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Posts Tagged ‘ Portion sizes ’

Save over 1000 calories with these simple portion swaps

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “Save over 1000 calories with these 5 simple portion swaps.”

You can also read it HERE.

A new study published in the January issue of the Journal of Nutrition and Behavior sheds some more bad news for foods consumed outside the home. The researchers from Drexel University reviewed more than 2,600 menu items from restaurant chains and reported that a typical adult meal (comprised of an entree, side dish, and one-half appetizer) contained nearly 1,500 calories. Add a drink and a half dessert, and the calorie content of this meal increased to 2,020 calories.

To put this in perspective, the average American adult should eat around 2,000 calories a day. According to the research, you can meet your daily allotment for calories in just one meal. Yikes! No surprise that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic.

As a nutritionist tracking portion sizes, these numbers hardly surprise me. Restaurant portions are enormous, at least double what they were 50 years ago. Burgers, steaks, and pasta bowls have increased in size over the past 50 years. So have bagels, muffins and soft drinks.

While what you eat matters (choosing grilled instead of fried chicken, for example), how much you eat (how large your portion is), matters more than many of us realize.

Here are some simple portion swaps that can save you over 1,000 calories.

1. Order an appetizer portion of pasta instead of a main dish portion.
Many main dish pasta portions contain at least three cups which translates to an entire days worth of grains. Appetizer portions contain approximately 1.5 cups of pasta. Add some fresh tomato sauce and lots of veggies and your portion is far from skimpy. A typical appetizer portion is enough food for an entire meal. Switching from a main dish to an appetizer portion of pasta can save you at least 300 calories.

2. Order salad dressing on the side.
So often, we think we are being virtuous by ordering a salad. After all, a salad contains no bread, and so many of us fear the starch these days. However, many appetizer salads in restaurants contain at least four tablespoons of salad dressing, far more than most of us need. If you order your dressing on the side, you can control how much you add. Most of us do not need more than one to two tablespoons of dressing (which translates into three to six teaspoons). Make this switch, and you can save at least 100 calories.

3. Order the small coffee drink. (Note: in some places a small is called “tall.”)
In the U.S., we seem to want our food in larger portions. Hence, even the descriptor term ‘small” is considered taboo and not used in many food establishments. For example, when you go to Starbucks and order a “small,” you get a “Tall.” We often forget that our coffee drink contain lots of calories, especially if it is in an oversize cup. Ordering the smallest size can save you lots of calories. For example, switching from a Starbucks Venti 20-oz coffee Frappuccino to a tall 12-oz size can save you around 170 calories.

4. Chose bran cereal instead of a bran muffin.
Muffins these days are oversized, often weighing in at seven ounces, and containing more than 500 calories. However, because it is just one item, and contains the healthy sounding term “bran” in its title, we often overlook its high calorie content. A simple swap such as switching to a cup of bran cereal and a cup of fat-free milk can save you around 300 calories.

5. Go single, instead of double or triple.
The fast-food industry is notorious for offering single, double, and triple hamburgers. For the good news, YOU get to choose. My suggestion: order the single instead of the double or triple size. For example, while Burger King’s Triple Whopper which is 16 oz contains nearly 1200 calories, the company’s Whopper sandwich which is 10 oz contains around 650 calories. Just making this swap can save you 510 calories. To save an additional 300 calories, switch to the Whopper Junior sandwich which weighs in at nearly 5 oz (and contains enough food for an adult) and hold the mayo.

As I previously wrote here, you can take action to rightsize your plate and save lots of calories by splitting a dinner entrée, wrapping up leftovers, and being mindful of how much food is on your plate.

I would love to hear any portion tricks and tips you may have.

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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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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!

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Portion Size Me

Portion Size Me is a book that came out earlier this year and was
written by Marshall Reid, a 12 year old and his mom Alexandra.  The book
captures the journey and lifestyle of  the Reids.  The family
transformed their lives by watching food portions and by modifying
their daily food choices.

As a portion size advocate and a nutritionist recommending small
lifestyle changes as a way to get healthy, this book gets thumbs up! It is very inspirational to help other overweight children and families make simple changes and help reverse the trend to curb childhood obesity.

Marshall and his family have learned to make small changes to diet and
to swap unhealthy foods for healthier ones.

As I have been saying for years, getting—and staying–healthy does not
mean giving up all our favorite foods!

For some of their ideas and recipes, visit their website:
http://portionsize.me/?page_id=2.

Congratulations Marshall! Well done.

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Diet industry supports Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit oversized beverages.

Here is my latest post for Huffington Post.

You can also read it below.

One week before the Board of Health is schedule to vote on Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit the sizes of oversized drinks, Weight Watchers and other diet companies including The South Beach Diet, Jenny Craig and Bob Greene of The Best Life Diet are supporting the proposal.

I have previously written about my support for the proposal and also testified at the hearing.

As reported in the New York Times, David Burwick, the president of Weight Watchers North America said, “There’s been a lot of hand-wringing about obesity but very little action.”

As reported in Metro NY, Mayor Bloomberg said “As the size of sugary drinks has grown, so have our waistlines, and so have diabetes and heart disease.” And, Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley added that “In a city with large sizes of high-calorie snack foods and beverages at your fingertips around the clock, it is no wonder many New Yorkers struggle to maintain a healthy weight.”

I could not agree more!

Here are 5 good reasons:

1. Portion sizes have exploded in recent years.

2. Large portions contain more calories than small portions.

3. Large portions encourage us to eat more.

4. Large portions encourage us to underestimate how much we are eating.

5. Sugary sweetened beverages are empty calories and have no nutrition benefits to offer.
The Board of Health is scheduled to vote on the ban on Thursday, Sept. 13 and would go into effect six months after, on March 13.

Stay tuned!

Your thoughts?!

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