Saturday, July 26, 2014

The power of a sandwich - reality check

Let's grab a bomb (I mean, a sandwich)

You're out at the mall or passing through town, and you're hungry. Why not stop and grab a sandwich? Maybe you just need something to "hold" you until dinner. A sandwich can't be very fattening, since it's wrapped up in that cute package and goes down so fast.

Well, think again, because you've just bought yourself a time bomb. This isn't meant to scare you, but to help unravel some of the mystery about why we continue to gain weight (or can't seem to lose it). And if these particular foods aren't in your life, just substitute what you DO eat, and look up their nutritional information on something like

I call bagels and sandwichs stealth bombs. They are compact and look like nothing. The fattening ingredients are squshed up and hidden inside. The bread is just something to hold the other ingredients together, and doesn't really count (even if it amounts to a half a loaf that you would never eat, if it were laid out on your plate). And you need to eat it quickly so it doesn't fall apart - so quickly that you won't even notice how much you have eaten.

Let's take a look at how big these bombs are:

What are some of the recommended maximums:

The USDA assumes 2,000-calories/day for the average young adult, and recommends the following maximums: Fat: 65g, saturated fat: 20g, sodium: 2,400mg, and carbs: 300g.

If you plan to lose weight, you will probably be restricting your calorie intake to about 1,200 per day, with a complementary reduction of the other elements. So, your average daily maximum will look something like this:

  • Calories: 1,200
  • Fat: 40g
  • Saturated fat: 12g
  • Sodium: 1,400mg

Let's just get a bagel

Maybe you'll just get a bagel with cream cheese -- and we won't even call that a real meal. Yet you've consumed:

  • Calories: 500
  • Fat: 18g
  • Saturated fat: 10g
  • Sodium: 910mg
Doesn't leave you much for the rest of the day, does it?

How about a real sandwich?

But it gets worse. Maybe it's lunch time, and you want a "real" sandwich. How about a turkey sandwich on one of those hero rolls? Ok, here's what that will set you back:
  • Calories: 600
  • Fat: 18g
  • Saturated fat: 4g
  • Sodium: 1,630mg
Oops, you've exceeded your sodium limit and have eaten half your total calories for the day. And this was just a "little something to eat." Not to mention that you have eaten half a loaf of bread.

Or maybe you're at Barnes & Noble, and you want to grab one of those delicious chipotle chicken sandwiches. Here's your count for that:
  • Calories: 500
  • Fat: 22g
  • Saturated fat: 7g
  • Sodium: 1,310mg
Oops again.

How about a spicy Italian sub? Maybe for dinner? OMG, you've blown yourself up:
  • Calories: 1,250
  • Fat: 76g
  • Saturated fat: 26g
  • Sodium: 3,660mg
Maybe a pannini would be better? Think again, because this adds at 200 calories and 10 grams of fat to each sandwich because of the butter used to toast the bread.

Maybe a wrap would do it? Think again. Wraps, these days are at least 12 inches in diameter, so the amount of bread is about the same.

What about a hamburger for dinner?

You're not too hungry, so a hamburger sounds about right. Again, it's all in a bundle and can't set you back all that much.

Yet, here's the count for a typical hamburger - without cheese.

  • Calories: 1,029
  • Fat: 71g
  • Saturated fat: 31g
  • Sodium: 1,766mg
Add in some french fries, and you add another 500 calories and 24 grams of fat. You do the math. You've eaten more fat and sodium than you're allowed for the whole day, and have almost topped out on calories.

And you wonder how it is you can gain weight when you "hardly eat a thing".

Does this mean I can't eat ANYTHING?

Of course not. What it does mean, though, is that you need to be aware of WHAT you are eating. There are plenty of choices that are nutritious, without being loaded. The main thing, though, is to KNOW what you are eating, so gaining weight (or failing to lose it) isn't such a mystery.

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