White Rice, Cherry Limeade And Other Childhood Foods I Thought Were "Healthy'"

I was in college (COLLEGE!) when it dawned on me that drinks had calories in them.

May 11, 2012 at 12:00pm | Leave a comment

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Our culture has been acutely obsessed with dieting for decades now, and this  often results in everyone being a nutrition expert. People you meet at parties will lecture you about carbs, friends will insist that you must drink red wine if you want to keep your girlish figure, co-workers know the advantages of frozen versus fresh vegetables as if they were food scientists.

And yet, with all these experts and so many women's magazines to warn us of food's hidden dangers, somehow, food myths endure. Today I'd like to walk you through a history of the foods that I didn't realize had caloric repercussions until inappropriately late in the game. As a kid, I thought a lot of things were as consequence free as celery. (Why would fruit candy have calories? It's fruit)

First up, Chicken Littles from KFC. Basically, fried chicken sliders with mayo. I loved these things when I was a kid, and because they were small, I thought eating six of them was still healthy. Six Chicken Littles = Three Chicken Regulars, but with slightly more bread.

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Then there was rice. Sticky, sushi, Basmati, Uncle Ben's -- it didn't matter. I loved rice and thought it was a wonder food. When left to cook for myself, I would have rice with soy sauce for lunch, and rice with sugar for dessert. Rice: the emptiest of the calories, perfect for a preteen. It turns out: It should not be consumed by the multiple bowlful.

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I was in college (COLLEGE!) when it dawned on me that drinks had calories in them. Previously, I had thought of drinks as magical potions that quenched your thirst… and that's it. I would down glasses of sugary Southern iced tea at restaurants and wonder why I felt sick to my stomach before the food arrived.

I drank frothy coffee drinks with flavored syrups for a morning pick-me-up, insisting I was on a diet, but my number one enemy? Sonic Cherry Limeade. 44 ounces of sugar water that I would drink on a daily basis and wonder why I couldn't fit into my pants anymore.

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Chewy candies packaged like breath mints can still trip me up. "It's like a Tic Tac!" I'll tell myself, before eating an entire roll of fruit-flavored Mentos. They are basically larger Skittles. Delicious, but if you're teeth are wearing a jacket after you eat a food, that's a pretty good sign that it may not be healthy for you.

Ahh dry cereal, you are my greatest vice. Cereal, nay, breakfast is one of my favorite things in life. I would eat it for every meal. But when I can't, if I'm having a long day running from meeting to meeting, I'll sometimes stash dry cereal in a bag and munch on it throughout the day. "It doesn't count," my head says, "because there's no milk in it!"

The fun part is after you've consumed a bag of Honey-Comb in your car, you're still hungry!

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I'm not saying that every day should be filled with the healthiest of eating. I'm just saying that I have been and continue to be a bonehead in denial when it comes to bad-for-you foods that I want to eat and still be "good." But sometimes, fuck good. Sometimes you want to eat a bunch of Mentos.

What foods did you not realize were terrible for you until way later?