Reasons to Stop Eating Muffins and Bagels
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.