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Over-thinking can be frustrating

February 23, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
People attempting to eat healthy food can sometimes overdo it in the process.

This dilemma is not uncommon and can result in a lot of confusion when it comes to grocery shopping. The good thing is that packaging laws result in more accurate food labeling. The bad thing is that reading labels and trying to maintain a particular set of rules can be challenging. There is the high amount of fat in a lot of products to contend with, while keeping in mind that when fat is removed, often extra sugar is added to beef up the flavor. And in many products, that sugar is in the form of high fructose corn syrup.

Last night, while coming home from dinner and listening to Michael Pollan’s book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” on CD in the car, my husband asked, “What’s so bad about high fructose corn syrup?”

I have my own reasons for considering it an evil food additive, but mine is not the only one. In the book “You on a Diet” by Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz, the doctors write that hfcs acts differently than plain sugar. When taken in by the body, hfcs’s do not inhibit the body’s ability to turn off its appetite, as it does when eating healthy foods. This, the doctors claim, is one of the reasons people today are fighting their weight. These foods make us hungrier still, in addition to the fact that they are high in calories. Some doctors also believe that hfcs is utilized differently by the liver and is possibly the cause for increased cases of type two diabetes, although those findings are not conclusive.

My own reason for trying to avoid the substance is that these “empty calories” are hidden in many foods where we would least expect it. As a result, we are taking in more calories that have absolutely no nutritional value. The idea behind Eating to Live is to get nutrients from the food we eat.

Oz and Mehmet tell people not to choose foods where hfcs, or other simple sugars, are more than four grams in any one food product, or if the substance is one of the first four ingredients listed. I try to avoid hfsc’s altogether, and also avoid food that list sugars as more than seven grams per serving. The exception to my own rule is if the food can be broken down into smaller than one serving sizes. For example, if a half-cup serving of granola has more than seven grams of sugar, I won’t use an entire half cup, but will use it instead as a topping for yogurt by the tablespoon. I don’t know if this really helps, but it helps me to believe I am not taking in too much sugar at one time.

Am I over-thinking by worrying so much what is on the ingredient list of the food I buy? Maybe.

Wednesday was a quiet day at work and I was able to get quite a lot of work done. I’m still doubling up on my days to catch up, so I won’t post a photo of Wednesday’s breakfast, but I finished the last of the cinnamon shredded wheat that day. There was less than a serving left and I also was out of bananas, so it was rather boring with only a few sliced almonds and milk. But it was satisfying all the same. To make up for it, I used part of my lunch break to go to a local grocery store and get something more filling. I bought the bananas I was missing at breakfast, some low sodium soup and a Mediterranean chicken wrap from the deli. I honestly could not find any chicken in this wrap, but it was nicely filled with roasted red peppers, onions and other vegetables.

By dinner, I was ready to eat and my husband had grilled a couple small sandwich steaks. I measured four ounces for myself, steamed mixed vegetables sprinkled with Mrs. Dash herb and garlic seasoning and a glass of fat-free milk.

Thursday morning’s breakfast wasn’t quite as appetizing. I found peaches in the grocery store when I bought the bananas, and remembered how good peaches were last summer. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember that they were out of season now and had no idea where my peaches were coming from this time of year. Luckily I only bought two and decided to have one of them with two slices of whole wheat nut bread with peanut butter. The peach turned out to be horrible. I took one bite and barely tasted any peach flavor at all. I ended up tossing the peach, so even though you see it here, it didn’t get consumed by me or anyone else. I also had a half cup of two percent cottage cheese.

For lunch Thursday I made a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and low-fat mayonnaise and had the rest of the steamed vegetables from the previous night’s dinner.

I loved my dinner Thursday night. I had some leftover whole wheat penne pasta in the freezer from last week that I wanted to use. I sauteed more of those mixed vegetables, tossed in a couple ounces of leftover chicken and the pasta that I thawed for a few minutes in the microwave. It all came together quite nicely and was very good. I love these one pan meals that are filled with lots of vegetables and either brown rice or whole wheat pastas. The chicken could have been left out for a vegetarian meal and it would have been just as good. Fresh melon was on the side as well as a glass of fat-free milk.


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Wednesday breakfast and lunch: 1 3/4 ounces grains; 1 ounce meat; 1 ½ cups vegetables; 1 fruit; 1 cup milk; 2 ½ tsps. oils, 30 discretionary calories