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Not Without My Bacon!

by on April 9, 2013

I love bad food.  From greasy french fries made with heirloom potatoes and doused with truffle oil, to less high brow fare such as a crazy taco with a nacho cheese Doritos shell, there’s no fatty, synthetic food I haven’t tried and liked.  Growing up in my family, food was a form of therapy, and an effective one at that.  Casseroles were laden with butter and Velveeta, tacos were heaped with sour cream, and Cheez Whiz was a great complement to every hot dog.  Microwaveable delights such as the bagel dog (a cheese-filled, bagel-wrapped beef tube monstrosity) and the Mama Celeste pizza (complete with square pepperoni) were mainstays of my 12 year-old diet.

With such an amazing array of nutritional sinkholes comprising a large portion of my adolescent diet, it’s no wonder I still struggle with eating well today.  Unfortunately, the single most important part of living healthily is learning to govern not only what we eat, but also how much we eat.  As saddened as I am by that fact, I am determined to eat healthier and lose weight.  I’m sure it will make me happier, more energetic, and give me a much stronger sense of self-esteem.  Still, it’s incredibly hard to give up those fatty indulgences.  So, for me, I take one step at a time.  I’m starting by making small substitutions for the fat and salt-laden staples of my diet.

Let’s take the ambrosia of the average American diet:  Ranch Dressing.  While it was created to make salads more palatable (and to strip away any nutritional value), ranch dressing has since become a common complement to pizza, french fries, hamburgers, and fried chicken wings.  In fact, I’ve known at least one particularly buttermilk-addicted friend who is armed with a personal bottle of the good stuff at all times.  While I’ve

Yes, that is a fountain of ranch dressing.

Yes, that is a fountain of ranch dressing.

never been a ranch dressing addict, I do enjoy it on a salad or with a slice of pizza on occasion.  My solution to the ranch conundrum (full credit goes to my wife for this one):  yogurt-based ranch dressing.  Believe it or not, it tastes great.  But more importantly, it adds only 45 calories and 3 grams of fat to my meal.  Your average ranch dressing has about 140 calories and 14 grams of fat.  That means with a normal slice of cheese pizza, you’re almost doubling your calories, and more than doubling the fat content just by dipping it in ranch.  The ranch example is a pretty obvious one, but it serves as a good reminder that we should examine every aspect of our diets, with no rich sauce or sugary drink left behind.

I have made quite a few other substitutions for the sake of eating healthier, some I made a long time ago, while some are relatively recent conversions.  White, fiberless (albeit delicious) bread and I have long since parted ways.  It took a little while to get used to eating the wheatiest of wheat breads–I even forwent sandwiches for a time.  But in the long run, I’ve come to like whole grain breads just fine, and even find some of them to be quite tasty.  Ground turkey breast has become the primary meat we use for hamburgers in my household.  Well-seasoned, they do the job just fine, and I cut my caloric intake in half.    There are, however, some substitutions I just cannot make.  There is no substitute for bacon.

While I’m no bacon aficionado, I do enjoy a few strips of bacon for breakfast or a sandwich shop BLT from time to time.  I’ve tried the alternatives, and they just can’t hold a candle to the real deal.  Turkey bacon can go jump off a bridge for all I care.  Luckily for me, a few strips of bacon really aren’t going to jeopardize my health.  It is in bacon that I make my peace with healthy eating.  It is also in bacon that I realized that I can eat well while not going insane with lust for fatty foods.  Sure, I have to give up Doritos tacos and deep-fried meats drowning in curry sauce, but healthy eating doesn’t mean having a diet devoid of flavor.  It took me quite a long time to really understand that fact, but now my life is filled with exciting new foods.  Hell, I even enjoy the crazy cheeseless, vegetable-covered, sauceless frozen pizza my wife buys from time to time.  Who’da thunk?

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From → Lunch Box

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