Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Treats and Tricks

For just over the past month I have made it a point to bring my lunch with me to work. It was the first strategy toward losing weight and being somewhat more healthy. Most of my lunches have been soups which are filling, healthy (if carefully selected), and filling. There is enough variety in soups that I won’t soon grow tired of it as I often do with leftovers. 
I have wasted so much food by cooking a large casserole on Sunday so I would have a quick and easy lunch to take for the week - only to be tired of it by Tuesday and cheat with a burger and fries somewhere along the way. Thus ends that weeks plan for eating healthy home cooked meals for the week.
The soups have been working well for me. Though they are not homemade, they are relatively additive free (if you buy the right ones) and low in calories. I usually eat a whole can which counts for two servings, but  in most cases, those two servings come in at under 250 calories which is not bad for the middle of the day. The lunch can be prepared, eaten, dishes washed in fewer than 15 minutes on most days considering I eat most of them at my desk and continue working between spoonfuls.
I wonder if Microsoft has considered that for their “New Busy” campaign.
Yesterday I was preparing my can of tomato soup. I had a craving for some crackers, thinking they would be a nice addition. I went to the vending machine to see what they might have. As far as crunchy things go, my options were fairly limited, so I settled on a popular brand of corn chips. Because I’m a label reader, I naturally turned the package over to see the nutritional information. To my shock, that vending machine, single-serving bag had twice as many calories as my double serving of soup. The calories from fat alone matched the total calories in the soup!
If I had not been paying close attention, that little addition of texture I sought with my soup would have completely defeated my diet plan.
The dietary information is there, but I wonder how many people actually use it in making their eating decisions. Just this week, The Center for Science in the Public Interest released their report on the highest calorie meals in restaurants. They found meals in common chain restaurants that contained over 2000 calories - more calories than many people need in a day! Soon this calorie information will be available on restaurant menus; however, I wonder if it will make any difference? I know that I will be careful all week long just so I can pig out on chips and queso on Friday night. The packaging on labels in stores have not worked for the growing ( bad pun) number of obese people in the country - will information on menus do anything to help the number to help them making decisions in restaurants?
I am one of those liberal contradictions who fully supports personal responsibility. WhenI make decisions, the consequences of those decisions fall squarely on my shoulders. i believe the same should be expected of everyone, but when a single dish can cover a days calories or a single serving bag can undermine the efforts of a day, those marketing the product need to take some responsibility for deceptive practices. I know I am overindulging when I have the chips and queso on Friday night - that is the point of it - and when I order pasta with Alfredo sauce, I know I am not doing my diet any favors; however, it should not be so much that it undermines the work of a week in the gym or at the track. Restaurants and food companies know better and owe consumers better.
I ate the bag of chips. I am not going to waste 75 cents either. I just spread the bag out over several days and kept the calorie intake to a minimum. I pay attention to what I eat and so far it has been worth 12 pounds of my heaviest weight. Now I have to keep up the vigilance for the next 10 pounds and I will be almost happy.
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