A twenty-calorie discount

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See that girl near the soup shelf in the supermarket, reading every single label and looking increasingly confused and scared? Yup, that’s me. I just discovered that my supermarket has changed the labels on their soups, and I’m, well, I’m kind of freaking out.

I know my soups, and I know my supermarkets. In town I get vegetable soup at 104, tomato soup at 107, and (sometimes) Moroccan lentil soup at 135. Carrot soup is 102 at the shop around the corner, and their minestrone is only 136 (which sounds like a lot but really isn’t, for minestrone). The best bargain is the farmer’s vegetable soup (82) in a shop I pass on my way to work. They also sell broccoli-stilton soup at 106, but I don’t trust that one. I mean, how on earth can you make a soup that contains Stilton cheese, and end up with only 106 calories per 300 millilitre?

So here I am at the supermarket, trying to come to terms with the new situation, telling myself to act normal and that things will be OK. But things are not normal, and I am not OK. My favourite Creamy Vegetable is now called Chunky Vegetable, and has gained forty calories in its transformation. Since when does removing the creamy bits from soup increase the calorie count? Anyway, it doesn’t matter, because at 144 this soup is now officially off-limit. My tomato soup has a new name too: Mediterranean Vegetable and Balsamic Soup. Worryingly, it contains the exact same amount of calories. How do you change the ingredients of a dish, without changing its calories? Maybe they forgot to change the amount of calories stated on the label? Until further notice, therefore, the Mediterranean vegetable soup is off-limit too. Which leaves only the Moroccan lentil soup at 135. Which is a lot, and certainly way too much for today.

You probably think I’m crazy, and you’re probably right. We’re talking about what: twenty calories (a quarter of an apple)? Thirty calories (half a medium boiled egg)? On a grand total of two-thousand calories a day, twenty calories really don’t matter and neither do thirty. I know that. Yet I happily cycle to another supermarket if that means a twenty-calorie discount. The most ridiculous thing, however, is that I could now, right now, go to my friend’s house and eat whatever she serves me. Chunky vegetable soup, lentil soup, even creamy ravioli or four-cheese pizza: put it on my plate, and I’ll eat it. I’ll even have a go at the desert. I swear I would, because my friend cares about me, and I don’t want to hurt her. Which gets us right to the core of my problem: I don’t care about me, and I’m indifferent to the thought of causing damage to my body.

Confused, I make my way to the one section of the supermarket where my brain seems to function properly: the non-food section. Staring at the colourful assortment of wash up liquids, I make finally up my mind. It’s about time I start caring about myself. It’s time for a tiny baby step in the right direction. Moroccan lentil soup it is.

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