NOTELLA: How I Gave Up Nutella (In Honor of World Nutella Day)

5 Feb

Man eats entire jar of Nutella in one setting.

For those friends who read about my life on Facebook, I think it is clearly that I have had a longstanding Nutella addiction. They may be shocked to know that it has been almost two months since I have touched this ambrosial treat and that it is going to be a long time before I get near it again. In fact, I had just bought five jars (five!) before I quit, and I gave them all away. What happened?

The addiction started so innocently . .. when we went on a trip to Italy a few years ago, we stopped in a beautiful airport in Germany. As we passed the duty-free shop, we saw a jar of Nutella bigger than an overstuffed pocketbook. In American it would be maybe a gallon or two. In Foreign, it would be “a bunch of litres” or something (when will they EVER get that right?) It was an AMAZINGLY big jar of nutella. One you could easily stick your entire head in.

I had never been OVERLY attracted to Nutella. I could not quite understand the charm of putting peanut-butter-like chocolate on toast. I liked in crepes with bananas, oui. But otherwise, it was a take-it-or-leave-it food item. I’d buy it and forget about it, just the way I occasionally have to buy maple sugar candy and never eat it (reminds me of childhood) and lemon curd (reminds me of my friend Ceci, who Makes. Her. Own.) However, I guess you can say that advertising works, because the image of this six gallon container of Nutella suddenly went back into my brainstem and signaled my lizard brain to be primed for Nutella.

When I got home from vacation, Nutella was with me. And so it was every day for more than a year. Unless someone rudely cooked me pancakes or eggs, I had Nutella, fruit, and bread every single day. I tried to keep it to the recommended two tablespoon serving size (200 calories) and have three pieces of fruit (point-free on the new improved Weight Watchers) and a piece of bread. But over time, somehow the proportions weren’t right. I was still hungry after one piece of bread, so I needed one and a HALF pieces of bread. And then I’d need a little more Nutella to go ON the bread. And my weight was going up. Mostly from some of the nasty meds I’m taking, mind you, but the Nutella obsession wasn’t helping. It also wasn’t helping that I wasn’t getting any protein in the morning. Although I usually eat very little in the day, often I would find myself having an afternoon snack of more bread, Nutella, and fruit. It’s basically all I WANTED to eat, though I would make and eat a proper dinner every day. I figured, so I’m getting at least four or five pieces of fruit, PLUS at least two vegetables at dinner, so that’s a pretty healthy diet, right?

One day I was at Weight Watchers when this very thin and VERY pleased woman who has lost something like 50 pounds in 8 months, talked about a product she had discovered at the local supermarket called PB2. PB2 is dried peanut butter. Don’t gag! Two tablespoons have pretty much all the same nutrition values as regular peanut butter, but instead of 200 calories for two Tbsp., it has 40. You just mix it with water and it has pretty much the same consistency (though a little more granular) as regular peanut butter. I bought a jar (expensive—about $5.50, but that’s okay) of this miracle product and tried it. Then I got a brilliant idea: What if I added some PB2 to my Nutella and cut the number of calories it would have.? So I did. I added a little—fine. More—fine. More—suddenly, the Nutella didn’t taste that good anymore. It tasted kind of salty. Not terrible, but just not like pure magic.

And that is the last time I ate Nutella. Eating it with PB2 broke the spell. I thought, “There are other things I could eat in the morning. Savory things. I have to think savory, not sweet. I have to think of protein.” I don’t know about you guys, but I can go on long food jags where I am obsessed with one food or another and eat it day after day. So I decided to go back and try some different things before I settled on what I really wanted for breakfast. At first, it was what we call Granddaddy Frank Eggs, which for you civilians means cut up pieces of buttered toast in a bowl with soft-boiled eggs cracked into it. Delicious. I tried oatmeal with apples cooked into it. Also delicious. But I think I have found my new go-to-breakfast: The Steamer Delight. Here’s what I do: I take a bag of those steamer vegetables—broccoli, mixed veg, whatever, and cook it. While it’s cooking, I heat up the frying pan and spray some Pam into it. Then I hunt around and see if there are any bits of leftovers I want to throw in (onions? Vegetables? Bits of potato?) and toss them in the frying pan. The microwave dings, I cut open my steamers into the pan with some vegetable oil spray until they are a little more dried out and possibly slightly browned. I add an egg, a little bit of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and voila. Breakfast. It makes a lot of food—about three cups of deliciousness—and if I don’t feel like eating it all in one sitting, I can snack out of the pan all morning. And it’s really quite nutritious. An egg, of course, has protein and all kinds of good things, and today’s bag of Steamers(Italian blend—carrots, broccoli, zucchini, lima beans, green beans, cauliflower and red peppers), had for one serving (and there were 4.5 in the bag, so you math geniuses can figure it out) 30 calories, 8 percent of vitamin A, 25 percent of Vitamin C, 2 percent of Calcium, 2 percent of iron, 8 percent of fiber, and 1 gram of protein. So, for example, for 135 calories I got almost half of the ten servings of fruits and vegetables I aspire to, more than 100 percent of the vitamin C, about 40 percent of my daily fiber, 8 percent of my iron (plus the egg gave me 12 percent more protein, four percent more iron, 10 percent Vitamin D, zinc, riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamins B 5 and 12. .. Oh my god, I think I can officially kick butt now with that power breakfast. Watch out, world!

It’s funny how your imagination or your taste buds or SOMETHING can suddenly make you change a behavior you’ve had for a long time without regret. I loved my year of Nutella (okay, year and a half) of Nutella. I just had enough. I didn’t force myself to quit. I just preferred to try something different.

Writing Prompt: Have you ever had the experience of giving up something that you formerly loved suddenly and without regret?

2 Responses to “NOTELLA: How I Gave Up Nutella (In Honor of World Nutella Day)”

  1. Julie Goldberg February 5, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    Ohhhhh! But now you won’t want that Nutella liqueur! Oh, wait! Maybe you will? Maybe that’s how you’ll get your Nutella fix, if you ever have a craving.

  2. Rachel February 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    I LOVE nutella. I can’t buy it because I can take a spoon to it and go crazy. But, I found this recipe I am hoping to try – maybe it will help you get your fix and not pack on the pounds.

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