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Plan B: Convenience Foods

I am not against convenience foods. They serve a purpose. They get us fed so we can go about our day. A lot of my clients have very busy work days without steady breaks for eating.

“What does lunch look like?” I ask my clients.

They’ll say, “on good days I’ll pack leftovers. On hectic days I’ll grab a pack of nabs, a banana, 5 mini snickers bars from my coworker’s candy jar, chips, a diet soda.”

Basically “lunch” is whatever is around to make hunger go away until it comes back again, an hour later.

The purpose of this post is not to shame anyone for not eating perfectly (there’s no such thing as perfect eating!) The point of this post is to eat better so it serves you better, even when work and life are busy.

Here’s where having a “Plan B” for nutrition comes into play.

(Note: I have no vested interest in any food company and this post is not intended to boost a particular brand)

Pictured above, on the left is a package of Lance sandwich crackers with cheese (some call these “nabs” as referenced above).

On the right is a "Spicy Beef Teriyaki Power Bowl" freezer meal by Healthy Choice made with cauliflower, beef, carrots, broccoli, peppers, onions, etc.

Let's take a closer look.

Cheese crackers on the left : 200 calories, 19g carbs, 2g fiber, 3g protein. Net weight: 1.5oz.

Freezer meal on the right: 180 calories, 15g carbs, 5g fiber, 18g protein. Net weight: 9.25 oz. Requires 3-4 minutes in the microwave.

The only thing these two have in common is that they are both convenience foods. They also contribute roughly the same amount of calories.

How are they different? The numbers speak for themselves. You get way more nutritional value from the freezer meal (more protein, more fiber, with roughly the same calories).

Also, note that the freezer meal weighs about 6x as much, which means you have that much more weight and volume filling your stomach with things like vegetables that take time to digest. The result is you feel fuller, the satiety lasts longer, and blood sugar is more stable.

Why am I comparing two things that are obviously completely different?

Often when people are in a hurry, the food on the left (prepackaged crackers, chips, etc.), end up being the choice that gets made out of necessity, tiredness, desperation.

This is the point. When we haven’t planned ahead, when we are hurried/ stressed, (in other words, when we are human), remember there are food “Plan B's” out there to help us out, even if it’s not the Pinterest worthy lunch that we meant to make ahead on Sunday and bring to work.

A freezer meal that contains a good amount of protein (15-20gish) and vegetables (around 1 cup or more) will nourish your body much better than a snack machine run. And it takes about the same amount of time to eat (and a few minutes to heat up).

Stay tuned for a more elaborate post soon about freezer meals, as some are definitely healthier than others (as always, there is a ton of variation in what’s out there).

If you are interested in meeting in person, I am taking new patients in Durham! If you don’t live in the area, I take telehealth patients on Fridays. Call or email me through my website.


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