Perpetually challenge your assumptions about what healthy means. You may be right, but educating yourself and questioning your own paradigm is a valuable exercise when it comes to health and well-being.
I had a lean towards healthy eating dating back to my days in middle school. Down the street from the “power lines,” where the after school fights would take place, was a Burger King. Frequently on 1/2 days, my boys and I would walk to the “restaurant” for lunch. My friends all gobbled Whoppers with Cheese and fries. Not me. I was up to speed on the latest trends in fitness and smugly ordered a chicken sandwich with cheese. This beauty had a fried chicken product, cheese product, mayo product and bread product. It also featured some shredded lettuce. Veggies, baby. Additionally, I ordered the lemonade while the guys drank Dr. Pepper. Psfftt.
Yes, I was young, but there is an adult version of this exercise.
A grownup strolls into the Cheesecake Factory with a group of friends, confident that he’s making a better choice than grabbing fast food from the drive-thru. Most of the table orders burgers and fries, but our friend confidently states, “I’m staying away from red meat. Trying to lower my cholesterol. Doc says to eat leaner meats.”
Scrolling through the menu, he identifies the “Parmesean Crusted Chicken Over Pasta With Mushrooms.” The mushrooms, peppers and onions will provide a lot of color on his plate, which we all know is healthy. He heard that parmesan is a lower fat cheese, and he’s right. The chicken will be leaner than the beef patty. The pasta might not be great, but it has to be better than the bun, and he won’t be eating fries. This guy has made a wise choice, right?
Not so much. This is one of the most calorically dense meals known to man and essentially a pile of heaviness largely void of nutrition. From consumerist.com:
Here we are back at the Factory for its second entry in this year’s awards. This time, it’s for a pasta dish described as, “Parmesan crusted chicken served over pasta with mushrooms, peppers and onions in a spicy New Orleans sauce.”
CSPI says the food alone, weighs about 1.5 lbs, and between the pasta and all the breading on the chicken it’s basically a big pile of sauce-covered flour that, with the New Orleans sauce (which apparently uses butter and heavy cream), you’re well past a full day’s calories, with a whopping 80 g of saturated fat and 2,370 mg of sodium.
“For those numbers, you could have had two Fettuccine Alfredos plus two breadsticks at Olive Garden,” explains CSPI.
Meanwhile, our friend’s tablemate knows better. She’s confident in her choice of ordering a salad, ensuring that she’s going to fill up on mostly veggies. Unlike the middle school version of me, she knows that the fried chicken is bad for you, so she picks the “Grilled Chicken Tostada Salad.” Mixed greens, grilled chicken, corn, green onions, cilantro – what’s not to love?
Except she’s now loaded up with 1,131 calories, nearly twice the amount in the Whopper from BK, along with more carbs and the same amount of saturated fat.
You know we don’t count calories around here. We do encourage you to do your homework. Are these extreme examples? Of course, and I know you’re not that ignorant. But you likely still have your own version of these miscalculations. You, me, everyone has our own biases. Perhaps it’s red meat, or salt, or carbs. Any beliefs that you hold, seeing something as inherently “good” or “bad” for your body, can fall prey to becoming dogma instead of continually tested knowledge.
I’ll call myself out for assuming that we can’t overdo animal flesh, veggies and fruit. While I believe this in principle, I need to dig more and discover where my blind spots are.
Where are you off?