Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nutrition Facts

Did you know that Cracklin' Oat Bran (my favorite cereal ever) has more calories, more fat, and more sugar than Fruity Pebbles (my second favorite cereal ever)?

Did you know that a glass of 1% milk contains 12g of sugars? How is that even possible? 

No wonder this country has such widespread weight problems. Even when you think you're making healthy choices, you're totally not. That's fucked up. 

I get that things need to taste good, I really do. But we don't even have the option of something that is truly healthy. Whole-grain foods have a higher calorie content and often a higher level of sodium. If something is low-fat, it contains a shit-ton of sugar or sodium. If something is low-sodium, it contains a shit-ton of fat. If something is low sodium AND low-fat, it's chicken broth and you need to make something out of it. 

I mean how are we, as a nation, supposed to get and stay healthy when something called "Cracklin' Oat Bran" has more sugar than a children's cereal called "Fruity Pebbles?"

That reminds me, I need to go check my Fruity Pebbles box to see if there's a prize inside....


Comrade Physioprof said...

But we don't even have the option of something that is truly healthy.

This may be true if by "something" you mean "something processed and mass-produced". If you stick to food that looks pretty much like it was when it was grown, then you can definitely eat healthily. For example, instead of eating "whole-grain" shit that has already been heavily processed and cooked into some kind of sweet crunchy shit in a huge-ass factory somewhere, buy some *actual* uncooked whole grains and cook them yourself.

Let me know if you want some specific suggestions.

JLK said...

Yes, please. And keep in mind that I'm mildly lazy when it comes to cooking for myself.

leigh said...

i recommend brown rice. very easy to cook. much tastier than white rice. and cheap.

the sugar in milk is lactose. fruit is pretty damned high in sugar too. i don't take issue with naturally occurring sugars nearly as much as i do with processed types.

JLK said...

I just had brown rice for dinner last night with salmon. Yummy.

My problem is mostly with breakfast options. Yogurt is not enough, peanut butter toast is still high in fat, bagels with cream cheese are basically sinful. I generally don't have the time or the energy to cook anything in the morning, so I need quick & healthy stuff.

LostMarbles said...

Have you tried oatmeal with fruit for breakfast? It takes about 10 minutes of boiling to make and is super cheap. Plus it's strawberry season right now and oatmeal + fresh strawberries is the best food ever.

Toaster Sunshine said...

I agree with Lost Marbles RE: oatmeal, but she must have a fancy way to make oatmeal as it only takes me about 3min to make a bowl from fresh. However, I pour water and brown sugar over oats and boil it until the gluten begins to congeal; so my oatmeal is rather not soupy, but more like concrete (it's not right unless the spoon can stand up).

As for the rest of it, stop worrying about fat. Fats are part of our normal diets, and we can easily eat ~30% of our daily calories in them before we start to have major problems. I mean, yeah, stay away from trans-fats because that shit just ain't natural; but treating all fats like they're ZOMG TEH EVILZ isn't going to go get you anywhere. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, as are omega-3-fatty acids. They're found in almonds, salmon, tuna, olive oil, canola oil, eggs, etc.. Think about it this way: without fat your nerves will DIE because 1) neurons have large surface areas and accordingly need lots of lipids and sphingosines and 2) neurons coat their axons with myelin, which is rich in fat and has a large effective surface area. Other cells would die, too, but not before your skin got horribly ashy.

And if you really want to lose weight, do what Toaster unintentionally did: give up all meat and most dairy, eat lots of fruit, and walk everywhere. I went on that diet because of dorm food and accidentally lost 15kg.

Ambivalent Academic said...

Toaster, that method of weight loss is only effective if one also is in possession of a 20-something male metabolism. Well, that's not entirely true, it's probably still effective for those not in possession of a 20-something male metabolism, but not so efficient as it was for you. Also, not terribly good for you.

Hope said...

Are eggs verboten for you? What about a breakfast sandwich:
- 1 multigrain “light” English muffin (100 cal)
- 1 egg (70 cal)
- 1 or 2 slices of deli ham (~30 cal).
I make the egg into a quarter-slice shape in the frying pan (coated with a spray of Canola oil), warm up the ham in the same pan, and put it all on the toasted English muffin. I can cook the egg and ham in less time than it takes the muffin to toast.

I love eggs, especially for breakfast, and thankfully, I’ve never had any issues with cholesterol.

As for other ideas, why don’t you browse some healthy eating cookbooks at your local bookstore? There’s gotta be some 30-minute-meal type recipes that’ll work even for cooking underachievers. :-)

Hope said...

Forgot to add that I’m scrambling the egg, as I would for an omelet, not frying it – in case that wasn’t obvious….

JLK said...

@AA - I was going to say the same thing to Toaster, but then I remembered: WTF do I know? I have to blog about this shit to get some answers! LOL

@Hope - Can I put cheese on it? Can't eat a breakfast sandwich without cheese. I'd skip the ham for the cheese I think. For some reason it never occured to me that there could be whole-grain english muffins. That's why I moved away from breakfast sandwiches in the first place. Hmmm.....

Toaster Sunshine said...

Think about it this way: without fat your nerves will DIE because 1) neurons have large surface areas and accordingly need lots of lipids and sphingosines and 2) neurons coat their axons with myelin, which is rich in fat and has a large effective surface area. Other cells would die, too, but not before your skin got horribly ashy.

Sorry about that, I just realized I oversimplified and fear-mongered. It's more nuanced than that. But the end result is the same: fats ain't evil by themselves. Transfats with simple sugars are bad.

Becca said...

I love breakfast.
I'm big on oatmeal (the instant kind, I'm lazy too). I've also been eating a lot of cheerios lately. With fruit on it. I've decided for practical purposes I can eat completely unlimited quantities of fruits and vegtables.

A good quick thing is a smoothie- more filling than just yogurt.

I also eat a lot of fatfree/lowfat yogurt and cottage cheese if I'm eating something else. Low fat milk products may have a bunch of lactose, but I'm still pretty sure they are healthy (human milk has a higher % sugar than cow-milk).

Morningstar breakfast patties are good for healthier breakfast sandwiches, though they might possibly require too long to cook.
Also, they sell eggs with extra omega-3s if you don't eat fishes.
Currently I'm going on an scrambled egg kick (I've been adding in mushrooms and spinach in the hopes it looks healthier). Very quick, almost doesn't constitute cooking.

(as an aside- I completely ignore all advice about sodium. I know this might not go for everyone, but I've always had extremely low blood pressure- to the point of getting dizzy- and I once had a doctor recommend Doritos. If your blood pressure is low, I'd bet the last thing you need to worry about is sodium in your whole grains)

JLK said...

@Becca - First of all, **puke** to cottage cheese. OMG, GROSS. The problem with cheerios and other similar cereals for me is that I have to literally pour sugar on them before I eat them. I need/prefer stuff that is already sweetened.

My blood pressure at last check was 100/70 - it used to consistently be 90/60 and the nurses would be like "Are you feeling okay??" So it's not so much that I'm worried about sodium intake, it's just that I don't like a lot of it. I like my table salt on certain things, but once I started cooking from scratch all the dishes that I used to buy pre-packaged, I just think all that shit tastes way too salty for me.

Here's the thing about fruit. I don't eat/like enough of it to justify buying it. I'll buy the del monte fruit naturals that come pre-packaged in the deli section, I'll buy melon, I'll even buy bananas and occasionally apples. But I have never liked any fruit in my cereal except for strawberries (which I don't like in any other context, go figure), and I just don't eat the full quart or whatever of them before they go bad.

In the mornings I've been drinking a glass of V8 Frusion to get my fruit/vegetable intake. I admit, that spinach/mushroom scrambled egg thing sounds delicious, but again - I either have to dethaw frozen spinach or risk mushrooms going bad.

DuWayne Brayton said...

A tip for making oatmeal palatable without refined sugar (which really is much worse than unrefined);

Use white grape juice concentrate instead. Not terribly cheap, but if you get the store brand it's not as bad as it could be. Tastes fucking great and is much better than white or brown sugar. The other option - especially easy if you have a Trader Joe's locally, is evaporated sugarcane juice. The body metabolizes these much more efficiently than refined stuff.

Also, amaranth is a really good grain to mix with the oatmeal - takes about the same amount of time as non-instant oatmeal and has a great balance of protein to carbs and tends to fill you up better. I also like to mix it with the brown rice.

And on the totally sick and wrong, but rather healthy and tasty front, switching out some of the meat in your diet with textured vegetable protein (preferably the kind that is soy and whey) made with low sodium meat broths, is a great way to go. It's really easy to throw some in the pot with brown rice and/or other whole grain, savory spices and the meat broth, for a very tasty treat.

It is also not a bad idea to save the drippings when you do cook meat - adding a little fat and using what basically amounts to homemade broth is always a good idea. If not that, adding a bit of olive oil can add the essential fat to the meal.

This is keeping in mind that I am about thirty pounds overweight at the moment. But I am also not really eating as healthy as I could were I not so fucking busy and I am taking meds that fuck with my digestion.

LostMarbles said...

Toaster: Unless you're making instant oatmeal (eww) or like it just lightly soaked in water you need more than 3 minutes.

Also, not all "avoiding dorm food" diets are made equal. I'm pretty sure two weeks of KD with tuna and frozen vegetables is not exactly healthy. But then again it was more of a "my meal plan had run out and I was broke" diet.

JLK: Maybe buy some frozen strawberries and add them to the oatmeal as you're boiling it?

Toaster Sunshine said...


3min is plenty. Granted, it's not enough for steel-cut oats, but I prefer whole oats. I cook it on ZOMG-HOT stove top setting and don't use much water. Come to think of it, it's probably not completely cooked all the way through and that is likely why I can run a full day on it without stopping: it cooks in my belly and keeps me full.

Becca said...

DuWayne- I thought you'd given up magical thinking ;-)
Or is there some citation you can provide re: refined sugar?

JLK- yeah, I'm weird about cereal. I can eat cheerios or plain oatmeal without adding any extra sugar (granted these days I do usually do fruit). What about dried fruit? I've been adding a cherry-blueberry-cranberry dried fruit mix to my cereal. Dried fruit lasts for a really long time in a ziplock too.
I love that my supermarket lets me buy 3 large mushrooms at a time, or they would always go bad on me. I haven't figured out a solution to the spinach thing yet (I tend to waste a fair amount of any green leafy thing I get). Hypothetically you could thaw a packet of frozen spinach, aliquot it out to single use bags, and keep one thawed at a time. Though that is a bit of a hassle.

I don't have the 'going to waste' problem with berries- if I let myself I'll eat a full pint or quart of berries in the car on the way home from the store!

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