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Reasons to Stop Eating Muffins and Bagels

Updated on December 30, 2012
Better to leave the muffins to the birds...
Better to leave the muffins to the birds... | Source

The Case for Avoiding Entire Categories of Food

For years I have been trying to figure out how to satisfy my intense love of chocolate and cakes, while also satisfying my desire to continue fitting into my clothing. I also just love pastries and breads, but almost every time I do research into calorie content, I want to curl up under the bed with a plate of cinnamon buns and try to erase everything I just learned.

After reading a recent New York Times article on decision fatigue, I realized I need to just eliminate entire categories of food. I don't need to be wasting my time and energy deciding between a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin and a bagel with cream cheese, trying to figure out which is 'healthier', while also trying to decide whether, if I can convince myself not to go down the muffin/bagel road, I would be better off with yogurt or raisin bran with low-fat milk. I need to just take some of my options completely off the table.

I'm writing this article because I thought perhaps others might find this same approach helpful, and my research on these two evil "breakfast" foods could go to some good use, other than inspiring me to eliminate them from my diet. At least until tomorrow morning when there's a freshly baked pumpkin muffin staring me in the face...

Muffins are Cake Disguised as a Breakfast Food

Muffins are imposters. They act like they are for breakfast, and that it's perfectly acceptable to eat them first thing in the morning, when you would probably think twice before eating a piece of cake for breakfast (I would think twice and then go ahead and do it, but that's another story). Muffins are cake. Repeat this to yourself at least three times.

When you think about certain muffins, like Costco muffins, it is a little easier to understand. Costco muffins are not as well disguised as a healthy breakfast option as some other muffins. Costco muffins are like the drag queen with the five o'clock shadow. A Costco muffin is at least 670 calories. That's a stunning number. It also makes me reflect back on my days as a high school student - I would buy a chocolate chip muffin from Costco from our student store, have them warm it up, and scarf it down without a second thought. I guess playing soccer for 2+ hours every day actually does burn some calories. I shudder to think what would happen to me if I ate that muffin every day now.

But the reason I argue for avoiding muffins altogether is that even the ones that try to be lower-calorie aren't that low-calorie. Starbucks makes their best effort to make muffins seem healthy with a zucchini walnut muffin (made with "real zucchini"! - are they commending themselves for resisting the lobbying power of the fake zucchini mafia?), but the muffin is still 490 calories. For 490 calories, I would rather eat a ton of dark chocolate straight up. That's an easy choice. And I have to say that every "low-fat" muffin that I've tried just doesn't taste that great. That's why you save cake for dessert and eat it in all its high calorie glory.

Bagels are Bread with Fat Added

Until I researched this article, I didn't even know how they made bagels. After learning about their high calorie content, I assumed it was some sort of process where they took bread, mashed it up, added fat globules, and then shaped it into an inner tube. Turns out that's not far off (see the video to the right - I don't think that's just water they're putting the bagels in).

At Panera Bread, a white bagel is 290 calories - and in a cruel twist of fate, the whole grain bagel is 340. Similar calorie counts at other chains: 320 for a plain bagel at Dunkin' Donuts, 300 at Starbucks. That's no so bad, but who wants to eat a dry bagel. You will end up putting on cream cheese, which will easily push you over the 400 mark, if not well over 500. I simply don't think it's worth it, when you could enjoy two pieces of whole grain bread for closer to 150 calories (depends on the brand of course), and with a bit of peanut butter you can feel more full and still stay under 300 for a filling breakfast.

If bagels were worlds more awesome than bread, I could maybe see it being worth it to keep bagels as an option, but they just aren't. Bread gives me basically the same satisfaction, and I can eat a piece of dark chocolate just for the fun of it and still consume far fewer calories. Sorry bagels, you're out.

A World Without Bagels and Muffins

I don't think it will be so bad. Now don't get me wrong, if I'm at a breakfast buffet and those are the only two options, I'll eat one. But in general, I just don't think these two foods have any business being on my list of options for breakfast food.

I never like to be negative without also suggesting something positive, so although I won't devote any extra space to this here, I would highly suggest replacing any muffins and bagels you are currently eating for breakfast with a healthy smoothie. I just throw yogurt, bananas, frozen berries, a little orange juice concentrate, and milk into a blender, and I am just as full and far happier and healthier.


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    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      B. Leekley - Thank you for the comment! I also appreciate you bringing my attention back to this hub because I've been slipping a bit in the muffin department lately...

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Oh oh. Thanks for the info on muffins and bagels. I'm going to eat fewer of them.

    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      That's so funny that you would bring up pumpkin chocolate chip muffins today - I actually broke down and bought one this morning because I made it (for once!) to my coffee shop early enough to get one! So I have to say I definitely agree with your idea of making that an exception to the rule :)

      Other than that, since I wrote this hub, I've been pretty successful avoiding them, and haven't even really missed them! Thanks for the comment!

    • At Home Mommy profile image

      At Home Mommy 6 years ago from South Shore, Massachusetts

      Nice hub! You had to mention chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, though, which I tend to think are one of the greatest things ever. Thankfully they can be hard to find, though, so maybe I can make an exception to the no muffins and bagels rule just for them ;)

      I definitely think it can be easy to think that bagels and muffins don't have a lot of calories like you said and feel kind of healthy-ish when you're eating certain muffins, also not the case. Thanks for the reminders!

    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      askme.dee - I'm glad you can relate! And congrats on your weight loss!

      sisterofdummy - thanks for the comment - will check out your hubs!

      Ames - good point about scones - I think I will continue to live with you in denial about that one :)

    • Ames profile image

      Ames 6 years ago from Oakland

      So true. I think I will live in denial that scones also fall into this category!

    • sisterofdummy profile image

      sisterofdummy 6 years ago

      Oh my gosh. If you read my weight loss hubs, you would know that I speak from experience. I once heard that wheat is one of the causes of weight loss. You could watch an Alfred Hitchcock movie, or you could look at me. (Not my face, my body.) Good luck to your weight loss gaol.

    • profile image

      askme.dee 6 years ago

      Agreed. I suffer from the same tortturous desire to eat the doughy, sweet, confections every day. I've always said, "Why waste my cravings on a pack of M&M's when I could have a pastry from Panera, or a cupcake from my favorite pastry shop?" But in recent months, I've contracted an allergic condition that has taken entire food groups off the table, including grains of any kind. 1 month- 17 pounds - no exercise. Those results speak volumes about what our obsession with yummy carbs does to the physique. Good luck!