Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bringing Out Your Inner Food Snob

After reading this post in which the author, Stephanie of Back in Skinny Jeans, mentioned that she is a "butter snob," I had an epiphany. "Hey!" I thought to myself, "she's right! If I am going to ingest something as calorie-dense as FAT in any form, I may as well make it worth my calories!" I had never thought about BUTTER as something one could be a snob about, but since I do indulge in the dairy delicacy on occasion, I decided to give gourmet butters a try! My first plunge into butter snobbery was to purchase a package of Kerrygold Irish Butter for $4.50. Yeah, a lot pricier than regular butter, but it will last me a good long time since I only use it sparingly on toast or certain vegetables. I do enjoy a teaspoon of butter on things like acorn squash, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, or cabbage. It adds about 30 calories, but loads of flavor and *satisfaction.* And one benefit of organic or grass-fed-cows butter is that it has loads of natural beta carotene (which causes the golden color) and Conjugated Linoleic Acids. Yum.

Of course, I can't afford to buy gourmet *everything.* And why should we? We gotta eat what we have. Being a food snob doesn't mean you always want gourmet. It means you want real, satisfying food... not processed garbage. Even when choosing from regular foodstuffs in the grocery store (or from your pantry), it can pay to be a bit of a food snob. Having higher standards about what you put in your mouth can lead to greater satisfaction for fewer calories.

For example, what is more satisfying? A large, cheap, generic bar of fake chocolate from the dollar store, or one small square of high quality, real chocolate from a nice shop? Odds are, you'll spend about the same amount of money on your treat (because a small square of good stuff costs about the same as a huge hunk of crap) but you will spend far fewer calories on the quality chocolate. I often have a triangle of Bissinger's dark chocolate for my treat (at 72 calories, it's so delicious and indulgent, plus it provides great antioxidants). That's much more satisfying than that 250+ calorie nasty fake chocolate bar I used to eat. Or a smaller square of Orange Dark Chocolate has only 23 calories but tastes so rich and amazing that just one square is enough.

My point is not to spend more money on fancy foods; sometimes you can get great satisfaction from very low cost foods. It's all about YOUR palate. Make a list of what foods you truly enjoy. I don't mean Cheetos, folks. Yeah I used to *think* I loved Cheetos, but I would scarf an entire bag and then feel icky. Stop and think about what *real foods* give you pleasure. Then get a decent quality of those foods, and prepare them in a way you will enjoy them.

When you focus on *quality* of your food, then *quantity* is far less important. Think:

A supersized Big Mac Meal vs. a small, perfectly prepared steak, half a baked potato, and steamed broccoli.

Three big pieces of cheap tasteless bakery chocolate cake with lardy, supersweet frosting vs. one small piece of deep, rich, real chocolate cake with real buttercream frosting.

An entire bag of greasy potato chips and a carton of cheapo dip with Coke vs. a small plate of your favorite thinly sliced cheese and whole grain crackers.

It is OKAY to enjoy your food. It is normal to LIKE the flavors of what you are eating. When you start being a bit of a food snob, you pay more attention to the satisfaction level of what you're eating. You may take a bite of something, and realize it is not really that good. Then you STOP eating it. That's the key. You stop ingesting foods that are below your standards. When you go to that Christmas buffet, you don't have to have some of everything; you look carefully at the selections, and choose the ones you will truly enjoy. And if you are eating and realize you are not enjoying a food, you just stop eating it. If it's not worth the calories, you won't take another bite.

Being picky isn't always a bad thing. If you're picky about what goes into your body, it's easier to drop the pounds. If you are going to have a piece of cheesecake, don't buy some lame cheap junky cheesecake and eat the whole thing. Go to a nice bakery and buy ONE SLICE of a fantastic cheesecake. Enjoy it. RARELY. If you embrace this way of thinking it will mean you will never again find yourself sitting in the grocery store parking lot snarfing down 6 donuts straight from the bag, because when you REALLY want a donut, you will go to the place that makes the best donuts in town, buy ONE, and sit down to eat it in a respectable manner so you can fully enjoy each bite.

Quit eating stuff you don't like. There's enough lovely and delicious food in the world that we can enjoy all of our meals and snacks. For breakfast this morning, I had a delicious Egg Beater omelet filled with baby spinach and Laughing Cow Light Swiss cheese, with a turkey breakfast sausage patty and a light toasted English Muffin spread with that delicious Irish Butter I mentioned, and a big mug of PG Tips tea with milk and sugar. It was fantastic and I loved every bite. I didn't have to buy designer eggs and cheeses for my omelet; this breakfast tasted perfect to me. That's what matters... eating what tastes delicious TO YOU. And my breakfast had just 335 calories and left me immensely satisfied.

Enjoy your food :)


H.H. said...

I so agree with this! This is the only way I can stick with low-calorie cooking for the long term. My indulgences are cheese and yogurt. I do not buy fat free cheese - I prefer to spend my calories on the real deal! Also, fage 2% is the only yogurt I will eat. Also, sweets as well. I will save up to go get a cupcake at one of my fave bakeries - those nasty 100 calorie packs or low-cal cakes and brownies just do NOT cut it!

Joy's Journey in Weightloss said...

I could not agree more! Much of the Weight Watchers foods are really "foodstuff." I would much rather spend a bit more and have real food. All of those chemicals are so dangerous. Reading the label is very helpful. Just because it says healthy does not make it so. The sugar content in many "healthy" packaged foods is very high. Go for taste and health.

Lee said...

So true...I also pay attention to how I feel after I eat something. Fresh, quality foods just *feel* better.

bbubblyb said...

Loved this post and I totally agree too. I've really been trying to make this my reality every single day.

Katschi said...

When I decide to indulge in a sweet treat it will be a piece of German torte with REAL whipping cream :) I agree...splurges should be SPECIAL & therefore satisfying & should be eaten rarely.
Hey Lyn? We really ARE going to reach our weight goals in 2009! I am so freakin' excited!

Vickie said...

This is what I am trying to do with my KIDS - make them food snobs - partly choosing carefully what/when to splurge - and - also being a snob about what foods they are willing to put into their bodies.

Rachel ! said...

Man, this post is a GREAT lesson. I do some of this automatically - i.e. if you ever see me eating Cool Whip, probably something is wrong - but there are still some things I have to "snobbify." Also I still have to learn to only eat a LITTLE bit of those things I truly love. But, one foot in front of the other, eh!?

Hanlie said...

I totally agree! A friend of mine who eats incredibly healthy allows herself chocolate from only one place, a store in London. She may only pass through there once a year and then she'll buy a little chocolate. She has a place in Cape Town for cheesecake and she normally shares a slice with her husband. The secret is that it should not be readily accessible and it should be the best of the best.

Mary said...

Thank you for a fantastic post! I, too, have become a food snob about certain things!

Ria said...

What a great post. I totally agree that weightloss is a lot easier to manage if you're able to continue to enjoy food, and that emphasizing quality over quantity is one of the keys. For me, getting over the idea that it was better to eat something than throw it away, even if I didn't like it or wasn't really hungry, was also key. There is no bigger waste for food than adding it to my hips!

I've been following your blog for a while, although this is my first comment. Thanks for sharing your thoughts - your writing is very inspiring, and I've incorporated many of your strategies into my own weightloss journey.

BTW, since I haven't had the nerve to make my blog public yet, I've sent you an invitation in case you'd like to stop by.

LisaNewton said...

I totally love the idea of splurging on calories for a food that is really worth it.

I know, when I have a loaf of bread fresh from the oven, it tastes so much better with a little pat of real butter.

I like thinking about this as calorie spending. Similar to spending money and budgeting, is a food worth spending my calories on?

If the answer is yes, go for it, if no, hold off and spend the calories on something else.........:)

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is also my new theory. If I'm going to eat heavy fattening food, it better be good. No sense wasting calories on crap. Out with my parents last week was the first time that I didn't bother with the desserts because none looked good enough.

Emily said...

Great post, and not just for weight loss but also for life in general - you're worth eating food that you enjoy! I'm not a proponent of throwing food away, but I've realized as an adult that if I genuinely do not enjoy something there's no point in eating it. Yes, it's true that there's a hungry person somewhere who would love to have whatever I'm choosing not to eat, but by eating it I'm not feeding that person, just filling myself with something I don't want.

kilax said...

I agree with you so much - especially about gourment chocolate and sweets! Those are things I try not to eat that often, but when I go, I want it to be GOOD. Sometimes I am just so disappointed with a food, but DO continue eating it because I was really expecting it to be something it is not. I hope I can break that habit.