When it comes to eating naughty, calorie-laden foods, I think it’s safe to say that I shed my amateur status years ago. Most obese people have a love/hate relationship with food…and the only people I know who have ever successfully wrestled this tiger to the ground are the ones who made peace with their demons. I think I’ve been successful for so long this time because I’m looking the demons right in their angry little green faces…and then clubbing the shit out of them with my weapon of choice: common sense.
My first common sense victory happened when I decided to stop force feeding myself “diet” food and really spent some time & energy finding healthy food that I actually enjoyed. I knew I wasn’t going to see any long term success if I stuffed my freezer with diet entrees and forced brown rice down my throat every night. I really enjoy finding and testing recipes that are tasty and healthy – and I refuse to settle for anything less.
I love it when someone comes out with a lighter/leaner version of something and it’s absolutely delicious. However, some of these lighter/leaner recipes make me wonder if the creator didn’t eat a big bowl ‘o stupid when they thought them up.
For example, I once saw a lighter/leaner recipe for Starbucks cake pops. A single Starbucks cake pop has 180 calories. This website published their lighter recipe, which made 24 cake pops that were 118 calories each. Are you kidding me?
First of all, that’s only 62 calories less for all the trouble you’re going through to make them. Second, I’m an eater. I need 24 cake pops in my house like the world needs another Snooki. Those cake pops would be whispering to me from the kitchen until they were all gone…which would take about as much time as it does to watch the evening news and a couple episodes of “Friends”. Trying to save those 62 ridiculous calories would have given me a 2,832 calorie binge and a hell of a guilt trip. No, thank you!
I also found a lighter recipe for Jamba Juice’s “Orange Dream Machine”. The lighter recipe was 164 calories (compared to Jamba’s 350 calories) and contained fat free powdered non-dairy creamer and a packet of no calorie sweetener. Jamba Juice’s recipe contains fruit, soy milk, and all natural ingredients.
It’s a no brainer for me…in favor of the original, higher calorie recipe. I don’t go to Jamba Juice very often - so if I go, I’m prepared to spend a little extra time on the treadmill. And I really don’t want to eat chemicals, ok? Seriously. Fat free powdered non-dairy creamer and a packet o’ chemicals just so we can say we had half the calories? What about the value of those calories?
If I’m really that hung up about the 350 calories in the 16 oz Orange Dream Machine, I’ll drink half of it and save half of it for tomorrow. There! I just cut it in half AND got to enjoy the other half the next day…voila! Common sense.
I also have an issue with some of the recipes that appear in magazines like Cooking Light and Clean Eating. I love these magazines…but there comes a point when I just want to roll my eyes and smack the crap out of the people in their test kitchens. Clean Eating magazine once featured a recipe for coconut cream pie on their cover and I was so excited I nearly peed my pants right there in Barnes & Noble…right in front of the bridal magazine section where all the skinny girls stand, too. How embarrassing!
I feverishly flipped through the magazine to see what the calorie damage was on the coconut cream pie and found a list of ingredients I’d never heard of before – including “organic evaporated cane juice”. Whaaaat?
Oh, organic evaporated cane juice? Yes, of course I have some of that in my pantry…right next to the jar where I keep Batman’s left testicle. They’re both equally difficult to get a hold of. Where do these ingredients come from?
Maybe the summer issue of Better Homes and Gardens will feature a super low-cal star spangled blueberry pie with just a few simple ingredients:
evaporated non-dry, whole-grain unbleached bleached white flour
apple flavored single malt gelatin granules
36.2 packets of calorie-free, sugar-free sugar substitute with bacon extract
the bark from the north facing side of a willow tree
and 1/2 of a banana
Jesus! Sometimes it’s easier (and healthier) to just eat the original recipe, calories and all…and work it off the old fashioned way.
I’ve lost 27 pounds in 3 months – and that includes a trip to my favorite Texas buffalo wing bar and 2 nights of “we have no clean dishes, let’s just order pizza”. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t all be trying to eat lighter as a whole, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Case in point: buffalo wings. I have never found a healthier, baked recipe that I enjoy. EVER. As far as I’m concerned, the extra calories are worth it. However, I never need to buy a bag of oily chips again…because I enjoy my lighter, leaner potato chip recipe every bit as much as those oily chips. More, actually.
Sometimes it’s okay to just eat naughty. Get in touch with where you are emotionally. Are you in a good place or a bad place? Deep down, you know…and if you really don’t know, then don’t eat naughty until you do know. Once you determine that you aren’t trying to medicate yourself with naughty food…go ahead and (gasp) eat it. The trick is to actually take a little time and come up with a plan for yourself. If you don’t have a plan, feel free to use mine…I can share.
Here are my 10 Common Sense Steps to Eating Naughty:
1. Figure out the caloric content & serving size you’re going to eat. (Lying to yourself TRIPLES the calories…you’ve been warned.)
2. Figure out how much extra cardio you’re going to have to do to work it off.
3. Re-evaluate whether it’s really worth it to you to eat those calories. Sometimes it is…and there’s nothing wrong with that. If it’s worth it, commit to that extra cardio (and I mean set a time for it on the same day you’re eating naughty).
4. Make adjustments to your other meals for that day. This is especially helpful if you’re eating something that’s very high in calories. For example, if you’re eating something that’s 700 calories, then remove 350 calories from your other meals that day and burn 350 extra calories in cardio. Do not skip meals!
5. If you’re cooking the naughty/unhealthy food and you know there will be leftovers, package it up IMMEDIATELY and send Johnny Jr. next door to give it to the neighbors…or the dog…I don’t care, just get it the hell out of your house. You know you’ll go back for more if it’s still there before bed.
6. If you’re going out to a restaurant, are you eating the entire entree or will there be leftovers? If there will be leftovers, ask the server to bring you a take-out container BEFORE your food.
7. Serve yourself the pre-determined serving amount.
8. Thoroughly enjoy it…guilt free. If anyone makes any snarky comments, kick ‘em in the Precious!
9. Get up off your ass and honor your cardio commitment before you talk yourself out of it.
10. Don’t visit Mr. Scale the next day…just in case he pisses you off or makes you feel guilty.
My best advice to you is this: listen to yourself. You know what’s really in your heart and your head. If you can handle it and be honest with yourself, it doesn’t hurt to eat naughty once in a while. If you’re not sure, either don’t do it…or start shopping for evaporated yak saliva and reconstituted cow hooves. Yum!