Thursday, October 8, 2009

Brain Snacks: A Few Nourishing Thoughts

Americans spent $11 billion last year in the self-help market. We think we’re buying solutions. We hope we’re improving ourselves. What we’re buying a lot of is—image. The image of who we want to become.

People spend a lot of time working on developing strengths, correcting weaknesses and learning new skills. And, while all of these things are valuable and necessary to realize that image of who we want to become, it's important not to forget about nourishing and investing in our own health and wellness (something we know a little about)—and we don’t need to spend anywhere close to $11 billion to do just this.

So, here are a few “brain snacks” with some nourishing tips:

  • Americans consume an average of 250 more calories per day than they did two decades ago. That's 26 extra pounds to burn off every year just to stay even.
  • People tend to eat an average of 28 percent more calories when snacking on low-fat foods. Low fat is not necessarily low calorie. When food marketers eliminate the fat, they often make up for it with sugar.
  • Americans are swallowing on average 22 teaspoons of sugar each day. Most women should be getting no more than 6 teaspoons a day, or 100 calories, of added sugar—the sweeteners and syrups that are added to foods during processing, preparation or at the table. For most men, the recommended limit is 9 teaspoons, or 150 calories.
  • A 12 oz. can of sweetened soda contains 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar that do nothing at all to satisfy hunger.
  • Just one can of soda a day can pile on 15 pounds in a single year. The average American drinks about 2 cans of soda per day. By cutting soda and those 300 calories, you could save 8,400 calories in four weeks—and lose about 2.4 pounds. And, this means you haven’t consumed the equivalent of nine cups of sugar!
  • You would have to walk 10 miles a day to lose the same weight as reducing your food intake by 1,000 calories.
  • Cutting just 100 calories per meal (as few as two to three bites) can prevent the average American’s annual two pound weight gain.
  • All calories and all fats are not created equal. Foods with good fats, such as avocados, walnuts and salmon, can be beneficial and help stave off hunger without clogging your arteries.
  • If we retain only an extra 50 calories per day, it can lead to an extra 5 pounds of weight gain per year (25 pounds in 5 years).

We can all do this much. And, at the same time we’re improving our health, we’re proving to ourselves that we have control over who and what we hope to be. You can’t buy the solution—but you can create it yourself. And that truly is a nourishing thought.

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