Unknown-1Pursuant to our conversation about bathing suit season last week (could I first get a shout-out for legalese? Its formality always cracks me up), we need to talk about the low-cal food market. It is, after all, what naturally becomes part of your life four days after you make the decision you’re going to get bathing suit skinny. Around 3 o’clock on day four, you start roaming the grocery store like a rabid dog, looking for any cheat that might come your way. You wonder how Snackwells taste. You throw a bag of Skinny Pop into the cart. You consider fat-free cheese and realize you’re not that desperate.

This year, bathing suit season landed my stepdaughter Gabrielle and I in the ice cream aisle where, frankly, we had no business being. But my thought process was, well, a), I’m starving and, b), maybe gelato is super good for you and I don’t know it. So we went to the Talenti (which I highly, highly recommend under different circumstances) and started label reading. We soon discovered that half a cup of chocolate was 200 calories.

“Worth it?” I asked Gabrielle, looking hopeful.

“Not even kind of,” she said, firmly the voice of reason.

Then she noticed a pint called Arctic Zero sitting right beside the other ice cream. On the front of its label, it boasted, “135 calories per pint.”

“Per pint?”

“Look,” she said. “It says right here.”

“So we could eat this entire thing and it would still be less than the gelato.”

“That’s what I’m telling you.”

We hemmed and hawed for a pleasurable few minutes during which we considered what flavor we were going to get. Vanilla? Too mundane. Chocolate? Nah. Wait a second. Chocolate mint? Sold.

The ice cream was the subject of discussion the entire ride home, as we anxiously looked forward to lifting off the paper cap and digging in. My great friend Julie, who is also on the bathing suit bandwagon and with whom I had plans to go for a walk, got to our house right around the time we pulled in. Gabrielle quickly filled her in on our plan, and soon we were standing around this pint with three spoons.

We took our first bite and? Nothing.

“Maybe it just needs to be in our mouths a bit?” Julie said.

So we sucked and this concoction started to melt. And yet? Still nothing.

“It’s tasteless,” I said.

“Did we do it wrong?” Gabrielle joked.

We looked at the list of ingredients and saw the one at the top was water.

“We just spent $5.95 for cold, strange water,” I summarized.

Lesson learned.

And yet:

Two days later I was roaming the grocery store once again. Hungry once again. Looking for an ace in the hole that was going to keep me sated during the dangerous Triscuit-and-cheese hours of 3:30 to 5:30. I’d given up on the organic section. Stepped away from the chips aisle. Settled on cauliflower and hummus. When low and behold, in checkout, there was a shiny package that caught my ravenous eye. What did that say? Just 140 calories per serving? I blinked hard and looked closer. Could it be? The beloved York peppermint patty?

I turned that silver sucker over and checked the nutritional facts. Was it 140 calories for the whole wicked round or were they going to tell me there were six servings inside?

I blinked hard again. Nope, 140 calories for the pack. I bought three forthwith and stepped away, giddy beyond giddy. Ladies and gentleman, I’d found weight-loss manna.

Of course, I now realize this is the most dangerous discovery I’ve made in the past five years. See, 140 calories is about the amount I spend on a stupid bowl of Cheerios, so I could essentially eat a York instead of breakfast every day of my life and it wouldn’t, calorie intake wise, make any difference.

However, I’ve realized after much experimentation, it is nearly impossible to eat just one York. You finish the first, calculate 140 small calories and very quickly, so quickly, you decide you can afford another 140. Where does this get you? Having consumed more than the 200 calories of Talenti you could have had.

So the search and game continues. The perfect bathing suit weight evades me. But a beautiful summer roars on.

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