Make Knowledgable Food Choices

November 12, 2011

My buddy Jeff sent me a tweet earlier today from OMGFacts that got me thinking (and probably not in the way you’d expect):

Yes, the Snickers fact is true and so is the cheeseburger fact. This actually comes from a NY Times article that annoyed me just as much. It completely misses the point.

When I started my diet, I used a book called The Best Life Diet which is ultimately a set of rules on what to eat. I followed up with Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” which covers some simple rules on what to eat. But ultimately it all boils down to a few facts:

  1. A calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie.
  2. You need to know what is in your food and their key nutritional facts.
  3. Make the best food choice you can make given a situation.

Several studies came out this year describing that the normal thought of “calorie is a calorie” is not longer true. You cannot measure only calories in your fight to lose weight or get healthy.

While the McDonald’s oatmeal (which I do eat when I travel) has roughly the same number of calories as a Cheeseburger from McDonalds, I do not recommend you just have a cheeseburger instead. Why? Look at the nutrition facts: the cheeseburger has way more fat, a bunch more saturated fat, far less fiber, no vitamins from the fruit, but… equal calories. Given a travel choice, the Oatmeal should come out on top every time.

The McDonald’s oatmeal does have some weird issues with it though. For example, the light cream that they put into the Oatmeal has a ton of ingredients that aren’t actually… well… cream or dairy. Yes, you can leave it out, but my point here is to be informed. McDonald’s oatmeal could be just oatmeal. One ingredient: whole food oatmeal. So making oatmeal at home is better for you than going to McDonald’s but if you’ve looking for a good travel food, the oatmeal is a good example of making a knowledgeable choice while traveling.

Not all good-for-you food is created equal though. Dunkin Donuts has a Multigrain bagel that actually has more calories and a few more worse-for-you ingredients compared to a normal bagel. A breakfast bagel from Dunkin could cost you about 450 - 500 calories with cream cheese. Or a Subway lunch: take a read on your meats and bread. Their bread has high fructose corn syrup in it which really bothers my stomach. Its important to learn a lot about the food you eat just so choosing the “healthy thing” doesn’t turn out being the a worse-for-you.

Home-made oatmeal is better than McDonald’s oatmeal but don’t try to tell me that instead of the McDonald’s Oatmeal I should eat a Snickers or a McDonald’s Cheeseburger