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Bad Habits #10 – Cursed Carnal Confections of Corruption And Calamity

I think one reason I was able to continue losing weight during the time when the country was at the mercy of the Creeping Doom From Wuhan was because the temptations of the office were not available to me.  I realize that seems like an incoherent thing to say.  How could there be more temptations at the office?  And, no, it has nothing to do with temptations that might come from secretaries or girl bosses.  I’m married.  Besides, those sorts of temptations would likely burn calories, not add new ones.

Nor is it the availability of an endless supply of the Blessed Brown Water of Life.  Not only is it in no way fattening, but I can get plenty of coffee in my house.  I have to pay for it, sure, but the stuff I get is of better quality than the percolated tree bark they inflict on us while constantly shuffling papers and other assorted mundanities normally associated with public accounting.

No, the temptation comes in the form of sugary things.  And I don’t mean the donuts and other pastries we are occasionally gifted by other professionals and clients.  I mentioned in another piece how those are not great.  I’m talking about the office snack shelf.

An entire shelf of over-processed sweet things and carby things, enough to make the hardiest Ketobro swoon in dismay, occupies a bookshelf near the coffee machine in the break room.  And since excess coffee consumption can occasionally result in the shakes (which can lead to binging on stuff to make those shakes go away) the snack shelf presents a clear and present danger to the waistline.  

The shelf contains virtually every candy bar in existence.  In snack size, to trick me into thinking I’m not cheating that much.  Tempting me every time I refill the coffee mug.  Which is at least hourly.  Hershey bars, Kit Kats, Milky Ways, Snickers, you name it.  But rather than go into detail about the damage each of these does, I’ll just go through the typical candy bar ingredients.

Many of these have one of my personal weaknesses, caramel.  This is basically just heated sugar with cream, butter, and various other things of limited nutritional value.  Eating this liquid sugar will inject 50 or so sugary calories into your bloodstream for every tablespoon you eat.  And, unsurprisingly, there is no real nutrition in it.

Then there’s that peculiar substance known as nougat.  Many candy bars contain this, which people eat not even knowing what it is.  A bizarre substance we scarf down even as we question it’s origin. Nougat is the mystery meat of candy.  

Well, I dug into the mystery.  It’s got all of the things pretty much any other unhealthy sweetness has.  Egg whites (okay, those aren’t bad), honey, and (wait for it) sugar.  A tablespoon of nougat contains 40 to 50 calories.  And has no appreciable nutritional value.  Seeing a pattern here?

Of course, I am sort of burying the lede here with candy.  What about that most ubiquitous of candy ingredients, the god-king of early diabetes?  Chocolate, of course, is what I’m talking about.  Well, that’s not so great either.  Which shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Although it is better than caramel or nougat.  Admittedly, that bar is low.

So let’s start with the “normie” version of chocolate, mostly preferred by the great unwashed masses:  Milk chocolate.  This has 80 to 100 calories per tablespoon.  And unlike it’s confectionery cousins above, it actually has some nutritional value.  It has a little bit of almost all nutrients (a few rando vitamins aren’t present), mostly present in quantities between 0 and 5 percent of the recommended daily allowance.

Then there’s the somewhat more esoteric version preferred by people of great wisdom, virtue, and discernment:  Dark chocolate.  A tablespoon of this has slightly more calories than a tablespoon of milk chocolate, but has actual nutrition in it.  It has a decent chunk of copper and iron and magnesium, roughly 30%, 25%, and 10% of the RDA.  And from what I’ve discovered, the greater the cacao concentration (the above is for about 70%), the more nutrients.  

Then there’s the crazy uncle of candy ingredients.  The one that is generally not as loved as the others, and occasionally quite toxic.  And by that I mean, peanuts.  Not that peanuts are bad, but they’re just not quite so tempting as the sugary sweetnesses listed above.  Probably because they actually have some nutritional value.  These tend to have 50 calories per tablespoon, and actually contain nutrients, typically in the neighborhood of 5% of most vitamins and minerals.

So that covers the common ingredients of candy bars.  But there are other temptations on that shelf of oversweet iniquities.  There’s hard candy.  Things like Nerds and Now and Laters.  The type of wildly colored things that make hyperactive kids go into overdrive.  These are basically just raw sugar after it’s been attacked with artificial colorings and flavorings which gestated in the darkest heart of the factories of Big Candy corporations.  These have 40 to 50 calories per tablespoon.  And not much else.  Unless you suffer from insulin resistance, in which case they have…consequences.

Then there are things which one would think are healthier, but they’re not really.  Such as pretzels.  One would think they’re okay, since they’re effectively just bread.  In my last piece, I went over in detail how bread is actually reasonably healthy.  And pretzels are a little better than other snack type things in terms of calories, with maybe 30 calories per tablespoon.  But there’s not a lot of nutrition there, with only a few traces of this or that micronutrient.  Also, they’re heavy on the salt, which is a problem if you’re trying to get a handle on your blood pressure.

And if I go for the healthy, hippy stuff, like trail mix and granola, I’ve discovered to my chagrin that they’re not particularly good for me either.  Each has about 40 calories per tablespoon, and, like almost everything else I’ve listed here, maybe a few nutrients in the 0 to 5 percent of RDA range.

Some of you might be thinking “these calorie counts don’t seem that bad.”  But that’s another problem with the Shelf Of Diabetic Doom.  Everything I’ve listed here is what you get when you eat only a tablespoon.  Nobody only eats a tablespoon.  That would require superhuman discipline.  If you see someone with this level of discipline, you may assume that all of the recent UFO stories are true and aliens are amongst us.  Call the police on anyone you see with this level of self control.  There’s clearly something not right about them.

These things may be present in small portions, but they tempt me every time I pass by them. The siren’s call of the captivating confections reaches out. And even if I did only grab a single one (say, a tablespoon’s worth) each time I pass by, I would end up doing that ten times a day at least. That would add up quickly.

Fortunately, the office manager had the wisdom to put nuts on this shelf.  Not just peanuts (which aren’t really nuts), but actual nuts, such as cashews and almonds.  I know some Keto bros hate nuts, because they have (gasp) carbs, but these are a healthier option, as I’ve discussed before.  These, unlike candy, fill you up, reducing the temptation to graze every time I pass the shelf.  And they provide decent nutrition.  So the best thing to do is supplant snacking on candies with something else, like nuts, since I’m not an extraterrestrial and don’t have the discipline to not snack at all.  

So these things, like most things in the “Bad Habits” pieces I’ve written, are to be avoided.  Perhaps not entirely, especially for the few that do have some nutrition.  I’m allowed to live a little.  But having these temptations around, even if you only have one every time you pass by them, can add up to an extra 300 to 500 calories per day, breaking your diet.  So don’t have them in your house, or at least make sure you have a healthy option available.  This is necessary, unless you’re an alien with superhuman discipline.  And if you are, please leave and stop scaring our Navy pilots.

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Published by drilldowndiet

Formerly obese CPA/health humorist using Cronometer and FitBod to lose weight. Sharing assorted life hacks to squeeze nutrition and exercise into a busy schedule. Also on Twitter at @drilldowndiet and Facebook.

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