THE BLOG

Could Your Favorite Restaurant Be Partially Responsible For You Developing Diabetes?

03/18/2011 02:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It is my favorite restaurant; well actually, you may call it a fast food restaurant. I don't think of it as that because what I eat there is healthy, really. In my estimation it is the best of the bunch, fast food restaurants that is. But like everything in life, it has its drawbacks, and peculiarities as well. As an example, the sandwich I eat is grilled, not fried. The fried chicken sandwich is quite tasty but contains considerably more fat than the grilled chicken sandwich. This is what puzzles me, I would think that the chicken that is grilled would be less expensive than the one that is fried but it's not. I guess this is one of those things about the restaurant business that I am naïve about. Of course I have learned over the years that eating healthy is usually more expensive than not.

Now for the real drawback, the real reason I am writing this post. At the restaurant that I frequently visit the folks at the counter are exceptionally pleasant, well groomed and almost always greet me with a smile.

They have obviously been well schooled in customer service. They have that down pat. But what I didn't know, never having been in the restaurant business, is that their training doesn't stop with customer service. It goes beyond that to include marketing. And I'm guessing that marketing is as big a part of their training as customer service. So big in fact that if an employee is not heard repeating the proper phrases to customers often enough it is likely to come back to haunt them at evaluation time.

Do not underestimate these folks behind the counter because they know what they are doing (at least the ones at this establishment). I used to think that when I was asked, " Would you like to make that a meal by adding fries for only ... more?" they were just being helpful, informing me that I could get a bigger, more satisfying meal for only a little bit more, and that it was a better deal for me. Or when they said, "Would you like to add a dessert to that for only a dollar more?" they were being nice, as if to say, "You look like you could use a delicious dessert today." No, no, no, no, boy was I wrong. How could I have been so naïve? Apparently it's all about the bottom line. Asking these questions may mean the difference in the restaurant having a so-so month versus a profitable month.

Sadly, I must admit I have walked into this restaurant, knowing what I was going to order, a chicken sandwich and drink, and been asked, "Would you like to add fries to that today?" and I answered, "Yes". Just like that. It was that easy. And all they had to do was ask. I was swayed, influenced, and that is all it took. I didn't need those fries. That's way too much grease for me and usually leaves me feeling uncomfortably full the rest of the afternoon. Then quietly, so silently no one could even hear me but me, I called myself a wimp.

Now you may be thinking, "Hey, that's not so bad, particularly if you only do it once in a while". Well, you are probably right, at least in my case, for now. I am reasonably fit and still more lean than fat.

But for the customer trying so hard to do better with their eating this makes it very, very tough. Perhaps they are desperately trying to lose weight because they have high blood pressure or a heart condition. Maybe they have been diagnosed as having the metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes, or even worse, type 2 diabetes, all of which would benefit greatly from weight loss. These people may struggle with their self-discipline as it relates to food on a daily basis. Just by asking these folks if they would like fries, or a cookie, or to "super size," may weaken their resolve sufficiently enough to result in them caving in to the temptation. It doesn't take much and restaurants know that. Heck, it happened to me.

What about the customer that responds, "Not today, I'm trying to lose some of this weight" and the girl at the counter replies, "Oh, but it's Friday, one day's not going to hurt you." That in my mind is a tremendous disservice.

It is such a shame that, in this case, what is good for the restaurant's bottom line is not in the customers best interest, or more blatantly put, bad for the customer.

This is not an example of a win, win situation by any means.

Companies have to make money and the more the better as long as others don't begin to suffer because of it. But in this case, customers pay for it, twice, not just in dollars and cents but in the adverse effects the extra, usually unnecessary food has on their bodies.

I will continue to frequent this restaurant, because overall I consider it a very nice place that has always treated me well. But next time I am asked if I want fries or a cookie to go with my sandwich, without hesitation, I will say, "No thank you."

I encourage you to do the same. You'll thank yourself for it sooner than you think.