Sunday, September 7, 2008
Eating This, Not That
I bought a new book: "Eat This - Not That". You've probably heard of it. (It was all over the book store.) It addresses my most formidable adversary in the weight loss battle: unplanned meals. This includes meals eaten out at a restaurant, holiday meals, and party meals.
When left to my own devices, I do OK. Luckily, I already enjoy preparing home-cooked meals from fresh foods, so I have few issues with packaged goods. It's a whole new ballgame when I have reached the food table at a potluck supper, which includes everyone's specialty item. The longer I avoid the temptation by chewing gum or simply sitting at an inconvenient table, the more likely I am to crack under pressure and begin devouring brownies Tasmanian Devil style. I am just a blur with crumbs flying out in all directions to the average bystander.
The purchase of this book was prompted by my friend (who also bought it) and a recent trip to "Romano's Macaroni Grill" (incidentally given an "F" grade in the book). I perused the menu, and found only 2 items listed as "Smart Choices". One was a salmon fillet with broccoli on the side, the other was "Skinny Balsamic Chicken" listed right next to the obviously more delicious "Basalmic Chicken". The skinny recipe was unappealing due to its proximity to its regular counterpart, and the salmon lacked flair. I have salmon in my freezer at all times, and if I am paying $14.95 a meal, it better be for something I can't/won't make myself. This left all the pasta dishes. I reasoned that I could limit myself to half an entree and still be ok, but which to choose?
On the bright side, Macaroni Grill does list its nutrition information online, a feature I find extremely useful as a calorie-counter. On the dark side, I ended up choosing the pasta dish with the most calories of any other dish!! This, while I was attempting to make the right choice. That is where the book comes in. The basic premise is that simple substitutions can go a long way in reducing overall calorie intake. For instance, the chicken burrito bowl without rice at Chipolte has 489 calories, while the chicken burrito has 1092. It also reveals some truths which even the health conscious may not be aware - like fish tacos may sound like fewer calories than steak fajitas, but they are really not.
I think I can live without some frills like cheese or mayo, and I can begin training myself to eat half the meal by getting a box right off the bat. It is either that, or skip these wonderful meals altogether, and to me, that's just not living.