Thursday, January 28, 2010

Microwave Popcorn

Popcorn has become a wildly popular snack food in the last three decades. I trace the real boom in the snack to about the mid 1970's.

Prior to that, popcorn occupied little space in the grocery store. Unpopped kernels were sold in small bags or tins. You had to make it on the stove in a covered pot. It was not as popular as it is today, and making it was something of a hassle.

In the 1970's, electric home popcorn poppers became popular, particularly as Christmas gifts (I received one in 1973). Suddenly, the former "treat" item became a regular snack food. As I noted in my Eat Like a Teenager posting, American seemed to gravitate towards teen food in that era - and it stayed there. My generation has immature eating habits.

The popularization of the microwave in the 1980's and the introduction of microwave popcorn further accelerated the trend. Suddenly, microwave popcorn exploded on the scene. Today, many folks eat a bag every day, microwaving it in the "break room" at work. At one place I worked, so many secretaries were making popcorn that my bosses complained of the smell and tried to ban it!.

Is microwave popcorn good for you? Short answer, NO. But let's discuss why.

Many folks look at a bag of microwave popcorn and say "Hey, it has only about 100 calories! I can eat the whole bag!" But as we discussed previously, people do not gain or lose weight in 1000 calorie increments, but instead by running a continual calorie surplus of 100 or so a day, over a period of years.

If you have a 100 calorie a day surplus, you will gain about a pound a month, 12 pounds a year, 120 pounds in a decade. It doesn't take much to gain weight. 3200 calories equals one pound.

So an excess "snack" every day of 100 calories can be enough to tip you over the edge. And if you are trying to LOSE weight (the point of this blog) you need to create a calorie deficit of about 100 calories per day. Ditching microwave popcorn is one big start.

Now, we have not discussed other aspects of food beyond calories in this blog just yet. I wanted to start out with the basic baseline calorie content, before we address things like fat content, carbohydrates, sodium, and the like. But in terms of those three items, microwave popcorn is a real zero - high in carbs, high in salt, and high in fat. But we'll get to that in future postings as we learn more. You need to learn to crawl before you can walk or run.

It is, in a way, like getting your financial house in order. You need to cut debt, increase savings, contribute to your 401(k), build up reserves, trim spending, etc. If you try to do all of these things the first day out, you will be overwhelmed and give up. You have to start with one and work your way toward the others.

I had to give up microwave popcorn, and it was hard. One problem with microwave popcorn is that the kernel shells break apart into tiny sharp fragments that get stuck under your gums. Worse yet, they act like tiny bits of broken glass in your intestines, causing all matter of discomfort, if you have diverticulosis as I do. So while it does have some fiber, which is good for your intestines, it has other things than will irritate your insides as well.

Food cause Pain! At least it did for me. And believe me, I fought giving this up for a long while. Like an addict, I would go back to eating microwave popcorn, convinced that I could have "just a little bit", only to be doubled-over in agony a few hours later. In a way, I guess I am lucky, as this pain forced me to change my eating habits.

It is sort of like that drug they give to alcoholics to make them throw up if they drink. Diverticulitis makes you double over in searing pain if you overeat. And yet, food tastes so good! The impulse to overeat and to eat all the wrong foods is very strong, and even searing pain was not enough to get me to stop, at first. But one day, I woke up and said "enough of this, I have to make a change!" (Diverticulitis can quickly turn into deadly Peritonitis, which can kill you. Even without that, the continual low-level infections can severely damage your kidneys and other internal organs over time).

Those of you who are "healthy" and not in pain, can go on eating forever, (or so it seems) without consequence. That is, until you find yourself with busted knees, scooting around in a three-wheel electric cart, waiting for the day when the doctor starts amputating your limbs due to type-2 diabetes. Yes, that does happen, and it happens a LOT these days. And it is the inevitable consequence (that or a coronary) if you keep gaining weight continually.

"Snacking" is a bad habit, and to lose weight, you may need to give it up entirely. But as we shall see in our discussion of blood sugar levels, having a small amount of food between meals is not necessarily a bad idea. But instead of a whole bag of popcorn, an apple would be a much better idea.

Of course, that doesn't taste as nice as the popcorn.

Welcome to the second half of your life!

02/01/2010 250.4 lbs. Exercise 3/4 mile walk

(Mushroom Swiss Omelet)
potato pancake 150
veggie sausage patty 80
English muffin 130
2 eggs 180
1/2 cup mushroom 7
1 slice cheese 100
1 tsp butter 36
Total: 683

Note: meeting our goal of a larger breakfast, smaller dinner

Tomato 22
veggie burger 150
hamburger bun 120
feta cheese 70
hot peppers 24
olive oil 1 tsp 40
balsamic vinegar 3
orange 65
Total 494

Collard Tofu Soup: 181 calories
Tofu: 80
Collards 1 c 49
Carrots 1/2 c 26
Mushrooms 1/2c 7
vegetable stock 15
clove garlic 4
Clube crackers (4) 70
Gin & Tonic 200 calories

Total 451 calories

Total 1628

Disclaimer: Before going on any diet or exercise program, consult your Doctor for advice specific to your condition and needs. The entries in this blog reflect my own personal philosophies about weight loss, diet, eating habits, and exercise and reflect my experiences in losing weight. They are not intended as instructions on health, exercise, or medicine for others. The author assumes no responsibility in any way for misuse of the materials provided herein.