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Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 23: The Peanut Butter Conundrum

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Is peanut butter the devil to a serious dieter--or an angel? To eat peanut butter or not to eat peanut butter? That is the question. I love peanut butter. Who doesn't? But does peanut butter love me and my diet back? My wife says no, that peanut butter is no serious dieter's friend. "The peanut butter thing is a problem, Ed," she says. "Nothing good comes out of having a jar of peanut butter in this house."

The first five months of watching my weight I swore off peanut butter, mostly because I find it incredibly difficult to exert any self-control when a full jar of peanut butter is nearby. Jars of Cream-Nut peanut butter (made by Koeze & Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan) with its intensely peanutty, just salty and sweet enough taste, sing a most seductive siren song.

But can I resist its undeniable charms, or must I resort to complete peanut butter abstinence? Must I start attending Peanut Butter Lovers Anonymous meetings? "Hello, my name is Ed. I'm a peanutbutterholic."

Those aforementioned siren voices encourage me to dip my spoon into the jar for a peanut butter hit whenever I'm home. They encourage me to have a small peanut butter and jelly sandwich on thin-sliced white bread for breakfast. These same voices whisper to me around lunchtime: "Peanut butter, it's what for lunch." Even at dinnertime they whisper sweet peanut butter somethings in my ear because at dinner I can have more peanut butter if it's a protein replacement for meat.

So I've experimented with having a jar of peanut butter around the house the last couple of weeks to see if I could limit myself to one modest peanut butter foray a day.

I've even taken to measuring my morning peanut butter dose. Two tablespoons (190 calories) is what I allow myself on my sandwich of two pieces of thin sliced white bread (80 calories) and a tablespoon of strawberry jam (40 to 50 calories). There is currently no peanut butter at Serious Eats World Headquarters. At home after dinner I do everything in my power not to take a late-night dip into the jar. It helps that peanut butter has a powerful and distinctive smell that tends to linger, so that every time I eat peanut butter at night my wife knows it.

The Weigh-In

So how did my peanut butter in moderation regimen go this week? The scale will tell the tale. Damn. Up a pound this week. I have to say that I think my one pound gain had more to do with all the meals I have eaten out this week for reviews and not the peanut butter. But I'll never be able to convince my wife of that.

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