Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bacon On A Diet

For four and a half years, I've been blogging about losing (and gaining) weight. For just as long, I've been defending bacon. Rather, I've been defending my consumption of bacon while losing/trying to lose weight. It never fails: whenever I post a menu that includes bacon in any form, I get emails and comments from concerned citizens telling me I am making a huge mistake, and that no one, NO ONE can eat bacon and lose weight.

Well, I am not an expert on everything, so I can't tell you what other people can and can't do with bacon. But I *can* tell you that bacon is never, not ever, going "off the table" for me. And it's not because I adore bacon or it is my favorite food or I just "can't" give it up. No. It's not that at all.

It's because bacon is one of those very rare foods (for me) that
A) taste great
B) is low calorie, and
C) is not a trigger food.

I do not binge on bacon. Oh, I ate way, wayyyyyyy too much bacon back when I was on Atkins a decade ago, but that was because I had "permission." I ate it as a meal sometimes. Hey, it tastes good! But now (as in "over the past 4.5 years") I use bacon as a condiment. You know how some foods just make you happy? Bacon does that. One slice of bacon makes a so-so meal into a feast for me! It feels like 'normal' eating to me (I grew up eating bacon) and it also feels a bit indulgent when used in moderation.

I am aware that processed/cured meats are not the best for our health. In general I avoid that kind of thing. But let me tell you how bacon can save the day for me nutritionally.

A boring old salad turns into something I am eager to enjoy when I crumble one slice of bacon on top.
A bowl of cauliflower soup or sauteed green beans turns into an amazing comfort food with one slice of bacon crumbled into it.
Plain turkey burger wrapped in lettuce? Okay. Add a slice of crisp bacon? Heaven!
Low carb wrap with red ripe tomatoes and Romaine? Pretty good. Add a slice of bacon? Pure joy!

Seriously. A simple little thing like one slice of bacon can mean the difference between my feeling deprived and feeling truly satisfied. I think a breakfast of 2 eggs and some fruit is okay, but add a slice of bacon on the plate it and becomes one of my favorite meals ever.

I think we all have foods like that. And I think it is important to see the difference between a trigger food that calls to you and screws you over and a food that you love the taste of that enriches your meal but does not beg you to eat more. It is OKAY to have a slice of bacon, or a piece of cheese, or a square of dark chocolate if that is what works for YOU. I cannot do the cheese. But the bacon? I embrace. I ate it all the way from 278 pounds down to 214, stopped eating it for the most part on Medifast, and now am making it part of my life again. The key is moderation. The answer is finding things you like to eat that do not make you go over on your calories and do not drive you to want to eat more. Bacon, oddly enough, leaves me so satisfied that I don't want any more. The bacon I use is a pre-cooked, frozen, thin cut bacon by Hormel that has only 35 calories per slice. Where else can you get that kind of effect for only 35 calories?

Anyway, as I have looked over my menus to see what is working, what is not, what I should delete and/or add to my menus, bacon is a definite keeper.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hear hear! Everything tastes better with a little bacon.

I've discovered that my post-dinner sweet tooth can be tamed with a strawberry smoothie. Sounds like a diet buster, but it's just yogurt and frozen berries blended together with a little vanilla extract and maybe a teaspoon of sugar. It's a treat, yet satisfying, and frankly much lower in calories than if I followed my usual post-dinner grazing routine.

We all have to find what works for us and accept that what works will probably be different for everyone.

Lori said...

Let's hear it for bacon! I love it too.

All things in moderation. It would be an issue if you were eating whole pound for a meal, but a slice here and there. Go for it.
Lori

Anonymous said...

im commenting on this post b/c there arent any other comments so i want it to stand out. ;)

have you ever watched the movie fat, sick and nearly dead?

its on hulu.com for free.

it has inspired my huge butt to do something, and ive lost some good weight already.

just thought i would mention...

:)

Anonymous said...

I totally agree - there's not a single food, in moderate portions, that will magically cause actual weight gain. It's just not physically possible.

A slice of bacon crumbled in soup, over a salad, stirred into scrambled eggs, etc. goes such a long way to add flavor and provide satiety. To me, it's similar to avocado (yes, I know avocado has other health benefits, but a slice of bacon here and there never hurt anyone) - I only eat avocado 1/4 at a time, mixed into salad, on a sandwich in place of mayo, etc. It truly can be the difference between "meh" meals and meals that are something to look forward to!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how to say this in the correct way. I suffer from this too, and often look for ways to make my meals more "indulgent" in a guilt-free way. I can see why the 35-calorie bacon works for that purpose. However (and again, I suffer from this myself), not every meal needs to be something "indulgent" or "comforting." A meal can be mediocre. I understand the feeling that you're not satisfied after a "mediocre" meal in the same way that you are after an "indulgent" meal (or a meal that feels "indulgent"), but in order to be truly healthy, we can't look for that kind of satisfaction from food!

Dinahsoar said...

I too love bacon and one or two slices of it won't ruin anyone's diet or health. It is big on flavor and taste for a few calories. I did some posts on my blog in the Eat Bacon Lose Weight vein. Bacon is my secret weapon.

These days the media is going to try to convince everyone that bacon is a death sentence. It is not. And for every statistic they quote against bacon I'm sure you can find some that contradict.

Eating foods you love in small quantities--that help you reach or maintain your weight goals-- makes life enjoyable.

I love chocolate. There will always be those who tell me I shouldn't eat it. But I do. I eat it every single day. The key is to eat it in portions that support my goals.

So, eat your one or two slices of bacon and enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I lose 150 pounds eating bacon. I'm now maintaining at 135, and yes, bacon is still a part of my diet.

People have weird superstitions about weight loss... I generally don't listen to them.

Anonymous said...

If it's that smokey flavor you crave and enjoy, whicmisuse do,Trader joe's makes an awesome seasoning called South African Smoke Seasoning blend. It is awesome and contains no nasty this and thats like bacon.

illiterate said...

Anyone telling you that you shouldn't be eating bacon on a diet probably uses truckloads of diet condiments, eats those pre packaged 'lean cuisine' things, and thinks cardio is the be all end all of exercise. Re: has no idea what they're doing. Yell it loud and proud.. EAT REAL FOOD. There is no reason to eat overly processed bacon when they've got real stuff at pretty much every grocery store.

KansasSunflower said...

I'm not a believer in deprivation diets. I'm almost at my goal weight and what has worked for me is finding what I LIKE within my calorie range, and what I'll stick with eating once I start maintaining my weight. Isn't that what it's all about? Not GOING ON A DIET but CHANGING YOUR LIFESTYLE? You like bacon, you know you're going to eat it once you've lost weight, and you've figured it out. Good for you! : )

I wish more people would be more common sense about "dieting"! People shouldn't be dieting at all, but changing their lifestyle! "Eat this", "don't eat that", really? They're going to live their ENTIRE LIVES like that?

Doesn't work for me. Not in the long run. Eat your bacon. : )

debby said...

Yep, I agree. For 35 calories hardly anything can add as much flavor as bacon. I get the real bacon crumbles from Costco. But I like those pre-cooked slices too. Thanks for reminding me about them.

Elaine said...

I disagree with what Anon said about how being healthy means not looking for satisfaction from food.

I've always been naturally thin, but I do have a problem with binge eating, and, as I age, I was just getting more and more unhealthy, overeating and indulging in candy.

Then I lived in a Mediterranean country for a few years...what a life-changer! People there INDULGE...in wine, fresh vegetables and fish, cheese, and yes, smoked meats. but the fatty, unhealthy stuff is a treat, a decoration, something eaten in moderation.

Here in the U.S., we are so overloaded with "treats" that they aren't treats anymore. That's what's bad for the health. Good for you, Lynn, for cherishing a food you love and enjoying it in tiny quantities. To me, that's the definition of a healthy relationship with food.

Holly from 300 Pounds Down said...

The only issue I have ever had with bacon is if I got a package of it containing too much sugar. I am sensitive to sugar and refuse to eat anything with more than 4 grams of sugar in it per serving. Once I got some bacon that had a ton of sugar in it because I failed to carefully check the label. But other than that bacon is always at the top of my list. And it has helped me many times to feel satisfied. I get my bacon at sam's club fully cooked in a package. Even easier!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. Some people act like bacon is on par with smoking. I say: get a grip.
One little slice of bacon is not going to hurt anyone.

Diandra said...

There are no "evil" foods. Okay, except for soda - and some people might disagree with me on that one, too. ^^ I would say if you can eat and enjoy something in moderation, go for it.

Julia Stambor said...

For over two years now, I´ve had a breakfast of two eggs sunny side up on top of two stripes of fried, thin-cut bacon. I haven´t had a case of the midmorning munchies since then, and I have lost a total of 65 pounds. The only thing to watch out for is whether there´s sugar in the bacon. I found a brand that doesn´t have any added sugars, and it works fine for me. The smoked salt that someone mentioned in another comment is great for giving a twist to stews and soups if one doesn´t want to use smoked sausages (fatty!) or something like that in traditional recipes.I use hickory smoked salt plus- you guessed it- diced bacon bits for those.The results are as satisfying to eat as the original, sausage-loaden dishes.

Anonymous said...

The impact on one's health from bacon is also highly dependent on what kind of life the pig lived before it became your bacon.

Pastured, organic, humanely raised/slaughtered pork that becomes all natural sugar free bacon is not even the same thing as a cheap-o carton of tortured, factory farmed pig that becomes a sugar filled hunk of highly processed bacon. Especially if you're eating it as a condiment, do splurge on the good stuff- for you, the environment, and the animals :)

timothy said...

i was so proud i ate 1 slice yesterday instead of 1 pound! (no kiddin i can/have!) this so reminds me on grumpier old men and the bacon for breakfast bacon for snack bacon for lunch rant by burgess meredith! lolol just stick to it darlin you're doin great!

Ruth said...

yes, and bacon can now be bought at organic markets and is nitrate (trite?) free..ahnd..(if I must say so) deelisheeus!--don't know the sugar content though.

Lyn said...

Great ideas, all!

There was a little pastured meat market an hour or so away from me where they sold bacon from pigs on their family farm. I have a bit of it in my freezer for use in soups. I got it cheap by buying the "bacon ends and pieces" when it was on sale. It's thicker and irregular but awesome for use in soups and bean dishes! The place went out of business and I am looking for a new source for 'real' bacon.

Amy said...

I agree with the majority here. Since I began the South Beach Diet over a year ago, my breakfast always includes two strips of turkey bacon. Not only do I love and look forward to my breakfast, but my triglycerides dropped more than 500 points on this diet! If you ask me, sugars are way more detrimental to our health!

Anonymous said...

Oh I hate bacon. But I think your attitude to this food is healthy. Good for you!

Lindsey said...

Okay, I'm the one who made the bacon comment. Let me tell you, I love a good slice of bacon. And I'm not saying bacon is bad. The reason I wrote that comment is you are complaining about the fact that the scale is going up. And until you know why and get it under control, it is probably wise to eliminate foods that are delicious yet have no nutritional value. Nothing is "bad" in and of itself, but if you are worried the scale is going up, why tempt it with things that have fat in them? That's the only reason I said that.

Vb said...

The Safeway "open nature" line has the best bacon...natural, uncured, no nitrates. Bacon is fair game (pun intended) on a paleo type diet.

Lyn said...

Lindsey~

You're not the only one :) There have been dozens! And I do understand where you're coming from.

My main course of attack for elimination at the moment is sugar and refined flour (and most packaged/processed types of stuff), and my next attack is going to be artificial sweeteners.

julie said...

I eat bacon, pizza, even the occasional croissant, still losing weight. People can lose weight however they bloody well please, and I will too. Just look at the low-carbers - grains are very bad, sat fat healthy (I don't agree, but it works for many)

Anonymous said...

Lindsey, fat gain come from eating too many calories, not from eating fat per se. Nothing wrong with a slice of bacon (or even two or three) if your calories are in check. You could eat pure lard and lose weight as long as your in negative energy balance, plain and simple.

Tammy said...

I LOVE BACON!!!:) Has to be crisp though.:)

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