Initially, when I was mostly concerned about getting my weight down, I found that serving size and portion size were key concepts. So, I started reading food labels. I recommend that practice to everyone who wants to live a healthy life starting with controlling food intake.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and drinks. FDA is requiring changes to the Nutrition Facts label based on updated scientific information, new nutrition research, and input from the public. This is the first major update to the label in over 20 years. The label’s refreshed design and updated information will make it easier for you to make informed food choices that contribute to lifelong healthy eating habits.
Serving Sizes Get Real
Servings per container and serving size information appear in large, bold font. Serving sizes have also been updated to better reflect the amount people typically eat and drink today. NOTE: The serving size is not a recommendation of how much to eat.
The nutrition information listed on the Nutrition Facts label is usually based on one serving of the food; however some containers may also have information displayed per package.
One package of food may contain more than one serving.
Feeling blue on Friday the 13th? Perhaps you are triscadecaphobic, which is to say, fearful of Friday the 13th.
The publication Environmental Nutrition offers the following 5 foods that are super nutritious and might bring you good luck at least in terms of your general health.
Amazing avocados, is their first offering. “Ounce for ounce, they contain more blood-pressure lowering potassium than bananas. Avocados are rich in good-for-you monounsaturated fats, and cholesterole-lowering beta-sitosterol and cancer-protective glutathione, along with Vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6 and fiber.”
Brain-boosting blueberries come in second. “These little blue marvels are the antioxidant leaders, plump and nearly 4 grams of fiber per cup and a good dose of vitamin C. They also have cancer-protective ellagic acid, and may boost your brain health and vision.”
Anti-cancer Brazil nuts come in third. “This hearty tree nut is a ‘trigger food’ that may cause cancer cells to self-destruct. It’s a super source of selenium, a promising anti-cancer trace mineral that also promotes DNA repair and boosts immunity. Just two medium nuts contain enough selenium to perhaps reduce the incidence of prostate, colon and lung cancers.”
Good old Broccoli is number four. “Here’s an easy way to get two cancer-blockers that modify natural estrogens into less damaging forms and increase the activity of enzymes that fight carcinogens. Aim for three servings a week of broccoli or its cruciferous cousins.”
Number five is Butternut Squash. “This tasty fruit (yes, fruit) is an exceptional source of beta-carotene, the antiooxidant tyour body converts to vitamin A. But it’s also an overlooked source of bone-building calcium.”
So, look on the bright side and focus on the great nutritional benefits you can derive from these five super foods and forget about the fact that today is Friday the 13th. Just don’t walk under any ladders.
Snacking is kind of like the weather, everyone talks about it, but nobody does anything about it. Well, about over-snacking anyway. Seems like some of us just can’t pass up a sweet or tasty tidbit.
Anyone who works in an office knows the spot: The place where co-workers share sweet treats they brought from home, or leftovers from lunch meetings and birthday celebrations. Food appears out of the blue, and disappears just as quickly.
But why can some people walk right by the free snacks without stopping, or only go there when they’re hungry, while others can’t resist eating every time they see food there? Some may even go out of their way to pass the food-sharing spot just in case there’s something out.
Neuroscientists like Shelly Flagel, Ph.D. want to find out — and not just because of the long-term harmful effects of too many calories. The same variation between people can happen with drugs like cocaine and heroin. Continue reading →
I have to confess that the taste of the Jamba Juice Orange Dream Machine takes me all the way back to the joy of my childhood instantaneously. Even though I know that I now have far fewer taste buds functioning in my mouth than I did when I was a child, the Jamba Juice flavor is identical to what I remember the original Orange Dreamsicle starburst of flavor tasted like in my mouth as a child. I know I had one before I was a teenager, so it was many years ago.
Whenever I pass a Jamba Juice I will stop in and order an Orange Dream Machine and savor it for the next quarter of an hour or so. I think it costs around $5.00. I wondered if it would be possible to duplicate that flavor at home on my Vita-Mix machine.
It seems simple enough. There is the taste of orange and the mellowing flavor of milk. This is the kind of ingredient list made to order for Mr. Lazy Cook.
After a number of ‘close calls’ I have come up with the following recipe:
1/2 cup of vanilla soymilk 1/2 cup of orange juice 1/2 cup of vanilla non-fat yogurt 2/3 cup of orange sherbet 1/2 cup of ice cubes
Place it all in the Vita-Mix container and close the lid. Begin on the lowest speed and build to the top. I did not shift into the top speed as I did not want to make it solid. Blend just till smooth.
By my taste buds this is an exact match as far as taste goes to the Jamba Juice product. I specified taste because nutrition-wise, Mr. Lazy Cook’s is far superior. Continue reading →
The information on food labels was updated recently by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I think they did a good job on helping the consumer to better understand the nutrients in food packages.
Below is an example of the updated label.
On the left is the old format, one the right, the new. As you can see the Serving Size and Calories are now more prominently displayed. Additionally, the number of servings per container is also given. In the past many folks would read the calories without paying attention to the serving size or number of servings per container. For example, a package of potato chips might have told you innocently that there were 150 calories per serving. Not bad, you might conclude … if you weren’t aware that the package contained four servings, so, if you ate the whole bag, you were getting 600 calories.
Here are some tips offered by Rush Medical Center on reading the labels:
I confess that I love french fries. I also confess that I don’t eat them very often because of their fat content and fears of what I am putting into my system. The following is from The Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
Q. Potatoes are a vegetable, so why aren’t French fries good for you? Are the nutrients destroyed in the frying process?
A. “A medium baked potato (with skin) is a good source of potassium, vitamins C and B6, and fiber. But potatoes don’t contain other nutrients, such as the carotenoids and phytochemicals found in more brightly-colored vegetables,” says Helen Rasmussen, PhD, RD, a senior research dietitian at Tufts’ Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. “Peeling to remove the skin to make fries and chips results in the loss of a large portion of the fiber, further diminishing the potato’s nutritional value. In addition, French fries are typically salted. Most of us consume more than the recommended amount of sodium, and eating highly salted foods like fries makes that situation worse.”
“Deep frying potatoes to turn them into French fries does not change them that much, but it does increase the number of calories per serving, so we get less nutrients per calorie when we eat them. We each need a particular number of calories to fuel our bodies, and we also need a sufficient intake of many different nutrients. If we choose to consume something like French fries frequently and in a large quantity, we will surpass our calorie needs before we meet all of our nutrient needs, which can impact health.”
“Enjoy potatoes sometimes as part of a balanced, healthy dietary pattern. Think of them as a substitute for grains rather than vegetables when you fill up your plate. Leave the skin on, prepare them in a variety of ways, and avoid adding a lot of butter, cream, and salt. Round out your plate with plenty of colorful vegetables and other plant foods.”
It’s early in watermelon season and I thought it might be nice to discuss this giant member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Although watermelons are sold year ’round, summer is their season and that’s when you get the best tasting ones. It is aptly named because a watermelon consists of 92 percent water. Can you say super-hydrator?
Full disclosure: Mr. Lazy Cook loves watermelon. What’s not to like? It is utterly simple to deal with and tastes delicious. Below is a photo of my first watermelon this year. Yum.
Ham is the traditional Easter main course, unless you’re going to an Easter buffet with your family and have miles of different foods to choose from.
Beware the salt in Easter ham
So how many calories are in that ham, or how much can you eat without ruining your calorie count on Easter? And what about the salt? Ham and salt go together because salt is used to cure and preserve ham.
Here are some differing estimates that may help you with that ham dinner. Myfitnesspal.com puts a three-ounce serving of honey baked ham, spiral cut, at a very manageable 150 calories. Three ounces is a small amount, less than a quarter of a pound, however. The quarter pounder works for McDonald’s. Maybe it can work for you, too.
But then the salt kicks in. That three-ounce portion has 960 mg of salt, or 320 mg an ounce. We need around 2000 milligrams a day and medical experts say that many of us should cut it to 1500.
Another site good on calorie matters, SparkRecipes.com, puts 5.33 ounces of ham, presumably made without the honey this time, at 337 calories but with a sodium level of 2,273.4 mg. Experts recommend that adults consume below 1500 mg of salt per day.
Maybe the idea is that Easter only comes around once a year. Enjoy some ham and be done with it. Just don’t overdo it, particularly in view of the sodium content.
I think the old saw, “All things in moderation” comes into play here. You can enjoy some ham on Easter as long as you don’t make a pig of yourself.
If we want to get control of our weight and our health we clearly need to engage our brain before we start eating because the food’s taste impacts our appetite and desire for more. As I wrote in the introduction to this blog nearly 10 years ago. “everything you eat and drink becomes a part of you …”
Recent results obtained by Finnish researchers from Turku PET Centre have revealed that eating leads to widespread opioid release in the brain, likely signalling feelings of satiety and pleasure.
Eating a delicious pizza led to significant increase of pleasant feelings, whereas consumption of calorie-matched nutritional drink did not. However, both types of meals induced significant release of endogenous opioids in the brain.
Opioids are associated with pleasure and euphoria. The study revealed that a significant amount of endorphins is released in the entire brain after eating the pizza and, surprisingly, even more are released after the consumption of the tasteless nutritional drink. The magnitude of the opioid release was independent of the pleasure associated with eating. According to the researchers, it is likely that the endogenous opioid system regulates both feelings of pleasure and satiety.
– The opioid system regulates eating and appetite, and we have previously found that its dysfunctions are a hallmark of morbid obesity. The present results suggest that overeating may continuously overstimulate the opioid system, thus directly contributing to development of obesity. These findings open new opportunities for treating overeating and the development of obesity, says Professor Lauri Nummenmaa from Turku PET Centre.
– It was a surprise that endorphins are released in the entire brain and that the nutritional drink had a larger impact. This creates a basis for future research and hopefully we will find ways to study and describe the development and predictors of addiction, obesity and eating disorders, says Researcher, M.D., PhD. Jetro Tuulari.
The study was conducted using positron emission tomography (PET). The participants were injected with a radioactive compound binding to their brain’s opioid receptors. Radioactivity in the brain was measured three times with the PET camera: after a palatable meal (pizza), after a non-palatable meal (liquid meal) and after an overnight fast.
Nuts often take a bad rap for their calories. I love snacking on them and relying on them as an alternate source of protein to red meat. I’m not a vegetarian, but I do work on limiting the amount of red meat I consume in any month.
Herewith an infographic to help you in your healthy snacking.
Biochemist Valter Longo has devoted decades to discovering connections between nutrition and successful aging. He runs the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, where the focus is on extending healthy life spans and finding ways to prevent and treat conditions like cancer and cardiovascular disease that growing older makes us more susceptible to developing. Longo is also a professor of biological science at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Armed with results from the lab — including clinical trials showing that cycles of a five-day fasting-mimicking diet can reduce risk factors for many life-threatening diseases — Longo is calling for change in the kitchen. In this Q&A, he reveals the role that food can play in keeping us youthful and tackles some common misconceptions related to how, what and when we should eat.
Although this blog started out as simply a weight loss tool, it has since morphed into a guide for general healthy (and long) living. Nonetheless, knowing how to count calories and how we burn them is a super tool for living a healthy life. Hence, the following infographic.
Since this is the biggest day for chocolate consumption in the year, I thought it might be interesting to check into it.
Do you know how much chocolate the average American eats in a year? One pound? Ten pounds?
As a matter of fact we eat an average of a pound of chocolate a month, so, by a process of rapid calculation, 12 pounds in a year.
According to WebMD’s chocolate quiz “We each eat close to a dozen pounds of chocolate per year. And most of that is milk chocolate. More than 90 percent of Americans say they prefer milk chocolate over dark or white.
“It takes a long time to work off all that chocolate. It would take a 130-pound woman about four days and nights (95 hours) of brisk walking to burn off those calories!”
And I know you have heard that chocolate has caffeine in it, but how much? WebMD says,
“You’d need to eat 14 regular-sized (1.5 oz) bars of milk chocolate to get the same caffeine as you’d find in a 8-ounce cup of coffee! That would have about 3,000 calories and more than 300 grams of sugar — compared to only about two calories in black coffee.
“Dark chocolate does have more caffeine than milk chocolate. Even then, it would take four bars to give you the same buzz as one cup of regular Joe.”
So, enjoy the evening, but if you are going out with your little trick or treater, keep in mind how much walking is required to burn off those calories.
This blog started out as a ‘weight loss blog’ in 2010. In the ensuing seven-plus years, I have come to consider that weight loss by itself is a shallow goal. It feels superficial and negative to me. Instead, I now focus on the positive goal of living a healthy life by eating intelligently and exercising regularly. My weight has fluctuated within about a five pound range for the past six years or so. I weigh myself once a week just to make sure that I haven’t gone off track as I still like to eat. I realize that with more than 60 percent of us overweight and 30 percent of us outright obese, there are lots of folks out there who need to lose weight. In that context, I have found that counting calories is an excellent tool in this endeavor.
Here is a very useful write up from Medical News Today on the subject of calorie counting.
The number of calories burned each day is directly linked to weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance. For a person to lose weight, one must burn more calories than one takes in, creating a calorie deficit. To do this, one needs to know how many calories one burns each day.
In this article, we take a look at how someone can work out how many calories they burn in a day.
What is a calorie?
The three main food groups — proteins, carbohydrates, and fats — have different calorie contents. Most food products will display the nutritional content, including calories.
Most people think of calories as only having to do with food and weight loss. However, a calorie is a unit of heat energy. A calorie is the amount of energy that is needed to raise 1 gram (g) of water by 1°C. Continue reading →
I think calorie-counting is a very valuable tool when you are first getting started on weight control and living a healthy life. But, there are calories and there are calories. You need to know the food value of the calories you are consuming. You don’t want to eat a lot of empty calories.
Put simply, empty calories are calories that come from foods or drinks that have little or no nutritional value.
There are many common sources of empty calories. People may choose to limit or eliminate these foods and drinks from their diets to stay healthy and within their ideal weight range.
Helping children limit empty calories can set them up for a healthy life in the future. It can also help stabilize their energy and decrease mood swings.
Avoiding or limiting empty calories is a simple step toward a healthier diet and lifestyle.
What are calories?
Calories are units of energy. Scientifically, a gram calorie (cal) is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 gram (g) of water by 1° C.
From a scientific perspective, what is typically called a “calorie” is actually a kilogram calorie (kCal). This is a unit of energy made up of thousands of “small calories” equal to the large calorie often used to measure the energy in food.
Calories are an essential part of the diet. The body needs to burn calories to do the simplest tasks, such as breathing or blinking. When physical exercise is thrown into the mix, even more calories are required to stay healthy and alert.
The amount of calories a person needs every day can vary widely. Most recommendations are based on a diet of 2,000 calories per day. However, this number may be higher or lower depending on the individual and their habits.
A registered dietitian can help determine a person’s ideal caloric intake based on activity level, age, sex, metabolism, and height.