Tag Archives: portion size

Why Should I Eat More Dark Chocolate?

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought it worth revisiting this post I did on eating more dark chocolate.

Enjoy!

Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Before starting, let me clarify that the word ‘more’ in the header assumes you are eating little or no dark chocolate at present because here in the U.S. we primarily eat milk chocolate. How much? Good question. Some 71 percent of the chocolate we eat is milk chocolate. And, how much total?

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The World Atlas of Chocolate puts the U.S. in 11th place worldwide in per capita chocolate consumption with a paltry 11.5 pounds per year. Switzerland is in first place with more than double that total.

As far as a definition of dark chocolate goes, the U.S. has no fixed percentage of cocoa content to define dark chocolate. In practice, however, it seems that 70 percent cocoa solids qualifies as dark chocolate.

But why eat more dark chocolate? Experience L!fe says, “Sure, chocolate’s exquisitely decadent. But its primary ingredient, cocoa, has triple the antioxidants of green tea, helps reduce…

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Tips for Healthy Eating at Fast Food Eateries

As a retired guy I don’t eat a lot of fast food because I have the time to fix my own meals, so my experience since retiring is limited in this area. Being in the work force rips a lot of your dietary control away from you. You find yourself ‘on the road’ and subject to the vagaries of your present locale. Or, you have a deadline, so you can’t take the time for a proper meal. You find yourself at the mercy of local fast food eateries. But, maybe all is not lost.

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HELPGUIDE.org offers some worthwhile tips on trying to eat healthy at fast food restaurants.

“Making healthier choices at fast food restaurants is easier if you prepare ahead by checking guides that show you the nutritional content of meal choices at your favorite restaurants. Free downloadable guides help you evaluate your options. If you have a special dietary concern, such as diabetes, heart health or weight loss, the websites of national non-profits provide useful advice. You can also choose to patronize restaurants that focus on natural, high quality food.

“If you don’t prepare ahead of time, common sense guidelines help to make your meal healthier. For example, a seemingly healthy salad can be a diet minefield when smothered in high-fat dressing and fried toppings, so choose a salad with fresh veggies, grilled toppings, and a lighter dressing. Portion control is also important, as many fast food restaurants serve enough food for several meals in the guise of a single serving.”

Tips for making healthy choices at fast food restaurants:
▪ Make careful menu selections – pay attention to the descriptions on the menu. Dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, au gratin, or in cream sauce are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats, or sodium. Order items with more vegetables and choose leaner meats.
▪ Drink water with your meal. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. One 32-oz Big Gulp of regular cola packs about 425 calories, which can quickly gulp up a big portion of your daily calorie intake. Try adding a little lemon to your water or ordering unsweetened iced tea.
▪ “Undress” your food. When choosing items, be aware of calorie- and fat-packed salad dressings, spreads, cheese, sour cream, etc. For example, ask for a grilled chicken sandwich without the mayonnaise. You can ask for a packet of ketchup or mustard and add it yourself, controlling how much you put on your sandwich.
▪ Special order. Many menu items would be healthy if it weren’t for the way they were prepared. Ask for your vegetables and main dishes to be served without the sauces. Ask for olive oil and vinegar for your salads or order the dressing “on the side” and spoon only a small amount on at a time. If your food is fried or cooked in oil or butter, ask to have it broiled or steamed.
Eat mindfully. Pay attention to what you eat and savor each bite. Chew your food more thoroughly and avoid eating on the run. Being mindful also means stopping before you are full. It takes time for your body to register that you have eaten. Mindful eating relaxes you, so you digest better, and makes you feel more satisfied.

Pay attention to portion size, too. So many fast food places just give you too much food. Then you are stuck with the conundrum not wanting to waste food, but not wanting to pig out, either. So, they mess with your mind as well as your body. As I said on my page How to Lose Weight – And Keep it Off – “You don’t want to waste food? But you can’t continue to waist food, either. Understanding serving size and portion control will take you a long way on your weight control journey.”

Tony

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The Portion Plate – Size Does Matter

I stumbled on this a while back. The Portion Plate looks kind of like a kid’s plate with the illustrations on it, playing cards, a cassette a CD, a baseball, but it is for adults. The Portion Plate gives graphic demonstrations of how big a serving should be. I think it is a great idea in this world that bombards us with super-sized servings of everything and totally distorting idea of proper portion sizes. This group sees portion sizes as “contributing to the obesity epidemic and putting roughly one-third of Americans at risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some cancers…”

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Portion control visuals – Infographic

I am still convinced that portion control is a key concept in controlling your weight. If you stick with these you can’t go far wrong.

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Tony

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Dave & Buster’s, Uno Among 2016 Xtreme Eating Award Recipients – CSPI

We really do have to use our heads when we decide to eat out. Some chains’ offerings make a joke out of our attempts at portion control.

One Chain’s Burger Platter Has Nearly 3,000 Calories and 10,000 Milligrams of Sodium

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Perhaps you’ve eaten a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese.  Picture having a second one.  And a third.  And then a fourth.  Along with two medium orders of fries doused with a combined 18 packets of salt.  For most people, that’s unthinkable.  At Uno Pizzeria & Grill, it’s lunch:  The chain’s Whole Hog Burger has hamburger, sausage, bacon, prosciutto, pepperoni, four types of cheese, garlic mayo, and pickles and comes with fries and onion rings.  All told it’s more than a day’s worth of calories (2,850), three days’ worth of saturated fat (62 grams), and six days’ worth of sodium (9,790 milligrams).

That burger is just one of nine recipients of the 2016 Xtreme Eating Awards—conferred annually by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest and published in its Nutrition Action Healthletter.  Far from doing their part to reverse the obesity epidemic, America’s chain restaurants are pouring gasoline on the fire, crossing fried chicken and waffles with Eggs Benedict, merging cheeseburgers and egg rolls, and repurposing macaroni and cheese as a sandwich filling. Continue reading

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Eating in moderation

This post demonstrates the difficulty of trying weight control without the proper tools. For my money the number one tool in weight control is portion control and its corollary serving size. These are absolutes that can be followed by anyone willing to put in the effort.

Check out the following for more details on portion control

How to lose weight using portion control

Serving size and portion control – Keys to weight loss

A fresh look at portion control and portion distortion

How to lose weight using portion control

Tony

Focus on food safety

Pizza size is all in the eye of the beholder (Photo: Valerio Capello). Pizza size is all in the eye of the beholder (Photo: Valerio Capello).

In 1978, I visited the USA with two colleagues on a mission to study meat quality. After travelling by car for many hours to reach Texas we got very hungry and stopped at a pizza joint in Oklahoma. We had a choice of small, medium, large and very large pizzas. We settled on one medium each as one should eat in moderation, but huge pizzas each covering half of the table arrived. We couldn’t even eat half of the pizzas.

This highlights that there is no universal measure of eating in moderation.

What is moderation?

Eating in moderation seems to be practical advice for a healthy diet, but a new study suggests that it is an ineffective guide for losing or maintaining weight. The scientists found that the more people liked a food, the more flexible their definitions of moderation were. And who…

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How Many Calories in Easter Ham?

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.
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Mall-Walking is Good for You, But …

You probably already have heard about mall-walking, right? Groups of seniors gather in shopping malls to get their exercise walking in a heated/air-conditioned area with clean rest rooms available. Mall-walking is a good way for folks to socialize as well as accomplish a daily exercise session.
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A downside to mall-walking, however, is that after the walk folks get together at a food court for breakfast or a snack. As I mentioned in the portion control posts, muffins in food courts often pack 400+ calories into their tasty outsized shapes.

At a rate of 100 calories per mile, you would need to walk over four miles to break even on this transaction. If you only walked two miles, about a half hour, you would be 200 calories in deficit after your exercise.

You really do need to keep focused about your eating in relation to your exercise.

Don’t Out-Eat your Exercise.

This is not meant to discourage you from walking in malls or otherwise. Walking in my opinion is the Cinderella of the exercise world – vastly unappreciated. Check out Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health, How Good is Walking for You? – Infographic, How to Burn More Calories Walking – Infographic, Is Walking as Effective an Exercise as Running?, Why You Should be Walking More.

Tony

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Portion Size From the Other Side of the Counter

Unfortunately, our ‘bargain-hunting’ hard-wiring seeks out large portions in restaurants, in a vain quest for the ‘most for my money.’

You’ve heard of ‘win-win.’ Well this is ‘win-lose.’ Getting too much food can be costly to our health not to mention our waistline, despite appearing to be a financial bargain.

Professional chefs regularly offer steaks double the size recommended by the USDA.

Professional chefs regularly offer restaurant goers steaks double the size recommended by the USDA.

The more successful you are at finding an eating place with huge portions, the more difficulty you will have keeping control of your weight and waistline. We all need to rethink the situation. Pigging out at a low price doesn’t make our trip to dine out a success. We need to start thinking in terms of the nutritional quality of our food not just the quantity. Continue reading

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Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

Eat less; move more; live longer. Those words are the mantra of this blog. I realize that they are also easier said than done especially at this time of year – holiday season.
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We seem to be hard-wired to celebrate by eating. Maybe it goes back to the time we had to hunt for our food. When we managed to kill something edible that was reason for celebration and we did. We ate our fill because we didn’t know when our next meal would be. But, times have changed and a trip to a supermarket is enough to feed an entire family for a week. So there is no need to eat till we are bursting at any single meal or event.

The holidays are a particularly trying time. There are various family celebrations along with parties at friends and neighbors. Each is a special form of temptation that we have to deal with.

I think one of the most important concepts to keep in mind in the holiday season is that weight control is a lifetime job. You can’t do it one day and then forget about it, or worse, celebrate by binge-ing on sweets as soon as you lose a pound or two. You also cannot wreck your progress in one day any more than you can solve your weight problem in one day. Think of it as a long continuum. Most importantly, during the holidays, don’t get down on yourself and wallow in guilt because you overdid it on one occasion. The damage from that is much worse than just an extra pound or two. Guilt hurts your heart and makes a positive outlook more difficult.

If you carry the sense of continuum with you in the holiday season, it may help you to steer an even keel through these difficult seas. First, when you are at a party with ‘a spread,’ snack on the carrots instead of the chips. You can work on filling your belly that way and not jam in a bunch of empty calories. Second, if you do overindulge try to eat light the next day. Give your system a chance to reset and find normality. Remember the continuum. Strive for balance. Third, keep portion sizes in mind. You can enjoy the taste of something without eating a plate full of it.

Finally, keep active. Don’t let your exercise program slip. Two reasons: It will help you to burn excess calories and your body needs to work every day. Use it or lose it is the irrefutable law of the body.

I hope this helps you to enjoy the holidays a little more and feel a little less guilty about your eating.

Tony

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How to Lose Weight Using Portion Control

I have run into a number of old friends over the course of the last year and each was surprised to see how thin I have become. In March of 2010, the beginning of this blog, I weighed 165 pounds which was my lowest and best weight in more than 20 years. I thought I had finally achieved weight control and my correct weight. Prior to that I weighed closer to 180 pounds.

This was my idea of a ‘serving’ of pasta. No wonder I was always overweight.

Over the course of the past couple of years, I have found out how very much I didn’t know about the subject. When we started the blog, I began reading about various weight loss techniques. One of the first I encountered was portion control and serving size. I was already counting calories, but I had no feeling at all for portion control. My idea of one serving was the amount I would serve myself. For example, pasta. I love pasta and eat it regularly. Prior to working on the blog, my idea of a serving of pasta was a plateful of it. (See photo).
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How Do I Handle a Bad Eating Habit?

For much of my life, I have had eating habits which were not healthy. I love pastries. Back before I ‘got religion’ writing this blog I would think nothing of eating a scone for dessert. This was following a meal of 1500 or more calories. It is no surprise that I ballooned up at my worst to the 220 pound area with a plus 40 inch waist. You can read about How I lost 50 pounds in 52 weeks.

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These days I clock-in around 150 pounds and sport a waistline in the low 30 inch range. But I still love pastries in general and scones in particular. The difference is that I don’t eat one for dessert after a big meal. However, I still eat them and maintain my girlish figure.

What’s the trick? The photograph is one of my scones. It comes from a little coffee house in Chicago called The 3rd Coast. They make them there, so it is impossible to get a good calorie count. The scone weighs more than 8 ounces and is loaded with scrumptious dark chocolate chips. I am guessing that a single scone must total close to 500 calories. The Lose it! app puts the Jamba Juice Orange Chocolate scone at 380 calories.

So, how can I enjoy eating a sinful delight like this and still maintain my weight? Well, I have altered my eating habit as follows. I take the scones home and cut each one into at least quarters or fifths. I take one section and put it in the toaster oven while wrapping up the remainder for another day. It toasts up lovely and I am able to enjoy several luscious bites every day without packing on a lot of empty calories or fats or feeling bloated and overfed afterward. I figure I am getting around 100 to 125 calories instead of the 500 I used to consume.

You might consider something like this yourself with a particularly tasty, but empty-calorie-dense, treat that you enjoy. That way, you don’t have to white knuckle it by abstaining completely. You simply have to learn to savor it and be satisfied with some but not all of it.

So now you know a way to halve your cake and eat it too.

Tony

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Bigger is not Better where Food is Concerned – CDC

Bigger is not better! The average restaurant meal is four — 4 — yes, FOUR — times larger than it was in the 1950s. The average adult is now 26 pounds heavier than 60 years ago.

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The Centers for Disease Control has released this wonderful graphic on how  portion sizes have gotten completely out of control.

As we say regularly here on the blog: Eat less; move more; live longer.

For more on Portion Control check out my Page – How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off.

Tony

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The Washington Post offers Food for Thought

Food is fuel. It isn’t the escape from our problems and stressors. In fact, if we fight stress with food we end up increasing our problems as we increase our weight and waist lines.

Jennifer LaRue Huget writes “Eat, Drink and be Healthy” regularly for the Washington Post.

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Bowl of cheese puffs

In one very interesting column she talks about some of her issues with what she calls ‘downsizing.’ I wanted to share a couple of paragraphs here that I think really sum up the situation beautifully for all and each of us.

“When you learn, as I recently have, to start regarding food as fuel for your activities and not as a shield from life’s difficulties, you’re forced to start facing the things you were using food to hide from.

“That means having the unsettling discussions you’d been avoiding, fighting the fights you’d just as soon have skipped. It means sitting down at the computer and doing your work instead of buying time with a big bowl of popcorn. And it means staring down fears, working to resolve nagging problems instead of hushing them with a chocolate bar.

“None of that has been fun. It’s so much easier to dive into a bag of Cheez Doodles (or, better yet, one of those big buckets of Utz Cheese Balls) and wash it down with a stack of Oreos than to figure out how you’re going to afford college for both kids.

“The thing is, though, you’ve got to confront all those issues eventually. And it is much easier to do so once you’ve gained the confidence that comes with finally being in control of your weight.”

Food for thought. Eat less; move more; live longer.

Tony

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What About Maintaining My Weight While Traveling?

I think it takes a special focus to be successful eating while traveling and not pack on any pounds.

I am currently in Las Vegas. I would be on vacation if I were stlll working, but I am retired, so I guess this qualifies as just traveling. My girlfriend still works, however, so it is a vacation for her.

In any event, I had to write this having just experienced an amazing breakfast. We are staying at Caesars Palace. Serendipity 3 is one of the hotel restaurants. The food is good, but the servings are brobdingnagian. I love that word. If you aren’t familiar with it, it comes from Gulliver’s Travels and refers to anything colossal in size. That’s what our breakfasts today were.

The cup dwarfed the spoon

The cup dwarfed the spoon

I hope the photos I shot with my iPhone get the point across. The coffee cup held at least 12 ounces, maybe 16. You can see how it dwarfs the spoon. But the main culprit was the main course. I ordered two eggs over easy with pork sausages and dry rye toast. I consider this a nice healthy meal. The plate was a good 13 inches in diameter. So, it held a LOT of food. The sausages were probably an inch in diameter. Even the toast was about 1-1/2 times normal size and thickness.

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I mention this because while traveling, sitting down to eat meals is kind of a celebration and I think you need to defend yourself against getting carried away in the moment.

I managed to finish the eggs, but left one whole sausage. I had some strawberry jam on a half slice of toast, but ended up leaving one entire slice, also. Nonetheless, I really felt full to bursting when we finished. I think even though I didn’t finish I had managed an assault on my digestive system.

The point of all this is that I felt I had to discipline myself not to ‘clean my plate.’ I always hate to waste food, especially in a restaurant where I am paying premium prices, but I concluded it would have been more damaging to me to finish that huge serving. I really didn’t want to waist the food either.

Tomorrow, we will be eating a more modest breakfast.

Tony

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7 Five Minute Dinners Nutritionists Eat – Infographic

We haven’t heard much from Mr. Lazy Cook lately, but this infographic is right up his alley. Some very simple and healthy food combos here. The simple illustrations suggest nice portion sizes, too.

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Tony

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