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So you think you want to be a restaurant critic?

Try my job for three months, or six months, or a year or two -- how about 10? -- and you're almost certain to see the scale inch up over time.

Eventually, you might even begin to question the wisdom of accepting what most people imagine is a dream assignment.

Don't get me wrong: I still love what I do.

But I'm not happy with its side effects, and I'm trying to do something about it -- while still doing my job.

That's why I was eager to buy a copy of the new "Weight Watchers Dining Out Companion" after joining a Weight Watchers at Work group. When the books arrived, some of us working late ran upstairs to get them right away.

Within minutes my friend Julie and I -- both aiming for 29 points a day in the new Weight Watchers Plus program -- were messaging each other with bulletins from the book.

"One-tenth of a large, square, Jet's pizza is 14 points. Which means two slices is 28 points. And three is 42!!!" I e-shrieked to her.

"Yikes!" she wrote back. "I don't think I've ever in my life only eaten just one slice of pizza. Ever."

She followed up: "Uggghhh! Cold Stone Creamery, my favorite. I can't even look at the points."

I checked and wrote back: "My hair is standing on end! Some of its shakes are 47 ... 54 ... 56 points!"

Sensible Julie replied, "Maybe I'll settle for a small Dairy Queen vanilla cone. 6 points."

I logged off and went home after this: "One -- just ONE -- Tim Hortons chocolate Timbit is 2 points. " (Really, does anyone eat just one Timbit? Ever?)

The reality is that my job rarely takes me to fast-food and chain restaurants, though I plead guilty to the pizza and even an occasional Timbit or two on my own time.

But reading through other sections of the Weight Watchers book, I was reminded that you don't have to eat at a fast-food place to consume many, many, many more calories than you may blithely believe you are. (The Weight Watchers PointsPlus plan isn't based simply on calories, but you get my point.)

One cup of chicken pad Thai is 10 points -- one-third of my daily target -- but I'd say that most orders are closer to 3 cups.

A 1-cup serving of beef bourguignon is 15 points; your favorite chef surely serves more.

One cup of Indian chicken biryani is 11 points; the last time I ordered it, the waiter brought an entire platter full.

People can consume too many calories at home, too. But restaurants can represent double jeopardy: The food is often made with richer, fattier ingredients than you realize, and family-sized amounts are often presented as one meal.

I know this, yet I was shocked at the numbers, compared with what I should be eating. (Individual targets vary.)

Nutritional information is free online, and most book stores have good guides to restaurant dining. Check them out if you're watching your weight. You might be surprised.