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Archive for May, 2012

Will colored potato chips help us eat less?!

We are snacking now more than ever. So much that we eat, on average, 580 calories daily just from snacks. So what can we do about it?

A group of researchers have a novel idea. Offering subtle cues can help.  New research from Yale, University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University and published in the May issue of the Journal of Health Psychology suggests that inserting colored potato chips might help snackers actually eat less.

Researchers gave students one of two types of Stackable potato chips while they were watching a movie. One group was given a traditional stack of potato chips with no edible dividers. The other group was given a stack of chips with edible potato chips dyed red which served as dividers that were interspersed at several different intervals (and suggesting a serving to be from 5 to 14 chips.)

The researchers found was that inserting colored potato chips at regular intervals in the stacks caused people to eat fewer chips overall. The group given the red edible chips acting in a sense as dividers reduced their consumption by a whopping 50 percent! This translates into approximately 250 fewer calories according to Cornell researcher Dr. Brian Wansink.

Good news—It is time for the food industry to take note.

Or, better yet, just sell us smaller bags!

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Eat more with Ultimate Volumetrics

I have been a fan of Barbara Rolls’ work for years. Through her many research experiments, she has shown that the more food you give people, the more they eat. And they don’t report feeling any more full. Her solution is simple yet brilliant: choose foods low in calorie density (CD). Dr. Rolls is a professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania  State University and has spent 20 years studying the science of satiety and how it affects obesity. She is the author of more than 250 research articles and several books, including The Volumetrics Eating Plan which I keep on my book shelf.

In her new book written with registered dietitian Mindy Hermann, Ultimate Volumetrics Diet (William Morrow, $27.50), Dr. Rolls shows you how to manage your weight. The book is based on solid research and is armed with solutions to give readers a guide as to how to control hunger and manage their weight. This book offers over a hundred new recipes as well as user-friendly tools to help you on our way to successful weight loss.

Unlike the many fad diet books on the shelves which make countless promises, and work mostly just for the short term, this book provides time tested tools and strategies to help you lose weight and keep it off. With the Ultimate Volumetrics Diet, you do not have to give up your favorite foods and you do not have to avoid entire food groups as many diet plans advise. Here you will get time-saving tips to lose weight for you and your family, a guide to eating out healthfully, and a grocery store guide which reviews shopping strategies. And better yet, you can eat MORE. As a nutritionist counseling clients on weight loss, this is a dieters dream!

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Benefits of fruits

Benefits of fruits

Nutrition experts have long recommended that we eat a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Indeed, according to USDA’s dietary guidance system MyPlate, half of our plate should consist of fruits and veggies. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the benefits of vegetables. Here, I will highlight some benefits of eating more fruits. With so much of a focus on eating low-carbohydrate diets, as a practicing nutritionist,  I often get asked by my clients, will I gain weight if I eat too many fruits such as watermelon? The answer, NO! In fact, quite the contrary. They are also low in calories, making them a great choice for your waistline. And, they are good for your health.

Below are some nutrition tid-bits on select fruits.

Cantaloupe. This member of the melon family is rich in the antioxidant beta carotene, a plant-based Vitamin A precursor that helps with eye health among other conditions. It is also rich in the mineral potassium which may help lower blood pressure and the risk for stroke. And, it is terrific if you are watching your waist; a one cup serving contains a mere 50 calories.

Watermelon offers a juicy sweet taste and a high water content, while packing in the antioxidants lycopene, beta carotene, and vitamin C, and the minerals potassium and magnesium.

Citrus fruits including oranges and grapefruits provide a significant source of vitamin C, folate, and potassium as well as fiber. Pink grapefruits are particularly rich in the antioxidant lycopene. Eating these fruits whole yield more nutrients than drinking the juice.

Avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which may help raise levels of HDL (good cholesterol) while lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). They are also high in the antioxidant vitamin E.

Grapes. Consuming grapes may reduce the risk of blood clots, lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and prevent damage to the heart’s blood vessels, aiding in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure. Antioxidants called flavonoids may even increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind). The resveratrol found in the skins of red grapes may interfere with cancer development. Eating the whole fruit instead of consuming the juice contains the added benefit of fiber.

Kiwifruit with its brilliant green inside is packed with vitamin C and fiber.

Apples provide fiber along with the heart healthy antioxidant quercitin.

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Weight of the Nation 2012

I am delighted to be at the 2012 Weight of The Nation Conference in Washington DC sponsored by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The purpose of this important conference is to bring together policy makers, educators, health professionals, media, and public health leaders to share key obesity prevention priorities and to present policy and environmental approaches that show promise for improving the nation’s health. The theme,” Moving Forward, Reversing the Trend,” is illustrated through informative and thought provoking presentations emphasizing how we can work together to promote healthy eating and active living for all Americans.

This morning,  in the presence of a huge crowd, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its latest report Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation . It focuses on five critical goals for preventing obesity:

— Integrating physical activity into people’s lives

— Making healthy foods and beverages available everywhere

— Transforming marketing messages about nutrition and activity

— Galvanizing health care professionals and employers to support healthy living

— Making schools a gateway for healthy weights

Several members of the committee highlighted specific strategies and obesity prevention recommendations to identify how we can work together most effectively in our communities to reduce the nation’s obesity crisis.

This report is released at an important time as the obesity epidemic is a major public health crisis and the food environment is not conducive to weight loss for most of us. Food is available 24-7, portion sizes are huge, and the food industry spends mega bucks marketing sugar, fat, and calorie laden junk food.

At the conference’s opening plenary on Monday morning, the CDC in conjunction with Duke University and RTI International released a new paper just published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on obesity forecasts through 2030. The forecasting study found that 42% of the US population could be obese by 2030, suggesting that our healthcare system could be burdened with 32 million more obese individuals within just two decades. According to the researchers, action is needed to keep rates from increasing further.

For the good news, the report found that keeping obesity rates level could save nearly $550 billion over two decades. Hopefully, this thought provoking conference will inspire its attendees to work together to reverse the obesity epidemic. The action steps highlighted throughout the conference will hopefully help us speed up the progress to combat the current obesity crisis.

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