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clean eating= more calories?!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

So I have recently decided to up my healthy game, and remove processed foods from my diet. I was raised on the "buy everything that says 'diet' 'low fat' or 'lite'!" mentality, so this has been an incredibly difficult transition for me.

I'm eating all kinds of super foods, and for the first time in my LIFE I have had a fresh fruit or vegetable every single day for the past two weeks....but it seems my calories are constantly at the top of my range!

I'm trying to remind myself that eating only 1200 empty calories is far worse for me than eating 1500 super nutrient rich calories, but years of indoctrination do not easily come undone!

Part of the issue, I think, is that before this my diet was HIGHLY repetitive:
breakfast: low calorie bread/bagel thin with lite cream cheese or peanut butter
lunch: low calorie bread with packaged deli meat and low fat cheese
snack: packaged granola bar, usually dipped in chocolate but somehow still only 150 calories
dinner: canned refried bean burrito with low fat cheese and low fat tortilla, shake and bake chicken with fake mashed potatoes, or another sandwich.

That literally about sums up my daily menu for almost the past year. In the past two weeks, it's looked something like this:

breakfast: egg white on whole wheat toast with half a slice of real cheese
lunch: quinoa tossed with black beans, scallions, tomato and a homemade lime dressing
snack: grapefruit and hummus with carrots
dinner: flank steak fajitas with veggies served on whole wheat tortillas
dessert:banana drizzled with honey and cinnamon

So, looking at this you're probably thinking: I don't see where all those calories are coming from....this girl must be crazy.

Welp, I AM crazy, but there's a reason for the madness: bread and granola bars.

I LOVE bread. I could eat it at every meal, happily, and I used to (as you now know). I've accepted that I need to cut back on the carbs...but when I am at the bakery section of the grocery store, thinking to myself "hm, let's see what the nutritional information on a slice of real fresh bread looks like" and I find myself staring at 120-150 calories for ONE slice of bread, my heart is breaking. I had a sandwich the other day with ham (that I cooked, not from the package!), and just the sandwich alone was almost 500 calories! I had to put back the hummus and carrots, and they were quite offended.

Now let's talk about granola bars. I am a phd student, I spend about 8 hours a day in a school building, in front of a computer or a teacher. I lug around 40 lbs in schoolbooks daily. So most fruit/veggies get smooshed in the process, or won't keep properly all day. Boxed granola bars have been my savior. However, they are also full of crap and for nearly $4 for a box of 6, they are no longer reasonable. So I went online and looked up "healthy granola bar recipes" and picked one that looked the most healthy (i.e. no chocolate). I spent $15 getting all my ingredients, followed the recipe precisely, and BAM I now have 12 granola bars cooling in the kitchen, and enough ingredients to make 2-3 more batches.

So, in celebration of my victory over Quaker, I entered my homemade granola bars into a recipe calculate and clicked "calculate" expecting to see something along the lines of "Congratulations, you managed to create a protein packed, super filling delicious snack that is under 200 calories!"
What I got instead was "352 calories".

My initial reaction was to fling the pan of granola bars across the room and cry it out. The fact that I somehow accidentally turned my usual low-calorie snack into a small meal is a friendly reminder that just because all of the ingredients are "real", doesn't mean that they are going to be healthy all-around.

While I am a bit depressed at spending money and time making something that doesn't quite fit into my normal routine of eating, I have been feeling better since eating this way, and I've heard too many good things to just write this whole "eating real foods" thing off because sometimes its going to be calorie dense. Avocados are calorie/fat dense, but everyone loves them, right? Right?!

Wish me luck, people...this is going to be an interesting journey.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I like your writing style! Thanks for sharing your foray into clean eating. I prefer to cook from scratch as well. I've cut out/down on bread as I could eat a homemade loaf in one sitting...aaand I've suspected that wheat causes hives.

    Yaye for making the granola bars under 200 cals!
    1811 days ago
    After I posted this, I went to cut the granola bars and realized that my earlier estimate of the number of bars I was going to get was WAY off...I ended up with 20 granola bars, at 200 calories each. And they are delicious :)

    I'm still fighting with bread, but I am definitely feeling happier about this.

    Thanks for the support and suggestions :)
    1822 days ago
    One thing you can do ( not sure what you used ) is switch any sugar in the recipe to stevia or some other non calorie sweetener, stevia is a natural non cal sweetener but a little more expensive.

    also you could try skipping any bread type products at your supper meals at home to off set xtra cal from granola bars during the day.

    1822 days ago
    There are definitely benefits to eating the way you are now - even if they don't look that way. So many protein bars have high fructose corn syrup - and so many packaged foods do too. There are things in the prackaged foods that are just not good for you - and they cause you to crave those types of foods. Over time - it will get better - and you will learn to make things even healthier and taste better. Knowing what is truly in your food is empowering. Just take it one step at a time and realize that any recipe you find can still be tweaked to be a bit healthier.

    1822 days ago
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