Lunch at Timmies (part three): The Dilemma


Yay!!!  Instalment THREE!!!  I’m finally at the point where I can start to write the post that inspired all of this….  Todd and I thought of doing this part of the post several weeks ago.  It actually came about because of a wonderful weekend day of driving through the “outlying GTA” with the top down, enjoying the countryside, the sunshine and the antique markets.  Somewhere along that afternoon I discovered that I was hungry.  Yeah.  Funny that….  sometimes I need food.

Well on that day we had NOT planned as well as we do most days.  I mean Monday to Friday we have a firm plan.  It’s soooo much easier to stay on track when you have a fully planned and packed lunch bag.  Not so much when you are tooling down a country road looking for something fast to eat.  So we spent quite a bit of time sitting in the parking lot of a strip plaza with our smart phones out, googling the calorie counts of the offerings of the couple of fast food outlets that were at our disposal.  We had a very limited selection of vendors to choose from, Mary Brown’s Fried Chicken or Tim Horton’s.  (Now before you get all “fried chicken…what a no brainier… you couldn’t possibly have even THOUGHT about that right?”  you might wanna hold on to your critique, and I will promise you a whole other blog post on that one later ok?)  Yeah.  We eventually did find “something” to eat that stayed within our calorie limits.  Was it what I would have chosen?  NO.  Was it as filling as I would have liked? NOT REALLY.  Was it a satisfying way to burn through my daily calorie allotment?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!  But it was eye opening!!!  And that’s what today’s post is going to be about…..

With this in mind, let’s look at finding a fast food lunch that fits….  are you ready??  (I think this might be fun!).

Typical Tim Hortons lunch:

Tuscan Chicken Panini.  Mocha Ice Cap.  Chocolate Muffin.  Are you waiting with baited breath?  (I know you are aware this is gonna be bad right?).  Here you go….   1260 calories.  Yup.  We’d have only 420 calories for the entire rest of our day.  This “typical” lunch is actually THREE TIMES MORE CALORIES than we can eat for lunch.  AND here’s the kicker…  there’s 1960mg of sodium.  the recommended daily sodium intake for our day? 2300mg.  So hey, we’ve still got 340mg left!!  Yay!!

I know you don’t think that this is what people typically eat at Timmie’s for lunch right?  So why don’t we just try and make it a little lower?  That’s only fair I think.  Let’s TRY to be reasonable, maybe even prudent…..  Here’s my second try…..  Grilled cheese panini.  Coffee “double double.”  We will even skip the dessert here….  630 calories.  1360mg sodium.  Over half of our sodium for the day, and also 230 calories over.  Seems we can’t win right?

In truth, there ARE somethings which are lower calorie on Timmies lunch menu…  IF all you want is a sandwich (skip the sweets) you CAN do it on our 400 calorie limit.  You can have a Chicken Salad Sandwich (330 calories 950mg sodium) or BLT (360 calories 810mg sodium) or a Ham and Swiss (370 calories 1160mg sodium OMG  see that sodium??).  But, make sure you don’t add anything.  AND I MEAN ANYTHING!!!  No sauces on your sandwich.  No mayonnaise.  Even your coffee can’t have cream or sugar.  You can’t have a chocolate milk, and forget a can of pop!!  Water, black coffee or tea for you!!

What if you aren’t a black coffee drinker?  Well, of course there are things you can have.  By all means, have a chocolate milk.  A 500ml container should do it right?  That’s gonna be 320 calories and 340mg of sodium.  Wait….   hold up there….  what else do I get for lunch?  How about a chocolate toasted coconut TIMBIT?  At 80 calories and 85mg of sodium you now have a filling lunch….  I know I am being a little difficult here.  I’m just trying to show you that things people often think are “healthy” aren’t really what you think.  I mean, chocolate milk is 1% milk.  So it’s LOW FAT.  Isn’t that a healthy choice?  Well, when you replace the fat with sugars… not so much.  52g of carbohydrates, all sugar, does not allow for a healthy or calorie restricted diet.

At this point, instead of being “difficult”  why don’t I try and be HELPFUL instead?  Let’s look at the sandwich selection.  Best options (from a calorie point of view of course) are as follows :

  1. 320 calories and 706mg sodium:  Garden Vegetable Sandwich (which I have NEVER even SEEN on their menu until I went looking for it online….  BTW how does a veggie sandwich end up with 706mg of sodium?).
  2. 330 calories and 950mg sodium:  Chicken Salad Sandwich (only 10 calories more than the veggie but with the added protein of chicken!!)
  3. 360 calories and 760mg sodium: Egg Salad Sandwich
  4. 370 calories and 830mg sodium:  BLT
  5. 380 calories and 1200mg sodium:  Ham and Swiss
  6. 390 calories and 1480mg sodium:  Turkey Sandwich

If you aren’t looking for a full meal there are always the “snack wrap” options.  They may not be the most filling, but they tip the scales at only 190 calories. but I’ve left them out of this list only because I don’t think I could ever truly consider them a “lunch” on a busy day at work….

On the topic of beverages.  Of course water is ZERO calories!!  So is BLACK coffee or Black tea.  You can also drink diet pop for absolutely no calories (or sometimes I think they are 1 calorie right?).  But what if you want something more?  What if you just can’t abide your tea or coffee without milk cream or sweetness?  Well let me help you that one too.  Below is a chart showing the relative calorie counts of both tea and coffee with differing amounts of milk, cream and sugar.  Let this be a guide to helping you select more wisely!!  (all numbers are directly from Tim Horton’s official web site.)

Large coffee or Tea
sugar
0 1 2 3 4
cream 0 0 46 92 138 184
1 86 132 178 224 270
2 172 218 264 310 356
3 258 304 350 396 442
4 344 390 436 482 528
milk 1 30 76 122 168 214
2 60 106 152 198 244
3 90 136 182 228 274
4 120 166 212 258 304

 I think I may have shocked myself just a little creating this chart.  I USED TO drink my tea with triple triple.  Yes, with cream.  396 calories per cup!!!  I really don’t even know how I’m still alive!!  As you can see, there really is a very wide variety of calorie counts when you start adding milk cream or sugar.  Knowing the numbers should help you make decisions about intake right?  We can only hope I guess…..

I still haven’t told you what our solution was that day have I??  Well. Let me tell you. It was none of the options above.  Todd had a large dark roast coffee black.  That’s my man!!  Zero calories!! I had a medium steeped tea with only enough milk and sugar to reach 75 calories (I just haven’t yet been able to manage to take my tea black….  I know. I’m such a prissy little thing aren’t I?).  Then we SPLIT a snack wrap!!!  Yup. Only 95 calories each.

I’m sure you are thinking “but that’s not a good lunch!”  You’d be very right.  But it was a very calculated choice actually.  As soon as we saw the calorie counts of the menu items, we quickly decided to just have the tiniest snack to keep us alive until we could get home…..   Kinda like when you put that $5 of gas in your tank to get to your destination.  Since it was the weekend we hit our favorite butcher’s along the way.  I mean really….  If you’re going to destroy your calorie count it might as well be for something WORTHWHILE like a great rib steak right????   Home to the BBQ for us!!!  😝

Thanks for reading!!

Duane

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