Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Boo! . . . or Boo Hoo?

Here’s what’s really scary about Halloween. We’ve chosen a sample of favorite Halloween candy, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that one person could (would?) eat this much in one day (or one night) if it’s sitting there in the “treat bowl” or if you happen to be raiding your child’s treat bag.

20 pieces of candy corn

2 Hershey’s Kisses

2 Brach’s caramels

1 mini Tootsie Roll

1 Fun-size candy bar (Milky Way, Butterfinger, Snickers)

1 mini bite-size candy bar (Milky Way, Butterfinger, Snickers)

1 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

1 Fun Size M&M packet

Total calories: 515

Think of the above as little fat bombs, with almost no nutritional value and a ton of calories. To burn off those 515 calories you will need to walk 5.15 miles or 10,260 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps. And, Halloween candy isn’t just a “one-night stand.” The tempting bowls are probably already out, tempting you to have “just one more” as you pass by. Then, after Halloween, your evil co-workers will bring in their leftover candy—all those small, colorful, innocent-looking treats.

It’s true that just a few pieces of Halloween candy won’t derail your long-term weight loss efforts, but it’s the “just one more” temptation that over time will pack on the pounds.

Scared yet? It only takes nine small fun-size candy bars to put on a quarter-pound of fat.

For a few “helpful hints,” be sure to check out our new “Get Me Through the Holidays” pdf, and the annual “Here Come the Holidays” poster on our website. They contain some “food for thought” that won’t pile on the pounds.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Walking Pill?

If you could just put it in a pill, walking would be the most popular prescription in the world. Why? The benefits—it’s free, you can do it any time, any place, and it’s really good for you. And with the holidays (and their common 2 to 5 pounds of weight gain) looming, now’s a great time to start. Walking will help:

· Control your blood pressure

· Boost LDL (good cholesterol) and lower HDL (bad cholesterol)

· Reduce stroke and heart attack risk

· Reduce risk of breast cancer

· Reduce risk of type 2 diabetes (cut the risk in half!) and if you have type 2 diabetes, walking helps keep it under control

· Control weight

· Lower risk for gallstone surgery

· Protect against hip fracture

· And—there’s more. A brisk walk can elevate your mood, improve sleep, lower stress level, relieve arthritis and back pain, and strengthen muscles, bones and joints

Walking briskly for one mile in 15 minutes burns about the same number of calories as jogging an equal distance in 8.5 minutes. And walking an extra 20 minutes each day will burn off 7 pounds of body fat per year. With each step you take, you will be helping to prevent chronic health conditions. So—isn’t it time to walk toward long-term health and wellness?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bang! Our Portion Explosion

We all know portion-sizes have increased—as have our waistlines—and we know that the growth of both are related. We know too that the reverse is true. By reducing portion size we reduce the amount we eat and therefore the amount of weight we gain.

So, we know all of this, but here are some interesting examples that sort of “bring it home.”

If we have one single cookbook, for many of us it might be a copy of “The Joy of Cooking,” first published in 1931 and still one of this country's most published cookbooks. Now, researchers from Cornell University have actually studied the recipes in “The Joy of Cooking.” The research looked at 18 recipes that have been published in each edition dating back to 1936. They found that over the years, 14 of the 18 recipes had an increase in calories—and the difference wasn’t small. The overall calories in the recipes increased by 35 percent.

Lisa Young, an adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University has studied the relationship between bigger portion sizes and bigger waistlines.

Young points out that the identical brownie recipe in the 1997 edition of the “Joy of Cooking” yields 16 brownies, while the 1975 edition yielded 30 brownies. This means the 1997 brownie is almost twice as big, thus—more calories.

And, there’s more. Young says between 1984 and 1987, just three years, the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of the NestlĂ©’s Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels package scaled down the number of cookies it makes from 100 to 60.

So, where do we put these bigger brownies and cookies? Well, on our bigger plates. The average dinner plate has increased in diameter roughly 40 percent since World War II. It stands to reason that if plates are bigger, portions grow bigger to fill them.

Are your portion sizes out of control? Do you pay attention to portion sizes for family meals? And, here’s an interesting question—what would your family say if you filled their plates with the recommended portion size (such as 2/3 cup of pasta or spaghetti—the size of a tennis ball; a 3-oz. serving of chicken, beef or fish—the size of a deck of cards; or ½ cup of mashed potatoes—the size of a computer mouse)?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Snack Attack!

Yes, it’s true, even we LoneStart guys have snack attacks. And, we’re not alone. Snacking can officially be considered our fourth meal (more for some of us) of the day. In fact, 21 percent of American meals are “snacks.” Research shows that virtually every household in the U.S. purchases some form of snack food during a visit to the grocery store. We thought you might like to know a little more about how and on what we tend to snack. And then, maybe we can all be a little more thoughtful about those snack choices when the snack attack hits us.

  • The NPD Group’s “Snacking in America” report says number one on the snack lists are “Salty Snacks,” with a 98 percent household penetration. These include chips, pretzels and cheese snacks.
  • Next come “Cookies and Chocolate Candy,” with a 95 percent household penetration.
  • Evening snacking is still most common, but morning snacking is making strong gains. In fact, snack foods replace more breakfast meals than any other meal.
  • While most snack-oriented convenience foods are eaten between meals, they are increasingly finding their way into meals as accompaniments—or replacements.
  • NPD Group also reports that most snacks are purchased more than a day ahead—just one in ten are bought within 30 minutes of consumption.

So, while we snack our way through the day, we might want to keep in mind what “Mom” used to say about “not spoiling our appetites.” We might also keep in mind that a day of snacking adds up to a lot of empty calories.

It pains us to end on this note, but it takes the length of a football field to walk off the calories in one single M&M.