Bad Habits #13 – How Liberating Italy From Fascism Made America Fat

Since my wife and I live about 30 minutes from the beach, we often spend a Saturday there in the Summer.  Assuming there are no hurricanes.  Or massive algae blooms killing all of the fish and causing them to wash up on the shore.  But assuming we’re not facing meteorological Armageddon or osteichthyan genocide, a trip to the beach can be a good way to keep active.  And an afternoon at the beach is a great way to chill out.  Well, chill isn’t the right word.  This is Florida.  Nothing ever chills here. It’s too damn hot.  But you know what I mean.

But we frequently blow whatever exercise we got on the way back, by stopping at Cappy’s Pizza, a local chain which serves both New York and Chicago style pizza.  Which you would think would be a problem, since having these two variants could cause controversy.  New Yorkers and Chicagoans might get into fights over which one is real pizza.  But fortunately, this being Florida, any New Yorkers and Chicagoans are likely to be octogenarians, well past their fighting years.  The worst they might do is settle their differences with a brutal shuffleboard contest.  

Anyway, pizza can be…not so good for people trying to lose or maintain their weight.  Particularly if they’re low-carb aficionados, who might consider the crust to be the product of the Antichrist.  I have no such concerns, though, since I know bread is generally fine.  But an entire pizza, along with several microbrews (Okay, usually more than several) from Cappy’s world famous beer fridge (It’s not really world famous) can ruin a week’s worth of good behavior.  I’ve noted before how alcohol is not great for diets.  But pizza, something Americans have been chowing down on for decades, is also not great. 

It’s a miracle we didn’t all get fatter sooner.  Pizza became popular in the U.S. after World War II, when a bunch of G.Is who were occupying Italy brought it back.  Defeating fascism caused all sorts of good things to happen.  And pizza is good, although the related obesity is not.  But I guess during the 50s and 60s we were still working real jobs and burning off all of the calories.  Now that we’re mostly desk jockeys or otherwise sedentary at work, eating pizza has consequences.

So how bad can pizza be?  Well, it varies.  Obviously, pizza can come with lots of toppings, some more dangerous than others.  But for now let’s just explore the health value of the basic cheese pizza.  Now, if you have self-respect and don’t still live with your mother, you have no business eating a pizza with just cheese on it.  But we’ll start with this and look at the other toppings later.

The pizza that’s named after the Big Apple, the largest city in the United States and the city with the largest port on the Atlantic coast, New York Style, thin crust pizza. I grew up eating the best New York style pizza in the world at a place called Vinnie Van GoGo’s which is, somewhat paradoxically, located in the city with the second largest port on the Atlantic coast, my hometown of Savannah, Georgia.  They make a pizza that is so large and flat that it’s actually a bit unnerving.  This is so that they can cram an obscene number of toppings on it.  

But these massive pizzas, even with only cheese and tomato sauce on them, pack in calories.  Two slices (about a quarter of the pizza) will have 500-600 calories.  That alone is almost an entire meal.  And that doesn’t include toppings or beer. 

More regular pizzas (like the ones you get delivered) really use the same amount of dough, but don’t stretch it so flat.  So a quarter of one of these, assuming you get the normal 14 inch size, also has 500-600 calories for two slices.  

And deep dish pizza, loved by Chicagoans and despised by New Yorkers, and probably confusing to actual Italians (They don’t make it like that) is actually way worse. One quarter of a 14” deep dish pizza has 800-900 calories.  And yes, that’s just a cheese pizza.

Since I live in a tourist town, we have to also offer pretentious stuff for the tourists.  Which is probably why flatbread pizza is a thing. And it’s actually a much healthier option.  A quarter of a 14 inch flatbread cheese pizza is only about 300 calories.  So it really is a better way to stay healthy, if you can live with yourself for eating all of the snooty ingredients they put on it.  I mean, they put stuff like goat cheese on it.  Goat.  Cheese.  

And lastly, for people who want something that appears fancy, but is actually considered lowbrow by hoity toity people, there is French bread pizza.  This is an American invention created by some guy in Ithaca, New York, and I’m convinced that the sole purpose behind its creation is to piss off both the Italians and the French.  But it is a bit healthier than normal pizza, with 300-400 calories per piece.

But since only an overaged Mama’s boy eats cheese pizza, we have to think about the health value of the various toppings too.  So, let’s start with the obvious one: Pepperoni.  One of many ways in which Italians made us fat.  They are not unhealthy, with a decent dose of B vitamins, iron, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc.  But there will be about 10-15 slices on two slices of pizza (more if you have obscenely large Vinnie Van Go-Go’s slices) which adds 100-150 calories.

And the same goes for ham, which is also made from dead pigs.  Or Canadian “Bacon” (which is just ham), or bacon or Italian sausage.  They all have the same nutrients, because they’re all dead pigs.  And the same number of calories.  Hamburger is pretty much the same too.  Dead cows aren’t all that different from dead pigs, although the calories may be slightly less if the hamburger is lean.  

And then there are the weirdos who put the food loved by basement dwelling incels on pizza.  And by that I mean chicken tenders.  Or “tendies” as the virgins call them.  The amount that would be on two slices will give you 300 calories.  It’s not without nutrition, with a bit of copper, vitamin E (probably because they’re fried in oil), potassium and copper.

There is one meat topping that isn’t so heavy on calories.  The one that we all love to hate: Anchovies.  The amount that would be on two slices of pizza probably only has 50 or so calories, and about the same nutrients as other meat, except with a dash of Vitamin D too.  But face it, eating these makes you a weirdo. It’s the pizza equivalent of being the smelly kid in class.

Of course, not all toppings are meat.  Some Italians put spinach on their pizza.  And as I’ve noted before, leafy greens can be quite good for you.  And various hot peppers, another common topping, are not bad either.  But these are a bit exotic.  What about the more common toppings?  Well, onions have very little nutrition, but very few calories.  But that’s not the case with other vegetable options.  Such as mushrooms, which have the various vitamins B, copper, iron, selenium, and only 7 calories, at least for the portion that would be on two slices of pizza.  And slightly fancier people might have green olives, which have a little dose of vitamin E, or black olives which have that plus a bit of iron and copper.  And the amount that fits on two slices of pizza only has about 20 calories.

And then there’s the ingredient loved by lunatics.  Pineapple.  What kind of degenerate puts pineapple on pizza?  Sweet stuff should not be on pizza.  Your argument is invalid.  I mean, it does have a bit of vitamin C, copper, and manganese.  But the price of eating this is the loss of your immortal soul.  Of course, my wife likes this on pizza.  Not sure what that means for her.  I hope she’s fire resistant.

So the news is not all bad with pizza.  The upside is that a piece of pizza, assuming at least some of the vegetables I mentioned above on it, is that it can be a balanced meal in terms of micronutrients.  As is the case with sandwiches, as I noted in my last piece.  But unlike a sandwich, a normal portion of pizza has a lot of calories.  And an obnoxiously large slice is worse.  Also unlike sandwiches, pizza tends to have a lot of extra oil.  Which, as I’ve mentioned previously, is one of the main reasons America is fat.  But the big problem for me is, I never feel full.  I could eat four slices and want more.  So eating pizza is a guaranteed diet breaker.

The keto bros may be onto something with this one.  This form of high carb meal is probably a bad idea.  Although I guess you could make pizza with almond flour which is keto friendly.  But that would just have more calories (although it would be more nutritious, because…nuts).  Also, it would be an act of heresy.  Using almond flour might make the Italians so angry they would turn fascist again.

Although if you are a Keto acolyte and the bread calories are a problem, I did once have pizza where the crust was meat.  I probably just gave keto guys and gals an orgasm.  I may get flooded by requests for that recipe from ardent keto followers.  But I’m pretty sure it was from one of my mother’s Better Homes and Gardens or Southern Living cookbooks.  Rifling through one of those would force me to cancel my man card.   Besides, using meat instead of bread is just…making a casserole.  Anyone can make one of those.  And it would not be much healthier than regular pizza. 

So pizza, although it can be a good source of overall nutrition, is also a good source of fat, obesity, loneliness, and early death.  If you eat it regularly.  So you shouldn’t.  Unless If you’re Italian and being fat makes you cool.  Otherwise, don’t eat it except for rare occasions.  Such as after a trip to the beach, where you’ve already burned off some calories.

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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