I know I’ve been out of the loop for a while…

A friend today told me about an article on Yahoo.com.  It’s a regular blog done by a person calling herself “Hungry Girl”.  Today’s installment was about how caloric certain fast food restaurants food really are, and why one should resist eating those things.

She reviews hamburgers and says things like:

You may as well have an actual steak if you’re going to consume this many calories!


You know that annoying ad campaign with the surgeon who thinks about bourbon all day long? Yeah, it’s funny, but the idea of a medical professional (actor or not) chowing down this monster burger makes us cringe a little.

Why would that make anybody cringe?  Sometimes, a doctor may just want a burger.

If the thought of adding coffee syrup to a Wendy’s Frosty is enough to send you into a full-on swoon, brace yourself. And if your dreams are speckled with chocolate-covered toffee bits, prepare to pinch yourself. As good as this all sounds, it comes with a hefty price tag. This shake has more calories than the Triple Stack burger, which has three beef patties and three pieces of cheese. Fantasy OVER. 

Does anybody REALLY think that an ice cream shake with added syrup and candy is going to be less than 100 calories?  (Or 200, in the case of the book she wrote and is hawking on her blog?)

Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I went to a link for a different post she made, and read this (about making a sandwich out of low cal/low fat ingredients instead of full cal/full fat ingredients):

Now that meal will only cost you about 415 calories. MUCH BETTER!

In many places I’ve seen (and I’ve not really looked that deeply into her blog), I keep seeing the idea that eating “costs” a person.

Now, I know I’ve been off the diet cycle for a while, but I just have to wonder:  If you are invested so much in how much every bite of your food “costs” you, how do you even have the ability to enjoy what you are allowing yourself to eat?

Eating is not just about fuel.  If it was just about the fuel, we’d not have the taste buds like we do.  If food was just supposed to be about keeping us alive, why are there so many varieties, which all taste different, and of which we generally need a mixed amount of to keep our bodies healthy and running?

It just doesn’t make sense.

I mean, if it truly was just about fuel, we could plug ourselves in at night to recharge.  Or all of our “fuel” would grow in pellet form on pellet trees, and all of it would be uniform sizes, and each pellet would have all of the day’s requirement of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fat, carbohydrates, and calories.

You know, kind of like in that movie, Soylent Green.  Oh, right, I forgot, those daily crackers weren’t grown that way…


14 Responses

  1. I had a friend in college was a devotee of the Hungry Girl blog and she’d rhapsodise about how “She takes a 500 calorie meal and makes it, like, 115 calories!”

    I’m going to have to stop you there.

    a) A meal that only contains 500 calories isn’t exactly a big meal to begin with — even on three of those a day you’re still 500 short of the “recommended” 2000 calorie limit. What’s wrong with a 500 calorie meal?

    And b) WTF 115 calories? That’s not a meal! It’s barely a snack! Maybe you can “fool” your brain into thinking you’re getting an actual meal since it (kind of) looks like one and (kind of) tastes like one, but in about 10 minutes your digestive system is going to going “What the hell? I’m still hungry.” and you’re going to be all “Oh, why am I always so hungry when I’m on a diet?”

    People seriously don’t seem to understand that your body NEEDS a certain amount of energy to function, and that you might as well enjoy the food which will give you that enery, because otherwise, as you say, it’s just refuelling.

    Hungry Girl is rooted in a mentality I can’t barely begin to understand anymore.

  2. *can’t=can

  3. I’ve never understood why the “food as only fuel” people always conclude that it’s good to give your body as little fuel as possible. Personally, I’m not generally like, “Know what would be best for my car? If I put the absolute minimum amount of gas required to get to my destination in, and then went.” Because, I obviously understand that something unexpected might occur, and having only the minimum amount of fuel available could cause a serious problem. Even if food were nothing other than fuel, I don’t understand why minimizing the amount of it would be good.

  4. And you wonder why Hungry Girl is always hungry.

  5. I am a calorie counter, and while I completely respect your not wanting to do it, (it’s not exactly the ideal way to eat for some people, especially those with disordered eating, I understand), I couldn’t resist playing devil’s advocate on this one.

    It seems like it’s reasonable to assume that our taste buds evolved to differentiate between foods that are high in calories and foods that are low in calories – in other words, calorie-dense, fatty, and sweet foods tend to taste better. This would be an advantage to a wild animal because if all foods tasted the same, they wouldn’t be able to tell which ones had more energy. The problem is that we’ve developed the ability to process foods so that they are more calorie dense (and tastier… mmm, chocolate) than anything in nature, as you might expect an intelligent animal to do as it evolves and organizes itself into a sedentary society. We crave food that has been processed because it’s tastiest, but I imagine that if I tried to eat in a “natural” way with processed foods (letting hunger and satiety dictate when I eat and what I eat), I would end up eating too much because hunger is a natural thing that originally evolved to help us deal with natural food that isn’t as calorie-dense. I think that since I eat artificially produced food, the means by which I control my intake has to be artificial, too. And I find processed food WAY too tasty to give up, so there is no way in hell I would ever go on an “all natural” diet. It seems like the only solution is to count calories. I’d like to know what people think of this – am I crazy? Am I missing something?

    • If I understand you correctly, your hypothesis is that humans evolved to be able to identify calorie-dense foods that allowed them to get the energy they need, but that since we’re now modifying food to be more calorie dense, we’ll overeat without realising?

      Firstly, I don’t necessarily agree that processed foods are more calorie dense than “natural” foods. Sure, some of them might be, but I’m pretty sure that bone marrow is highly calorific!

      Secondly – if we evolved to be able to distinguish high calorie from low calorie foods and to let hunger and satiety dictate when and what we eat, I cannot understand how processed foods impact this. Processed food may be high in calories, but I don’t think that processing will somehow “trick” our bodies into not realising what’s in the food.

      I think what you’re experiencing is the desire to devour the world. I’ve been there. And as it turns out, once you’re truly not restricting, those processed foods that you find WAY too tasty to give up lose a lot of their appeal. Sure, they’re still tasty, but so are a lot of other things, and sometimes you’d really rather have an apple than the chocolate. When I was dieting, I would NEVER have believed that, but it turns out to be true.

      Ok, this was somewhat less coherent than I would have liked, but hopefully it makes sense, or someone else more articulate can jump in!

  6. This sounds a lot like the “this for that” mentality. You know where someone shows you a burger, fries, and soda and then reveals all the stuff you can eat for the same amount of calories. They ususally reveal baked or broiled chicker, skin off, a bunch of broccoli, some fruit, and a whole grain roll.

    You see to me a broiled chicken lunch IS NOT a bruger and fries. If you want a burger and fries, and you give your body something else, it’s still going to say, hey what about the burger and fries I ordered?

    Also, it these situations it seems like “the experts” are trying to demonstrate that we can actually eat A LOT MORE food if we just make it boring and bland.

    This gal seems to be taking it to another extreme because the alternative that she gives isn’t even more food, it’s just a reduced verson of the original. Which I think is even worse. You can’t feed your body a turkey burger on a whole wheat bun and a salad and make it satified if it really wants a quarter pounder with cheese and fries.

    It’s fine to eat the low fat turkey burger, broiled chicken, broccoli, and salad, if that is what your body wants, but you can’t fool it. If it wants a frosty and you give it some non fat yogurt the craving for the frosty won’t go away. At least that is my experiance.

    Oh and I have not ventured into intuative eating yet, so this is just real life why diets don’t work talk.

    • I thought for a second you were going to mention the “Eat this, not that” dude. Which, you know, as obnoxious as he can be with his “10 worst foods in America” lists, at least trades like for like a good bit of the time.

      Hungry Girl, though? Just pure unadulterated obnoxiousness. And so condescending and failing in her attempts to be “cute” about it. Besides that, I personally don’t like to cover EVERYthing in Fiber One cereal, use artificial sweeteners, nor do I buy fat-free/sugar-free fake foods, so I can’t “cook” 90% of her stuff, even if I wanted to. 🙂

  7. And some people wonder why ‘Hungry Girl’ is hungry….

  8. She’s hungry because she doesn’t eat anything that is actually food! I decided awhile back to stop eating low-fat and non-fat because of all of the fillers and artificial agents they have to add to get it to taste like a pale comparison of the full fat version. What’s the long term cost of eating that way – pickling yourself like that – I wonder?

  9. I hear you on Hungry Girl. I used to be an aficionado. I got her emails daily. I finally found Intuitive Eating/FA and dumped her. I wrote her why – the fact that her writing was extremely triggering for people with disordered eating. It also encourages all this fake food.

    She always claims that she primarily tries to eat whole foods herself, but recognizes that people are still loathe to completely give up the processed stuff so she provides “healthier” alternatives (and profits from it, I might add). As others have said, there’s nothing healthy about this crap and we’ll soon see how much damage we’re actually doing trying to fool ourselves into eating less. If you eat the regular version of what you want to eat that actually has some fat in it, you’ll be satisfied with much less. Why is this so hard to understand? In all my calorie counting days, I never got why I just couldn’t seem to eat enough. It was because I was trying to fill myself up with stuff I didn’t want, so of course I would still be hungry, trying to get what I really wanted/needed. It seems so clear now… Good riddance to HG!

  10. Why don’t people just eat whatever they want and stop complaining about it! God.. You only live ones, and yeah you can try to be healthy, but you don’t have to miss all the good stuff if that’s what you really want! And som people wonder what’s wrong with them..

  11. I try to tell people about this sort of thing, and they look at me like I’ve got a third eye. I would much rather spend my 3 dollars on a teeny but satisfying pint of ice cream than ridiculous aftertaste-y, chemical-death, 73.2% fewer carbs/calories/buzzword stuff that tastes like cardboard.

    When I set out a while ago, HG seemed not half bad. As the time has gone on, I’m not quite certain how I feel towards her. I almost get the feeling that she sold out to the “eat this fake version of this thing so you can feel like you’re soooooo naughty, you bad girl, you!” trend that really pisses me off.

    Between my mother’s behavior when I was younger and the current media, I refuse to buy anything that advertises itself based on the number of calories per serving or how much “healthier” it is for you. If I want to know that, I’m a big girl, I can look it up. I don’t need “you can eat it and still be on your diet!” or “you can eat it and it’s so much better than this other product, because for x calories you get a whopping Y of our product!”

    So glad I don’t have TV anymore.

  12. I only wish food were just fuel to me. That would be so easy. When the tank is empty, it’s time to fuel up, and you can only put so much into the tank. Unfortunately, eating is very pleasurable, and the tank’s limit can expand!

    When you think about how much time you spend eating in your life, don’t you want it to be somewhat enjoyable? It’s a challenge to find the right foods to enjoy that won’t “expand the tank”.

    In short, food has to be good. That’s just the way we were built…to enjoy our food. Slashing calories cannot be the only goal. And, if the eating sensation were not so important to us, we could all just get our fuel intravaneously.

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