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Posts Tagged ‘ liquid calories ’

Thanksgiving mistakes not to make this year

Blow is my latest blog post for Huffington Post “5 Thanksgiving mistakes not to make this year.”

You can read it HERE.

As a nutritionist coaching clients on weight loss, addressing common Thanksgiving pitfalls can help keep weight in check and help start off the holiday season on the right foot. With temptations all around us, making healthy and smart food choices can be challenging. Indeed, the average Thanksgiving meal is estimated to range from 2,500 calories to 4,500 calories, both estimates being too high in calories.

Here are five common mistakes to avoid. The aim is to enjoy your favorite foods without gaining a pound.

1. Skipping breakfast
It is important to eat a healthy breakfast the morning before the big feast. So often, when people skip breakfast they think they can eat more later in the day. You are often also very hungry if you skip breakfast altogether.

The fix: Eat a healthy breakfast that includes a serving of protein, fruit, and healthy starch. A great choice is yogurt and berries topped with a whole grain cereal.

2. Wearing loose fitting clothes
When you wear loose clothes, it is common to keep eating… and eating without it registering.

The fix: Wear form-fitting clothes. Your clothing should not be uncomfortable or too tight but they should be fitting. Wearing a belt is also a good idea. If you feel the need to unbuckle your belt, you’ve probably eaten too much.

3. Eating 1,000 calories worth of appetizers
It is not uncommon to eat over a thousand calories when choosing the WRONG appetizers. And this is before the meal. When you nibble on franks in a blanket, cheese and crackers, and potato knishes, for example, you can easily consume upwards of a thousand calories if you do not pay attention.

The fix: Choose crudite such as carrots, red peppers, and celery, which are high in fiber and low in calories. And top the veggies with hummus or a healthy dressing.

4. Eating too much.
As a nutritionist helping real people who like to eat lose weight, I believe all foods can be eaten in moderation over the holidays and now is not a time to start a diet. However, going back for doubles or triples and overfilling your plate is a likely culprit for why you gain weight over the holiday.

The fix: Practice portion control! 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.

  • A deck of cards worth of turkey is around 3 oz.
  • 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.
  • And ok to enjoy an unlimited portion of nonstarchy vegetables.

5. Drinking too many liquid calories — that includes alcohol and soda.
Having several alcoholic beverages, eggnog, and sugar sweetened drinks including soda along with your meal can easily pack on unnecessary calories. I would much prefer that you eat your calories rather than drink them as liquid calories.

The fix: Do not drink on an empty stomach and allow yourself to enjoy one glass of wine or a wine spritzer with the meal. Skip the soda and choose water or sparkling water instead.

Wishing you a happy — healthy — Thanksgiving and holiday season.

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Does drinking soda cause depression?: Not so fast

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post on soda and depression. You can also read it here.

As a nutritionist counseling clients on diet and health, I got numerous calls this week about the latest study on soda. And this one offers up more bad new for soda. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, suggests that drinking soda — including diet soda — is associated with an increased risk with depression. For the good news, drinking coffee was tied to a lower risk. The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting in March. (This is the same time Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on selling sodas larger than 16 ounces is set to take effect in delis, fast-food restaurants, and other eating establishments in New York City.)

This was a large study involving over 250,000 people ages 50-71. Subjects who drank more than four cans or cups per day of soda were up to 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who did not drink soda. And the risk appeared to be greater for people who drank diet soda.

If you love coffee, here is some good news: People who drank four cups of coffee daily were nearly 10 percent less likely to develop depression than those who did not drink coffee.

So, what do we make of this study?

The study doesn’t show that soda causes depression, but rather found an association between the two — soda drinkers were more likely to be diagnosed with depression. It is important not to confuse the two.

Here is what I told the New York Daily News when called to comment on the study:

It’s hard to tell from this single study what the exact connection between sweetened drinks and mood might be — but either way, you’re better off cutting back, says Lisa Young, Ph.D, R.D., an NYC-based nutritionist and adjunct professor in the department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at NYU.

“I’m not a fan of diet soda, but I don’t think it’s the soda alone that’s causing depression,” she told the Daily News. “The thing about soda is, you don’t often drink it alone — you drink it with junk food. You’re not getting enough fiber and protein with that sugar, and your blood sugar not being stable could throw off your mood.”

Diet soda drinkers who are focused on weight loss might also be blue from feeling like they’re struggling with their weight, she said. “You’re getting that false sense of sweetness, so you’re never really satisfied,” which could lead to continued cravings, she said. “[The soda] could be safe, but I think it puts you into this pattern of not really eating healthfully.”

As you may know, I am not a fan of soda — both regular and diet soda — and I think it is worth limiting for reasons other than depression. Regular soda provides unnecessary calories and sugar, while diet soda contains unnecessary chemicals. A 16-ounce soda contains far too many liquid calories — nearly 200 empty calories, all of which come from sugar. This is one of the reasons I am an avid supporter of Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on sugar-sweetened beverages, as I wrote for the New York Daily News and for HuffPost.

So, what should one drink, I am often asked by clients and friends.

I’d suggest water, flavored seltzers, and herbal teas. And, if you love coffee, I guess you can get some encouragement from this study. Just hold the sugar and those pastel-colored sugar substitute packets.

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Rightsize your Plate and your Waist: 11 Portion Control Tips that Work

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post. You can also read it here.

Practicing portion control is one of the most difficult tasks facing anyone who eats out or even eats in these days. Look around you and everything is supersized. And not just fast- food. Bagels, muffins, steaks, even frozen dinners have grown in size. And of course we know about the big sodas. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has proposed restricting the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in many eateries, and the Board of Health is set to vote on the proposal in just over a week. Stay tuned.

I tracked the history of food portions increasing since the 20th century and found that portions are much much bigger than they were in the past, 2-5 times bigger to be exact. And so are people! No surprise. As I wrote in The Portion Teller Plan and in numerous articles, large portions contribute to weight gain because large portions contain more calories than small portions. Simple as it sounds, so many clients that I counsel don’t seem to apply logic to the equation. We know that if a 64-oz Mega Jug of soda is eight times bigger than a standard 100 calorie 8-oz soda, it should contain 8 times the calories. Yes, it contains 800 calories. Simple math?  Yes. But… if WE drink it, we think, how can a soda possibly have so many calories?

Our plates have increased, so have our mugs, glasses, and wine goblets. Our cabinets and  dishwashers are now larger to accommodate our satellite-sized dishes. And, car seats for our kids, who are now pudgier than ever, have also increased. And even caskets have become supersized!

Many of us don’t understand what a healthy portion size is, and for good reason. A pasta portion in a restaurant is easily 3 cups, and many steaks are at least a pound. That is much too much food. The problem is that we’ve gotten used to these jumbo portion sizes and we think that a “portion” is whatever is put in front of us. Getting used to normal sized portions is not an easy task.

Here are some tips:

Practice plate control. For starters, try eating off of plates your grandmother used. Next, change your expectation. Restaurants are in business to sell food, and lots of it. It is time to shift our perspective on what a reasonable amount of food is. If you use a smaller plate, you will probably begin to scale back on your portion.

Fill up on fruits and veggies. We want to scale back on our meat and potato portions and increase our intake of veggies. An easy trick is to fill half your plate with veggies. One quarter of your plate protein (meat, fish, poultry, tofu) and one quarter healthy starch (brown rice, quinoa, barley).

Limit liquid calories. You are better off eating—and chewing—your calories than drinking them. Somehow, when we drink our calories, we do not feel full and the calories we just guzzled down do not seem to register. So…we want more. Eat an orange instead of drinking the juice. And steer clear of empty soda calories—choose seltzer or water instead.

Buy single-servings. Steer clear of the jumbo bags of chips, cookies, and nuts sold at price warehouse clubs such as Costco. We all love a good bargain, but beware when it comes to buying food. While you may want to stock up on toilet paper or paper towels, when it comes to food, buy smaller servings. Single-serve bags of chips will really help you practice portion control while snacking.

Order a small. In many cases you have a choice between a small, medium, or large. Order the small size whenever possible. And don’t be fooled by the label; even a drink labeled small, for example, small can be big.

Avoid your triggers. If you can’t stop at one serving of chips, then don’t even start. Choose a treat you CAN control.

Don’t snack out of the bag. Read the food label, serve yourself one portion, and put the rest away. Practice this for chips, nuts, pretzels and other treats.

Don’t be fooled by health halos. Just because a food is labeled organic or trans fat free doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Calories are still calories.

Skip all-you-can-eat buffets. They may be a bargain for your pocketbook, but not for your health. If you must visit a buffet, do a full lap around the buffet before choosing your selection and wear tight fitting clothes (you’ll probably eat less.)

Share, share, and share. Restaurant portions are huge. Order one main dish and an extra veggie dish or salad and share both. And order one dessert for two or three people and you will still feel satisfied.

Eat like a Parisian. Eat slowly, savor your food, and enjoy your company.

Enjoy! Bon Appetit.

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