Lockdown and Getting Chubby

Let’s face it. We are stuck at home OR working long hours at a stressful job OR some combination of the two. And what do we tend to do when stressed? Eat. Our bodies tend to interpret stress as a natural disaster so they want lots of salty, fatty carbs to build up those fat stores for the impending famine. And although a lot of us are still able to exercise, its hard to out-run, out-lift, or out-yoga all the salty, fatty, sugary foods that are calling from the pantry.

So, at this time, it is really important for us to be paying attention to what we are eating.

I think its pretty clear that I love food. And most especially I like good food with lots of flavor. But, by making small changes in how I prepare my meals, I can greatly impact how much fat, carbs, protein, and overall calories I am getting while still feeling satisfied with both volume and flavor.

This morning I wanted a BLT. I found some thick sliced bacon in the freezer, a nice big tomato, and some lettuce that I’ve been growing on the back porch. When it came to choosing the bread, however, I have two choices. I can use the Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse White bread that I get for my kids (because they are growing athletes who need a lot of calories) or I can use the thin sliced Dave’s Good Seed bread. Take a look at the difference in the nutrition information:

Dave’s on the left, Pepperidge Farm on the right.

So, two slices of the thin slice bread on the left gives me a total of 140 calories, and 26 grams of carbs. Two slices of the Pepperidge Farm bread gives me 260 calories and 52 grams of carbs. Its a big difference. Now, I could cut a piece of the white bread in half and only use one slice, but that doesn’t leave you with a lot of room for anything you want to put in between that bread. Volume is an important part of satiety. The more tomatoes, more bacon, and more lettuce I can get on my sandwich , the less likely I am to make a second sandwich.

Then there is the bacon. Bacon is mostly fat. A lot of it cooks off when we fry it crisply, but let’s be honest, there are still large slabs of fat left over. What we are looking for in a good BLT is that salty smoky flavor so do we actually need to eat all the fat too? No. So, I pull it off the bacon before it goes on the sandwich. That probably saves me about 10-15 grams of fat which would amount to 90-135 additional calories.

A good BLT also has some mayo on board, but seriously, you don’t need a lot. Read the label, understand your serving size. If you really feel you are missing out on flavor, do what chefs everywhere do to kick up the flavor, add some salt and pepper to your tomatoes. It will make a huge difference and the more flavor you have, the more satisfying the meal.

So doing all that, and using 2 teaspoons instead of 2 tablespoons of mayo on my sandwich potentially saves me 26 grams of carbs and 31 grams of fat. That is 383 extra calories that I don’t need unless I want to go for another 3 mile run. And it was a great sandwich!

So, think about what you are making. Read your nutrition labels. Use a scale to accurately measure portion sizes. There are a lot of small changes you can make that will greatly reduce the amount of excess calories you are eating in a day. And remember to drink your water. A gallon a day will keep you out of the kitchen because you will be in the bathroom peeing. But seriously, upping your water consumption will knock a few pounds off in a few days simply because it will help your body release excess water retention.

“A diet based on quantity rather than quality has ushered in a new creature onto the world stage: the human being who manages to be both overfed and undernourished, two characteristics seldom found in the same body in the long natural history of our species.” – Michael Pollan

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