Eating regualr meals makes it easier to control food chocies

Breakfast Myth: Skipping Breakfast to Save Calories

This blog was written for the Bell Institute for Health and Nutrition. You can read the original post here.

After writing my last post about Making Time for Breakfast I realized it covered just one of several reasons given by clients for not eating in the morning. Since there are so many others I thought it would be useful to put together a short series on the Top Myths for Not Eating Breakfast.

Many people believe that if they do not eat breakfast they will consume fewer calories by the end of the day and lose weight. This is one of those ideas that looks good on paper, but might not work out as planned.
Besides all of the nutritional benefits of eating breakfast, starting the day with a meal may help improve weight management. In fact, it is one of the most common behaviors shared by the 10,000+ people who make up the National Weight Control Registry.
In reality, this belief in “calorie saving” can sabotage the unknowing dieter and can even lead to weight gain and frustration. Here are the proof points needed to help you dispel the myth that skipping breakfast= weight loss.
BELIEF
I will eat less by the end of the day.
REALITY
A recent study suggests that those who skip breakfast may end up eating more when they finally eat, and could make less healthy, more high-caloric choices.
BELIEF
Not eating for 15 hours or more will make me lose weight faster.
REALITY
Your metabolism is likely regulated by the amount of fuel supplied to it throughout the day. Choosing not to refuel after an overnight fast, may slow down your metabolic rate and affect weight loss.
BELIEF
I like to have plenty of calories left at the end of the day so I can eat all I want.
REALITY
Hunger is a signal from your body that lets you know you need to eat. You also get a signal that tells you when you’ve had enough so you can stop when you are satisfied. If you learn to respond to these two internal cues, you will be less likely to eat for other “external” reasons and may have an easier time managing your weight.
Learn how to avoid overeating at buffets even if the sign says all-you-can-eat

How to Avoid Overeating at Buffets

This post was written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original post here.

LEARN HOW TO AVOID OVEREATING AT BUFFETS EVEN IF THE SIGN SAYS ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT!

The one question every client who has ever been on a cruise or stayed in an all-inclusive resort has asked before booking the next one is: “How can I avoid overeating at buffets?” Their concern is justified. Any dining establishment that promotes “all-you-can-eat” does not have your best interests in mind.

The whole idea of eating unlimited amounts of food is just plain wrong.

I avoid those places like a failed health inspection sign. But every so often I find myself in a buffet line. It may be the only (or fastest) option for breakfast in a hotel when I’m traveling for business. Or it could be a wedding or other affair where quests are asked to serve themselves from long tables decorated with food.

Unless you know this is going to be your last meal, there’s no need to stuff yourself. Fortunately, research has been done to help identify the traps that can lead us to overeat and the steps that can help slow us down.

Tips to Avoid Overeating at Buffets

Location:

  • Select a table as far away from the buffet as possible. The longer it takes to make a return trip, the fewer of them you are likely to make, and the more obvious you feel as you pass through the dining room.
  • Take a seat at the table that does not face the buffet. Seeing what others are taking increases the chances you will feel compelled to get your share.
  • Take the inside seat in a booth so you have to ask someone to move in order to get out.

Food Options:

  • Walk past each table and serving station before taking a plate. Since you don’t get a menu at a buffet, think of this as a virtual menu. Decide what you would take if you could only sample 3 things, and start with those items, even if it’s a chunk of cheese, a fried oyster and gooey dessert. If that satisfies you, the meal is over!
  • Use a small plate to take tasting portions of anything else you’re interested in. You can go back for more if you love it, and should not don’t finish it if you don’t.
  • Plan to eat in courses and serve yourself only one course at a time just as you would be served if ordering from an a la carte menu. As you become satisfied you can opt to stop eating without having piles of food in front of you.
  • Place food on your dinner plate as if you were serving someone else and wanted to make it look appetizing. Don’t pile one thing on top of another.
  • Skip anything you can have anytime, like a plain dinner roll or baked ziti. There’s no need to consume any extra calories.

Social Skills:

  • Pace your alcohol consumption so you don’t lose your inhibitions about the food.
  • Engage in conversation while at the table to help slow down your speed of eating. The more time that passes, the more likely your satiety signals will kick in.
  • If others from your table are still on line, wait for them to return before sitting down to eat.
  • Wait for a server to clear the plates you are finished with before getting up for more food.
  • Don’t worry about “wasting” food by not finishing what’s on your plate. It is a far greater waste to eat something you don’t like, want or need.

And for help when eating in restaurants without a buffet, see Calories Control Means Weight Control When Eating Out.

A new study on behaviors that aid weight loss found keeping a food journal is number one

Proof: Keeping a Food Journal Aids Weight Loss

This post was written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original post here.

A NEW STUDY ON BEHAVIORS THAT AID WEIGHT LOSS FOUND KEEPING A FOOD JOURNAL IS NUMBER ONE

When it comes to weight loss, any diet that results in caloric reduction will do the job. But if you’re looking for the best results, keeping a food journal can make the difference. That, along with not skipping meals or eating lunch at restaurants too often.

Those are some of the findings from new research done at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The aim of the study was to identify behaviors that support caloric reduction in a population of sedentary, obese and overweight postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 75.

The researchers monitored 123 women for one year who were randomly assigned to either the ‘diet only’ arm of the study or the ‘exercise plus diet’ option. They looked at the impact of a wide range of self-monitoring strategies, diet-related behaviors and meal patterns on weight change in the subjects.

At the end of the study participants in both groups lost an average of 10 percent of their starting weight. But those who kept food records lost the most — approximately 6 pounds more than women who did not keep records.

Skipping meals also affected results. Women who skipped the most meals lost about 8 pounds less than those who did not skip. Going out for lunch was another behavior that impacted weight loss. Those who ate lunch out in a restaurant at least once a week lost about 5 pounds less than those who went out for lunch less often. Eating out regularly for breakfast or supper were also linked to less weight loss, but lunch had the biggest difference on weight.

This research reinforces something I have seen work over and over again in my clinical practice. Throughout the 25 years I was seeing clients, those who keep the best food records lost the most weight and kept it off the longest – women and men, young and old alike. I’ve included this advice in my blogs, too.

Where you keep your record does not matter. It can be done in a simple blank note pad or detailed food journal template, in a computer tracking program or voice activated phone app. What matters is what you report.

Tips for Keeping a Food Journal

Honesty: Record everything you put into your mouth and swallow. Don’t leave out anything whether it was just a nibble or had no calories, like a diet drink. Make it your goal to record everything you eat and drink, period.

Accuracy: Get quantifiable information about the amount you are eating or drinking whenever you can by measuring or weighing the portion you take, counting the items, or reading the label to determine what is the serving size. The more you do this, the better you will be at estimating when you have to.

Thoroughness: Include descriptive information about how the food was prepared, what condiments were used, any sauces or gravy added, and any special features such as low fat, reduced sodium, sugar free, etc. Ask questions when eating out if you’re not sure how something was made or what it was made with.

Consistency: Continue your record-keeping when you are away from home so you can enter information as soon as you eat or drink something, even if you must use the back of a receipt until you can transfer it to your permanent record. Don’t rely on your memory.

I have been keeping a food journal every day since I was in college studying to become a dietitian and my weight has not changed other than when I was pregnant. Has anyone else been keeping a food journal that long?

The American diet has not improved with access to more food and nutrition information than ever before

Why is the American Diet So Bad?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original blog here.

THE AMERICAN DIET HAS NOT IMPROVED EVEN WITH ACCESS TO MORE FOOD AND NUTRITION INFORMATION THAN EVER BEFORE

The American diet is not good, and I think I know why. It’s not because we don’t know what’s good for us, can’t afford the good stuff, or can’t get enough of it.

We have access to the most abundant and consistent food supply in the world. There is more information available to us about the composition of our food and how and where it’s grown than ever before. And we have more knowledge about our nutritional needs throughout the lifecycle and how different foods impact our health than at any other time in history.

Still, we struggle to eat right. I believe it boils down to three very fundamental things that determine virtually all of our food choices, regardless of what we know, read or hear about food and nutrition. They are Taste, Time, and Talent. Until we can conquer their influence over our eating habits there is little reason to believe we’ll eat any better in the next 35 years than we did in the last.

Taste Rules

Taste is the number one factor influencing food choice. Year after year consumer surveys tell us this.

Food manufacturers know it, so they market products that taste good to us. That’s why national brands and franchises do so well. They deliver what we want the way we like it every time.

This makes perfect sense when you consider how much food and money is wasted when you buy products that have the best nutrition score or lowest price or fewest ingredients on the label, but no one in your family likes them. People eat what they like. Always have, always will.

Time Crunch

The next factor I believe is controlling our diets is the amount of time we are willing to spend on getting food and eating it. Most people can’t find 30 minutes a day. I spend around 12 hours a week. That’s 2 hours for shopping and storing food and about 1.5 hours a day preparing it, eating, and cleaning up.

If you can’t shop for your own food, prepare it, and portion it out for yourself you are left with short cuts that can easily undermine your good intentions. Eating out, buying take-out, and using prepared and convenience foods do save time, but often lead to compromises on the quality, cost, and quantity that you eat. Yet no matter how little time you have, you won’t be disappointed with the taste, because we only buy what we like.

Limited Talent

The final factor that keeps us from eating well is limited talent in the kitchen. Ironically, the rise in food and nutrition information over the past three decades has been matched by a decline in basic cooking skills. Yes, there are plenty of cooking shows and celebrity chefs to show us how, but most Americans do not have the confidence to properly select and prepare food for themselves and their family.

When you don’t know how to cook (or don’t like to cook or have time to cook), you cannot take advantage of all the best nutritional values in the grocery store, healthy meal planning advice, or cost-saving tips available. Just like folks who are short on time, you will rely on restaurants, take-out, prepared and convenience foods to get most of your meals. And all that good dietary information will take a back seat.

This doesn’t mean there is no hope for improving the way Americans eat. But I do think we have to start looking for different solutions. Maybe a pill that alters taste preferences, a shorter work week, and mandatory home economics classes for all students?

Who taught you to cook, and who have you taught?

Other posts on this topic:

  • Being Busy Interferes with Eating Regular Meals
  • Fast Food May Hurt Us in More Ways Than One
Parents can play a major role in preventing childhood obesity

Childhood Obesity: 5 Things Every Parent Should Know

This post was written as a guest blog for Family Goes Strong. You can read the original post here.

PARENTS CAN PLAY A MAJOR ROLE IN PREVENTING CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the United States over the past 30 years. It affects children in every state and from every socioeconomic group. As of 2008, more than one-third of children and adolescents in the U.S. were overweight or obese.

When a problem becomes that prevalent there is a danger of not taking it as seriously as we should. But the risks of obesity are too great to ignore. Preventing excess weight gain in children may be the most important way we can protect their health and quality of life.

With more than 30 years of experience helping families deal with childhood obesity, I know there is no simple solution to this problem. But there are some things every parent should know as they consider their options.

5 Things You Need to Know About Childhood Obesity

1. Your child’s relationship with food is established in the first five years of life

When solid foods are first introduced to a child between the ages of 4 and 6 months, they begin their relationship with food. For the next year parents must learn to interpret the subtle signals their children use to express how hungry they are and what they like until they can tell you themselves. The goal is to allow the child’s internal sensation of hunger to govern how often and how much they eat. Their evolving taste preferences should allow them to accept and refuse different foods without threat of punishment or reward. If this is done consistently, in an eating environment where no bias or judgment is expressed about any food, children will grow to trust their feelings of hunger and appetite by the time they start school.

2. What is eaten at home is more important than what is served at school

Children spend far more time eating at home or out with their parents than they do in school. What children experience during meals with their family is far more important than the institutional feeding that goes on in schools. If parents don’t like the selections available on school menus, they can pack a lunch for their child to eat instead. But if a child is being exposed to new foods in the cafeteria that are not available at home, they have no choice but to eat what is served at home.

3. Weight loss in parents is the biggest predictor of children’s weight loss

A recent study looked at 80 parent-child sets with an overweight or obese 8-12 year old in each. The participants were assigned to one of three different programs to help their child lose weight. Features of the three programs included having the parents change the home food environment, limit what the child ate, and lose weight themselves. The researchers found parents’ weight loss was the only significant predictor of children’s weight loss. These results are consistent with other research showing how important the example set by parents is to successful weight loss in their children.

4. Genetics are a factor in obesity, but age of onset is more important

There is no test we can take at birth to tell us who will become overweight or obese as an adult. If one or both parents are obese, that does increase a child’s risk of also becoming obese, but it is not inevitable. Research from the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center of Cincinnati found that being obese during the teen years is a stronger indicator of who will be obese in adulthood than being obese in early childhood, regardless of whether the parents were obese. Preventing obesity in adolescents is one of the best ways to prevent obesity in adults.

5. Treat overweight and obesity in your child as a health concern, not an image problem

All children need to learn how the food they eat and their level of activity can affect their health. The conversation should be the same for an overweight child and one who is not, just like talking about the importance of wearing seatbelts and getting immunized. When the focus is on staying healthy, not appearance, your child is less likely to develop emotional issues about their weight.

8 Ways to Lose Weight This Spring

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the blog here.

The cold and dark winter months make it easy to gain unwanted weight. We’re less likely to be active outdoors and find ourselves tempted by all the leftovers from those food-filled winter holidays when stuck indoors. Use these 8 ways to lose weight with the start of spring so you can be back in shape by summer.

Plant a Garden

Planting your own vegetables and herbs in a small garden plot or individual containers helps you shed your winter weight in two ways. First you’ll get the exercise of tilling the soil and pulling the weeds, then you’ll reap the benefits of your harvest – nutritious, low calorie plants you can enjoy all summer long.See related story: Health Benefits of Starting a Garden

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Clean the Cupboards

Losing the weight you’ve gained over the winter months is easier when your cupboards are free of the “high calorie clutter” still on the shelves. Be sure to remove anything that remains from your secret stash of Halloween candy, Christmas cookies and Valentine’s chocolates to begin your spring cleaning. See related story: Kitchen Makeover Means a Healthier Diet in the New Year

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Buy More Berries

Spring is the start of berry season, and with it the chance to load up on these delicious little fruits that have so many benefits in very few calories. Their high fiber content helps keep you satisfied longer while their phytonutrients lower the risk for cancer, heart disease and stroke.

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Use Paper Plates

Switching to a 9 inch paper plate for dinner is a great way to reduce the portion sizes you eat. Try it for a month to retrain your eye to recognize more appropriate serving sizes. You can also use an 8 ounce paper cup and 12 ounces bowl to replace the bigger cups and bowls you normally use. See related story: Serving Size, Portion Size, and Body Size Are All Connected

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Start a Diary

Keeping a record of everything you eat and drink, and how much, is a tried and true method to control overeating. It makes you pay attention to each bite you take when you know you have to write it in your diary. See related story: Keeping Track of Food, Calories & Fitness Just Got Easier!

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Specialize in Salads

If all you think of when you hear the word salad is a boring toss of iceberg lettuce and tasteless tomatoes, think again. There are endless combinations of colorful and crunchy vegetables that can be combined with lean protein sources and topped with flavorful dressings to make satisfying entrée salads that are anything but boring. See related story: Celebrate National Salad Month With Easy, Healthy, Delicious, Salads

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Practice Good Posture

A much overlooked way to burn more calories is to stand instead of sit. Every minute you spend standing uses more energy than sitting, so take advantage of this practical way to lose excess weight. By adjusting your posture when you stand you can also improve your muscle tone and balance. See related story: Sitting Too Much Raises the Risk of Dying Sooner

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Sleep Like a Baby

Research has shown that people who do not get enough sleep consume more calories than they need and have slower metabolisms. There are no short cuts to a good night’s sleep. It’s essential to good health and maintaining a healthy weight. See related story: Tired All the Time? 11 reasons Why (Besides Lack of Sleep)

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The amount of alcohol many people drink is more than they realize

How Much Alcohol Do You Really Drink?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so I have copied the original blog here.

SERVING SIZES FOR DRINKS CONTAINING ALCOHOL ARE SMALLER THAN MOST PEOPLE REALIZE

Drinking beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages can be good for you. But like every other dietary guideline, the benefits are tied very closely to how big the serving is and how often you have it. In fact, when it comes to alcoholic beverages, the difference between the right dose and an overdose can be lethal.

So rather than reviewing the potential health benefits of including alcohol in your diet, I want to deal directly with the issue of quantity.

How much alcohol is in one drink?

A “standard” drink in the United States is one that contains 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol, which is 14 grams. Different alcoholic beverages have different “proof,” or alcohol concentration, so the serving sizes that provide that 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol differ.

Regular beer is only 5% alcohol so you get that “standard” serving of 0.6 grams of pure alcohol in 12 ounces of beer. Table wine is 12% alcohol so a 5 ounce serving of wine will supply 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. Distilled spirits, or what is commonly called “hard liquor,” are typically 40% alcohol so a “standard” drink of whiskey, rye, or gin is just 1.5 ounces.

How many drinks are in one bottle?

Beer sold in bottles and cans clearly indicates the volume. The most common size is 12 ounces. A pub glass of beer holds 16 ounces, which is also called a “pint” of beer.

A bottle of wine contains 750 milliliters (ml), which is a little more than 25 fluid ounces. That means you should get five 5 ounce portions out of a bottle if you’re drinking “standard” servings.

To see what 5 ounces looks like in your wine glasses, fill a fluid measuring cup with 5 ounces of water and pour it into the different shaped wine glasses you have. That will also help you estimate the amount of wine you’ve been served when drinking it away from home since all wine glasses are not the same.

Another “handy” reference is the “two finger” gauge. That is the amount of wine in a glass that is no higher than the width of your pointer and index finger when put together.

A 750 ml bottle of 80 proof spirits, also called a “fifth,” holds 17 standard servings or 1.5 ounce shots. Shot glasses are not all the same size and most have no indication on them of how many ounces they hold. Their capacity can range from one ounce to three ounces or more. If you want to know how much you’re getting when using your own shot glasses, fill them with water and transfer the water to a graduated liquid measuring cup with ounce and half ounce markings to check the volume.

Since mixed drinks contain more than one alcoholic ingredient, you need to follow a recipe to know exactly how many shots or ounces of each were used. But when you’re out, you’re at the mercy of a fast moving bartender!

Are you drinking more than you thought if you use these standard serving sizes to count your drinks?

Good nutritional values can be found in the interior of your grocery store.

Healthy Eating on a Budget

YOU CAN STILL MAKE HEALTHY FOOD PURCHASES WHILE CONTROLLING YOUR FOOD BUDGET

Finding healthy foods to eat while sticking to a tight budget is not a difficult as you may think. Grocery stores circulars feature deeply discounted items each week to attract customers and good values can be found in every aisle all year round if you know what to look for.

The hard part is changing your shopping list to match what’s on sale or a good bargain. But if you’re trying to save money and eat well, it can be done. Let me show you how.

The biggest myth handicapping people who want to shop smart on a budget is the notion that all of the best foods are found on the perimeter of the store. That’s simply not true! Perishable foods that have high turnover and need to be closer to receiving docks or refrigerated storage areas are around the perimeter.

For example, fresh produce is found on the perimeter. Good deals can often be found on seasonal produce, but fresh is not always best. It is, however, more expensive, other than staples like potatoes, onions and carrots whose prices don’t vary much. Fresh produce becomes even more expensive it spoils before you eat it.

Frozen and canned vegetables and fruit, dried fruit, and canned or bottled 100% fruit and vegetable juices offer good nutrition at a good price every week of the year. Why not replace a green salad with a bean salad using canned lima, kidney and string beans or combine fresh carrots with canned pineapple for another low cost salad option?

Fresh meats, poultry, eggs and milk products are also found on the perimeter walls of the store. It is worth taking advantage of sale items in the meat case if you have the freezer space to store them when you get home. Fresh eggs remain one of the best nutritional values in the store at 20 cents apiece, while individual containers of flavored yogurt are among the worst. It’s far more economical to buy a quart of plain low fat or fat free yogurt and add a spoonful of jam.

You can build everyday menus around the good values found in the interior of the store if you by-pass the more costly versions packaged for convenience, and stick to the basics. These include:

  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Oatmeal
  • Yellow cornmeal
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Bagged dry beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned salmon
  • Sardines
  • Evaporated milk
  • Nonfat powdered milk
  • Canola oil
  • Whole wheat flour

Of course, you must be willing to learn some new cooking skills and a few new recipes so you can prepare things from scratch, but that provides further nutritional benefits. It’s worth it if you want to make an investment in your health and your wallet at the same time!

How are you saving money at the grocery store?

Follow these rules to avoid overeating when ordering off restaurant menus.

Save Calories When Ordering Off Restaurant Menus

FOLLOW THESE RULES TO SAVE CALORIES AND AVOID OVEREATING WHEN ORDERING OFF RESTAURANT MENUS

Who doesn’t enjoy the convenience of sitting down in a restaurant and ordering whatever we want off the menu? Apparently most of us do since one third of our meals are eaten away from home.

I covered the downside of splurging over the holidays in a previous blog, but dining out provides an opportunity to over eat all year round. The price we pay is not just rung up at the register. We give up a significant measure of control over the source of the food, how it’s prepared and how much is served to us. And that’s not good.

The only recourse is to follow some rules when you place your order to regain control over what arrives on your plate. It takes a lot more self-control to avoid eating half your meal once it’s served than to simply order wisely so the excess food is not in front of you.

These rules do not replace the need for you to order the foods that fit best into your day of eating. And they don’t ask you to give up all of the foods you love! Instead they give you some additional ways to reduce the chance of splurging when eating out, and that’s a good thing.

CALORIE-SAVING RULES FOR ORDERING OFF RESTAURANT MENUS

BREAKFAST

  • Custom Omelet Rule – Order only 2 eggs, not the customary 3, and only with vegetable add-ins.
  • Breakfast Meats or Eggs Rule – Since side orders of breakfast meats are large, skip the eggs if you really want bacon, sausage or ham.
  • Buttered Toast or Fried Potatoes Rule – Request one or the other with that omelet, egg or breakfast meat order, not both.
  • Pancakes or Toast Rule – No contest, if you’re not ordering pancakes as your breakfast, don’t add them to an egg order.

LUNCH

  • Cheese or Meat Rule – Think Kosher and try not to combine cheese with meat on sandwiches, pizza or burgers. Let sliced tomatoes, onions or mushrooms take its place.
  • 50% Burger or Fries Rule – Split one or the other, but don’t eat a full order of both.
  • No More Than One Fried Food Rule – If you must order something fried, don’t have anything else in your meal fried. That means the traditional “fish and chips” is out.
  • Wet or Dry Salad Rule – The bigger the salad, the more dressing it takes to wet it down. If you’re having an entree salad, be prepared to use just lemon juice, no calorie dressing or wet vegetables to partially moisten it.

DINNER

  • Cocktail or Carbs Rule – For each alcoholic drink you order, be prepared to eliminate a serving of carbohydrate in the form of bread, pasta, rice, potatoes or dessert.
  • Appetizer or Dessert Rule – If your add something to the beginning of your meal, don’t also add something at the end. Sharing is the only other option.
  • Bread & Butter or Dessert Rule – Like an appetizer or a cocktail, you can’t afford to add the extra calories from a basket of bread to the front end of a meal then order dessert on the tail end, too. Check the quality of the bread and the dessert menu to guide your decision.
  • Double Green Vegetable, No White Starch Rule – A double order of any sautéed vegetable will contain fewer calories than a dressed baked potato, creamy mashed potato, rice pilaf, risotto or pasta in sauce.
  • Vegetable-Only Salad Rule – A first course salad picks up a lot of extra calories for every non-vegetable item tossed into it, like dried fruit, nuts, cheese, croutons and bacon. Make sure your salads are made from garden vegetables only.

Find more helpful hints here:

Is Overeating at Christmas Just one More Way to Splurge?

Numbers matter for weight control, healthy diet and physical fitness

Weight Control, Healthy Diet and Fitness are All a Numbers Game

MAKING SURE ALL THE NUMBERS ADD UP RIGHT ARE IMPORTANT FOR WEIGHT CONTROL, A HEALTHY DIET AND PHYSICAL FITNESS

I’ve written about some of the important numbers involved in weight control and balanced diets before. Things like the difference between serving sizes and portion sizes and the grams of protein you need each day. But there are more numbers you need to know for good nutrition and physical fitness. Many more.

Unfortunately, self-control and mindful eating are not enough. If you want to lose, gain or maintain your weight or strive for a healthier diet and fitter body, you’ve got to watch the numbers. Here are some that matter most.

Calorie level? This is based on your age, height, and weight and activity level – all important numbers to know. If you do, you can figure out your daily calorie requirement here.

Number of Food Groups? 5 + 1 + “extra calories” are what we get in the latest USDA eating guide, ChoseMyPlate.

Number of servings per day from each group? Varies based on calorie level. The ranges for adults are:

5 – 8 ounce equivalents of Grains, with at least ½ as whole grains

2 – 3 cups of Vegetables, with specific amounts per week for the 4 subgroups

1 ½ – 2 cups Fruit

3 cups Dairy

5 – 6 ½ ounce equivalents Protein Foods

5 – 7 teaspoons oils

120 – 265 Empty Calories

Serving size? Varies with each food and each food group, but includes numbers of ounces, cups, tablespoons, teaspoons and counted pieces, like 3 pancakes or 16 seedless grapes.

Amount of aerobic activity? 2 hours + 30 minutes per week at a moderate level or 1 hour + 15 minutes at a vigorous level based on the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.

Steps or Miles per day? 10,000 steps a day counted on a pedometer, which is equivalent to approximately 5 miles, can be an alternative way to get your aerobic activity according to Shape Up America!

Amount of strength conditioning? 2 days a week working all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms), with 8-12 repetitions per activity that counts as one set.

As you can see, there are many numbers involved in reaching all the goals for a healthy diet and fit body. Fortunately, if you make a habit of eating right and staying active you won’t need a calculator to get through your day!

Check these related articles to help you get your numbers to add up right.

Protein in the Diet – How Much is Enough?

Getting Enough Protein from the Foods You Eat

Serving Size, Portion Size and Body Size Are All Connected