Adding Calories To Our Food

dessertI’ve been thinking about the food we eat.  Have you ever been to a restaurant and ordered a cup of ice cream for dessert?  What do they offer you in addition to the ice cream?  They might say, “Would you like hot fudge, strawberry sauce or caramel on that? ”  Then, they may continue with, “Whipped cream?  Nuts?  Sprinkles?”  What in the world is that all about?  Why do we love to add unnecessary calories to our food?

 I was the Queen of adding to foods.  I felt that if the brownies are good, then they would  be even better with homemade chocolate frosting.  And if the frosting wasn’t enough, then we should probably add some nuts on top to make it look nicer.  And to make it better (or worse), I would then serve that confection with Breyer’s vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate syrup. 

I remember one night during my fat days, where John and I were sitting around doing a lot of nothing.  We decided we’d like something salty.  I had the bright idea of grating mounds of cheddar cheese on top of tortilla chips and baking them for a few minutes in the oven.  I could hardly wait for the cheese to melt. I popped the savory treat out of the oven, put it on the couch in between John and I, and dived in. I think I ate two cookie sheets full of cheese and chips all by myself. Once again I had added unnecessary calories to a food.  

When I was heavy I also felt like vegetables needed butter, potatoes should be doctored up, and salads weren’t complete without a “good” salad dressing.  I was wrong.  I was also doing my family and myself a major disservice by glopping up our arteries with high fat extras.

Were you like I was in my former life? Did you used to add unnecessary calories to your foods?  What did you like to add?  Do any of  these sound familiar?

  • Salads – high fat dressings, nuts, cheese
  • Meats – breaded then fried, cheeses, melted butter
  • Potatoes – butter, cheese, sour cream
  • Cakes – frosting plus nuts, or candy, or chocolate curls, or ice cream
  • Pies – garnishes like whipping cream, ice cream, nuts
  • Spaghetti – Parmesan cheese, oil in the boiling water
  • Pizza – high fat meats, loads of extra cheese
  • Vegetables – bacon fat, butter, cheeses

When you stop to think about it, most of the extras that we add to our food aren’t  very good for us.  Oily and creamy dressings are high in fat and calories.  Frying food should never happen, and potatoes shouldn’t be so soggy you can wring them out.  Pastas can be healthy when not laden with creamy sauces and pizza isn’t a terrible choice if you limit the amount of cheese and don’t put high fat meats on top.  And it goes without saying that vegetables are delicious by themselves, not floating in grease.

I think that we sometimes forget how our food is supposed to taste.  For me, when I was heavy, I had trained my palate to enjoy high fat, high salt foods.  It took me a long time to retrain my taste buds to enjoy more simple food.  Without all the dressings and fat, food tastes very different.  The first time I ate broccoli with just a bit of “no salt” seasoning I thought I was going to gag.  After all, I used to eat broccoli swimming in cheese sauce.  That’s how I thought broccoli should be served. 

Over time I actually developed an aversion to the fat in foods.  It made me feel sick to my stomach to eat foods that were fried and full of fat.  Now I rarely eat fried foods and most of the foods I make for my family are healthy.  This week as you go out to eat and cook for your family, carefully consider what you are adding to your food.  Just making the choice to cut back on the “extras” you are adding can add up to huge calorie savings and potential health benefits.  Diane

44 thoughts on “Adding Calories To Our Food

  1. Miz says:

    When I changed my eating habits my husband would mock (in a loving way as he is my biggest cheerleader) my new food loves.

    I must have said offhand one time (as Ive no recollection) that I was FAMISHED and its amazing what tastes fantastic when you let yourself truly be hungry/taste the food and not just eat.

    Recently, post changing his eating habits, he brought that back up to me and said that he GETS IT NOW and understands/
    it was a very cool moment 🙂
    .-= Miz´s last blog ..Brown (Fat) is the new BLACK. =-.

  2. Sue says:

    Oh my dear sweet lord it’s like you’re in my house. My husband grew up with a doctor-er. Butter on the noodles (so they don’t stick!), butter on the bread before the peanut butter and jelly (seriously?!) butter on all the veggies after you boil them down to mush (why bother?!). And then there’s the topic of Hamburger Helper, which is another comment for another day.

    And he’s all “but this is the way I like it” and I’m all “you will doom our children to our current struggle if you teach them to do this” and we have had this conversation no fewer than A ZILLION TIMES in our 11 year history.

    .-= Sue´s last blog ..fifty thousand words =-.

    • Diane says:

      @MizFit – That is a wonderful moment. And an inspiration to me as I hope my habits rub off on my family members!

      @Sue – Wow! Well said, and you actually describe an extremely common scenario. It can be so hard to convince people that they can learn to love foods in a different way. Good for you on continuing to drive home the message of health.

      @Yum Yucky – Yes, I’m threatening your love of buttery goodness and Paula Deen’s!

  3. 266 says:

    You may have been the Queen of adding to foods in general, but I am the Lady of the dips. My issue is that I don’t like a lot of foods dry. I still have a hard time moving away from this habit. I am fortunately though in that I really don’t use very much. I only need a tiny bit of fat free ranch dressing, margarine, or light peanut butter to make my salad, steamed broccoli, and celery sticks palatable for me. I know it is something I should probably work on, but I must admit it is not high on my list of priorities. On the other hand, I have made my husband drastically cut down on his use of butter and salt because of exactly what you have said here. I suppose moderation is my thought here, but then, maybe that is simply because I am not yet advanced enough in this process to believe I could give that stuff up yet.
    .-= 266´s last blog ..Fly-By Posting =-.

  4. vickie says:

    the add on that I have always had the HARDEST TIME understanding is sprinkling sugar on top of fruit! Does that made any sense what so ever?

    The add on thing is one of my biggest issues when eating at other people’s houses.

    My mom had a house guest a couple years ago that cooked that way. And she kept trying to cook to help my mom.

    So she would steam a pan of fresh green beans (for example) and SALT them. That meant that no one at my mom’s house and no one from my house could eat them.

    And yes, my mom had told her not to add anything to any foods. But when you have someone that has always done this – they don’t actually know they are doing it. It is automatic.

    I find this same thing to be true with processed food. I stay away from processed food – the additivies give me migraines and also mess up my GI track and sometimes impact my asthma.

    I have been offered things at other people’s houses where they have told me it was all whole foods – but then when I question the specifics – it turns out that EVERYTHING came out of a can or a processed package. And the people honestly think it is whole foods – because visually it looks like a whole food (canned beans or canned tomatoes come to mind as the easiest example of this).
    .-= vickie´s last blog ..would he or wouldn’t he? =-.

    • Diane says:

      @266 – I don’t think you have to give all of those dips up at all. Just the fact that you are aware that you love to dip (so does my #1 daughter) and are careful of how much you are adding. That’s the important thing – awareness!

      @vickie – OH! I forgot about that. I used to make fresh fruit salads and then douse them with sugar. Why?? Great point about other people’s habits affecting your eating and the processed foods. I think that sometimes people equate homemade with healthy.

  5. Joanna Sutter says:

    I love this post! Piling on condiments, topping on toppings, eating a pinch of this and just a spoonful of that adds up.

    This is SUCH a good reminder for me. I’ve been a little too generous lately.
    .-= Joanna Sutter´s last blog ..An Emily Post =-.

  6. Lola says:

    My son was doing a food study one time and his calorie intake needed to be EXACT. We were talking to the dietician and she asked him a simple question, “do you like jelly? We need to add calories and that’s an easy way to get at least 100.”

    You know, I thought about that comment a lot. For me, I say, “bahhh, only 100 calories.” For her, she was just thinking of the science of it. I need an easy way to add calories, let me throw in a PACKET of grape jelly. SHEESH.

    Great points.
    .-= Lola´s last blog ..Work =-.

  7. Marisa (Trim The Fat) says:

    Yep, I’m guilty of many of those “toppings”, too!

    I think we have been lead to believe that “more is better” in this country, but it is so refreshing to simplify foods and go back to the basics!

    • Diane says:

      @Joanna – It really does add up doesn’t it?

      @Lola – The jelly example is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s so easy to add to foods and we don’t always realize the implications to our health and our weight.

      @Marisa – It’s definitely a cultural attitude. More is better. Why would you want the smaller one when you can have the bigger one for a few pennies more?

  8. South Beach Steve says:

    Diane, one thing I have noticed as I have begun to eat more natural foods is that I am appreciating that taste. We do get used to what we do. We are creatures of habit. I haven’t totally left the processed food world, after all, I still eat salad dressing, but I am learning to appreciate the natural tastes of things, which are truly great it we would just give them a chance.
    .-= South Beach Steve´s last blog ..The Weather, or Under the Weather? =-.

  9. Monica says:

    You must be my twin from a past life. This is me, well, this was me. Even things like adding extra parmsean cheese to spaghetti, sugar into already sugared oatmeal, etc.

    You are right, those extra calories really do add up. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Sara N. says:

    This post is such a great reminder to me in the fact that I need to be careful with every single little food I eat because you are 100% right that it is super easy to add unhealthy stuff to our foods without really even meaning too.

    Where do you think of all these things???

    • Diane says:

      @Steve – We are creatures of habit and I eat processed foods too. I try and eat as healthy as I can, but to be honest, I can’t afford to feed my entire family whole foods all the time.

      @Monica – You are welcome, and I’m glad you are making the good changes!

      @Sara – Yes, you really do need to be vigilant because if you aren’t then it can cause you to gain or stay on a plateau for a long time.

  11. Lara (Thinspired) says:

    This is a great post because it reminds everyone (including me) that there are EASY ways to cut calories without depriving yourself of food volume. I have been teaching myself to eat simply for a while now and I think it does make a difference. All the little add-on’s add up (except oatmeal. I have decided that add-on’s to oatmeal don’t count! 😉 )
    .-= Lara (Thinspired)´s last blog ..New Love, New Moon? =-.

  12. Jody - Fit at 51 says:

    Very true points Diane!!! Extras are super dangerous!!! People pay too little attention to this!

    Now, I am NOT an extra person at all & don’t even like them anymore. I actually eat veggies rather than salads & I put either no salt seasoning on them or various types of mustard! I love mustard on my broccoli or other veggies. I find different varieties but with decent make up of ingredients.

    As for my beloved whole grain healthy breads.. I love bread so much that I don’t even want butter on it. Yes, after a workout I use my power peanut better but any other time, just toasted with nothing on it is fine for me!

    It is amazing how you can change how you eat!

    • Diane says:

      @Lara – I am always so impressed by the food you eat when I read your blog!!

      @Jody – I think you are the first person I have “met” who likes veggies more than the salads. I don’t care as much for the greens of the salad as I do the veggies.

  13. Staci says:

    That post is such a great reminder! I also tend to like the dips with things so I have to remember to eat in moderation, or just skip it all together. A carrot can still taste good without the ranch, right? 🙂
    Have a great day!
    .-= Staci´s last blog ..I am a Champion!!! =-.

  14. Susan says:

    My biggest thing was cheese. I used to add cheese to everrryyything. Usually, the highest fat/calorie stuff could too. Now I only do cheese if it’s a “main ingredient.” For example, I don’t bother adding cheese to my burgers now as it’s just an addition and you can’t really taste it anyways. But I’ll still have a grilled cheese sandwich 🙂
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Food Rules =-.

  15. Janet says:

    I still add some of those “extras” to my foods. I am a firm believed in LOVING everything you eat… if I don’t love my food, I will go back to my old habits for sure. BUT, I have modified my extras. Adding cheese and nuts, or seeds/dried fruits to your salad isn’t bad… you just have to do it in moderation and maybe not add them ALL to the same salad…I also still add butter and sour cream to my baked potatoes (that’s how I LIKE them best), but I measure, 5 grams of light butter and 2 tbsp of fat free sour cream (which only adds 43 calories to my potato)… worth it for the flavour it adds. Ultimately, I think it comes down to choices, you can still have your extras… but you might have to give up something else (or modify them)…
    .-= Janet´s last blog ..Day 150 – Nothing Fits Me! =-.

  16. Marcelle says:

    I’ve always been pretty good with not adding those extra calories…I’ve been an aerobic instructor all my life so was very aware of what to eat and what not to eat…so never had a weight problem..then I stopped teaching and ballooned…10kgs in the first month I moved to Germany…not from eating badly but from not moving enough.
    I can see that adding calories is a bad thing…I see it in my friends who struggle with their weight…they add the such fattening things to their meals…when I was on holiday I asked my family to please cut out all the creams,cheese etc from the meals the were cooking, I know I was demanding – but hey, I had to take care of me, no one else was going to…
    .-= Marcelle´s last blog ..Last Few Days Of Holiday =-.

  17. Robin says:

    Oddly I don’t tend to put a lot on my food. I’ve usually liked my foods kind of plain. I’d just put some parmesan on my pasta and that’s it. Or just some salt on my baked potato. I’m a really bland eater, you’d think dieting would be easier.

  18. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    Great reminders!

    I think it’s easy to get used to add lots of things to our food without even thinking about it. Yet, every “add on” should be a conscious choice. And many are truly not necessary.

    I also like your point that our taste buds can and do change over time. Cutting back gradually worked for me. I love salty foods and worked really hard on limiting salt in my diet. My husband has never liked a lot of salt and would often remark on how salty my food tasted (I added extra to my portion). Today, I consider things salty that he thinks are just fine. It’s truly amazing how far I’ve come! 🙂

  19. Diane says:

    @Staci – Yes, a carrot does taste good plain, but I’m not sure my 4 year old would agree!

    @Susan – Great point about not even being able to taste those extras sometimes – especially cheese. I like your strategy.

    @Janet – Yes – I’m in 100% agreement with you. I’m not recomminding you quit adding everything to your food, but just to be mindful when you do to make sure you need to – either for taste or personal preference! Thanks Janet for your input.

    @Marcelle – I think it’s wonderful that you involved your family when you were on holiday, and the results were great weren’t they? You did awesome!

    @Robin – That is great that you don’t add extra calories in. That’s one habit you don’t have to worry about. You are lucky!

  20. Tyler says:

    I like to add lots of salt to my foods. You didn’t talk too much about that, but I know it’s not good for my heart or my weight loss. I’ve lost 55 pounds so far and it’s time to start thinking about those things I’m missing.

  21. Sandi says:

    Your brownie reminded me of the brownie’s I used to make quite often. A sheet of brownie’s with fudge frosting, cherry pie filling, whipping cream and chocolate sauce drizzled over the top, and a scoop of ice cream. I would make this for my family of four and end up eating the biggest share of it myself. I’ve only made brownie’s once in the last two years and they were the low calorie ones from Trader Joe’s. I only had one, it was good, but I’d rather spend my calories on something with some nutritional value.
    I really enjoy your blog and website Diane. I just found it a month ago. I’ve lost 127 pounds in the last year and a half and blogs like yours have helped me immensely.

  22. Leah says:

    I never thought I could eat a salad with just a little bit of dressing. I’m finding that I love to taste the flavors of the veggies and even some fruits and nuts that I add to salads now.

    Such a true post and something I’m learning along this weight loss journey.
    .-= Leah´s last blog ..I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!! =-.

  23. Dawn says:

    Very good post and so very true!!! I think I’ve really changed in this area too. I’ve noticed though that I still sometimes buy those “extras” for the family to put on their food. Still things to work on for sure.
    .-= Dawn´s last blog ..Need a rest =-.

  24. Cari (aka Gastric Bypass Barbie) says:

    I actually wrote something similar to this a few weeks back.

    I called it “Ampersands & Addiction” — In case you want to read, here it is:

    It was all about how we get caught up in the “&” — like, Movies & Popcorn; Hamburgers & French Fries, Steak & Potatoes, Apple Pie & Ice Cream. I don’t know about you, but my experiences were so defined (actually regimented) by that innocent little punctuation mark.

    Campfire & S’mores.
    Baseball & Hot Dogs.

    Do you know, in my “Before” life, it actually got to the point where I couldn’t have ONE thing without the OTHER or my experience would be incomplete, not rewarding, and even BAD!?

    Fortunately, this is conditioned behavior (by society, family systems, our own habits), which means that we can UNcondition ourselves to that ampersand! As you read in my posting yesterday, I continue to work on breaking that nasty tie between all sorts of things — including “Costco & Pizza” and I’m surprised by how hard it is…

    Some of these pesky little “&s” are pretty insidious, and most times, I don’t even realize I’m thinking about it, until I stop myself from doing the conditioned behavior (coffee AND a donut). Ugh.

    Anyway, I just thought I’d throw it out there and see if anyone else feels the same way I do in their own “After” lives?
    .-= Cari (aka Gastric Bypass Barbie)´s last blog ..Barbie Goes Digital =-.

  25. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    I’m so lucky in that I mostly like simple foods, without a lot of (caloric) adornment. Unfortunately, I also like chocolate. 🙂

    The simplest changes can have huge payoffs. Mine was changing the way I eat salad dressing. Even when I was heavy, I loved salads. Back then I ate them with lots of dressing and lots of cheese. Now, really light on the cheese and only the tips of my fork in the dressing. Huge difference!
    .-= Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog ..Western Tour: The First Four Days =-.

  26. Taryl says:

    I’m quite fortunate to have escaped the bulk of the add-on addiction, unlike my husband! I add a little (think dash or pinch) of seasoning salt and a teaspoon of butter or olive oil to some vegetables, I like vinaigrettes on my salad and malt vinegar on my baked potatoes. I do add on – but it it obviously in moderation and with conscientiousness regarding calories and nutrient content.

    Fortunately really rich foods like you describe above hold very little appeal to me these days. A bite of overloaded brownie at a restaurant or party? Sure. But I don’t think my stomach could even tolerate a serving of some of that stuff and I am truly grateful! I have my own food struggles but this is not one of them 🙂
    .-= Taryl´s last blog ..Take that, TOM! =-.

  27. Dr. J says:

    Yup, once I broke the addiction to salt, sugar and fat, I not only found that they did not taste as good as I remembered but that food actually tasted good without all the extras!

  28. roxie says:

    Oh man, this is a battle I still fight. I like to cook and I’m good at it, but I have a problem knowing when to say when. We are doing better with serving simple foods of excellent quality. Not every vegetable requires a cheese sauce.

    Great post!

  29. Pam says:

    Yep, I was there, and thank goodness, I too, have developed an aversion to oily, salty concoctions. I have even learned to not butter breads – I used to be a Paula Deen wannabe, and now? I can’t even bake things with it – I have to replace it with canola oil and applesauce – it is just too rich and unappealing now.
    I even used to make Ramen Noodles, drain them add the seasoning packet to them and drown them in butter! Just the thought makes me shudder now.
    Even the smell of fast food places turns my stomach now. If my ‘fried’ food hasn’t been baked in the oven instead assaulted in hot oil, I can’t eat it.

    I love this post – so many people don’t realize how many unnecessary calories they consume day in and day out with add ons.
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Bad Week, Good Night =-.

  30. m i c h e l l e says:

    I do love my “extras” but must be better at managing them or I would still have an obese BMI 🙂

  31. Tammy says:

    I have nothing to add to your list of extras…it absolutely mirrors everthing I used to add to my own food. I was shocked at how much we used to cook and eat alike!!
    .-= Tammy´s last blog ..C25K…Maybe =-.

  32. MackAttack says:

    I totally know what you mean, I realized when I stopped adding salt to food that I realized what food actually tasted like.
    .-= MackAttack´s last blog’s to your health =-.
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  33. Amy says:

    Just a thought – it is actually really healthy to add nuts and seeds to our daily diet IN MODERATION – they are heart healthy and have loads of vitamins, minerals and fiber. This is one addition that should definitely not be ditched!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..It’s Corrida Time! =-.

  34. julie says:

    I’m not a huge add-on fan, most veggies and fruits I can eat as is, and for the ones that need cooking, I use some vinegar or lemon juice. Or occasionally roast them, if I want something oily and salty. I am a bit too liberal with the salt. I do add a bit of blue cheese, pumpkin seeds, and dressing to my salads, but I consider these things healthy in the small amounts that I can tolerate them. Omega-3s from hemp seed oil, pumpkin, olive oil, mustard, vinegar. If I make a slightly heavier salad, I can tolerate a smaller dinner, or wait longer for it. I detest parmesian, sour cream, salty veggies, things that are too sweet (except melons). I don’t even like milk chocolate anymore 🙁 I think I’m mostly comfortable with my food choices, these days, other than the salt.
    .-= julie´s last blog ..My body screams for…kickboxing? =-.

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