Register Saturday | March 17 | 2018

Through the Dark World of Lite

A Dieter’s Passage

Of late, my will has begun to crack. Too long do I linger before the display cases of French bakeries and chocolatiers. Too often this week has the pimpled employee at Mrs. Fields Cookies squeaked at me to stop frightening the customers with my heavy breathing. I need a treat. Thanks to the fact that most North Americans are either dieting or swearing they will start tomorrow, there are now lighter versions of my favourite snack foods available everywhere for my shopping convenience. Though I am a breath away from going to the nearest Mexican dive and drowning my sorrows in nachos and margaritas, I wish to make one last effort to be angelic. So commences my journey through the dark world of Lite.

Tostitos Light Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips
Nowhere is it more evident that man is the paragon of animals than in his invention of Tostitos Restaurant Style with a Hint of Lime Flavor Tortilla Chips. I purchased instead its wan cousin, Tostitos Light Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips. With 1 mere gram of fat per ounce I should have known something was amiss, but it was only when I got home that I looked more closely at the ingredients and found Olestra among them. The indigestible fat substitute, a principle component of Frito-Lay’s doomed Wow! Chip, has generated its fair share of consumer cramps, diarrhea, bleeding, stained underwear and incontinence, and is no longer even permitted as a food additive by Health Canada, available only in products sold in the US. I was still willing to risk it, though, until I read that a woman experienced these side effects after consuming only 1 ounce of chips. I hope I shall never be hungry enough to risk anal leakage.

Instead, I tried a bag of Baked! Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream Flavored Potato Crisps. On the package it says “Fitness is a journey, not a destination.” I suppose the journey begins here. These were the most decadent-looking chips I could find (they had cheddar-cheese flavouring in them), and at only 3 grams of fat per ounce, not a bad choice. Remember, however, that 1 ounce is equal to 9 chips. Therefore, if you were to consume the entire 10 ounce bag as I did, in minutes, you would be ingesting 30 grams of fat and 1,200 calories. Well worth it, in my opinion. If you wish to consume a whole bag of chips without affecting such cataclysmic results, however, I suggest low-fat Kettle Krisps. An ample 4 ounce bag (any flavour) is only 440 calories. Not for the virtuous, mind you, but for the desperate.

Serving Size: 1 ounce Calories: 90 Fat: 1 g Sodium: 105 mg Carbohydrates: 20 g
Veronica’s Verdict: The limits of my hunger are the limits of my leakage.

100 Calorie Packs Oreo Thin Crisps
Since it was introduced in 1912, Oreo has been America’s favourite cookie, and mine. More than 345 billion Oreos have apparently been consumed to date. Indeed, if you stacked every Oreo ever made, one on top of the other, you would reach the moon and back at least three times over. I love these little facts almost as much as I love the cookies themselves. Now the good people at Nabisco, knowing I am weak, have introduced “100 calorie packs” of what they call Oreo Thin Crisps, a lighter lovechild of the original cookie. I bought them, despite the fact that each pack offers a healthy living tip. Annoying as this was, what lived in the bag was worse: a sad bunch of brown hexagonal crackers with white sprinkly things on them. What of the creamy white goodness? I wondered. This tasted as dismal as it looked: an animal cracker sneezed on by a Keebler elf.

Serving Size: one package Calories: 100 Fat: 2 g Sodium: 160 mg Carbohydrates: 20 g
Veronica’s Verdict: There, beneath the moon, the saddest cracker.

Reese’s Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures
Mireille Guiliano, author of the popular diet book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, suggests that a square or two of dark chocolate ought to banish most kinds of tears. Hence the rather poetic expression je déprime donc je chocolate. Perhaps my sadness is of a more profound sort than Mireille’s, for much as I adore dark chocolate, its smooth unadulterated texture leaves something to be desired. I need oozing caramel, nutty goodness. Nougat.

Candy companies have come out with sugar-free variants of my beloveds. Unfortunately, these varieties are only available in bags of miniatures. My lover says the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups tasted like salty lumps of clay (I, long in the desert, found them to be a stellar mirage). The Hershey’s Chocolate Candy with Almonds (Sugar Free), which we sampled next, was far too shoddy an imitation and yielded nary an almond. But the worst disaster by far was the Nestlé Signatures Turtles. The chocolate was crumbly, the pecan nowhere to be found, and the toffee an unholy and indestructible force.

Serving Size: 5 pieces Calories: 170 Fat: 12 g Sodium: 125 mg Carbohydrates: 23 g
Veronica’s Verdict: In desperation, I summoned thee to my chambers.

Atkins Endulge Super Premium Ice Cream
I did not want to venture into the world of the diet ice cream bar. Nothing is more depressing than the hunks of brown ice on a stick that Weight Watchers has the nerve to pass off as Fudgesicles. Besides, I eat all six of them right away and then what? I went for the tubs. We all know Ben and Jerry’s does an admirable job with its Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt. And their Chocolate Fudge Brownie has its moments of genius. My problem is that’s it’s too light-tasting—I never feel I’ve eaten my half-cup. So I eat the whole pint to make certain I have. I decided, therefore, to try an Atkins version called Endulge this time around. Atkins ice cream has the same fat content as regular ice cream but with little-to-no sugar. I’ve always felt that ice cream is like oral sex: even when it’s bad, it’s still really good. That said, this is the only ice cream I would kick out of bed.

Serving Size: 1/2 cup Calories: 140 Fat: 12 g Sodium: 35 mg Carbohydrates: 13 g
Veronica’s Verdict: Sorry bedfellow.

Veronica Tartley (Mona Awad) has eaten, shamelessly or barely at all, in nearly every city in the world. She enjoys rain, hurling things against walls and walks on the beach. She lives beautifully in an undisclosed location at the edge of the known universe. There, she weeps her mascara tears, churns butter in the old style and listens to French accordion music.