By Robin Garr
Here’s bad news for Baby Boomers (and a cautionary note for the rest of you): As we get older, we can’t get away with eating as much as we used to. Our metabolism slows over time, and chances are our lifestyle slows down, too.
You can sense this on the bathroom scale, or your belt size, or your kids’ snarky comments. But start looking at the numbers and it gets downright scary. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s numbers tell the tale: When you were an active 20-something, you could handle 3,000 calories a day. Now that you’re a 60-something desk jockey, you’re limited to 2,000.
For men, that means your daily quota has dropped 1,000 calories per day, which means you have to drop that Quarter Pounder, chocolate shake and fries from your snacking plan. It’s just as bad for women, whose recommended calorie load drops from 2,400 at 20 to a dainty 1,600 calories a day at 60. In other words, once my wife has had her KFC Half Spicy Crispy Chicken Meal with macaroni and cheese, potato wedges and a biscuit, she’s done for the day.
Enter the Louisville mayor’s Healthy Hometown Restaurant Menu Labeling initiative, a program that encourages local restaurants to post the calorie content of dishes on the menu.
This program has drawn some jibes, perhaps because it feels a bit like the Nanny State wagging its finger. It’s voluntary, though, in contrast with federal regs that require corporate chains to let us know what’s in our food. The folks at Metro Public Health and Wellness also point out that having the same data as the big guys makes Joe’s Diner more competitive with Mickey D’s.
One early participant is Heart & Soy. We dropped in for lunch the other day, skimmed the bright, neat menu and sure enough, every dish shows its calculated calorie content.
I wasn’t too worried about getting hit with a load of calories here – after all, the bill of fare at Heart & Soy – like that of Roots, its more upscale partner next door – is meat-free, using plenty of tofu and other soy goodies made on the premises.
A favorite, Quang’s Traditional Yellow Noodles ($7.50), caught my eye. Whoa! It’s the most calorific item on the menu at 489 calories, in the same range as a Dairy Queen banana split. I guess that explains why I like it so much. At the other extreme, a bowl of Yellow Curry Soup ($6.50) is only 173 calories, a goal accessible at Taco Bell only if we limit ourselves to a short order of pintos or Mexican rice.
We avoided both extremes and were happy with crispy veggie egg rolls ($3.50, 213 calories for a pair) and spring rolls ($4.50, 390 calories for two) wrapped in delicate edible rice paper. Noodle dishes were fine: spicy Singapore noodles tossed with stir-fry veggies and shredded tofu ($8.50, 270 calories) and Pad Thai with noodles, bean sprouts, fried tofu julienne, veggies and chopped peanuts ($8.50, only 221 calories).
Desserts don’t list calories, a compromise with denial that I find worthy of applause. But I can testify to the excellence of the cherry-loaded, moist chocolate Black Forest cupcake and the peanut butter pie, so creamy and rich it’s hard to believe it’s full-on vegan, containing no eggs, butter or dairy cream.
With big cups of excellent Asian tea, a filling lunch came to a very reasonable $33.39, plus $7 for the tip jar.