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  • Too good to be true?
    COURTESY WEIGHTY MATTERS: Jamie King, pictured with a band member at Chances Dance Hall in Cleburne, went from a size 22 to a size 4, thanks to Jenny Craig and a lot of willpower. Despite carefully watching her diet, King recently gained 9 pounds and went

Too good to be true?

Eatery’s calorie counts are hard to swallow
Saturday, November 30, 2019

Jessie King went from a size 22 all the way down to a 4, and she did it with a lot of will power. Well, that, and thousands of dollars spent with Jenny Craig.

King lost so much weight she had to have skin removal surgery. It cost her about ten grand.

Now, all she wants for Christmas is to wear the enviably-tiny dress she has already purchased to her stepson’s wedding on Dec. 20 where her new husband’s ex will be in attendance.

King is careful about what she eats and will not eat at a restaurant that doesn’t post calorie counts on its menu.

That’s why she at first thought she would never eat at a particular local restaurant that serves vegan food. The first time she checked it out, there were no calorie counts posted.

But then the restaurant updated its menu with calorie counts, and the numbers were unbelievable.

Four of the five burgers on the menu clocked in at just 350 calories each. A rib-sticking bowl of pasta was also listed at just 350 calories, and a burrito supreme was an amazing 155.

If one ordered loaded nachos from the appetizer menu and didn’t feel like sharing, no big worries since the food was listed at just 750 calories for the entire plate.

Not only was the food stunningly low in calories, it was also tasty.

“The food’s wonderful,” King said.

Although not a vegan, the former nurse began eating at the restaurant up to three times a week.

“Every time we went, I would question it,” she said of the calorie counts. “How? It can’t be possible. I’ve been a nurse for 22 years. I know what goes into the calculation of calories.”

Still, though, she trusted that the numbers listed on the menu were accurate because restaurants can’t just make that stuff up, right?

Well, maybe they can, and maybe some do.

The first clue came when King noticed that her clothes were fitting tighter. She stepped on a scale and was horrified to find that she had gained 9 pounds.

“Now I’m about a size 6-7,” said the former size 4. “That’s a big issue with me.”

King feels sure that the culprit was the restaurant food since she carefully monitors her calorie intake. She said that she confronted one of the restaurant’s owners and the woman admitted that they, well, kinda winged it on the calorie counts.

“She said, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,’” King said.

King said she begged the owners to pay for several weeks of Jenny Craig so that she could get the weight off in time for the wedding. The only thing they would agree to was some free salads, which she isn’t interested in accepting.

The HCN reached out to the restaurant’s owners but were told they were not in. They did not return a phone message by press time.

FDA NOTIFIED

King said that she has notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the Better Business Bureau.

She said she was told by the FDA that with mom-and-pop-type restaurants like the one in question, holding them accountable is harder than with chain restaurants.

Still, it is the FDA that has the authority to take action in such matters.

As of July 2018, the FDA is requiring restaurants to print calorie counts on their menus. The FDA-enforced regulations, called Truth in Menu laws, dictate a percentage that eateries can deviate from what is real and what is not.

Determining calorie counts is an elaborate process involving dieticians who break out ingredients, weigh them and then do an in-depth analysis.

But while there are laws to protect consumers in regards to what they consume, enforcing them is a complicated matter for several reasons.

The “onus” usually ends up “on the customer,” according to a column on the topic written by Mark Crumpacker. He is chief marketing officer and strategy officer for Zume Culinary at Zume, Inc. and former chief marketing and strategy officer for Chipotle.

By the time the average consumer figures out that a restaurant’s calorie counts might be largely fiction, their expanded waistlines are not figments of their imagination.

HEALTH CONCERNS

King said she is upset not just for vanity reasons but because false calorie counts can pose serious problems to those who are diabetic or have other health issues that require them to monitor what they eat.

She said that she has an autoimmune disease and a spine disorder, both of which are affected by what she eats.

She has posted a warning about the restaurant in question on her Facebook page, and believes that the eatery’s calorie counts are “false advertising.”

The discovery of the 9-pound weight gain left her with exactly one month to get herself back down to a size 4 in time for the wedding.

She is determined to lose the weight but doing so will involve “living basically on lettuce, tuna and water.”

That menu is a far cry from the vegan burgers and burrito supremes that came with a far heavier price than those listed on the menu.

kcruz@hcnews.com | 817-573-7066, ext. 258

 

 

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