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Sunday, January 20, 2013

What's In It For Me?

I used to think it was selfish to ask "what's in it for me?" Well, I'm the only one tasked with caring for myself and leaving my well-being up to others or to fate surely hasn't served me well over the past few decades. This shift in thinking has led me to a new level of self care I needed and I am not ashamed to consider "what's in it for me?" before making choices.

This is true before volunteering my time, my resources, my money, my talents.It's not selfish to consider my own needs before helping others. Like the flight attendants on the airplanes always say, put on your own oxygen mask before helping the person sitting next to you. Makes sense to me because I can't be much help to you if I die by ignoring my own need for oxygen.

I also ask myself "What's in it for me?" before eating. Does this bacon REALLY offer anything nutritional?  Does this processed frozen dinner give me the protein, fiber, calcium, vitamins, etc. that I need? How much of the food is actual food versus filler or chemicals?  These are questions I ask all the time.

I also try to find a balance between calories and nutrition. Sometimes I eat a higher calorie food in a trade-off for excellent nutrients or healthy fats.  Avocados and almonds are a good example of high calorie foods that offer some excellent health benefits.  Sometimes I choose lower calorie foods so that I can get more of it (going for a critical mass of quantity over quality).  Sometimes I find a nice balance of calories and nutrition.  I will use the label from a Tomato Basil Organic Pasta Sauce fromThe Fresh Market (love this store!) as an example of what I look for in the example below.

Okay. What's in it for me?

Let's start with ingredients. Tomatoes  basil, soybean oil, salt, onions, garlic powder, oregano and garlic.

What's not in it? No preservatives, no artificial colors or flavors.  No sugar (I prefer to buy food without sugar whenever possible.)

Just whole, wholesome, natural (and in this case organic) food, the way Mother Nature intended. (Is that a commercial? But I really mean it!)

Now let's look at the Nutritional Facts side of the label. A half cup is only 60 calories. I seldom eat just a 1/2 cup, so I will automatically double that to 120 calories for one cup. The amounts and percentages below will be doubled also.

Fat is 6 grams or 10% for the whole day.  Not too shabby.  There is no saturated fat and no reportable trans fat. (This doesn't mean there isn't trans fat in there, I might blog about that another day - the deceptive way the FDA lets manufacturers hide the trans fat in there.)

There is no cholesterol, but the sodium (salt) is a bit high (nearly 40%).  I would make sure I don't salt anything else in that meal and as a rule, I try to avoid sodium.

Carbs aren't too bad - 16 grams or 6%. I will be eating this, most likely, atop spaghetti squash instead of real pasta, so I won't be adding a lot of carbs to the meal.

There is fiber - 4 grams is good and the sugar is low (6 grams.)  There is no protein worth mentioning, but there is good bit of Vitamin C (50% for my double serving) and 30% for Vitamin A.

All in all, this is a great food to throw into the mix. I can use it in a sauce for pasta or spaghetti squash, or as a nice base for stuffed peppers, zucchini boats, galumpkis or any number of recipes

Once I find something like this, I incorporate it as a staple that I use frequently.  Because what else is in it for me is the ability to run on auto pilot and not have to give shopping too much thought.  It becomes less laborious and a whole lot quicker.

What's in it for me is a great question to ask before making ANY choice, if the goal is taking care of one's self.  And eating worthy foods helps put us on that track.


  1. going to look and see what a galumpkis is now.

  2. ahhhh stuffed learn something new every day!

  3. My own post made me go out and buy some cabbage. Must have some this week! mmmmmmm

  4. dawww... now I want to buy cabbage too and make stir fry ;P

  5. Bravo, well said. And thanks for the educational break down on the labeling, I think along the same lines when purchasing food. As you said it's about taking good care of yourself rather than deprivation. Instead of thinking about eating healthy in terms of denying yourself the foods I crave I try to view it as taking care of myself. But the labeling is so tricky these days and the options and opinions so vast it can feel overwhelming to figure out how to make the best choices. That's why it's so cool that you're passing on this information, it's really worthwhile to hear real life practical applications of healthy food choices. SJ


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