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!)