Making healthy choices while eating out continues to be a challenge!
A research team found when assessing 364 meals from 123 different restaurants in three average American cities that 92% exceeded the recommended calorie level for a single meal. They studied both large-chain and local restaurants. The researchers also found that a single serving, before appetizers, beverages, and dessert, often exceeded the caloric needs for a whole day!
PositiveTip: If you eat out often it may be very hard to maintain ideal weight. Beware of excessive serving sizes!
Sadly, the human brain naturally prefers high caloric-density foods.
Researchers showed pictures of different foods to healthy participants. They had to predict the caloric content of each food and bid what they'd pay for their favorite food. During bidding, researchers scanned the area of participant's brains that helps evaluate food value. Both brain activity and bid amounts were highest for high-calorie foods. Participants were poor calorie estimators, so researchers believe the brain's preferences are built implicitly through experience of what fills us up efficiently.
PositiveTip: Train your brain to prefer tasty, but lower-energy foods.
There are pitfalls to hitting the grocery store hungry.
It should come as no surprise that walking down the isle of the grocery store with an empty stomach will almost guarantee a basket full of high-calorie foods! Researchers demonstrated this in both a laboratory study of 68 participants, and a field study of 82 participants. Hungrier participants did not select more food items, but did purchase more high-calorie items.
PositiveTip: Avoid grocery shopping when you are hungry!
Children ate less when using smaller plates.
You probably knew when using a small plate people take less food than if using a large plate. Temple University researchers have found on average children serve themselves an extra 90 calories when using adult-sized plates! This small study may be on to something. This could be a fairly simple and straightforward way to prevent childhood obesity and overweight.
PositiveTip: Have an overweight child? Try using smaller plates. (Maybe adults, too!)
Do people really eat these meals?
It is hard to believe the meals that some people eat! To stroke your nutritional pride, take a look at the pictures and nutritional information put together on appallingly unhealthy meals at 22 Words. If you are still hungry--and your conscience allows--you can trip on down to your local chain outlet and get one--but please don't!
PositiveTip: It is a major challenge to eat out, and still eat healthy! Wise choices at the local grocery store may be your best bet when traveling.
Eating out increases caloric intake in children and teens--probably adults too!
You probably could have guessed this! Eating meals at fast-food and full-service eateries is associated with more calories, sugar, total fat, saturated fat and sodium. This study included over 9400 children and teens. When eating at fast-food places teens consumed 309 more calories and children 128 more per meal, and when at full-service restaurants 267 and 160, respectively. These excess calories significantly contribute to overweight and obesity.
PositiveTip: Take a healthful lunch instead of going out to eat.
Awareness of calorie counts is better than the alternative.
The American Beverage Association (ABA) has announced a program to place calorie counts on vending machines in two U.S. cities in 2013. At the same time the ABA foundation will spend $5 million on wellness programs for Chicago and San Antonio, rewarding those who lose weight and stop smoking, along with other healthy behaviors. Are they really interested in our health, or is this politics to head off size caps or soda taxes? Only time will tell!
PositiveTip: Labels or no labels, choose to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. Drink water instead.
Snacking, especially caloric beverages account for a full fourth meal of the day!
Americans, and probably others around the world, snacking outside of a regular meal continues to increase. Research presented to the Institute of Food Technologists indicates that more than 25% of daily calorie intake is now coming from snacks, especially caloric beverages.
PositiveTip: Avoid snacking! This alone could make a huge difference in the battle of the bulge.
Small dietary changes can combat the skyrocketing obesity challenge.
Ben Franklin said, "A penny saved, is a penny earned." Yet we haven't yet learned the corollary: A few calories skipped, results in significant long-term weight loss. NHANES data reveals that between 1971 and 2002 Americans increased their daily caloric intake by 200 calories for men and 300 for women. Yet, the calories per eating episode increased by only 60 calories (5 per day).
PositiveTip: Small cuts in calories over time can make a significant difference, positive or negative, over time! Skipping a snack or two per day will make an impact.
Food tables don't always use the same serving size that you do!
Frustrated with your weight loss efforts? Try some honest realism. A quick visit to MyPyramid Tracker will reveal that the average baked potato served in America has 2.5 times more calories than the one listed in the food tables, thus underestimating actual calories. Or maybe one day you did eat 1200 calories, but the next two days you splurged on much more.
PostiveTip: Accurately keep track of what you eat, including the snacks. It will help you learn what contributes to your total calorie intake over time.