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Cornish Pasty, anyone? Calories and exercise

Updated: Jan 21

Looking through social media posts, I am so tempted by the beautiful pictures of the delicious cakes, bread, pastries, and meals. Last weekend, as we were all staying home, complying with social distancing guidelines, I gave into temptation and for the first time, made “Cornish pasty”. Even worse, I posted a short video of how we made it, on FB and IG. I must admit, it was super delicious and worth all the time and effort my kids, my husband and I put into preparing 8 pieces.  Then the guilt set in. Do you know how much butter I used in getting the pastry dough ready? The calories, the cholesterol, Aughhh!!! I had disturbing visions of all the calories going straight to my belly and hips. I felt guilty even before we made such a high fat and high-calorie meal. While reading the recipe, I announced that we must put in an extra 3 miles of brisk walk before we eat. That didn’t happen, but we managed to walk 2 miles that night. How much did I need to walk to burn off the calories I consumed?

When it comes to counting calories, most of us think that we have burned more calories than what we have.

How many calories do we burn doing typical activities?

Now here is another interesting chart on how much a typical person’s calorie requirements are base on gender and age. Notice that as we get older we should consume less calories. I am over 50 and in need of even fewer calories. I have been moderately active for as long as I remember. But am I active enough to offset my calorie intake? A traditional large pasty contains 800 calories. I burned 140 calories during my brisk 2-mile walk that night. That is a surplus of 660 calories. So if I ate pretty healthy the rest of the day, I may have come out ok. But how often do we eat calorie-dense, unhealthy foods, drink liquid candy (juices, etc.), indulge in desserts and snacks and how much do we exercise? It is a simple equation if we bother to plug in the numbers.

As you can see from the description below, Cornish pasty was usually consumed by mine workers and not by someone who has a sedentary lifestyle. In other words, they worked hard to earn that many calories! My physical activity, as a pharmacist, is nowhere close to a miner. Therefore, I should not eat the same foods, or else, I will gain a lot of weight. Here is an important lesson: it is easier to ignore the calorie content of the foods we eat at a restaurant than making meals from scratch. When we are forced to measure all the ingredients we use in preparing a meal, we are more likely to eat healthier. We tend to pay more attention to calorie content and may think twice about using certain ingredients.

A quote from one of my wise college professors: Lard and butter look the same in your arteries as they do in a tub. And you definitely don’t want your arteries to look like that. Here is to eating healthy and staying healthy. Few meals have roots as deep as the Cornish pasty, a hand-held meat-and-vegetable pie developed as a lunch for workers in the ancient English tin mining region of Cornwall. With its characteristic semicircular shape and an insulating crust that does double-duty as a handle, the humble pasty—which, perhaps unfortunately, rhymes with “nasty” rather than “tasty”—today receives special designation, along with Champagne and Parma ham, as a protected regional food by the European Union.

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