Most people are aware that they need to cut down on their salt (sodium) intake. That’s a good start. However, some ‘facts of life’ prove extremely helpful in the lower sodium quest, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Spoiler alert: your table salt shaker isn’t the main culprit.
- Restaurant foods and commercially processed foods sold in stores accounted for about 70 percent of dietary sodium intake in a study in three U.S. regions.
- Salt added at home during food preparation or at the table accounted for a small fraction of dietary sodium.
- These findings confirm earlier recommendations from the Institute of Medicine to lower dietary sodium by decreasing the amount in commercially processed foods.
Generally I oppose the government sticking its nose into my business. However, in the case of banning trans fats, it seems to have accomplished something positive in terms of public health.
Does a public health measure such as restricting trans fats from restaurant menus really make a difference? A study published April 12th in JAMA Cardiology nods yes. Between 2007 and 2011, 11 New York State urban counties restricted the use of trans fats in public eateries including restaurants, bakeries, cafeterias, park concessions, and senior meal programs. After 3 or more years following the implementation of this restriction, the study authors found 6.2% fewer hospital admissions for cardiovascular events (stroke, heart attack) in counties with the ban when compared with 25 New York urban counties without the ban. When looking at only heart attacks, there were 7.8% fewer hospital admissions. The results were similar for men and women. Continue reading
This should come as no surprise to anyone who ventures in to fast food eateries or even regular restaurants.
People who frequently cook meals at home eat healthier and consume fewer calories than those who cook less, according to new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research.
“When people cook most of their meals at home, they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all — even if they are not trying to lose weight,” says Julia A. Wolfson, MPP, a CLF-Lerner Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and lead author of the study.
The findings also suggest that those who frequently cooked at home — six-to-seven nights a week — also consumed fewer calories on the occasions when they ate out.
Wolfson presented the research at the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La., on November 17. The study was published online in the journal Public Health Nutrition.
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 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
Yesterday I published what I consider to be one of the best examples of portion control that I have seen. As I have mentioned time and again, I am in my fourth year of success at controlling my weight and writing this blog. The major tool in that pursuit was the learning of portion control.
That’s why I thought this wonderful illustration which shows another way to look at portion control – through its distortion – would be helpful to you.
If you check out my Page – How to lose weight – and keep it off you will find further guidelines on protecting yourself for the attack of the calories on your weight and waistline.
Here is a super rundown from the American Diabetes Association on how portions have become distorted over the years.
Good luck in your New Year’s pursuit of weight control. I know you can do it.
Being in my fourth year of writing this blog on good nutrition and living longer, I have lots of rules floating around in my head that I follow. I am sure that you also have a lot of rules that you follow to a greater or lesser extent. So, I was intrigued when I saw the post by Janet Helm, MS, RD, on WebMD suggesting that she had six nutrition rules ‘worth breaking.’
Here is her first one verbatim.
“1. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and stay out of the middle.
You’ll often hear this advice to help steer people away from processed foods. It’s true that the produce aisle, fresh meats, dairy and other “whole foods” are typically in the outer sections of a supermarket, but I think there are plenty of cart-worthy options up and down the middle of the grocery store. What about packages of whole-grain pastas, bags of brown rice or quinoa, nuts, canned beans, reduced-sodium soups, frozen vegetables and dried fruit? You won’t find these convenient, nutrient-rich items in a store’s perimeter.
In my opinion, we need to give families reasonable options and make it simple and doable. If we make the ideal so lofty, it doesn’t seem attainable. I think it’s more valuable to provide ideas on how to evaluate choices in those middle aisles instead of telling people to avoid them entirely. Plus, a lot of supermarkets are not even organized that way anymore, so the rule doesn’t always hold true.”
This is the kind of clear thinking that makes for positive results.
The other rules worth breaking included:
2. Fresh is best.
3. If it’s white, don’t bite.
4. Ban the salt shaker from the table.
5. Pass on pale produce.
6. Choose the ‘healthy’ option.
Check out her reasoning on each of these at the link above. I think you will find that it stands up well and it may give you some helpful insights into your own weight control program.
Remember, healthy eating is healthy aging.
I write about healthy eating all the time. Also, most folks think about what they are eating – to some extent. But, we have 60 percent of us overweight and 30 percent obese. Another 10 percent has Type 2 diabetes, a preventable and ruinous disease that stems from inactivity and poor nutrition. Obviously, we need help with our eating, whether routine or on a special diet.
Harvard Medical School offered the following two tips:
“To really optimize your diet, keep these two additional tips in mind.
1. Limit liquid sugars. Soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages can deliver up to 12 teaspoons of sugar in a single serving, with no other useful nutrients. These beverages offer no health or nutritional benefits. Worse, regular consumption of these drinks can increase your chances of becoming obese or developing diabetes — both of which raise your risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions. Unsweetened coffee or tea or sparkling water are better choices.”
I have written repeatedly about the dangers of sugary as well as diet sodas. Love hearing it backed up by Harvard. Also, regarding the 12 teaspoons of sugar mentioned above. Remember, a teaspoon of sugar amounts to just over four grams. I offer that conversion because the amount of sugar is usually listed in grams and if you don’t know how many grams in a teaspoon, you might not realize how much sugar you are getting.
That teaspoon of sugar weighs just over 4 grams.
I guess this would have to be filed in the Something We Need Like Another Hole in the Head Department. Wrigley, a subsidiary of Mars, Inc., has launched a chewing gum with 40 milligrams of caffeine per piece and 8 pieces per box. The average cup of coffee has 100 mg, so just one of these amounts to 40 percent of a cup of coffee.
As you can see from the ad, the product is being advertised for free at 7-Eleven with the purchase of a Skinny Salted Caramel Mocha or other large hot — and presumably caffeinated— beverage! I was not able to nutritional info on this drink, nor the amount of caffeine.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) pointed out that The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the consumption of caffeine and other stimulant substances in the diets of children and adolescents. Too much caffeine can cause anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and insomnia in just about anyone, according to CSPI.
The release is perfectly timed to come out right around final exam time for kids everywhere.
Large amounts of caffeine can cause rapid heartbeat and seizures that are severe enough to require emergency care. While the FDA has regulations governing caffeine in cola-type beverages, those regulations did not anticipate the widespread caffeination of the food supply.
As I oppose Red Bull and all those other stimulant drinks, I have to say this gumming up chewing gum idea really takes the cake. The opportunities for getting too much caffeine are rife. If you were to take all eight pieces you would have chewed up 320 mg of caffeine, more than three cups of coffee with caffeine.
These are a dangerous idea for adults and reckless for kids.
WASHINGTON–Ground beef and chicken are by far the riskiest meat and poultry products in the American food supply and pose the greatest likelihood of hospitalization, according to a new report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Furthermore, according to the nonprofit group’s analysis of more than 33,000 cases of food borne illness connected to products regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, chicken nuggets, ham, and sausage pose the lowest risk of food borne illness.
The report, Risky Meat: A Field Guide to Meat & Poultry Safety, ranks 12 categories of meat and poultry based on outbreak reports and the likelihood of hospitalizations associated with the pathogens most commonly reported in those foods. Ground beef and chicken are not only responsible for the largest numbers of outbreaks and cases of illnesses, but those illnesses tend to be more severe. The deadly bacterium E. coli O157:H7, for instance, was responsible for 100 outbreaks associated with ground beef in the 12-year study period. Because that pathogen is estimated to result in hospitalization in nearly half of those infected, ground beef had the highest severity index of the 12 meat and poultry categories. Ground beef is also connected to illnesses caused by Clostridium perfringens and Salmonella.
“Outbreaks from ground beef and chicken are reported frequently, and all too often cause debilitating illnesses—illnesses that lead to hospitalization,” said CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. “For example, approximately a quarter of those who are sickened by Salmonella will go to the hospital. The hospitalization rate for E. coli infections is nearly 50 percent and for Listeria infections it is more than 90 percent. ”
Hospitalizations caused by Salmonella put chicken in the “highest risk” category alongside ground beef. Clostridium perfringens and Norovirus also cause outbreaks associated with chicken. Campylobacter bacteria are also believed to cause a large number of individual illnesses associated with chicken but rarely cause outbreaks.
“Meat and poultry producers must bear primary responsibility for keeping pathogens out of their products, but when it comes to beef, chicken, and other raw meats, restaurateurs and home cooks must treat them like hazardous materials and take steps to minimize risk,” said CSPI senior food safety attorney Sarah Klein. “Care should be taken to avoid spreading germs from the meat around the kitchen, and meat thermometers should be used to ensure that ground beef, chicken, and other meats are fully cooked.”
I recently reblogged a post on eating healthy while traveling. What about the local traveling we all do when we decide to eat out? That can be just a trying an experience when it comes to eating healthy.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has some worthwhile ideas.
They suggest making physical activity an integral part of dining out. If you walk from home or office, you can get your meal and some minutes of physical activity and avoid parking hassles in the bargain. Walking with family or friends gives you time to chat while a stroll after dinner helps digestion.
The all important concept of portion size looms large on The Academy’s radar.
“Becoming sensible about serving sizes is an important way to maintain a healthy weight and it’s good for your wallet too.
• Instead of a large entrée, order an appetizer and a leafy green salad or choose two appetizers for a meal.
• Start with a small serving like a cup of soup, a junior burger or a small order of fries. If you are still hungry, order something else.
• Indulge your inner child: Order a kid’s meal at a fast-food restaurant. Many now offer a choice of low-fat milk and fruits or vegetables instead of fries.
• Savor your steak twice as much. Eat half at the restaurant, then take the other half home to enjoy sliced onto a green salad or as a sandwich on whole-grain bread.
• Ask for a to-go box as soon as your meal is served. Put half your food into the container for a second meal. That’s two meals for the price of one.
• Share from start to finish. Order one appetizer for the whole table and then order one dessert with multiple forks. Sometimes, just a bite or two is perfect.
• Share an entrée. You can ask your server to split the meal in the kitchen or divide it up yourselves at the table.”
There is nothing inherently wrong about eating out, you just need to be extra careful about ordering. The foregoing guidelines can help you.
Boston Market has introduced a new meal this week in the form of BBQ Ribs. The firm considers it a natural progression in the form of a ‘comfort food’ that goes with their chicken. Lots of firms offer chicken and ribs. However, Boston Market does not have fryers in their restaurants and I think most chicken and rib joints sell fried chicken along with ribs. Boston Market has specialized in the healthier oven-cooked chicken. I wonder if there may be more of a gap between the ribs and chicken than they envision.
I confess that I have a soft spot for Boston Market, having enjoyed a lot of tasty and pretty healthy meals there. When I took care of my aunt with Alzheimer’s I would pick up a turkey dinner from Boston Market for us to dine on at Thanksgiving.
The firm also boasts about 100 combinations of meals ‘under 500 calories,’ so it is possible to eat there reasonably.
Now comes the BBQ ribs. Not so healthy. Boston Market offers a half rack and a quarter rack.
Here is the nutritional breakdown for the half rack from their website:
The half rack has
Total Fat 74 Grams
Saturated Fat 29 Grams
Cholesterol 215 mg
Carbohydrates 67 Grams
Sodium 3150 mg
Sugar 58 Grams
Fiber 2 Grams
Protein 65 grams
The calories come to around half of a normal person’s plus 2000 calories per day budget. Not horrible, but you will need to watch your consumption the rest of the day.
That is a lot of fat and saturated fat. More than you need and more than recommended for a day’s consumption.
Sodium is another problem. The daily recommendation is around 2300 mg, but if you are over 50 it drops to 1500, so this is double.
The sugar at 58 grams falls just short of 12 teaspoons full. There are 4.2 grams of sugar per teaspoon.
You will be getting pretty much your entire protein allowance with the 65 grams. Might be a digestion problem, but it is all the protein the average adult needs in one day.
Keep in mind that this calorie breakdown does not include any side orders of mashed potatoes and gravy or corn bread or a beverage, so you will likely be consuming at least half of the normal man’s 2000-2200 calorie per day budget by the time you finish.
Filed under bbq ribs, Boston Market, fast food, fat, health, junk food, nutrition, portion control, portion size, salt, sodium, sugar, Weight
McDonald’s is taking a walk on the mild side with their new lower calorie Egg White Delight this spring. The total calories drop to 260 from 300 on the Egg McMuffin.
Contents include Canadian bacon (leaner than regular bacon), white cheddar cheese. The egg whites will be grilled, not fried, and served between whole grain slices. These all sound like positive steps in reducing calories and upping nutritive value.
In addition, the company will be cutting out its Chicken Selects and is considering the removal of the Angus burgers.
I have had a problem with the sugar, salt and fat content of a number of McDonald’s offerings in the past. Why You Shouldn’t Drink McDonald’s Frozen Strawberry Lemonade is an example.
In this Egg White Delight case, it sounds like they are heading in the right direction. It will be interesting to see the actual size of this. Often when fast food firms cut calorie size, they end up with a nearly bite size product. From the photo this looks like a nice hand full.
On the bright side, anything that takes a swipe at the 60 percent of the population that is overweight and 30 percent outright obese has to be a good thing.
To read more about this subject check out the Fast Food Nutrition page.
I have written a number of times about the sugar content in various foods, Why You Shouldn’t Drink McDonald’s Frozen Strawberry Lemonade is one example. The drink has 67 grams of sugar in 16 ounces. That amounts to 15 teaspoons full.
As is the case with salt, there is a lot of sugar hidden in processed foods. The key idea I try to get across here is there are 4.2 grams of sugar in a teaspoon. People read the sugar content in grams and it just doesn’t register with them.
WebMD has a nice quiz on sugar which you can take. Continue reading
You can’t go wrong eating out if you stick with chicken and turkey, right? Just beware of the big old burger.
Not so fast, says WebMD.
Panera’s Signature Chicken on Artisan French Bread
Avoid like the plague Panera’s Signature Chicken on Artisan French Bread. It “contains 830 calories, 37 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, and 2,180 mg of sodium. That’s the daily Sodium limit for healthy adults. The special sauce, bacon, and cheddar help turn chicken, a lean type of protein, into a calorie bomb. Unfortunately, many of the hot panini, signature, and café sandwiches hit the 700-900 calorie range,” WebMD says.
Panera’s Smoked Turkey on Whole Grain Bread
Filed under arterial plaque, burgers, calories, chicken, fast food, obesity, Panera Bread, Panera Chicken Sandwich, Panera Smoked Turkey, portion control, portion size, salt, saturated fat, sodium, turkey, Weight
With Lent in full swing, Wendy’s has brought back their special hand made fish sandwich. It weighs 3.4 ounces which is pretty big, by my reckoning it comes in bigger than McDonald’s fish sammy. The Wendy’s offering is also hand-cut 100 percent North Pacific Cod and covered with a panko crumb coating.
You can almost feel the chill North Pacific wind
Here is the nutritional breakdown according to Caloriecount:
Total fat 24 grams
Sat fat 4.0 grams
Cholesterol 50 mg
Sodium 980 mg
Carbohydrates 50 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Protein 17 grams
This is definitely a larger offering than McDonald’s which comes in with a total of 380 calories. You can read my full write up of the Filet-o-Fish here.
Regarding the Wendy’s offering, that’s a lot of fat for a fish sandwich. More importantly I have a problem with the 980 mg of Sodium. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say we shouldn’t consume more than 1500 mg in a day and this is 2/3 of that in one meal without a soft drink or fries being considered.
As far as taste goes, you will have to decide that for yourself. I don’t expect to be throwing my line in for one of these any time soon. I have a problem with that much fat and salt in a fish sammy, though.
Pizza claims two spots by itself, according to RealAge.
“Cheese and pizza are the No. 1 and No. 2 sources of artery-clogging saturated fat in the American diet. One slice of extra-cheesy pizza can contain as much as two-thirds of your daily saturated fat limit. Nutrition expert Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It, offers these tips to lighten up your pizza: Top it with veggies instead of pepperoni and sausage. While you’re at it, say “no” to breadsticks and “yes” to a side salad, and you’re on the way to preventing heart disease,” RealAge reported.
I thought those were some very good suggestions when ordering from the pizzeria regarding topping it with veggies instead of pepperoni and/or sausage. By all means dodge the breadsticks. Suggestions like that can take several hundred calories off the total, not to mention cutting down on the bad fats.