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Archive for February, 2011

The food industry says “eat more!”

While the newly released Dietary Guidelines say “eat less”, the food industry serves more!

One of the consumer messages from the newly released Dietary Guidelines suggest that we “avoid oversized portions.” This is an excellent recommendation given that 68% of us are considered overweight and the report from the Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee indicated that obesity is “the single greatest threat to public health in this century.”  Losing weight is about eating less and moving more. From the food intake side of the equation, one of the best ways to lose weight is to eat smaller portions which have fewer calories than large portions.

But if you eat out, easier said than done! The LA Times recently reported on new menu items loaded with calories, salt, and fat. Some of these items contain an entire day’s worth of calories! The article is titled “Eat less, U.S. says as fast-food chains super-size their offerings.”

Here goes:

McDonald’s Angus Bacon Cheese Wrap contains 790.

All-American Jack from Jack in the Box Inc. –a  sandwich with two jumbo beef patties and two kinds of cheese, contains 840 calories.

Taco Bell Corp.’s Beefy Crunch Burrito meal: ground beef, rice, nacho cheese sauce, sour cream and spicy Fritos wrapped in a tortilla, plus cinnamon twists on the side and a medium soft drink, contains 1,390 calories.

Carl’s Jr.’s Footlong Cheeseburger has 850 calories.

Burger King’s Stuffed Steakhouse: a third of a pound of beef stuffed with jalapenos and cheese, has 600 calories.

I’ve got many more examples of jumbo sizes that I’m compiling. If you come across anything, please share.

In a word, OY-VAY! Steer clear of these items. Or share a dish with SEVERAL friends. And drink lots of water. And, perhaps start training for a marathon!

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Happy Anniversary Let’s Move!

Last week, Michelle Obama’s anti obesity campaign “Let’s Move” turned one.  Born a year ago, it has brought obesity awareness to the forefront, especially in children. It has encouraged the packaged food industry to lower the sugar and salt in its foods and has improved the school lunch program.

The New York Times reported that the First Lady is now talking to the restaurant industry to in an effort to expand the push for healthier eating.  According to the article, a team of advisors to Mrs. Obama has been holding talks with the National Restaurant Association, in an effort to urge restaurants to offer smaller portions and to improve children’s meals by offering carrots, apples, and other healthy fare.

I commend Mrs. Obama’s efforts, and do indeed, hope that the restaurant industry will comply. Portion sizes in restaurants are still enormous and the standard fare on many children’s menus is fried chicken and pizza. Let’s applaud these initiatives and have good news to report on Let’s Move’s 2nd anniversary next year.

For more info on this initiative, visit letsmove.gov.

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Where’s the salt?

Where’s the salt?

Last week, the government unveiled the 2010 issue of the Dietary Guidelines,  and watching our sodium content took center stage. So we know that we need to get rid of the salt shaker. Salt is composed of sodium and chloride, and 1 teaspoon of salt contains 2300 mg sodium. Sounds like a little or  lot!? Just one teaspoon of salt contains more sodium than half of us should eat for the entire day.

Under the new guidelines, nearly half of the US population should consume less than 1500 mg sodium. This includes adults 51 and over, children, African Americans, and those with hypertension, kidney disease and diabetes. The rest of us can have up to 2300 mg of sodium per day.

Clearly, we need to ditch f the salt shaker! But sodium is lurking in so many other commonly consumed foods. Here is the sodium content found in some  favorites foods:

Breakfast:

A bagel with lox and cream cheese contains 1905 mg sodium. The bagel alone contains over 600 mg! Who would have thought?

Lunch:

A turkey sandwich on rye with mustard and mayo contains 1948 mg sodium

Dinner:

A pasta portion with tomato sauce contains 1260 mg sodium, and that is for the meatless version!!

That totals 5113 mg! Oy. And that is without snacks.

Here are some tips:

Get rid of the salt shaker.

Avoid processed foods.

Choose MORE fresh fruits and vegetables which are naturally very low in sodium.

Read food labels for the sodium content.

Cook at home more often and use oregano, black pepper, and other spices.

Let’s hope the food industry reduces the sodium in chips and other packaged foods. Some food companies have, indeed, made such promises. But remember, a reduced-sodium bag of chips is not health food and still contains sodium, and an apple (or another food not found in a package) would be a healthier choice.

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New Dietary Guidelines: Eat Less

Dietary 2010 Guidelines just released


The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were just released yesterday.   The Dietary Guidelines are updated every five years and released jointly by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). While many of the recommendations are similar to those previously issued, 2 new messages stand out: eat less and a focus on consuming less salt. As a nutritionist who has been advocating portion control for many years, I was pleased to see the government’s recommendation to “avoid oversized portions.”

Here are selected messages for consumers which were posted yesterday on the government’s website. They are categorized in 3 areas.

Balancing Calories

• Enjoy your food, but eat less.

• Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase

• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce

• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals—and choose the foods with lower numbers.

• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

I downloaded the entire report–a lengthy 95 pages. The Appendix has a table on key consumer behaviors and strategies for professionals which I think will prove useful. Here are some of their tips:

  • Plan ahead to make better food choices.
  • Track food and calorie intake.
  • Cook and eat more meals at home.
  • Reduce portions, especially of high-fat foods.
  • Limit screen time
  • Increase physical activity

Here is a clip from CBS News with Katie Couric which aired last night at 6:30. (I am featured.)

Here is an article just in from the New York Times.

Take home tip: you can enjoy your foods but be sure to watch your portions.

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