Thursday, November 29, 2007

counting calories

I am not a successful calorie counter. I find it takes all the enjoyment out of eating. And I do like to eat. Now, while many of you will get preconceived notions of a pint of ice cream or a bag of chips, that would be wrong. i like grilled zucchini and fresh salads and local strawberries and slow cooked meats (chicken, turkey, beef).... I am eclectic as a fan of food, and I do enjoy the occasional piece of pie... but the whole thing is "enjoy". I like to enjoy my food.

So occasionally I read labels for caloric content. Usually I read labels for sodium content, being allergic to iodine. But occasionally, I get kick out of calorie counting. Take Doritos, for example. Roughly 13 chips is equivalent to 150 calories. Now who eats 13 chips? I'd say that on estimate, the average person eats a third to a half a bag at a time. Let's just call 13 chips an ounce. It's actually a little more, as roughly 11 chips are considered an ounce. But for easy math, and because my easy math will drive my Statistics friend nuts, we're going with this.

So a 12 oz bag is 12 servings totallying 156 chips. If one eats a third a bag at a sitting, or 52 chips, then one is consuming 600 calories. Now many people consider a 600 calorie meal somewhere between "acceptable" to "high". But this is no meal, this is a bag of chips. and many people eat half a bag or better at a time (so I'm told).

Leaving the snack of a bag of chips alone, let's consider a 2 serving handful of Doritos in a lunch with pb&j and a soda. An average brown bag for a school kid, minus the soda in many places, and an easy lunch for an employee on a budget or a timeline.

2 oz Doritos = 300 calories
can of RC soda = 160 calories (and 50 mg of sodium, I might add)
2 slices wheat bread = 140 cal
2 tbsp peanut butter = 210 cal
1 tbsp blackberry jam = 60 cal

And let's just replace that soda with some orange juice... 120 cal per cup (not per glass, per measuring cup). That's also 28g of sugar per cup too. But this is just because people see fruit juice as so much healthier calorically than soda. Realistically it's not that much different. Given that that soda is 160 calories for 12 oz and the OJ is 120 for roughly 8 oz... *shrug* do your own math.

But back to my example. A few chips, a pb&j, and a can of soda is a snack lunch of 810 calories. If you're on a 2,000 calorie diet, then you just ate almost half your daily allotment of food, unless you're gonna spend the rest of the day eating celery with no spread at all.

Now for the segue. No one looks at you like you're a horrible person for eating an 810 calorie pb&j with a soda and some chips. But got help you if you bring in a McDonald's bag, even if it's a salad and a bottled water. The marketing giants have done a good job of making the "Golden Arches" a nasty trigger word associated with slovenly people hell-bent on eating themselves into obesity and early death. It's ridiculous. And McDonald's, for their part, have gone a long way to introduce a menu filled with grilled chicken, salads, fruit options, and even "specialty coffees" for the latte set. Sheesh. While I understand that economics drive both the marketing ploys set forth -- one to promote health foods, diet pills, health care and insurance reform (and by "reform", I don't really mean true reform), the other side works to reinvent themselves as part of a "healthy choice lifestyle".

Fact is, you can get fat on pb&j's and chips if you're not gonna bother exercising. Fact it, you can eat McDonald's quarter pounders if you're going to baby your body in overall health. Not "baby" like treat it delicately. "Baby" it like you would a classic muscle car in cherry condition. Keep it well oiled, tuned up, and taken around the track to blow out the engine and keep it running smooth.

What the marketing giants have not addressed with all of this is perhaps the single most important factor in eating, dieting, and just about everything else in life -- COMMON SENSE.

Ooh, but those are trigger words no one wants to touch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

unfortunately, that kind of sense is no longer quite so common....