Linkedin Twitter Facebook Email RSS Feed Our Blog

Archive for the ‘ Weight control ’ Category

Don’t shop hungry: 6 healthy snacks to eat before you shop

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post: Don’t shop hungry: 6 healthy snacks to eat before food shopping.

You can also read it HERE.

As a nutritionist counseling clients on diet strategies to help lead healthier lives and lose weight, I’ve always advised not to go food shopping when hungry. It makes sense that if you are hungry, you may pile higher calorie foods and less healthy choices into your grocery cart. And if you eat something before heading out to the market, you may make healthier selections.

Now, we’ve got some research to prove it. Cornell researchers Aner Tal and Brian Wansink published a research letter in the JAMA Internal Medicine showing that hungry shoppers end up buying more calories.

The findings were supported by field studies in actual grocery stores. Subjects went food shopping when they were more likely to be hungry (during the higher hunger hours between 4 and 7 p.m.) and when they were less likely to be hungry, (during the lower-hungry, after lunch hours, between 1 and 4 p.m.). Those who went food shopping during the higher hunger hours purchased fewer low-calorie foods relative to high-calorie foods compared with those who shopped in the earlier period.

The authors concluded that:

Given the prevalence of short-term food deprivation, this has important health implications. It suggests that people should be more careful about their choices when food-deprived and possibly avoid choice situations when hungry by making choices while in less hungry states (e.g., by eating an appetizer before shopping).

The takeaway message is simple: Eat a snack before going food shopping.

I suggest eating a healthy snack containing some fiber and protein to help you feel full and keep blood sugar levels at bay. Fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains are great sources of fiber, and nuts, nut butters (moderation, of course), hummus, and low fat dairy contain protein.

Here are some client favorites:

1. An apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter.

2. A cup of watermelon and cantaloupe with a half cup low fat cottage cheese.

3. One cup mixed vegetables — baby carrots, celery, red peppers — with 2 tablespoons hummus

4. A low fat Greek yogurt with mixed blueberries and raspberries.

5. A fruit smoothie: ½ cup fat free milk blended with fruit of choice (kiwi, strawberries, banana) and crushed ice.

6. An ounce of whole grain crackers with a slice of part-skim cheese.

Share |

Plate size matters

Below is my blog post Portion Size Matters for Huffington Post.

You can also read it HERE.

A new study out of Temple University suggests that one solution to helping kids eat less is to give them smaller plates. With childhood obesity rates so high, we need effective strategies to help youngsters eat more healthfully and eat less.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that plate size matters, at least for first-graders. The research was conducted at lunchtime on first-graders. Eighty percent of children served themselves 90 more calories when using large, adult-sized plates than when using smaller plates. And the students ate about half of the additional calories that they piled onto the plate. According to the researchers, the additional calories on these bigger plates were probably carbohydrates or protein, as kids did not usually serve themselves extra vegetables.

These results make perfect sense to me as a nutrition researcher tracking portion-size trends. As I wrote in my book The Portion Teller Plan, the sizes of plates have increased in recent years, and could certainly be an additional contributor to the obesity epidemic in our country. When given a larger plate, consumers tend to pile on more food.

Indeed, research from Cornell University conducted on adults found that people eat more off of larger plates. They found that a food portion looks smaller when it is placed on a large plate. And this new study confirms this phenomenon in kids.

I often suggest to clients in my private practice to eat off of downsized dishes. Using a smaller dish makes a smaller portions look like more food. And dieters do not want to stare at a half-empty plate. It makes them feel deprived. When one of my clients started eating off of her grandmother’s dishes, she began to lose weight. She ate less without even realizing it.

Another suggestion that I offer clients is to use a larger plate for salad (a great way to increase your veggie consumption) and use a smaller plate for the main dish. This way, you do not have to go out and buy new dishes.

Divide-and-conquer is another great approach when thinking about your plate. As USDA’s dietary guidance icon MyPlate suggests, fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies, one-quarter with healthy grains such as brown rice or quinoa, and one-quarter with protein-rich foods such as grilled fish or chicken.

One caveat: When using a smaller plate, remember not to pile on your food. If food can fall off of the plate, you probably served yourself too much.

Share |

Happy–healthy–Thanksgiving

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post. You can also read it here:   7 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving.

With Thanksgiving the start of the holiday season, temptations are all around us, and making healthy and smart food choices can be challenging. However, if you practice portion control along with following some other simple healthy tips, you can enjoy your favorite foods without gaining a pound.

According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving day. And that is without breakfast or late-night eating. That number seemed high to Tara Parker Pope from the New York Times, so she conducted her own test. According to her analysis, the average Thanksgiving meal is closer to 2,500 calories.

Regardless of the exact number of calories we consume on the holiday, we probably eat much too much. But we do not have to overeat if we pay attention.

Here are seven tips that I have successfully used with clients for a healthy Thanksgiving.

1. Watch your portion sizes. Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Enjoy your favorite holiday treat but take a small portion.

Here a few visuals from my book The Portion Teller Plan to help you eyeball a proper serving so that you don’t overdo it this holiday. If you can stick to these portions, you don’t need to worry about calories. You will not be overdoing it.

• A deck of cards’ worth of turkey is around 3 ounces.
• A golf ball size of gravy is about ¼ cup.
• A golf ball size of cranberry sauce is about ¼ cup.
• A ½ baseball worth of stuffing is around ½ cup.
• A ½ baseball worth of sweet potato is around ½ cup.
• A shot glass worth of salad dressing is around 2 tablespoons.
• It’s okay to enjoy an unlimited portion of nonstarchy vegetables.
• Drink lots of water, too!

2. Think maintenance. Don’t try to diet during the holidays. Try to maintain your current weight. At the very least, now is not a time to begin a diet.

3. Eat before you eat. Enjoy a healthy snack — yogurt, fruit, veggie soup, salad — before a party.

4. Be mindful and make only one trip to the buffet table. Look at all your options before making your final food choices; make sure all the calories you consume are worth it. Choose only the foods you really want and keep your portions moderate.

5. Eat slowly and chew your food well.

6. Exercise. Stick to your exercise routine. If your gym is closed, enjoy a brisk walk with family and friends.

7. Ladies, wear tight-fitting clothes. Men, be sure to keep your belt buckle snug. This will help prevent you from overeating.

Most of all, enjoy family and friends. Have a healthy holiday!

Share |

Growing portion sizes in the US: time for action

Below is my latest post for Huffington Post. I highlight key points from my latest academic paper on growing portion sizes.

The prevalence of overweight has increased in adults and children and shows no signs of decreasing. As I have previously written, large portions of unhealthy high caloric foods have indeed contributed to this problem.

In my latest paper, “Reducing Portion Sizes to Prevent Obesity: A Call to Action,” just published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine with my NYU colleague Marion Nestle, we discuss recent portion-size trends and offer several suggestions to address the problem with ever expanding food portions.

Here are some key points:

Portion sizes have continued to increase through the first decade of the 21st century. Top fast-food and restaurant chains continue to introduce new large-size portions. Food companies are introducing bigger burgers, burritos, pizzas, and sandwiches. Some of these single-serving items (meaning, they are marketed for one person) contain more than 1,000 calories. For example, Wendy’s Baconator Triple burger contains approximately 1,300 calories and Burger King Triple Whopper contains 1,140 calories.

As we illustrate in our paper, the trend toward larger portions coincides with the availability of calories in the U.S. food supply and the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity.

The food industry has not responded to pleas from public health officials to reduce portions, and most Americans have become conditioned and have come to expect larger portions. So what can we do about this continued trend toward larger portions?

We offer several approaches:

1. Education and Public Health Campaigns
Health professional should continue to advise patients on portion control and healthy eating.

2. Consistent Serving Sizes
The FDA sets standards for food labels and the USDA sets standards for dietary guidance and education. These standards are smaller than typical portions, differ from one another and may be creating more confusion. One uniform system is needed to better advise the public on the relationship between portion size, calories and weight gain.

3. Price Incentives for Small Portions
The food environment must support healthier food choices and encourage consumers to want to buy the smaller size. One way to do that would be to offer price breaks for smaller-size portions. Our current price structure encourages us to supersize. We can often get twice as much food or drink for just a few cents. We need to reverse this trend
by making the smaller size financially appealing.

4. Portion Size Limits in Food-Service Establishments
Policy approaches to limit marketplace portions should be considered. A recent policy conceived by Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, and recently approved by the Board of Health to cap the sizes of sugary drinks to 16 ounces, will be implemented in March 2013. I have been an active advocate of this policy, have previously written for Huffington Post about it, and do hope other public health departments follow in New York City’s footsteps.

In your own life, I urge you to consider such portion size strategies. Whether it be ordering a small instead of a large size, sharing a restaurant entrée, advising others to eat less, or getting active in a health and portion campaign, small steps in encouraging our food environment to support healthier food choices can ultimately result in reversing our obesity epidemic.

Share |

Back to the Future: A Return to Smaller Beverage Sizes

Here is my latest blog post for Huffington Post.

New York City’s Board of Health recently approved Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit the sizes of sweetened beverages. The regulation restricts the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas and delis.

I published an opinion piece in support of the proposal for the New York Daily News.
My piece, “Smaller sodas, healthier lives” can be found herehttp://soc.li/GHG9r5G

As I write: “This campaign makes sense at a time when the debate about soaring medical costs has taken center stage in the presidential election. Obesity is estimated to cost $190 billion a year.… The mayor’s proposal does nothing more than swing the pendulum back in favor of more modest food portions.

Those portions have increased steadily over the years, so much so that we have grown accustomed to oversize portions and have come to expect them.

Portion sizes are now two to five times larger than they were in the 1950s.”

.
Just how big have food portions become? The timeline below, which is based on my research in my book The Portion Teller Plan, highlights how our frame of reference has shifted.

Select Dates in the Supersizing of American Fountain Drinks

1954                        Burger King offers a 12-oz Small and 16-oz Large soda.

1955                        McDonald’s offers a 7-oz soda.

1961                        McDonald’s adds 12-oz soda.

1962                        McDonald’s adds 16-oz soda.

1973                        McDonald’s adds 21-oz soda.

1988                        McDonald’s introduces 32-oz Super-Size.

1989                        Wendy’s adds the Super Value Menu including Biggie

drinks.

1999                      McDonald’s introduces 42-oz Super-Size.
The 32-oz Super-Size is downgraded to Large.

2001                       Burger King introduces a 42-oz King soda.

2004                      McDonald’s phases out the 42-oz Super-Size.
The largest size is the 32-oz Large.

2006                      Wendy’s add the 42-oz Large size.

Wendy’s drops the term Biggie for its 32-oz soda, calling it Medium.

2007                       McDonald’s offers a promotion of the 42 oz Hugo (previously called Super Size).

2011                        KFC introduces the 64-oz Mega Jug.

2012                      According to company websites, the following sizes are now available:

McDonald’s: 12-oz Kids, 16-oz Small, 21-oz Medium, and 32-oz Large.

Burger King: 16-oz Value, 20-oz Small, 30-oz Medium, 40-oz Large.

KFC: 16-oz Small, 20-oz Medium, 30-oz Large, and 64-oz Mega Jug.

Wendy’s: 12-oz Kids, 16oz Value, 20-oz Small, 30-oz Medium, 40-oz Large.

As I wrote in the NY Daily News,  “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.

.
It is now time to return to the more reasonable sizes of the past, when obesity rates were much lower. Given the health consequences and enormous cost of our obesity epidemic, restricting large sizes of unhealthy sugary beverages is an excellent place to begin.

Share |

The Battle Against Big Soda Continues

Below is a blog post just published for Huffington Post on Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal on sugary beverages. Here is the link.

Several weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan to restrict the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, movie theaters, and food carts in an effort to help combat the obesity epidemic in New York City. The mayor’s Task Force on Obesity states that “Americans consume 200-300 more calories daily than 30 years ago, with the largest single increase due to sugary drinks.”

As both a researcher tracking the sizes of food portions (soda included — I have many oversized soda cups in my collection) and as a nutritionist counseling overweight patients, I continue to stay abreast of the latest developments in the proposed restriction on the sale of sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages over 16 ounces.

It seems as if Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal may be contagious.

Inspired by Mayor Bloomberg, Henrietta Davis, the mayor of Cambridge, Mass. has proposed limiting the size of soda and sugar-sweetened beverages sold in city restaurants. Mayor Davis cited an increased risk of obesity and diabetes as reasoning behind the resolution.

Many of the nation’s physicians treating obesity-related illnesses also support the mayor’s proposal, citing that 46 percent of the nation’s intake of added sugars comes from beverages. The American Medical Association (AMA) also recently endorsed taxing sugar-sweetened beverages to a penny per ounce.

As I previously wrote for The Huffington Post, I support Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal for several reasons. Sugar-sweetened beverages are purely liquid calories and provide no nutrients, portion sizes of such foods have increased considerably over the last 50 years, and larger portions contain more calories than smaller portions and encourage overeating. I see it as a win-win situation.

The mayor of New York City 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 should be considered a reasonable amount to drink at a time. And 16 ounces is certainly more than a reasonable — that is a pint-size worth of sugar water. I do not see the proposal as a ban, but rather as an attempt to reset the norm for how much drink constitutes an appropriate portion. This is a much needed proposal in an era of oversized portions.

Others, however, disagree. Some argue that Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal violates personal freedom and that the city should not dictate what size drinks people buy. The soda industry complained that soda is being singled out, and it has a website devoted to its case: www.letsclearitup.org.

At issue is just how large soda sizes have gotten. In the 1950s, McDonald’s offered just one size, 7 ounces, and Burger King offered a 12-ounce small and a 16-ounce large.

The following chart illustrates just how out of control portion sizes — and calories — of soft drinks have gotten in fast food establishments.

McDonalds

Kids 12 oz. — 120 calories
Small 16 oz. — 150 calories
Med 21 oz. — 210 calories
Large 32 oz. — 310 calories

Burger King

Value 16 oz. — 140 calories
Small 20 oz. — 190 calories
Medium 30 oz. — 290 calories
Large 40 oz. — 380 calories

KFC

Small 16 oz. — 180 calories
Medium 20 oz. — 230 calories
Large 30 oz. — 350 calories
Mega Jug 64 oz. — 780 calories

Looking at the above chart, it is clear that most sizes currently sold will not be marketed if Mayor Bloomberg gets his way. And, I will argue, for good reason. They contain mega calories. For example, the small size soda (and only size allowed according to the proposal) at KFC contains 180 calories, while the 64-ounce mega jug contains nearly 800 calories.

New Yorkers may or may not be able to purchase jumbo sodas next spring, but the mayor’s proposal has put supersized beverages on the line and is getting a dialogue going about portion size, soda consumption, and obesity. That, in and of itself, is progress. I commend Mayor Bloomberg for raising our awareness to the problem with oversized beverages. I am proud to be a New Yorker and look forward to the day when I will no longer be able to collect oversized cups.

Share |

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!

Share |

Unrealistic serving sizes

Unrealistic serving sizes

Do you know anyone who eats only ¾ cup cereal, ½ cup of ice cream, or 1 cup of soup at a sitting? Probably not. Even children eat more than that.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group in Washington, is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revise its serving-size regulations as many people underestimate serving size.

Labels for canned soup, ice cream, coffee creamer and non-stick cooking sprays understate the calories and sodium consumers are likely to eat. Canned soup, in particular, presents a clear example of how unrealistic the stated serving sizes are. Labels for Campbell’s Chunky Classic Chicken Noodle soup, for example, indicate that a serving size is 1 cup — a little less than half a can with 790 milligrams of sodium. But in a telephone survey commissioned by CSPI, 64 percent of consumers surveyed said they would eat the whole can at one time and only 10 percent of consumers say they eat a 1-cup portion!  Chances are you are getting closer to 1500 mg sodium. Ice cream serving sizes are also unrealistic. The serving size is a half-cup of ice cream—a quarter of a pint.  However, many people eat closer to a whole cup. And some people probably eat an entire pint.

In my experience counseling overweight patients, and as I wrote in my book The Portion Teller Plan, so many people underestimate how many calories they consume, in part because people think that a serving is whatever amount they eat, and pay little attention to the amount of food listed on a package label. And since typical portions have grown in size, the amount of food you usually buy these days is much more than the amount listed on a package label. After all, I have never seen an ice cream shop sell ½ cup serving. (And if they did, consumers would probably complain!) Kiddie sizes usually contain at least 1 cup of ice cream.

Anahad O’Conner from The New York Times has an excellent summary.  The foods shown above, from the NYT article, are typically underestimated by many consumers.  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/the-problem-with-serving-sizes/?ref=health

Share |

Certain foods may pack on pounds.

Certain foods may pack on the pounds.

A new study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers from Harvard University found that certain foods pack on the pounds while other foods can actually be diet-friendly and help people lose weight when consumed regularly.

The researchers stressed that the quality of food choices, and not just calories, are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

French fries, potato chips and sweet drinks can pack on the pounds, the researchers found. Subjects who regularly consumed potato chips and other potato products, soda, and processed and unprocessed meat gained on average 3.35 pounds in four years. No surprise, especially since the portion size—and the calorie counts– of some of these foods have more than doubled in the last 30 years. These days, it is easy to buy a 20-ounce bag of chips, a 64 ounce soda, and a single-serve order of French fries which weighs in at a half a pound.

In an interesting twist, the research found that certain foods can actually help you lose weight. Yogurt, nuts, fruits, and whole grains may actually help eaters lose weight.

Eating whole grains as opposed to processed grains can make a big difference in weight loss, according to the research. Refined grains can add a half-pound every four years, while whole grains can subtract a half-pound during the same time period. Including an extra serving of nuts also prevented participants from gaining a half-pound.

While some of the findings need further explanations—why, for instance, did eating all types of potatoes (including baked potatoes) cause more weight gain than say eating sweets and desserts?!—the general take away message offers support for eating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and eating fewer chips and processed foods, and drinking sugar-laden soft drinks.

As a nutritionist counseling clients trying to lose weight, here is a key take home message: eating certain foods may help you lose weight and they should be included in your diet while others can pack on pounds. Making simple swaps to your diet can help you lose weight. Here are a few examples.

  • Skip the chips and add mixed nuts as a healthy snack.
  • Limit the soda and drink flavored seltzer instead.
  • Skip the fries and have a salad instead.

And a few other lifestyle habits which the researchers found make a difference: include regular physical activity, limit TV viewing, and be sure to get enough sleep.

Share |

Eat MORE to lose weight!

Eat MORE to lose weight.

Tara Parker Pope of the New York Times reports on research showing that eating MORE of certain foods can control calories and stave off hunger. Such foods include adding cayenne pepper as well as pureed vegetables to various dishes. I am pleased to applaud that adding veggies to various dishes is a great idea; they add volume to your food, and are packed with antioxidants, and fiber which helps you to feel full. Professor Barbara Rolls from Penn State University and author of the excellent Volumetrics books has done research showing that that adding veggies to casseroles results in fewer calories per serving. So dieters can eat the same amount of food for fewer calories! And both Jessica Seinfeld and Sneaky Chef Missy Chase Lapine have published cookbooks where they have added healthy ingredients into kids’ favorite meals.

In my counseling practice, I have found that  getting clients to eat MORE fruits and vegetables is a great tool for dieters as that they do not have to stare at a half empty plate. Feeling satisfied and having a full plate of food may also keep you motivated and help you stick to your plan.

Here are some ideas that have worked well for my clients and will hopefully work well for you:

  • Start your meal with a low-cal veggie based soups.
  • When making a soup or a bean dish, throw in a mix of veggies to add bulk and volume.
  • Add assorted vegetables into casseroles and pasta dishes.
  • Bake brownies or other favorite desserts with pureed fruits and veggies.
  • And, be sure to include a fruit or veggie serving to each meal.
Share |
Join our mailing list
Visit our Blog | RSS Feed lisa.young@nyu.edu © 2014 Dr. Lisa Young