Columns

2011.09.14 What's for lunch?

on . Posted in Midnight Musings

By COLLEEN LEDDY

 Is there something inherently wrong with eating potato chips for breakfast? Even followed by a healthy fruit salad full of brain power booster berries like raspberries and black raspberries, plus strawberries, peaches and pears?

OK, I know it’s really wrong. But that’s one of the great perks of being a grownup whose children have flown the coop and whose husband is in the other room—nobody to tell you what to do. Nobody to tell you: Put those chips back and eat a bowl of oatmeal.

Nobody, except the voice in your head of your husband saying, “Leddy, are you crazy? Put those chips back and eat a bowl of oatmeal!”

It’s a big bag of potato chips. I didn’t realize how big when I first bought it.

“You didn’t notice the weight of it?” David asked when he hefted the two pound bag.

“I just wanted potato chips so I grabbed them,” I replied.

We don’t eat a whole lot of potato chips and I don’t buy them on a regular basis. They have to be on sale and they have to be one of only two brands. So, when we finally have them, it’s a case of deprivation-induced desire winning out over Puritan-inspired restraint.

The Puritans always lose out around me.

After eating a hearty handful of potato chips one morning, I remembered I’d also bought a jar of pickles. And nothing beats pickle and potato chip sandwiches (sliced pickles layered between two potato chips)—except fried potato sandwiches (fried potatoes slathered with fried onions and ketchup between two slices of bread).

I would propose that potato chips for breakfast is probably better than my next dietary transgression:  dark chocolate for dinner. I didn’t plan that meal in advance, but after consuming half a 3.5 ounce chocolate bar, I worked right through the dinner hour and half-way into the night. If you need to get a lot done, dark chocolate for dinner is a sure road to success.

I was feeling guilty about eating such a poor dinner, but then I remembered a snippet of news I’d heard recently supporting the health benefits of chocolate.

The New York Times covered the story, but WABC-TV News in New York summarized it more readable language.

Researchers analyzed the results of seven studies that included more than 100,000 people with and without heart disease.

They compared those who ate large amounts of chocolate to those who ate very little, and found those who consumed more chocolate reduced the risk of having heart disease by more than a third. 

Chocolate-eaters were 29-percent less likely to have a stroke.

The studies included all types of chocolate, including chocolate bars, drinks and cookies.

But usually dark chocolate has been found to have the strongest benefits because it contains more antioxidants that may lower blood pressure and help ward off Type Two diabetes.

There is, of course, a catch. None of the research proves that the chocolate is creating the benefit.

Chocolate, we all know, is also creating wider hips, bigger stomachs and higher numbers on scales. Just ask me. I’ve been a steady consumer for years. Wider, bigger, higher—I’m all that. 

Not the most enviable shape to be in 10 days before my 35th high school reunion, but I’m looking on the bright side. I’ve calculated that I’ve gained one pound for every year since I graduated in 1976. Surely there must be an award for that?

That award might be in jeopardy, though. I went to Dallas last week to participate in a library related focus group (all expenses paid by the sponsoring organization) and attend the Association for Rural and Small Libraries conference. 

During the focus group meeting, the hotel people kept popping in with food all the time...brownies and chocolate chip cookies, warm popcorn, Cracker Jacks, hot New York-style pretzels with mustard, and the topper: a little ice cream cart filled with Haägen Dazs ice cream bars. “One of everything” is my motto when it comes to dessert offerings. 

It’s no wonder I gained five pounds in the five days I was gone. A pound a day—do they give awards for that?

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