All year long, I avoid eating processed dinners because of a food allergy, and it helps keep me and my family relatively healthy. I also avoid baking or buying desserts, because once in the house, they are in my mouth.
Inevitably, at least one questionable food group item ends up on my Christmas wish list, and somehow, the rest find their way into my shopping cart on their own. I chalk some up as tradition — thanks mom — but I can’t blame the cream-filled cakes on her. Yes, I asked for Twinkies for Christmas, and Santa brought me a box.
I buy all of the treats that my mother used to buy, and then some (after all, there wasn’t candy cane ice cream around when I was growing up). I skip through the store buying anything covered in chocolate or that I can dip in melted butter.
When the cashier tells me the impact on my wallet, I grimace briefly, but shrug it off as a once-a-year occurrence. The impact on my hips has not weighed into my decision-making.
Like a true maverick, I don’t consult the nutrition facts, and my grocery list is suddenly replaced with Loblaw’s Insider’s Report. Not to pick on President’s Choice (PC), but it was their packages that screamed at me as I placed the empty containers in the blue bin.
Here is a snapshot of my afternoon tea (and this camera definitely does add 10 pounds):
I sip a creamy cup of PC The World’s Best Egg Nog, weighing in at 290 calories, 11 grams of fat, seven grams of saturated fat and 34 grams of sugar. Along with my egg nog, I had munched two PC All-butter Scottish Shortbread Cookies, adding 220 calories, 13 grams of fat, eight grams of which are saturated, and eight grams of sugar.
I follow that with a small piece of PC Original New York-style Cheesecake, and a piece of PC’s new Milk Chocolate with Toasted Coconut bar. The cheesecake added 320 calories, 23 grams of fat (14 grams is saturated) and 20 grams of sugar. In the cheesecake alone, there is a hip popping 75 per cent of the daily recommended saturated fat. The chocolate added another 210 calories, 13 grams of fat, nine grams of saturated fat, and 19 grams of sugar.
I was happily sinking into a creamy/sugary coma on the couch, but it wasn’t long before I started thinking about what to eat next. It didn’t matter that I had just consumed a total of 1,040 calories, 81 grams of sugar, 25 per cent of a day’s sodium, 60 grams of fat (38 grams of saturated fat). Holy fat. That totalled 92 per cent of my daily fat content and 199 per cent of my saturated fat for the day (without having eaten a meal).
On the bright side, I had gotten 56 per cent of my day’s calcium, 41 per cent of my required vitamin A, and 19 per cent of my iron. And it goes without saying that it was absolutely delicious.
(I just wish I’d eaten at someone else’s house so that I’d never have seen the evidence).
I can’t even guess by how much I exceeded my daily limits that day, but doubling them would be a highly conservative estimate, especially since PC’s Wild Pacific Salmon Mini Wellingtons came out for dinner. They were wildly delicious morsels, but there was nothing mini about their bottom line (or should I say mine). I shared the box with my husband for dinner, and even he gasped at the nutrition facts. We each ate six, totalling 450 calories, 45 per cent of our daily fat and 96 per cent of our daily saturated fat.
If only these abuses were unique occurrences over the holidays. Whenever my best friend (and eating partner) from Ottawa would raise a mild concern over our abundance, I’d conveniently say it all ends with the new year.
With more terrifically decadent foods in my pantry and fridge, I couldn’t have stopped sooner. My temporary food addiction made me feel like a smoker saying I could quit whenever I wanted.
I was hooked. I was even dreaming of the food I’d prepare that day. Baked brie? Fondue? Clearly, I was in need of an intervention. Or perhaps a new invention to scan products as you buy or open them that would tally daily fat or calorie intakes and mock you mercilessly when you overstepped the bounds of healthy nutrition.
The Wasn’t that a Party tune rolled about my head and I rewrote it to: “Could’ve been the Pringles, might have been the Brie, could have been the chocolates, shortbread, or fondue, just look at my new belly, time to hit the gym now, yes I’m serious, tell me, me o’ me o’ my, wasn’t that a Christmas.”
Does anyone want half a box of Twinkies?