When you think of the word condiment what comes to mind? Ketchup? Mustard? Butter? Mayonnaise? Honey mustard dressing? My favorite sandwich is turkey on whole wheat with lettuce, tomato, onion and Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard. Condiments help give more zing in the sandwich, burger, salad and even mashed potatoes. I like to call condiments TASTE ENHANCERS.
What a Condiment Is and Is Not
The main purpose of a condiment is enhancing flavor, thus earning the title TASTE ENHANCER. What a condiment doesn’t do is add volume. If you recall from the post, Anatomy of a Meal I discussed the importance of having a protein, starch and vegetable, the MEAL TRIFECTA, at your meals to gain the greatest satisfaction.
Generally speaking, everything that is added to the meal after it is cooked can be considered a condiment. A condiment adds flavor but doesn’t change how physically satisfied you feel because they don’t add volume.
One of the most important concepts to understand in order to master weight management is, balancing calories so that you get the greatest amount of physical satisfaction from your food. Be smart about where your calories are coming from. For weight management, the bulk of them should come from foods that give you physical satisfaction. I am not going to ask you to count calories. Instead, be savvy about your choices.
If you cut back on food from your diet, you will get hungrier and hungrier. No fun in that. Trying to eat as little food as possible, I know you have tried this before. It might work for a little while, but it eventually backfires. Once your body catches up and sends physical hunger signals, it is very hard to resist.
It is not about eating less, it is about eating smarter.
Calories and Condiments
Some condiments add a significant amount of calories. It is possible to enjoy food with these more calorie-laden condiments and not influence your weight management. Examples of TASTE ENHANCERS with more calories are gravy, cheese, mayonnaise, butter/margarine and salad dressing. Let me take you through a couple scenarios.
First, let’s look at mustard on your turkey sandwich. If you removed the mustard would you be any less satisfied at the end of the meal? Clearly the answer would be, “No”! Therefore, it is a condiment. Mustard contains very little calories so it’s nutritional and weight management implications are nil. Again, I am not promoting calorie counting but just an awareness of where your calories are coming from.
Now take the same turkey sandwich but this time let’s add cheese to the sandwich. If you removed the cheese from the sandwich would you be any less satisfied? No!!! Probably not. Cheese is therefore a condiment in this meal. It is adding taste and flavor to your food but not much in satisfying power. But with 105 calories per 1 oz., cheese would be considered a TASTE ENHANCER condiment. This can certainly add up. At 30 calories per ounce, one is better off adding more turkey to their sandwich for greater and long term satisfaction.
For weight management it is important to be aware of what you are adding to your meals and how it may add in calories and satisfaction. Condiments do “count” when we add them to our meals because they can potentially add a significant amount of calories. It is just too easy to dismiss them because they don’t work to physically satisfy us. Here is a guide I follow:
If the serving that is on the label equals to 20 calories or more than it can be considered a TASTE ENHANCER.
Even though they may be caloric, TASTE ENHANCERS can be very healthy. Please don’t think I am suggesting we cut them out of our diets. I recommend that they be eaten when they are “valued”; when you can fully taste and appreciate them and they add to your satisfaction, physically and mentally. This is usually best eaten in a snack. Please stay tuned, I will discuss the topic of snacks in another post.
There are plenty of condiments that are low in calories and fat (I will share some of my favorites shortly) and many TASTE ENHANCERS have lower calorie counterparts. Whether you alter the amount of a TASTE ENHANCER that you are currently using, switch to a lower calorie counterpart of that TASTE ENHANCER, or eliminate it from your meal all together because you would rather enjoy it sometime or someplace else, that is your choice and a positive one.
Despite what people believe and talk about in terms of weight loss, we do need to have a healthy awareness of calories. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to calories and where they are coming from. A certain level of calorie consciousness (say that 5 times!) is important for healthful and mindful eating so that we can make educated and discerning choices that best suit our needs and goals.