Making Good Choices in Difficult Places. Part 2

Tips

Blot your bacon with a napkin to remove some of the oil. (This is a good practice for all grease-laden food!) Ask your server if they have turkey-based bacon or sausage. Skip the meat (and the fat and nitrites) altogether. Ask to substitute fresh fruit or low-fat yogurt. Restaurants are becoming more aware of customers’ need of healthy alternatives. Some are now offering these kinds of substitutions.

“What kind of bread would you like,” asks the server? “We have white, wheat, sourdough, English muffins, pancakes, bagels, muffins or biscuits and gravy.”

Here are the bread basics:

Right away, let’s skip those biscuits and gravy! They are swimming in high fat, calories and cholesterol.

If the muffins are actually sticky buns or bakery-style muffins, they may have hidden fat and calories. Skip them. If the muffins are low-fat bran muffins, then they should have at least two grams of dietary fiber and have less than 30% of their calories from fat and would be a great choice.

Bagels tend to be low in fat and cholesterol, but you’ll need to skip the cream cheese to keep them that way. Bagels have about 1.2 grams of dietary fiber per serving.

English muffins are low in fat and cholesterol (only 7% calories from fat). Again, this is true only if you keep the butter off! But who wants a dry English muffin! Try some jam or preserves. English muffins have about 1.5 grams of dietary fiber and are rich in nutrients like iron and calcium.

Sourdough bread is low in fat and cholesterol. However, sourdough tends to be lower in dietary fiber and higher in sodium than other breads. Enriched white bread may have extra vitamins and minerals. It is low in fat and cholesterol, but, again, has very low dietary fiber.

Pancakes can be fat and calorie traps! Although some of us think of pancakes as a healthy choice, they can be relatively high in fat (40%) even before they are topped with butter and syrup. Pancakes contain mostly carbohydrates and protein, with no significant nutrients other than some calcium. A serving of three medium pancakes with butter and syrup can have as much as 14 grams of fat with six grams of that saturated! Regular pancakes have low amounts of dietary fiber.

Whole wheat bread is a good choice. Although wheat breads differ in their amounts of actual whole wheat, they tend to be lower in fat and higher in fiber than regular white bread. Multigrain breads are your best choice for fiber, but at a restaurant wheat bread may be your closest option.

You choose an English muffin, with some strawberry preserves instead of butter.

Tips

Here is a good place to add dietary fiber to your breakfast. Choose breads with whole grains. If you decide to have pancakes, ask if the restaurant serves whole wheat pancakes and top them with fruit instead of butter and syrup. Always insist that your bread is unbuttered. Restaurants automatically butter bread unless you ask them not to! Use jam or preserves on your bread or just enjoy the flavor of the grains.

Okay. So how did you do on your selections in terms total grams of fat?

You ordered: Grams of Fat
Egg substitute, scrambled 2.0 grams
plus allowance for cooking oil or margarine 2.0 grams

Bacon, 3 medium slices 12.0 grams

English muffin, unbuttered 1.5 grams
with strawberry preserves

Total for breakfast 17.5 grams of fat

The American Heart Association recommends a diet with no more than 30% of calories from fat. If you are a 130-pound woman, it takes about 1,600 calories to maintain this weight (at a low activity level*). Your 30% or less marker is 53 total fat grams or less per day. This breakfast came in at 17.5 grams of fat. That’s a little more than a third of your daily fat grams — not bad!
If you are a 150-pound man, it takes about 2,100 calories to maintain your weight (again, at a low activity level). Your 30% or less marker is 70 total fat grams or less per day. This breakfast is only a fourth of your daily fat grams — great!

Tips

Add fruit or vegetable juice or a side dish of fresh fruit to any breakfast for a vitamin boost. Avoid regular creamers in coffee. They are a hidden source of fat that can add up quickly. Try a non-dairy creamer or skim milk, instead. Lastly, remember that you can always order a la carte!

*Remember, the numbers above are based on low activity calorie requirements to maintain current weight. Eat less than 30% calories from fat AND exercise to lose weight AND improve your fitness!

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