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Archive for December, 2013

Bloomberg’s Cap on Supersize Soda May Be Contagious

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post “Bloomberg’s cap on supersize soda may be contagious”.

You can also read it HERE.

As Mayor Bloomberg prepares to leave office, his controversial proposed cap on the size of sugar-sweetened drinks may be contagious. While we wait for the courts to determine whether or not a 16-ounce soda will be the default “large” at eating establishments such as fast food restaurants delis, and movie theaters, the United Arab Emigrates (UAE) has decided to ban supersize sodas.

According to Arabian Business:

The UAE has banned supersized fizzy drinks as part of a raft of new health measures announced by the government, as the Gulf state looks to reign in burgeoning obesity and lifestyle disease rates. The federal cabinet came to the decision following the second day of what it described as a “brain-storming” session at a Sir Bani Yas island, and comes on the back of a similar idea being introduced in New York City earlier this year by mayor Michael Bloomberg. According to a recent United Nations report, more than one third of the UAE’s population is classified as clinically obese, while a separate study said that 20 percent of adult Emirati citizens suffer from diabetes.

In Europe, James Quincy, the president of Coca-Cola Europe, acknowledged that many soda sizes are too large. Appearing on BBC, Quincy said that the size of some of the large cups that Coca-Cola is sold in “needs to change” and that “the bigger cups need to come down.” And the sizes of European portions, including soda, are not nearly as large as our portions.

Meanwhile, back in New York City, at a recent roundtable sponsored by the Museum of Food and Drink debating the proposed cap on sugary beverages, I debated the merits of Bloomberg’s proposal. As discussed in Food Navigator, one of the reasons I support the proposed portion cap is that the marketing of supersize sodas has become the norm. In the movie theater, for example, a 32-ounce quart size soda is labeled “small” and a 44-ounce soda is labeled “medium.” Since when is a quart of soda considered small? I also discussed that obesity rates have increased in parallel with growing soda sizes and that calorie labeling alone will not solve the problem. Consumers need an environment that encourages healthier choices. And the healthy choice must be the easy choice.

As I further discussed in the debate and previously wrote in the NY Daily News:

Large portions contribute to obesity because they obviously contain more calories than small portions: A small soda (16 ounces) at KFC contains 180 calories, while the Mega Jug (64 ounces) contains nearly 800 calories — and is more than one-third of an entire day’s recommended calories for some people … Bloomberg is not banning the sale of soda. Nor is he telling consumers that they can’t drink soda. Rather, he is calling attention to how much is a reasonable amount to drink at a time. Sixteen ounces is certainly more than reasonable — a full pint of sugar water. Instead of viewing this as a ban, let’s see it as an attempt to reset the norm for how much soda truly constitutes an appropriate portion.

You can listen to the entire debate complements of Heritage Radio Network.

I hope that the courts favor Bloomberg’s proposal and that when we visit a concession stand at a NYC movie theater later in 2014, the largest single-serve soda is 16 ounces as opposed to the 50-ounce size available now.

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Holiday survival guide: 8 Strategies to Avoid Overeating

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post, Holiday Survival Guide: 8 Strategies to Avoid Overeating.

You can also read it HERE.

With the holiday season upon us, food is everywhere. From festive holiday parties to dinners with friends and family, let’s face it, this time of year tends to center around food. And, it is perfectly OK to indulge on occasion, sans the guilt, without gaining weight. The trick is to enjoy what you are eating, and to eat mindfully while avoiding overindulging and gaining weight in the process.

For the good news, according to research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Americans, on average, gain just about one pound during the holiday season, with overweight individuals gaining a bit more. This is really not too bad, as long as we keep it to just one pound and get back on track come the New Year.

To help avoid gaining weight this holiday season while also enjoying your favorite foods, here are some strategies that I have used successfully with clients that I counsel in my nutrition practice.

1. Eat healthy MOST of the time.

Make healthy low-calorie choices when you can and do not waste calories nibbling at home while watching TV. Celebrate only at a holiday dinner party or during a holiday event. Plan your day and even plan for your occasional splurge.

2. Eat what you LOVE.

Do not waste calories overeating on cookies and junk food that you do not like just because they are sitting there or because someone else is eating them. Save your extra calories for special foods you enjoy during this time of year.

3. Mind your PORTIONS.

What I love about portion control is that you can still indulge in your favorite foods instead of banning them completely. And you do not have to eat tiny portions. The trick is to eat larger portions of healthy foods balanced with smaller portions of more indulgent and high-calorie choices. For additional tips that I offered on portion control, click here and here.

4. Try eating off of RED plates.

Red is a festive color and red plates certainly go with the season. New research published in the journal Appetite found that we eat less when eating food on a red plate. Subjects who were given pretzels on a red plate ate significantly less than those given pretzels on a blue or white plate. Who knew? Certainly worth a try. The authors suggest that the color red may work as a subtle stop signal (like a red traffic light) which may guide us to reduce our intake.

5. Eat MORE fruits and veggies.

High in fiber, rich in nutrients, and low in calories, enjoying colorful fruits and vegetables is a win-win. Try filling half of your plate with fruits or vegetables at each meal.

6. Limit LIQUID calories.

When we drink our calories instead of eat them, we do not tend to register fullness and we often end up consuming extra unnecessary calories. For example, we often eat a bag of chips with the soda we are guzzling down. And liquid calories such as soda are pure empty calories. Many alcoholic drinks also tend to be high in calories and drinking tends to decrease our resistance to temptations. It is OK to enjoy an occasional glass of red wine, or white wine spritzer, but best to have the drink with dinner and not on an empty stomach. And, fill up on water or seltzer, both calorie free, before your meal.

7. Keep up your EXERCISE routine.

Choose an exercise routine you enjoy and pick a time that works for you so that you will stick to it.

8. DROP the guilt.

If you overate, do not feel guilty. And now there is now research to prove it.
New research found that people who feel guilty after eating large amounts of snack foods tend to gain more weight than those who don’t feel the guilt.

This year, enjoy the holiday season sans guilt!

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