Imagine you’re at a bakery. There are trays of cinnamon rolls, a lineup of fresh baked scones, chewy, oversized cookies by the platter, and rows upon rows of brownies and bars. So many choices. So many perfect, doughy, warm, lovely choices.
And then. You remember. That weight loss goal you had. The bake case has now become a minefield of confusion, of “lesser of two evils” thinking. Nearly the entire selection becomes suddenly out of the equation. You examine what options you’re left with. Do I choose the vegan brownie? The gluten-free rice krispy bar? The healthy-looking cranberry walnut scone?
You opt for one of the “healthy” choices. The experience? Not so great. That vegan brownie? Well, it’s alright, but it’s nothing spectacular. The rice krispy bar? Leaves more to be desired. And that cranberry walnut scone? Well, let’s put it this way, you don’t even like walnuts or cranberries.
You leave the bakery still dreaming about those giant cookies.
We do this all the time! We eat foods we don’t even really want, and then we still end up craving the foods we really wanted all along.
I would opt you go for the giant cookie. Or the scone. Or whatever baked good really tickles your fancy. The baked good that makes you exit those bakery doors on a flaky, puffy cloud of bliss.
I have several reasons (and just as many stipulations), but my biggest reason for recommending the cookie is this: The nutritional profile of the rice krispy bar/vegan brownie/health-nut scone will often break down to be about the same as the cookie anyway.
To find examples that illustrate this, I pulled a few items off Starbucks’ bakery menu:
8 GRAIN ROLL: 380 calories / 70g carbs / 6g fat
VANILLA BEAN WHOOPIE PIE: 360 calories/ 45g carbs / 18g fat
CARAMELIZED APPLE POUND CAKE: 400 calories / 68g carbs / 12g fat
The 8-grain roll sounds like it would be the obvious “healthy” choice, but take notice that it’s roughly identical in calories to both the pound cake and the whoopie pie. When it comes to weight loss, energy balance (how many calories you consume versus how many you expend) always rules. This law outweighs macronutrient split (the ratio of carbs, protein, and fat). And this law definitely outweighs how many different types of grains are used in the making of your breakfast roll.
My advice? Choose the whoopie pie! Or the apple pound cake. Not because they’re more delicious than the 8-grain roll (even though they are), but because not only are they more delicious, but they’re also within 20 calories of the multigrain roll. Truth be told, none of these options are necessarily health food options. You might as well just choose the most delicious one. And of course, if the multigrain roll is truly what sounds most amazing to you, then go ahead and choose the roll (we won’t judge…well, only a little).
You may even decide none of these options are really worth it. And that’s okay! Don’t get bogged down in false dilemmas, deciding between X and Y when Z (a cup of coffee and a sigh of relief) exists.
I’ll be posting Part II next week, where I break down what to do when the math doesn’t equate, as in, in no logical universe is this double layer chocolate cake comparable to a whole grain bun in calories or moral fiber. Stay tuned.