Tuesday, July 23, 2013
I am not big into shopping in the mall. In recent years, I have come to dislike it. I've never been a compulsive buyer/spender, and at this point I can't afford to be. When my kids were little we would sometimes go out and walk around a mall and have dinner in the food court. We probably haven't done that in at least 15 years though.
On Saturday, I accompanied my husband while he spent the afternoon refereeing some lacrosse games. This was in Delaware (about 2 1/2 hours from home). I did this so we could stop and have dinner with my daughter in Philadelphia on the way home. It was very hot, so I had to find a way to kill almost 5 hours.
So I went to a nearby shopping mall. I spent a lot of time at Panera Bread playing on my laptop. I had a reasonably healthy lunch (shrimp salad with soba noodles), and it was good. But after awhile, I ventured into the mall. I was tired of Panera and wanted to take a walk. I wandered through the mall to Barnes and Noble.
It was a very eye-opening experience to notice all the junk food that one is exposed to on such a trip. Not that it came as a complete surprise, but it was still a bit of a jolt to witness all this. So many restaurants that sell food that is admittedly fattening, but somehow they give you the most unhealthy variations that they can. For example, have you ever noticed the Chinese restaurants in a food court? Do they sell lightly stir fried veggies with perhaps some chicken? No. Do they sell pieces of heavily battered chicken that are slathered with a heavy sugary sauce (i.e. General Tso's chicken)? You bet. And almost inevitably there is an employee giving out samples of this stuff. Some places sell something called bourbon chicken, which is a similar variation of the heavily battered chicken slathered in a sugary sauce.
In addition to the variations of heavily sugared fried chicken, I was blown away by all the high calorie drinks that are sold. Not talking about soda; don't get me started on that one. But so many places have their variations of a 7-11 slurpee, a Dunkin Donuts Coolata, or a Starbucks Frappuccino. And speaking of Starbucks, I finally ended up at Barnes and Noble, which has its own Starbucks cafe. They were promoting several summery frappuccinos. At the entrance of the cafe was a beautiful picture of two of these drinks with the caption "Take a vacation for 15 minutes". There was a time when I would have taken the bait and "treated" myself to the indulgence. Pretty good advertising ploy. Sort of like if you go out to dinner and debate out loud whether or not to have dessert, somehow the waitress always encourages you to go for it. She never tells you that you would be better off skipping dessert. But I digress here.
In the interest of full disclosure, I overindulged when I finally had dinner with my daughter. Had a cheesesteak type of sandwich (it's Philadelphia, after all, but it was more upscale than your typical Philly cheesesteak) followed by an awesome ice cream sundae. So I am not perfect. But the food was good and it was a treat, so it was worth it. Knowing this was coming helped me resist the food at the mall. But the temptations that people are presented with and the marketing that is used is pretty scary.