Part one – quantity versus quality.
Let’s be honest, aside from the foods we consume when we are hungry, there is a different kind of food we enjoy – treats! Each of us has our favorite treats, but some of them are doing a much better “job” than others.
As the treats we consume only have the simple role of providing short-term satisfaction and balancing our appetite, ideally, we would want to pick something delightful so we can satisfy our craving for sweets. In parallel, we would also want to keep potential damages at a minimum.
The obvious adequate choice would be fruits, which aside from the extra benefit of fresh vitamins, fruits usually (and differently than some industrial foods) have a fair ratio between volume, sugar level, and fats. Simply put, fruits do not fool us into eating more than we need. So while many of us can easily consume an excessive amount of ice cream or a snack even without being aware of it, not many will devour too many apples.
So, if you are a fruit lover and only eat ice cream while visiting Italy or on your birthday and do not fall for other treats at every second opportunity, you are all good. But what if you don’t? What if, like many of us, you have gained the habit of consuming a daily treat? And what if either consciously or less so you are not interested in putting a halt to this habit?
If this is the case, the philosophy of Time Economy may help and suggest a fair resolution, or at least minimize some of the collateral damage.
When we are eager to positively influence our nutrition, we pay attention to the raw data – how many calories, fats or sugars are there in different foods would be the obvious question. But is it the right question?
What we do not pay attention to (or are not interested in paying attention to) is a simple reality. Though 20 grams or 50 grams of sugar would look intimidating on a table compared to 15 grams, we have a hidden parameter in our equation – how much are we about to eat from each? Three small cups of the 15 grams sugar treat, will end up being more than a bite of 50 grams sugar treat.
In addition to questions about calories, sugars, and fats, other questions like, what might be easier for us to cease eating after we have started, are not less important. In other words, which treat leaves the control in our hands and does not endlessly drag us towards unreasonable quantities?
Truth be told, this question is not an easy one, but it does not mean we do not know the answer to it, it’s just that we keep ignoring it daily.
So, a Time Economy practical tip would be to enjoy a good meal, a fair desert, and use the few minutes when we are full and satisfied to recalculate some of our future choices. By promptly considering some of the ingredients in our favorite treats and the volume we consume, we are taking a stand regarding our top choices, and we will end up with a favorite controllable (and less controllable) treat. The “controllable treat”, which we can call a “friend” (like a fruit) would be the one we can allow ourselves to consume in most cases while downgrading the “less controllable treat”, which we can call the “enemy” (like ice cream) to a once-in-a-while consumption.
Now for a real-life example from my own experience:
At some point during my diet, I decided to avoid chocolate. My favorite chocolate only contains 20 grams of sugar (as opposed to 33-49 grams in most chocolates), and even though I enjoy eating chocolate more than eating cereals, I successfully limited myself to eating only a cube or two (2-4 grams of sugar) at a time. Still, believing I should avoid it completely, I decided to replace it with a 300-gram bowl of cereal, with a generous half a cup to a cup of milk.
A calculation that I avoided for years is that a 300-gram bowl of cereal easily contains 60 grams or more of sugar and a half cup of milk alone will add another 2.5 to 5 grams of sugar. This has made me realize that a bowl of cereal is way more than two cubes of chocolate. Overall, my consumption of sugar ended up being 16 times higher!
Of course, sugars are not the only thing that matters. Some people need to avoid fats, cholesterol, or carbohydrates. This is why it is important to know our medical conditions and personal needs, consult with the appropriate doctor/s or a clinical dietitian, and get tested regularly.
Having said that, being aware of what might be a reasonable amount of food could help too, even when dealing with the healthiest foods.
If we consume a huge volume of healthy foods we could be missing the purpose as well. Dinner doesn’t necessarily have to include a whole pizza or a massive portion of spaghetti that fills up the whole plate. The amount we should consume sends us signals – If at the end of the meal our heart pulses are twice as fast as it was at the beginning of the meal, maybe there’s a problem here, maybe we are overloading our bodies.
So, let us bear in mind Time Economy’s advice:
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Can contribute to extending life by up to 4.5 years if one maintains a normal BMI (Body Mass Index).
Reference: Steven C. Moore et al. – PLOS Medicine
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