Tag Archives: eating well

One Less, One More

Here’s how I lost 30 pounds.  It’s advice I still have to remind myself to take sometimes (I’m talking to you, See’s Candies).  There’s no way I’m giving up chocolate.  Maybe there’s no way you’re going to give up your burger and fries.  Everyone feels differently about their food.

So this is what I do: I eat one less.  One less chocolate.  One less handful of chips.  One less cookie.  One less chocolate kiss (Not just one.  One less.).  One size down on the fries OR one less piece of cheese OR one less piece of bacon on the burger (I’m a vegetarian, but you see where I’m going with this).

You don’t have to deny yourself all of the joy of eating until you’re left with a sad (Veggie?  Beef?) patty wrapped in lettuce with no fries.  That’s the kind of behavior that leads to eating a box of cookies in the car of the grocery store parking lot under cover of darkness like a wide-eyed lunatic.  Ask me how I know.

After you’ve taken away one, add one more.  One carrot.  One apple.  One mandarin orange.  One Persian cucumber that you can eat mindlessly at your computer before lunch to fill you up just a little and take away the biting hunger.  Any watery fruit or vegetable will do nicely.

Have the one more before the one less.

It couldn’t hurt, and you won’t find yourself suffering or obsessing over it, driving your family or colleagues insane.  You won’t see results in a week, either.  But over time, you will see change, and you won’t even know how it happened.

This is how good eating habits are made.

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Is capitalism making you fat?

I wouldn't eat it, but I get it.

I wouldn’t eat it, but I get it.

Is capitalism making you fat, or are you making you fat?  The degree to which you believe either of these statements helps define how you feel about legislative reforms directed at your health, and more specifically, at obesity.

While adults can freely choose what they eat, it’s more than hunger that drives us.  Appetite as well as hunger, boredom, anxiety and visual stimuli direct us toward foods we consume.  Brian Wansink, at the Cornell Brand Lab, experiments with this sort of thing.  In his book Mindless Eating, he details an experiment during which secretaries are gifted candy dishes to place on their desk.  They are the only candy consumers during the experiment.  The subjects consumed more candy from a clear dish than an opaque one.  They consumed even less when the dish experimenters placed the dish three feet away.  The secretaries consumed the least candy when it was placed into a drawer.

Which of these accounts for breakfast sales soaring to about $47 billion in 2013 (up from 25.5 b. in 2011)?  Continue reading

FDA proposes sweeping changes for food labels

Well, I can’t wait to see the fighting on this one, because this is one of the best pieces of information-based legislation consumers have if they want to make good decisions regarding their food choices.  So far that’s not been saying much, since the Nutrition Facts label has been so difficult for most people to interpret that they largely ignore it.  These changes would be mighty helpful.  Here’s what the FDA is proposing:

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When you see what half that pint will cost you, they'll need smelling salts in the aisle.  *sigh*

When you see what half that pint will cost you, they’ll need smelling salts in the aisle. *sigh*

The press release may be found here.

The comment period, which will last for 90 days, will begin Monday.  Anyone can comment, and I highly suggest you do.  My first-read has me poised to ask the FDA to include calories from added sugar, not just grams (but in case you were wondering, it’s a teaspoon for every 4 grams  Currently, though, sugars from fruit and sugars from added sugar are included under the same category).  The Daily Values have not been updated in so long that the upper limit for salt (2300 mg) is LESS than the current daily value listed (<2400 mg — which to most people means 2400 mg.  The current recommendation for sodium is generally 1500 mg).  It’s way past time. Look for a food fight here, but Ms. Obama is building a serious legacy with this one.

Get your fingers on the keyboard if you like the idea of having quick reference to what is in your food.

How changing your diet is like the winter solstice

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The sunset on 12/20/13.

Today is the winter solstice — the start of the shortest day of the year.  According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, today we’ll see just 9 hours and 53 minutes of daylight.  In contrast, the summer solstice gave us 14 hours and 26 minutes of daylight.

That’s a lot of difference, right?

The amount of daylight we receive changes minute by minute, day by day.  Except during the period surrounding each solstice, and for periods of a couple of days where the amount of daylight remains the same, we either gain a minute of daylight a day, or lose one.  From today until June 21st of 2014, we will slowly, very slowly, gain daylight until we have amassed more than four extra hours of daylight a day!

What does that have to do with changing your diet?

Day by day and hour by hour, what we eat can change us, even if it’s by only a tiny change from what we normally consume.  If today you decide to eat one cookie instead of two, or take one piece of bread out of the restaurant basket instead of two or decide after overdoing it at a get-together not to keep overdoing it today out of self-loathing and a sense of defeat, you’ve inched a bit closer to success.  Eating better, exercising and taking care of ourselves are not about the big, dramatic moves, but about the little tiny ones that are less painful and therefore are read as less important.

Minute by minute and day by day, how will you be when the next solstice arrives?

Small change #14: Buy and/or make a new food

Do your best old lady voice: What’s all this I’m hearing about kale?  What is this here Quinoa (KEEN-wah)?  How do you make an eggplant anyway?  

Buy a little kale, quinoa, or some other food you haven’t yet experienced.  Look online for a recipe or instructions on how to make it and give it a try as a side dish with dinner.  You might discover something you couldn’t believe!  You’ll also round out your diet with balanced, healthy foods.

I was asked recently by a lady in her 60s how to cook fresh broccoli as I was adding some to a bag.  I was so happy she asked! (You can boil broccoli for 2-3 minutes, but I prefer to make a shallow pool of water in a wide skillet, put the lid half on and let it steam for a few minutes.  Add a little grated parmesan over the top, and/or add a tiny bit of butter to the pool of water for serious yum.)

A couple of years ago a kid from my daughter’s school was visiting and wondered if she could taste vanilla soy milk.  She loved it, and I was moved by her enthusiastic response: “I could have gone MY WHOLE LIFE and not had this!”  Tasting one new food made her realize the importance of new experiences.  And she was all of 9 years old at the time.

 

Small change #11 Split dessert the selfish way

When we dine out and the server delivers dessert in the form of 1/4 of a pie, we have a tendency to abdicate responsibility for our ability to finish whatever is put in front of us (“I didn’t put that on the plate, I’m just the lucky recipient!”).   In fact, this is part of the reason many people enjoy dining in restaurants.

It’s probably a good idea to split dessert.  The caveat: Never share a plate. That thing where they deliver the enormous slab of cake and 4 forks inevitably leads to an eating contest to get the delicate sliver at the tip, then the icing off the back…you get the picture.

Ask for your own plate, or to have the thing pre-split.  Tell the server you aren’t good at sharing.  They always seem to believe me when I say it..

If your partner eats like a raptor and goes after yours, you can always stab at him/her a little with your fork, though I don’t recommend this on a first date (unless there won’t be a second date or they seem litigious about being assaulted with a fork).

What?  You are eating with someone on some diet who doesn’t want dessert or is just not really human and doesn’t have a sweet tooth?  Don’t forgo dessert because of them.  Order dessert and ask to have it split, with the other half placed in a to-go container.  Tomorrow there will be more dessert for you! If, while you enjoy your guilt-free serving, you notice sad-doggy looks, they won’t belong to your happy face.

Always leave a good tip for a server who goes the extra mile.  They’ll be thrilled to help you get that torte into a to go container next time.

Small change #10: Find out how many calories you need in a day

Once in a while I’m asked how many calories a person needs in a day.

It depends on the person’s height, weight, gender, age and activity level.

All of which you can enter right here to find out the answer quickly, along with how much you should eat in a day if you were being a perfect angel.  Click Create profile, and you will be prompted with boxes for the above information before the site will calculate your caloric needs.  If you want a quick estimate without considering exercise or the factors above, look here.

Even if you’re feeling a little less heaven-sent, this will give you guidance.  Moderation in all things, even perfection!