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Anyone whos tried to eat healthier knows that at some point, you rebel, pig out and say, "At least Ill die happy!"
Most of the nutrition advice-mongers dont 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 Entenmanns 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 Arbys, Boston Market, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Hardees, Dairy Queen, KFC, Long John Silvers, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendys. If a food gets less than 20 percent of its calories from fat, and is reasonable on calories and sodium, its 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, theres little to choose from. At Burger King, an onion slice, a tomato slice and chicken salad (no dressing) are just about it. At McDonalds, 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." TCBYs "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, its gotta be baked, not fried, or youre looking at about a gram of fat in every chip.
There are lesser-evil choices, however, and Kleins 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Its $16.95 plus $3.50 shipping. Klein got his info from the companies or from the U.S. Department of Agricultures Handbook No. 8.
Warm up with a Southwest Feast tonight at Morels (30100 Telegraph, Bingham Farms, 248-642-1094). The $36.95 prix fixe menu includes soup, fish and main courses as well as dessert. Call 248-642-1094 for information. ... Planning a Super Bowl party? Visit www.epicurious.com/find/superbowl for new twists on old food favorites. This first-rate food Web site offers hundreds of recipes and entertaining ideas.