady in the pharmacy line) tell me their secrets all the time–I don’t know if it’s something about me or I just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time! I don’t know how to politely say, “I DON’T WANT TO KNOW THIS!” and they never pick up on what I would assume to be rather obvious body language cues, so I suffer in silence–but laugh about it later!

  2. Linda says:

    Karen I totally agree just for fun while at Red Robbins I googled all the calorie info by the time I had finished I wished I hadn’t bothered because I couldn’t order. The lowest calorie meal was over a thousand calories. I felt miserable all day. Would have been much better to eat in ignorance.

    • Why spoil my enjoyment with knowledge?! I know the information will depress me, and it will affect my choices–and I know in the long run I’ll be better off for it, but sometimes I just want to have a great meal and not worry about it!

  3. emjayandthem says:

    ok now I get it; Panera posted calorie counts on their menu board yesterday. At first I didn’t “get” what the # 520 meant posted behind a favorite breakfast item. Then. Bam it hit me – oh crap, so much for eating THAT again! Ya know??

    I hear you on the oversharing; is it the Facebook culture we live in or that people are more removed from families? People tell me the strangest things, too, and I try hard to roll with it but.. sometimes?? just too much info **shudder**

    Peace 🙂

    • Yeah, Panera is one of the few restaurants that went ahead and implemented the new “rules” before they actually take effect. Soon we’ll be seeing that info everywhere–I am NOT looking forward to it! And you may be on to something with the “Facebook culture.” I’ve seen things posted that I wouldn’t even tell my husband, much less the rest of the world!

  4. markp427 says:

    I wholeheartedly agree! If I’m ordering a Big Mac, I am already aware that said Big Mac is “not good for me.” I’d rather not know how not good for me it is – if you know what I mean! This new law is all fine and good, but I’d order off that second menu you proposed in a heartbeat.

    • Some of the restaurant chains are already responding that the new laws will probably force them to reduce portion sizes (probably not prices, though!) and change the way certain foods are prepared (i.e., reduce the flavor) so that the nutritional information doesn’t scare so many people away. I know this should be viewed as a good thing; I guess I just don’t like others deciding what’s good for me. Killjoy!

  5. Sam says:

    I LOVE hearing intimate details from complete strangers. I don’t know them, and they’re divulging this info!?! This is great! They have to know that if they’re willing to expose this information to a complete stranger, I’m going to tell someone else or write about it. I especially love people that tell me what the food does to them so they can’t order “THAT.” I just tell them, “I feel your pain” and then keep this knowledge to bring up in conversation. I also think it’s a great idea to have the calorie count on the menu. Four hundred calories? Well, I’ll just have to run a couple extra laps. If it’s really worth it, I’ll order it. Besides, I much prefer stouts to lighter brews, and I know full well the calories. White Russians are considered a dessert. Besides, it makes them taste SO much better when you’ve deprived yourself for so long.

  6. It’s times like these when I’m glad I have readers. If I conveniently leave my glasses at home, I can’t see the menus to read all of that unwanted information and I can actually enjoy my meal!

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