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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Miniature food -- pure evil disguised as "fun size!"

I have a rule in my house -- no miniature food. "Fun size." "Bite size." "Minis." I don't care what they call them, they have the potential to sabotage any diet.

Maybe I'm alone here, but I would never even consider grabbing a full-sized candy bar in the grocery checkout aisle. I could, but I don't. It's one of those things that is so obviously horrible for me. "Snickers satisfies?" What? Are we really believing that? Obviously, there are so many snacks you can eat that will give you energy and keep you full and healthy at the same time. Candy bars aren't the way. I think we all know that, right?

So why is it, then, that when they're disguised as "fun size," I have no qualms about helping myself. And I don't stop at one, either. They're "fun," right, so they can't be harmful. So I'll eat one or two, then cruise back by the bowl a little while later for another. Then maybe one after dinner. It's "fun." And small, so it can't hurt me. Except when I look at the pile of wrappers and realize that I've eaten the equivalent of probably THREE full-size candy bars in one day under the guise of "fun." Ooof. That's over a thousand calories, easy. That will be "FUN" on the treadmill!

So Halloween and Easter, for me, are the biggest problem times for "fun size." But there are other times that will sneak up on you. How about that office jar of M&Ms? One pass by can't be that bad. It's only a few, I tell myself. NO, it's an entire handful, more than comes in the bag! It is amazing how many M&Ms you can fit in one hand. Amazing.

I mentioned in my last post that I have a spreadsheet that I use as a food log. So one day after some trouble with the "minis," I plugged in the numbers. It is utterly amazing how much I was sabotaging my normal diet (I mean diet as what I consume regularly, not in the calorie reduction type of diet, which I'm not on -- remember, lifestyle change!) So I decided to check out some of the sweet snacks I could be having instead of the ones that sneak up on you without warning. I was going to count! It's a numbers game, after all! Calories in, calories out.

First step, "100 Calorie Snacks." OK, here's a plan I can follow. I know exactly what I'm eating and I can plug it right into my nerdy spreadsheet. AND, they make carrot cake! My favorite! And you get to eat THREE! For 100 calories. I don't know what miracle ingredient they're putting in these, but I'm really excited now. I tear open the box, and my heart sinks. I got "fun sized" again! Except it's not fun at all. Each carrot cake cupcake is about the size of a quarter. Literally. I feel betrayed. And stupid. I'm a smart girl, how did I really think I could have three carrot cake cupcakes for 100 calories. And I know some of you can have one pack or bag of these little treats and be satisfied -- but not me. And don't kid yourselves -- it isn't 100 calories when you eat 5!

Unfortunately, the same rules tend to apply to those "lean" frozen dinners, too. They are so small! One of my number one rules for cooking and eating to stay svelte is to find food that fills you up and doesn't pack on the calories. But I would have to feed my husband three or four lean dinners to fill him up. Then we're right back up to the calorie-loaded real thing -- and not nearly as tasty as homemade!

So the bottom line is, miniature food is dangerous and I try to keep it out of my house. Holidays are a little tough, but my trick is to take whatever's around, bag it, and throw it in the freezer. It is really hard to eat 9 "fun size" snickers when they're frozen solid. In fact, this was the whole idea behind the frozen grapes in the "I'm an Eater" post. ANYTHING, even fruits and veggies, can sneak up on you if you aren't a little bit careful. I could eat a bag of grapes in 5 minutes, but freezing them slows down the bingeing process! Even that bag of baby carrots is a little bit sneaky. Sure, eating a whole bag of mini carrots isn't going to hurt you that badly. But I bet if you slowed down, you'd realize that you were full and satisfied after 1/4 of the bag. Just don't freeze them. We try a lot of crazy things in The Svelte Gourmet test kitchen, and that one went right in the garbage!

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