Sunday, January 4, 2015

Grocer X: So, you’re on a diet

Posted By on Sun, Jan 4, 2015 at 10:09 AM

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I’m going out on a limb here and guessing you’re one of the billions planning on “toning up a bit” this year. You’re only a few days into it now, give or take an early cheat day, but I’m sure it’s going really well.

It’s an American tradition to start each New Year off with plans of a strict diet of vegetable breakfast smoothies and supplemental snack foods, and to actually use that gym membership. Good luck.

At the grocery store it’s business as usual. We’re just tightening up our seasonal syntax. You’ll think we’re here to help you ease the pressure on your favorite pants’ waistline with our blowout sales on "all natural" and organic products. We’ll have plenty of your favorite 100-calorie snack packs and beefed up displays of seemingly healthier options all around the store. We’re here for you [your money].

We won’t notice your slimming features, only the Lean Cuisines and diet sodas flying off the shelves and into your carts — apparently, a lot of you still consider these to be healthier options — along with whatever this year’s trending produce item will be. (I’m guessing it’ll be beets. They were gaining some steam last year.) But we’ll continue to cheer you on with "healthy choice" placards along the aisles, and maybe a new brand of low-calorie, naturally flavored waters.

Come February, and a chocolate holiday if there ever was one, things should go back to normal. We’re capitalistically obligated to sell you high-priced chocolates and candies and lavish dinner ideas for holidays of any sort. We’re not trying to sabotage you. But really, what’s more important; proving your love for someone with a five-pound box of chocolates or the diet plan you’ll be giving up on by Easter anyway?

Diets come in all shapes and sizes, and I’ve seen ‘em all. I’ve sold shirataki pasta products to the no-carb crowd, only to turn around to sell them a sheet cake two weeks later. “I don’t eat red-meat” turns into “…. "But pork doesn’t count, right?” And sugar abstainers rid their baskets of candy and pastries and opt for a caramel macchiato — with two pumps — instead because, “I’m doing pretty good.”

There’s a reason most any diet plan, outside of the medically prescribed, is stuck with the "fa"’ label: they hardly last. Ask Atkins — is that still a thing?

Now, I’m speaking only from what I observe as a humble grocery worker whose job is directly affected — and therefore quite predictable — by a community’s eating habits. Maybe you yourself are the shining example of "from fat to fabulous" every dieter hopes to be. For the rest of you, there’ll always be next year — we’re working on the next line of zero-calorie energy drinks now.

Thanks for shopping with us.

The man behind the apron is Craig Lemley, digital content coordinator here at the Indy. The Colorado Springs native spent nearly a decade working in grocery stores across the Pikes Peak region before retiring his produce knife for a surprisingly less-stressful media career. Follow him on twitter @_CraigLemley or send questions/comments to

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