The sun is high in the sky, there is an empty bowl of soup on the table next to me as I try to squeeze the last minutes out of my lunch break before heading back down the hill to sit under some florescent lights for the rest of the day. My fingers are scrolling over the screen to my smart phone as I thumb through breaking news events, Olympic stats, and health articles when three high pitched voices, along with corresponding persons, sit down at the table next to me and start to open bags of goodies recently purchased at the grocery store, which I can only presume is their lunch.
I continue to stare at my phone, enjoying the warmth of the sun heating my skin, in part because the air conditioner at work is set on high for summer even though we live in the bay area where it doesn’t get above 75, when one of the girls pops off with “I wonder how many calories this has in it?”.
What struck me about this question was that all three of these girls must have been in middle school, somewhere between 10 and 12 years old, so why was she wondering how many calories were in her food? My second thought was, why are these children here unsupervised? I thought it was great that someone so young was conscious of the idea of looking at how many calories food has in it, or I was impressed, until I saw that their lunch consisted of a bag of Ghirardelli chocolates, gummy worms, and three bottles of soda (though it must be mentioned that none of these girls was overweight).
In the afternoon this article appeared on my yahoo news feeds “Sodas banned from many schools — but not sports drinks” talking about how schools are doing a better job of not selling sodas, but are still providing other sugary drinks that make up for it. After reading the article, it made me think of those girls and how one of them apparently had a vague idea that she should be concerned about calories, but still was eating a lunch that had no nutritional value and was being purchased outside of the school cafeteria.
What this brings up is that as much as parents, schools, and the government try to limit and control what people (especially children) eat, at the end of the day we have free choice over what we put in our bodies. The only thing we as a society can do is make sure that young people have enough education about nutrition, diet, and exercise so that they are informed enough to make the right choices, or at least better decisions some of the time.
One choice at a time.
Today for work I took my client to downtown San Francisco via BART because she had never been to the ferry building and because she needs to become more comfortable with public transit.
She is also trying to lose weight and wanted to estimate calories in foods she might possibly eat before we left (something I do occasionally) but I told her she should think of our special day trip as a free day and not be so concerned with what she ate at the Ferry Building.
I am going to describe to you my food grazing and my lunch ordering decision process because I realized how my menu scanning has evolved since February.
While my client perused a gourmet grocery shop I bought a caramel candy for 65 cents and popped it in my mouth. It was delicious and probably had 50-80 calories, which I was okay with.
Next – I grabbed a New Orleans iced coffee at Blue Bottle while my client snacked on two scoops of ice cream. My coffee was REALLY good. A drink that tasty could be 200 calories (it wasn’t) and I would feel the calories were still worth it. I’ll estimate it at 100 calories because of the milk they poured into it.
About an hour later I introduced my client to Raw oysters at the San Francisco Fish Company. She had two raw oysters and I had two raw oysters and a raw clam. This snack for me was approximately 30 calories and I absolutely love raw oysters.
We walked around for a bit more and my client decided we should have lunch at the same shop we had our oysters at. Scanning the menu I saw fish and chips, grilled ahi tuna burger, po’ boys and clam chowder… All of these things sound delicious in theory but even before I was counting calories I found myself often disappointed in fish and chips and po’ boys.
I think those food items CAN be really good but more often than not are really mediocre and I realized for how much I would probably enjoy it, the oil wasn’t worth it.
I feel sometimes when we order off of a menu we think of how good it might be and not how good it is probably going to be. That being said if I know a bacon cheeseburger is going to be the best bacon cheeseburger I will inhale it with gusto and not feel guilty at all.
I ordered a half-pound of noodle shrimp salad that had a tangy sweet and sour flavor to it and 8 oz. of lobster chowder. I finished the chowder but as I had suspected it was only mediocre and I was glad I hadn’t gotten a whole bowl of it. The noodle shrimp salad was really good but I didn’t finish it.
The last thing I ate in the city was a small crème brulee from the crème brulee cart on Market Street.
When I got home from work I ran 6 miles and had two pieces of bacon and fruit for dinner.
Today I weighed in at -44 lbs. and I am feeling really good about my progress.
Some tips that I am going to pass on to people from this experience:
- When ordering at a restaurant think about how realistically tasty the food will be before you order.
- Prioritize your calories – would you rather order something fried or something healthier and have a dessert?
- One indulgent meal doesn’t mean you have to write off your entire day as a caloric failure. Big lunch? Have a small dinner!
My total food consumption for the day:
Light and Fit Strawberry Yogurt (80 calories)
½ cup blueberries (40 Calories)
30 grapes (100 calories)
Caramel (80 calories)
Blue Bottle Coffee Drink (100 calories)
2 oysters 1 clam (30 calories)
8 oz. Lobster Chowder (** 240 calories)
Pasta Salad (** 400 calories)
Crème Brulee (** 400 calories)
30 grapes (100 calories)
2 pieces of bacon (100 calories)
Note: If you think this is an obscenely small amount of food after running 6 miles you are probably right but I wasn’t hungry till 9pm and I didn’t want to eat a full meal that late at night.
(** Denotes rough estimation)
Total: 1,770 calories