Friday, 4 November 2011

Free Food = Chubby Me!

I work part-time jobs at a local Chinese restaurant and McDonald's. Ilona, the author of Life After Money, asked me whether I get free food from my jobs. I do, but I have to say all this fast food is starting to take its toll on my waistline! I am overweight anyway but managed to lose quite a few lbs at the start of the summer by eating healthily, working a physical job and exercising regularly. Unfortunately after 5 weeks of free Chinese food (and a week of McDonald's too), it's all starting to pile back on!

In my defense I share my Chinese food with my parents (and sister if she's about) after I finish work, but I get the whole McDonald's meal to myself as it's halfway through the shift. McDonald's are trying very hard to provide healthier options (“You do salads?!”) and we give out nutritional information on the trays with every meal, however it's easy just to grab fries and a McFlurry and head for the staff room on your break!

Today I was planning on having the veggie deli (sandwich) and a drink, which would have been a fairly nutritious meal. The veggie burgers are pretty decent – you can see whole chickpeas and sweetcorn kernels in them! This would've been a fairly respectable 549 calories, providing 12g of fibre.

Unfortunately when I went on my break I decided to get a full meal and finish it off with a brownie! The diet Coke seemed somewhat ironic! :) When I calculated this I was so shocked – I've been eating the sandwich+fries+drink all week, usually with a dessert too! It all came to 1269 calories, with 14g of saturated fat (I'm only meant to get 10g/day as heart disease runs in my family), and 47g of sugar (33g+ of these were added sugar, of which I'm meant to get no more than 40g/day!).

Starting tomorrow, I'm just getting the veggie sandwich without mayonnaise and an orange juice. If I want dessert I'll have a fruit bag! That'd be at least 2, probably 3 (with the beans and salad in the deli), of my 5-a-day for free too! All for 705 calories, which is just over half of the amount I ate today!

I don't know the exact calories for the Chinese food I've been eating, but I usually get vegetable chow mein (which is fried) or vegetable curry with chips or fried rice. I can't really think of a healthy alternative food because pretty much everything is fried. Upon Googling, stir fried vegetables and boiled rice seems like my best option. I guess I could just eat at home, but then it's not freeeee!

What is the best compromise between frugality and life in general? Would you eat free Chinese takeaway 4 nights a week or cook yourself something healthier when you got home? Do you pay for exercise classes that you could do yourself at home? What's the cheapest healthy meal you make?


Donna said...

I like vegetables,brown rice and lentils-cheap and nourishing. But since you get your meals for free, why don't you just eat the healthiest thing on the menu? I like tofu with stir fried vegetables. I know it's hard to resist a brownie-but try! It is both easier and cheaper to exercise at home. I keep the weights out and sometimes work out while watching TV. I love yoga and there are wonderful classes on youtube. Walking is free and burns calories. I just chose to live a frugal and simple life. I don't think it's a compromise. If you continue living a frugal life after you are established in your career, you will have many more choices in life.

Meanqueen said...

I can understand your dilema, I to would find it very hard to resist free, easy to grab food, no matter how unhealthy it is. This is why I miss out whole aisles in the supermarket, no biscuits, cake, and confectionary. I don't let temptation get in the way of common sense. I must say though it takes a lot of practice before you get it right, and I have fallen off the wagon a few times.

You could try only allowing yourself one brownie a week, only vegetarian options, plenty of salad, ditch the bread, and drink water.

As for the Chinese, maybe have more rice and less other stuff, and definately no greasy fried food.

Look in the mirror a lot to remind yourself that you would like to be smaller than you are. If you don't curb it now it will spiral out of control. Good luck, it will take a lot of will power but you can train yourself to feel sick when confronted with piles of stodgy unhealthy food. I have reached that stage muyself and now can't stomach sickly sweet puddings and cakes, yuk.

saving for travel said...

This is a very useful post! I also get a 'free' meal at school.

When I'm having a good day I go and get salad on my plate first, and pick up a piece of fruit. Then I allow myself one treat-either a small piece of the main dinner or tuna/cheese with potatoes as my treat.


Sft x

Frugal Down Under said...

Time to get a job in a vegetarian/alternative restaurant :-)

I'm a sucker for junk food full stop. If it was free I would not be able to resist. I know what my heart and brain tell me. But my lips go smack-a-smack-a-roo.