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Don’t Supersize Me

January 17, 2011

You heard it here first: chocolate-covered almonds are bullies.

I used to be a once-a-quarter shopper at Costco: toilet paper, maple syrup, a huge box of Goldfish. But packing school lunches every day can make a mom downright lustful for prepackaged applesauces by the case, vats of juice boxes with a multitude of flavors, more string cheese than you ever thought it was possible to consume. (But, turns out, is gone in about three weeks.)

So now I grab one of those minivan-size carts once a month, cruise the book tables, then buckle down and pull out my list, which I do my best to stick to. As any regular Costco shopper knows, when you step inside the warehouse, you step into price jet-lag: $10 at Costco feels like $1.99 at a regular grocery store. $7 .99 for a massive container of hummus? It’s only $8! Nevermind it’s the size of a horse trough and we won’t get through it in 3 years. It’s only $8! Once my cart has become harder to push than a double jogging stroller, I know it’s time to add it up and hear the damage.

But I always have one last stop: the faux-aisles full of snacks and sugar, where fruit leathers are the healthiest things going. Amid the nine rows of Oreos in one neat package, 5 pounds of M & M’s, I see the jar. Three-3!–pounds of milk chocolate-covered almonds. Brown nuggets of goodness that I just need, even though nobody, save hibernating rodents, needs 3 pounds of nuts at once.

I stare at the jar–nuts are healthy, right?--and I can taste the first handful, and then the second, and then I know it goes downhill from there. Considering there are three whopping pounds, the virtual slide goes into next week and screams headache. Knowing no good can come of it, I slowly step away from the jar.

Until Friday. I just grabbed it. Not sure why: not PMS’ing, not in a particularly bad place personally. Maybe the jar just lived in my subconscious for so long, I couldn’t fight it anymore.

I got to the parking lot, and was unloading one minivan into my other minivan. I put the jar in a corner, accessible so I could unscrew the jar and grab a handful or three for the drive home. But some woman–the nerve!–drove up as I was about halfway through unloading, slapped on her blinker and waited for my parking spot. I was too embarrassed to have her wait for me as I squirreled away the nuts–and knew I couldn’t have them sitting next to me as I drove home. So I pretended I had some self restraint.

Until I arrived home and had to unload once again. Holy milk chocolate almonds. A handful every time I brought in another load. Within 30 minutes–the length of time it took to find nooks and crannies for bags of Raisin Bran and the like–I was officially gone. I was zoomed up on sugar, and was about to slam into the concrete. I ate a salad to dilute the effect, pretending the greens could minimize the 100 or so almonds fermenting in my stomach.

I run for a variety of reasons, and weight control is a big one. But there’s no way to control 7,200 calories, the total number of calories in the almond jar, which is approximately 72 miles of running. Um, that’s a month of running for me crammed into one jar of splurge. One serving is 11 almonds, 160 calories. That’s helpful info in theory, but one serving and my relationship with milk chocolate almonds do not get along.

Forty-eight hours after the lapse of judgment, about half the jar is left. I mixed a bunch in with gorp–regular almonds, cashews, raisins, peanuts–so it can’t be a fix. Thankfully, the Costco jar fantasy has officially been deflated; I will no longer roam the aisles, pretending I’m not thinking about them. The only thing I’m thinking about is how tomorrow morning I’m sending the rest to my husband’s office.

After, of course, I take a couple more handfuls.

48 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2011 4:23 am

    Oh yes, been there, done that. That must be one reason why I no longer go to CostCo. I cannot resist the gigantinormous packages of those kinds of things.

  2. January 17, 2011 4:44 am

    I laughed until I cried! And don’t we always figure that someone *else* is going to eat them too!

    Maybe it would be a good idea to post “miles to run” along side of the calorie count!

  3. January 17, 2011 5:30 am

    My husband bought me a bag of Wavy Lays last week. That’s tough to resist.

  4. January 17, 2011 5:32 am

    72 miles! Yikes! Good thing u got it out of your system and your house!

  5. Roxanne permalink
    January 17, 2011 5:36 am

    I live at Costco which could be why I have had trouble controlling my weight. I tend to pick up those tubs of hummus and then tell myself ” Well, I’ve got to eat it because I don’t want it to go bad.” Now, I take a list and do my very best to stick to it.

  6. January 17, 2011 5:42 am

    I have such a weak spot for sweets and anything bread! I have totally eaten may way into “OMG, I ate it ALL” especially w/ some Pepperidge Farms Mint Milano’s… I now only buy them when I have already mentally committed to eating the entire thing – b/c I know that is what will happen. It starts in the car and ends on the sofa!

  7. Bethany permalink
    January 17, 2011 6:18 am

    Omigosh, are we long-lost sisters? You just described the exact scenario that would have played out with me. Handful here, handful there, until I was stuffed to the brim, which would then prompt me to send the rest to work with the hubs. I currently have that battle going on with a bag of chocolate covered pretzels from those blasted boy scouts. The hubs keeps conveniently forgetting to take them to work…

  8. Martha permalink
    January 17, 2011 6:43 am

    We have ALL been there! Being from Wi my weakness is cheese curds…yep, open them up in the car and eat them on the 30min ride back home. There is no nutrition label on the bag…so those calories don’t count…right?!?

  9. Iliana Zuniga permalink
    January 17, 2011 6:55 am

    Loved this post. Never thought about it like that before, but true. I just dont buy stuff I know I will indulge in, specially in Costco. I do try to realize what I am eating equals how much in running time and usually that helps tame the cravings… Oh the joys of Costco…

  10. teachprayrun permalink
    January 17, 2011 7:08 am

    So funny! I can totally relate- M and M’s are my nemesis. You could never eat just one handful. Impossible.
    Thanks for letting me know that I’m not the only other person out there who can’t resist some good old chocolate . 🙂

  11. Jenny Womble permalink
    January 17, 2011 7:12 am

    I went to Costco yesterday and I have to talk myself down from the ledge constantly while shopping! What is out about that store that makes you feel like you need to buy items, such as Nutella, in bulk?!

  12. January 17, 2011 7:28 am

    Love this post, Dimity! Our Costco is named Sam’s..after Sam Walton. It is so hard to stick to a list in that place! Our poor husbands’ offices!!!!!!! Ha! I do the same thing! I’ve now gotten to the point that there are some things I simply will not buy due to MY weakness. Sorry kids, the good have to suffer for the bad! In my case, it’s Pop Tarts and Cocoa Pebbles. And I’m actually, as hard as this is to believe after that confession, so healthy in all that I eat! Soy will not even come into my house unless it’s Non GMO, and the most processed “food” here is Goldfish…lucky kids, I don’t like Goldfish! No soda, mostly organic everything else. But dangle Pop Tarts in my face? I’m salivating, doing all the math in my head…”well, one pack is 400 calories…a 5K on TM is 300. So, really, I’m only getting like a hundred calories, right? RIGHT? Right!”

    Thanks for sharing : ) Not the almonds, just the fellow mom experience !!!

  13. Jennifer permalink
    January 17, 2011 7:36 am

    HaHaHa…yes been there done that. Obviously I am not the only one which makes me feel a little better! Just did this with a bag of cherry jelly valentines hearts – at least it wasn’t a costco bag!

  14. Michelle permalink
    January 17, 2011 7:41 am

    Too funny! My husband has taken many a bad decisions with him to work! He too often hears, “Get this out of the house!!!”

    • January 17, 2011 8:23 am

      Love that, Michelle: taking bad decisions with him to work.

  15. January 17, 2011 7:53 am

    And this is why I do not have a Costco card or am allowed to even look at good stuff at the grocery store. 😉

  16. Allison M permalink
    January 17, 2011 8:00 am

    OMG!! I found cinnamon dusted milk chocolate almonds. My friend is a Dove Choc Discoveries person and I got them. I LOVE THEM!

  17. Lisa permalink
    January 17, 2011 8:34 am

    I do stick to my list, unless it’s something I haven’t seen there before, then I do the mental math “will it get eaten before it gets thrown away? Is it worth it?”
    Now Trader Joe’s, forget it. Many a full package of their marshmallow treats have been eaten on the front seat of the car on the way home. Maybe I should buy 2 next time?

  18. Leigh Ann permalink
    January 17, 2011 8:43 am

    thank you for helping me feel normal 🙂

  19. January 17, 2011 8:45 am

    How about having a cube mate at work who sometimes buys bags of Lindt Balls (the peanut butter and the caramel kinds)??? Must….resist….must….resist….ok maybe one….

  20. Kristen permalink
    January 17, 2011 11:29 am

    I hear you sister, mine is peanut m&m’s!!! I hate that I LOVE them, they have some kind of mind control on me. Sadly, this jumbo bag has an added bonus, 5 or so lbs! Pulled a hammy the day after I bought the bag! My hammie is making me fat, not the M&M’s, right?

  21. January 17, 2011 11:58 am

    We have a Sam’s Club here in AR. Our biggest weakness, well our son’s, is Cheez-its. I’ve gotten where I now buy the three pound box, and the little dude will make it disappear in a week’s time.

    I laughed out loud at the hummus dilemma you spoke about. We have a vat of it sitting in our fridge right now! : )

  22. January 17, 2011 12:13 pm

    As a mathematician, I loved this post! The numbers are so scary and I’ve been known to do exactly what you did (one time it was sugar free cinnamon bears before a 4 miles treadmill workout.) First of all, a hundred cinnamon bears before a run is a really, really bad idea. Secondly, sugar free, turns out, isn’t calorie free. Darn the bulk items at Winco and my dillusional mind. It’s just so nice to see I’m not the only one so thanks for posting. And may the force be with you on your next Costco trip.

  23. January 17, 2011 12:34 pm

    My husband is the only one who can shop at Costco/Sam’s in our family for two reasons: One, the experience you wrote about is pretty much what happens when I go and Two, it’s some sort of “manly” thing. As in, he won’t grocery shop but Warehouse shopping, well, that’s pretty close to Lowe’s/Home Depot I guess. I think it’s all the man-size boxes.

    The only thing I would have done differently: I hate, hate, hate when people try to make me rush out of my parking space by putting on their blinker. Really? I usually still have to buckle in my two youngest AFTER I’ve finished unloading the groceries, returning the cart, and hiding my secret stash within arm’s reach. Screw ’em. They can wait…

    • Teresa Murray permalink
      January 17, 2011 6:13 pm

      My husband is the same way! He hates doing regular grocery shopping…but he’ll always agree to going to Sam’s or Costco! I think he appreciates that they also sell “manly” items like power tools, electronic gadgets, and huge packages of steak.

  24. January 17, 2011 3:17 pm

    Ah, yes, it’s so easy to justify the prices. It’s so much stuff for so “little” money! Unfortunately we tend to come out with about 7 items and nothing to make a complete meal…

    We once bought the huge box of Goldfish at Costco. Then we got home and realized that Spud was the only one who was going to be eating them. That’s a lot of cheesy-puffed air for one 3 year old kid. Now we just stick with the small packs.

    • January 17, 2011 4:04 pm

      Alanna: that’s the part I didn’t work into the story. I spent $300, and–say it with me–had nothing for dinner. Figures. And love Spud. 🙂

  25. Erica Richards permalink
    January 17, 2011 3:37 pm

    I’ve been known to calculate the calories in an entire bag of Kettle Salt and Vinegar chips, “sharing size” (bahahaha), so that when I’ve eaten the whole bag, I know what needs to be done…no, not sharing it, as the bag suggests, but working it off. Run to eat or eat to run? Oh, I am sooooo a run to eat (more) kind of girl!

  26. January 17, 2011 4:05 pm

    I LOVED this post.

    I hate it when I am rushed in the grocery store parking lot. Yet I also get highly annoyed when I am waiting for a spot and people are taking their sweet time leaving. I’ll remember this post next time it happens and give them the benefit of the doubt: they must be digging into their newly purchased, yummy jar of nuts.

  27. Shoshanna permalink
    January 17, 2011 4:09 pm

    Ha! Just yesterday a colleague brought in a bag of chocolate covered almonds. They are devilish little monsters. They called to me from the kitchen down the hall from my office, and boy did I answer. Glad to know I’m not the only one incapable of resisting them. I find, though, that when I’ve been craving something, the best thing to do is just give in early on (and then run). Otherwise I find myself eating loads of other stuff trying to convince myself it’s just as yummy as almonds/cookies/cake/whatever while my original obsession just grows and grows, along with my waistline and guilt load. Eventually I give in, and then it’s ugly. So you may have done yourself a favor — if you hadn’t bought the jar this trip to Costco you might have just plunked yourself down in the candy aisle on your next trip and strapped a jar on like a feed bag.

    • January 17, 2011 5:32 pm

      I love that others send the stuff to husbands’ offices!!! I buy lots of baking supplies at the warehouses. For me, the smell of sugar, vanilla and butter is to die for. And no, vanilla candles don’t work. I’m usually over it though by the time i get the stuff baked. I found this does help with keeping the pkged cookies one needs for the kids lunches, out of the house. I usually bake what I need for the lunches and the rest goes in the freezer–bake as needed. If it is a huge favorite for me, it all goes to work with my husband. He is very popular around the holidays.

  28. Rene Whiteley permalink
    January 17, 2011 6:26 pm

    What is it about Costco? My weakness is the super pack of pretzel m&m’s which i have talked myself into believing that are better for you than the regular ones. (NOT!) and I would have plopped them right in the front seat and eaten them all the way. The bad thing about running sometimes is that I talk myself into the fact that I am burning a lot of calories….but you can only do that one to many times. so for me…i stay out of costco, just to tempting….

  29. January 17, 2011 6:26 pm

    For me it’s jellybeans. I. love. them. There is no jar or bag too big for me. I once at a 3 pound bag in one day and was hyped up for nearly 24 hours on the sugar.

  30. kelly permalink
    January 17, 2011 6:42 pm

    Great piece Dimity. I can so relate on so many levels, it is scary! The worst is Halloween time. Repeat your story four times for the four weeks leading up to the big holiday. Went to Costco yesterday and I only get what is on the list now! Good luck. Those chocolate almonds are sounding really good…..

  31. January 17, 2011 7:09 pm

    When I moved in with my husband, combining our manageable households of one parent and a few kids, to an unmanageable household of 7 – he shopped at Costco. I hated Costco. I had my little weekly grocery budget and Costco blew a hole – well it just blew it to smithereens. $75 @ Costco?…. needless to say, when your brood consumes a dozen eggs, 1 lb of bacon and half a loaf of bread at breakfast? You need Costco. 3 summers ago I went to Sullivan Bay Canada w/my ex in laws & my two kids. And a Costco bag of peanut M&M. My father in law said “I’ve never seen anyone eat so much so quickly.” – half joking. Maybe a little regret…. (I will not stop @ the stash in my running bag, I will not, I will not…)

  32. margaret permalink
    January 17, 2011 7:22 pm

    OMG! I so know this feeling! I too hit Costco up once a month and even my three year old knows what it is and every time we go by he asks if we will be going in! So sad! While I am a fan of the chocolate covered almonds I would also recommend the chocolate covered macadamia nut clusters with caramel (I think) mixed in. I got a box and needless to say they did not last long! Good thing to know I’m not the only one who gives in to the temptation!

  33. danielle permalink
    January 17, 2011 7:23 pm

    Almost peeing my pants reading this b/c this is SO me…so me in that I have 3, yes 3 dark chocolate covered cahews left in a tin that was supposed to be too far out of the way for me to eat (top shelf of the lazy susan that I NEVER have to go to)…thanks for posting this–it makes me feel normal ha ha ha ha!! 😀

  34. Beth permalink
    January 17, 2011 7:40 pm

    Choc almonds are my most recent love (and the subject of a recent justification convo w/my husband). There’s a lot of goodness packed into those little babies! I figure there are worse things to munch on – and if it give me and the kids and him a little boost to get to the top of the mountain GREAT!

  35. January 17, 2011 9:13 pm

    Sort of luckily, the Costco where we live is across town and always crazy-busy, so we don’t usually shop there. My aunt calls it the “buck or 200 store,” and that’s always what happens to us when we go! Intentions of buying staples that are hard to find or ridiculously expensive elsewhere, like organic quinoa, and then, BAM!, the cart is full. And I LOVE chocolate almonds, but nuts are banned in our house due to our niece’s allergy – so it saves me calories in the long run, I’m sure. 🙂

  36. Alison Price permalink
    January 17, 2011 9:31 pm

    Just joined Costco last month. May have to try these things…..since right now my addiction is Hershey Nuggets, with almonds. Had a whole bag in two days last week…..wonder why my gall bladder is freaking out today?

  37. January 17, 2011 11:14 pm

    Oh my gosh! Have I told you lately that I love you? Awesome post.

  38. JillC permalink
    January 18, 2011 7:11 am

    Was just at Costco yesterday. Before you know it, you are walking out the door with $360 of “bargains.” My husband LOVES the idea of buying in bulk, so he will never complain about that expense. Which is why we have three full boxes of kitchen garbage bags under our sink. That will take about 3 years to use. But, of course, I will forget that I have that many and probably buy more at the next trip! You are good to give them away. I would eat the rest myself quickly (damage control), then never buy them again. Any chocolate covered nut would have me drooling!

  39. Dawn Imel permalink
    January 18, 2011 9:19 am

    I can absolutely relate, chocolate covered almonds are my weakness. We don’t have a Costco but we have Sams and thank goodness Sams has an alternative. They have almonds covered in coco powder in the massive container. I get the chocolate taste without the added calories. Claims to have the same calories as plain almonds, but they sure do not taste like it. YUMMMMMYYYYY!!!!!

  40. Jodi permalink
    January 18, 2011 9:20 am

    SPent the last 2 days adding an extra mile in after a chocolate and cake filled weekend. I run to stay healthy and to keep my weight down and it amazes me how I have switched from craving salty foods when I was very heavy to the sweet stuff now! Thanks for the blog and for making us all feel normal!

  41. Katie permalink
    January 18, 2011 12:48 pm

    That.was.awesome!!! I am the same way. My downfall is the Costco Trail Mix – raisins, salty peanuts, M&Ms – OMG – get that away from me because I will eat that entire giant bag right now! I am only saved in that my husband does all the grocery/Costco shopping – now if he would just stop buying the yogurt covered pretzels that are ‘for the kids’, I’d be much lighter. 🙂

  42. Ruthie permalink
    January 18, 2011 5:50 pm

    I feel foolish for not having thought of this earlier. Brilliant! The HMM# might be just what saves me from the roll of Rolos on the way home from work. How Many Miles am I really going to want to put in for those chewy bits of goodness? Thanks Dimity!

  43. Kim permalink
    January 19, 2011 10:23 am

    Love Costco but I always eat something before I go! And I almost always leave with a rotisserie chicken so we have something for dinner. It wears me out unloading and finding places for all the goods, so we reheat the chicken with some organic spring mix and a bottle of white wine…see why I love Costco!

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