Fast Food Decency

 

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“I can barely taste the difference”

My mantra = eat. real. food. But sometimes, real food isn’t there. And other times, you have your period. So you really just want to have fast food.

My problem with fast food, more than anything, is the industry’s general treatment of animals. I don’t go overboard, but I try to minimize my support of fast food restaurants for that reason alone. Emphasis on “try.”

Of course, there are obvious health hazards related to eating fast food regularly. But of course health matters vary based on your personal circumstances and level of activity. The occasional fast food meal won’t make or break you.

In any event, sometimes fast food is what’s there. Here are a few decent options.

McDonald’s: South West Chicken Salad

Remember those gross salad shakers McDonald’s use to have?

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What on earth were they thinking?

Those days are long gone, my friends. The Southwest Chicken Salad is actually super delicious and yummy. It has mixed greens, chicken, beans, cheese and some little tortilla chips. The ingredients are reliably fresh, at least in my experience.

It’s also really cheap, as far as salads go in New York, around 5 – 7$ depending on the location. As a comparison, a lunch salad in the city is usually around $12-15 dollars.

McDonalds: Vanilla Cone

The McDonald’s Vanilla Cone is truly a hidden gem. It’s nothing less than a tragedy how few people know of its existence.

Dude, this stuff looks and tastes like ice cream. But it only has 170 calories. And 5G of protein. It’s not a bad choice – I have it quite often.

Plus – it’s like .99 cents. Some locations even have an extra small size. Ask for a “kid’s cone.”

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“Can I have a Kid’s Cone please? But make it for 28 year olds.” 

Wendy’s:  Chili + Baked Potato or Side Salad

Some of the best moments of my life were moments I spent eating Wendy’s chili. Depressing? Yes. True? Very.

If it weren’t for Wendy’s Chili, I’d never have any excuse to eat saltines. And I love saltines very much.

I usually get my Chili with a baked potato + sour cream and chives. Alternatively, I get the caesar side salad, and dump the chili on top of it.

Wendy’s: Everything You Actually Want, But in a Tiny Version

If you happen to find yourself at Wendy’s, and you actually want the real stuff, you’re in luck. Wendy’s has itsy bitsy versions of quite a few menu items.

Just ask for the “value size.” And yes, they have tiny Frosty’s too.

Bonus Sauce: Even though your fries and nugs are now tiny, the BBQ sauce stays the same size.

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No, this soda is not enormous. 

Burger King: Ceasar Salad

Burger King’s salad is not nearly as good as McDonald’s, but at least the ingredients have appeared fresh in my experience. And it isn’t gross. At the very least it’s better than getting a Whopper.

Taco Bell: Fresco Menu

Taco Bell has a light menu, called the “Fresco Menu.” These are decent choices, calorie-wise. In fact, pretty much any soft taco is a decent option. The Bell also has rice in a styrofoam cup. #epitomeofclass

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“I’ll have one of everything, please. Actually, make that two.”

A word of caution: these items are not exactly filling.

I find that the Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes are far more suited to my tastes. Not terrible. 270 calories. Could be worse – I could be eating an entire antelope followed by a jar of Nutella.

Any Suggestions?

These are just a few decent fast food options – I’m sure there are many more out there.

I’d love to hear your recommendations.

…Together, we can make sure that no fast food item will ever go uneaten.

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A Way Out: Eating Without Counting

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This plate contains meat, mac and cheese, and starchy veggies prepared in oil. But notice how it’s mostly veggies. And underneath is entirely greens.

I’m about to describe how I eat, in general.

I think that for most people, a diet like mine will allow them to lose weight – even without exercise. And yes, even without counting calories.

All you have to do is listen to your appetite.

This is basically it:

  • This is KEY: I’d guess that 3/4 of my diet is veggies, by volume. I eat as many veggies as I want. Many greens, but I don‘t shy away from starchy vegetables.
  • I dress my salads however I want – sometimes including croutons, seeds etc. I personally only like a small amount of dressing, and usually no dressing at all.
  • I eat a small amount of meat several times a week. Many weeks I don’t eat any meat at all.
  • If I’m not eating a TON of greens for a particular meal, I use small plates. Large plates are ridiculous.
  • I eat lots of soups, usually broth based (rarely creamy)
  • I eat lots of eggs, every day. With a little bit of olive or coconut oil.
  • I’m not big on dairy, but I have it when I want it
  • I try to stay away from refined foods
  • I eat not too many beans, but probably more than most people
  • I eat 1 or 2 squares of chocolate every day
  • Some days, I drink wine
  • Occasionally, I eat bad stuff

The foods I eat most often are:
greens, eggs, sweet potatoes, avocados, tomatoes and onions

On Meal Frequency (and this is important!!):
 I eat as often as I want, but I NEVER eat simply because it’s meal time. Some days I eat very often, and some days not at all. I eat completely according to my appetite.

On Physical Activity:
I stay active, but only because I enjoy it. I don‘t do harsh exercises. I walk often, hike often, and sometimes jog.

Three caveats to all of the above

1. Losing weight is different than maintaining weight. What I’ve described, to me, is a healthy diet – based on what we know now. If you eat like this, and according to your own appetite, then your weight should take care of itself, barring some other major issues.

If you go from eating processed foods to eating like this – I imagine you’ll lose weight without counting calories. But if you always eat like this, and you haven’t been losing weight, then of course you won’t. For you, adding exercise or cutting out some calories might work.

2. Getting from A to B is a trip. If you rely on processed foods and carbs for the majority of your needs, it could be very difficult to suddenly transition to a diet like this. You don‘t want to torture yourself, and yes – it may take time. I suggest adding vegetables to your diet first, rather than taking anything away. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy and prefer eating this way. It just took some getting used to.

3. This diet makes me feel full and satisfied. If this doesn’t make you feel full and satisfied, it’s not going to work for you.  This is why I suggest adding rather than subtracting. Fill up on veggies that you love, and begin to gingerly try ones you don‘t care for. You might find that you get to an ideal weight without even trying.

Sometimes, Counting Calories is Good.

In some situations, counting calories might make sense. For more on that, check out my post On Counting Calories.

Happy not-counting 😀

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On Counting Calories

 

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Calories don’t count if you eat standing up.

I don’t take a strict “calories in-calories out” approach to weight loss or maintenance. Still – your overall caloric intake is important. Very important. Perhaps the most important factor in determining your overall body composition.

Even so, you don’t have to count calories to lose or maintain your weight. It just depends on the circumstances.

Full Disclosure: I Can’t NOT Count Calories.

dont count calories anymore. But I did spend my entire life doing it. So now, at the tender age of 28, I can’t NOT count calories.

Sadly, I’ve become such an expert that I just do it subconsciously.

I can very accurately predict the calories in basically any food. And without thinking about it, I just always know how many calories I’ve had to eat on a given day.

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I’m like a Calorie Rain Main.

 

The reason I tell you this?
..So that you take my advice on calories with a grain of salt.

Because after all, even though I DON’T count calories, I actually DO count calories. It’s like the 10,000 hour rule for fat people.

Sometimes, Counting Calories is Good.

Counting calories can be very helpful under the right circumstances. Specifically, counting calories might be a good idea if:

  1. You’re a noob.
  2. You eat lots of processed foods and carbs.

“Noobs” are people who don’t know much about nutrition. Being a noob is a good thing. It means you’ve actually enjoyed your life, instead of focusing on what you eat all day.

Still, Noobs might be a little confused. And not through any fault of their own. The basic nutrition facts we learned in school – well, they were wrong. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat, eating cereal for breakfast is probably a terrible idea, and yes – you can eat the egg yolk. Even if you have high cholesterol.

If you’re a noob, counting calories can help you become more mindful of what you are eating. This might lead to a greater awareness of how your diet might be less than ideal.

But be careful, noobs, lest you fall under the impression that caloric intake is all that matters. It’s part of a bigger picture.

…which brings us to processed foods.

People who eat lots of processed foods might also do well to count calories.

Two reasons:
1. Processed foods are less filling than whole foods, so your body might not be cueing you properly on when to stop eating;
2. Processed foods are often designed to be addictive, making it more likely you’ll overeat

Similarly, for some people, carbs have a tendency to increase your appetite and cause cravings. This is certainly my experience.

A Way Out

Read my blog post on how I eat, in general.  I believe that for most people, a diet similar to mine will allow them to lose weight – even without exercise.

And yes, without counting calories!! 

The keys are –
1. Crowding out poor choices with MANY veggies; and
2. Listening to your appetite

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Emotional eating and peanut butter banana sammies

This topic hits really close to home. I crave food the most when I am sad, stressed, nervous, made, or anxious. Basically it hits when I “just can’t deal”. For many years, emotional eating derailed me from succeeding on whatever diet plan I was on at the moment (we need to discuss the word diet at some point. I really hate that word. It’s a lifestyle change… once I realized the difference between diet and lifestyle change, my world changed).

Cortisol is a stress hormone that triggers cravings for foods that give immediate pleasure like high fat foods, foods that are salty and sweet. My go to foods were always pasta and breads and if I wasn’t home, man oh man, the most comforting food to me was Wendy’s #6- spicy chicken sandwich. Eating that food gave me such a temporary high. It reduced all my stress and made me feel like everything was ok in the world. But then I would get so mad at myself for eating those bad foods. What a vicious cycle from sadness and stress to anger and around and around we’d go.

Emotions are sometimes hard to control, BUT, we can control how we consume foods. I have my moments of weakness but not as bad as before and I definitely don’t beat myself up over it anymore because guilt is just another negative emotion.

Here are ways I’ve been able to help myself and I hope my experiences can help you too.

 Know yourself. Know what sets you off and be prepared.

Example: Work stressors. Keep healthy, satisfying snacks around. I always make sure to have something laying around like nuts (I love Emerald’s 100 cal packs of Cocoa Roast Almonds), apples, bananas, protein bars, or my recent favorite, banana peanut butter sandwiches (see recipe below).

 Find ways to cope.

Examples:

-Take your lunch break and go for a walk. Get the blood flowing, get some fresh air and relax. Enjoy the world around you.

-Keep a journal; sort out your thoughts, word vomit all over those pages!

-Take a breath! Breathing is a powerful tool that can prompt relaxation. Check this link out for some useful breathing techniques: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html

Get a hobby!

– I’ve had an on again off again love affair with Cycling. It’s back on and we are strong as ever and determined to make it work.

-How about art? Coloring? Check out these adult coloring books: http://www.amazon.com/Adult-Coloring-Book-Relieving-Patterns/dp/1941325122

-Watch animal videos on you-tube. I promise, this helps.

Talk to someone

There are a few people in life that can make me feel better- my husband, my parents, and my besties. Thanks guys, I love you!

If you have a moment, let us know what coping techniques you’ve used.

Banana and peanut butter sandwiches to the rescue:

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What you will need:

1 Banana

2 tablespoons peanut butter

Freezer safe Tupperware

Directions:

Cut banana into dime size pieces, you should be able to make 8-10 “sandwiches”

Spread thin layer of PB on a slice and top with another slice of banana

Put your sandwiches inside a freezer safe dish and freeze at least an hour before eating

Enjoy!

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