Is “healthy” always synonymous with “low calorie”?

This is something that I have been wanting to touch on for quite some time, and when recently I was given the opportunity to solidify my thoughts on this topic – I knew I had to write about it.

The food industry is notorious for labeling things as

Farm Fresh
High-quality ingredients 

and it’s easy for people who are striving to eat lower calorie (or just simply eat in a caloric deficit) to gravitate towards these types of foods because they seem “healthier”. While this may be true to some extent, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the food is low calorie at all.

This week I was able to get behind the kitchen of one of my favorite local lunch spots. It’s one of those “mom & pop” type places, and they have TONS of delicious foods and treats. They also use the same terminology to advertise their sandwiches as using the “highest quality, local, farm-fresh ingredients” and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all, I wanted to see just what all was in this sandwich – and how much.

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I’m sure a lot of people would look at this sandwich on the menu and think, “Oh, chicken breast, fresh avocado, farmers cheese, mixed greens.. this is healthy!” but again, I don’t really know if people are using the term “healthy” with low calorie – or perhaps THINKING it’s low calorie just because it has those fancy terms in it.

So I started weighing everything out, and ingredient by ingredient, I logged the sandwich into MyFitnessPal. Both the owner AND I almost fell over when we got to the final calorie breakdown. Would you believe me if I told you that this sandwich would run you almost 1,000 calories?

Yup! This bad boy came out to about 960 calories. 

Macronutrient breakdown:

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You’re reading that right! This sandwich from a local bakery is nearly double the calories of a McDonald’s Big Mac. Before you come at me with “BUT FAST FOOD IS SO BAD FOR YOU AND FAKE MEAT AND CHEMICALS AND PRESERVATIVES!” I know. I don’t doubt that for a second, but I’m strictly referring to calories/macronutrients here, and if you’re trying to eat lower calorie, you would have been better off going through the drive-through, lol.

Now, I’m not trying to scare you into NOT going out to eat with places that don’t have their nutritional information available, there’s always a time and place for that, but this is more just so to educate you on how easily these types of things can add up calorie-wise. I always suggest for my clients to leave extra room in their macros (if they’re trying to make something at a restaurant fit their macros) for things like sauces, higher fat meats, cheeses, and other hidden add-ons that you may not think about.

I just want to bring attention to the fact that these things, often labeled as “organic” or “non-GMO” are not always synonymous with “lower calorie”.

Organic: produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.

Non-GMO: food that is made without ingredients that were derived from genetically engineered organisms.

Healthy? Sure. I mean, whatever your definition of “healthy” is 😉 but just know what to look for when you are reading menus, labels, or anything that seems to be listed as a “healthy” option!