Food Stuff


Anyone who’s tried to eat healthier knows that at some point, you rebel, pig out and say, "At least I’ll die happy!"

Most of the nutrition advice-mongers don’t contest the idea that eating healthily means some hardship. Take this newsletter from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, good folks who have compiled a list of "10 Foods You Should Never Eat!" because of their fat, cholesterol and salt content: Included are Entenmann’s Rich Frosted Donuts, Quaker granola, Frito-Lay Wow! Potato Chips and Burger King french fries.

OK. But turn the page and check out the "10 Super Foods You Should Eat!" Broccoli, spinach, kale, beans, oatmeal. I eat all those, but face it, most folks are never hit with a midafternoon craving for kale.

Along comes Keith Klein with the notion of "Better Bad Choices" (aka the "lesser evil"). Klein is an apparently self-taught nutritionist who works with athletes.

He says that in order to avoid "deprivation mentality," you should accept the fact that you will eat some less-than-optimal foods. You will eat fast food. You will need chocolate.

The trick, when you do indulge, is to eat ice cream that is not the worst ice cream, pizza that is not the worst pizza – better bad choices.

In his book, Weight Control for a Young America, Klein compiles lists of brand-name foods, showing their calorie and fat content and percentage of fat from calories. He lists all the items on offer at Arby’s, Boston Market, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Hardee’s, Dairy Queen, KFC, Long John Silver’s, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy’s. If a food gets less than 20 percent of its calories from fat, and is reasonable on calories and sodium, it’s marked as a Better Bad Choice with a smiley face icon. Sometimes he stretches the category to include foods with a higher fat-calorie percentage but a low number of fat grams and calories overall.

At some restaurants, there’s little to choose from. At Burger King, an onion slice, a tomato slice and chicken salad (no dressing) are just about it. At McDonald’s, you find that Sausage Biscuit (60 percent calories from fat) is noticeably less healthy than Egg McMuffin (28 percent), and the shakes are practically guilt-free at 13 percent.

Even at Subway, often frequented by those trying to cut down, only three subs get the nod: Club, tuna and turkey.

Klein also lists cereals, candy bars, chips, cookies and ice cream by brand and depravity quotient. He makes it clear that "reduced fat" does not necessarily mean "low-fat." TCBY’s "96 percent fat-free frozen yogurt" gets 21 percent of its calories from fat.

The only way any chocolate bar makes it onto the good-guys list is by being a miniature. For chips, it’s gotta be baked, not fried, or you’re looking at about a gram of fat in every chip.

There are lesser-evil choices, however, and Klein’s guide is detailed enough to let you pick your own poison. You can order it from BookPartners, P.O. Box 922, Wilsonville, OR 97070; or by calling 503-682- 9821; or via e-mail at [email protected]. It’s $16.95 plus $3.50 shipping. Klein got his info from the companies or from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Handbook No. 8.


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