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    Archive for the ‘hunger’ Category

    How Hungry Are You? The Answer Is In Your Hand!

    642232_hand_and_fingers_4Here’s a useful “hunger self-assessment” tool that is useful for everyone, but especially children, as it helps them recognize — and become familiar with — varying levels of hunger.

    Before instinctively opening your refrigerator or pantry, take a few seconds to imagine that your closed fist represents your stomach at its fullest.

    Now, put up different amounts of fingers to represent the degree of hunger you are currently experiencing.

    For example, one-finger’s-worth of hunger means you are almost full, while four fingers represent being hungry for a full meal.

    A few people who use this tool on a regular basis have told me this is helpful in identifying when hunger is emotional, rather than physical.

    Someone (who has asked to remain anonymous) recently shared this anecdote with me via e-mail:

    “Yesterday night I was working on a manuscript on my computer and really wanted ice cream.  I already had some after dinner an hour earlier, so before I opened the freezer door I used the ‘closed fist’ method you told me about.  When I actually stopped to THINK about it, I wasn’t hungry.  In reality, I had all sorts of feelings, positive and negative, about finishing up my manuscript.  So I instead turned to my best de-stresser: sketching.”

    As with many other things, the answer to this question lies within you.


    Survey Results: Hunger & Satiety

    The latest Small Bites survey dealt with the issues of physical vs. emotional hunger as well as recognizing satiety (a healthy feeling of fullness.)

    The results were pretty evenly spread out:

    Very well, always: 5%
    Very well, most of the time: 35%
    Somewhat well: 34%
    Not well at all: 24%

    I find this to usually be the most difficult hurdle for many people to jump over in their quest to achieve their healthy eating goals.

    After all, you can have the healthiest diet in the world (meaning, full of nutritious foods) but if your hunger and satiety recognition mechanisms are off, you can still end up overconsuming calories and gaining weight.

    These behaviors — and, in many cases, patterns — can be very frustrating to change largely because they stem from years of conditioning.

    I think a variety of factors can make it challenging for people to recognize their hunger level.

    For one, too many people assign themselves strict eating times.

    They may be hungry at 11 AM (say, two and a half hours after breakfast) but if they are meeting a friend for lunch at noon, they think, “Ah, might as well hold out. Don’t want to ruin my appetite!”

    WRONG! Part of being an active participant the hunger game is listening to your body’s cues.

    If your body is demanding a few nibbles at 11 AM, go ahead and provide them.

    This is not to say you now have a pass to eat two Entenmann’s donuts or half a stack of Pringles.

    However, if your next meal is in an hour, keep hunger at bay by snacking on an ounce of nuts (remember, an ounce is approximately 24 almonds – quite a bit!)

    Those 140 calories will keep you satisfied until lunch, making it easier to have one roll, rather than three, from the bread basket.

    What if the snack fills you up more than you think, and by the time you meet your friend you are only hungry enough for an appetizer? Then simply order an appetizer.

    Don’t order an entree just because your friend does and, well, you don’t want to “make her look bad” or “insult him.”

    Sharing lunch with a friend is about communication, catching up, and enjoying yourself. THAT should be your focus. Not second guessing yourself or putting your needs aside just to “look” good.

    The worst thing you can do is ignore your hunger. The trick is to feed your body foods that are filling and satisfying without breaking the caloric bank.

    A srerving of whole grain crackers, for instance, is a great way to give your body a little something in a 120 calorie package.

    Similarly, a piece of fruit or some baby carrots with hummus can help keep hunger at bay so you don’t have that insatiable need to devour something — ANYTHING! — on your way home from work later that afternoon.

    It is quite a simple formula. The more you ignore your hunger, the more likely you are to overeat and go past your satiety point.

    You can’t expect yourself to recognize a healthy feeling of fullness if you are absolutely starving!

    Another trap for many people? The idea that in certain locations — and situations — you must eat.

    Answer the following:

    How many of you eat a slice of cake at someone’s birthday party at your place of work simply because cake slices are being passed around, regardless of your hunger level?

    I know I have done it before. I distinctly remember a time when I had just finished a very filling lunch and stopped by a co-worker’s going away party.

    Whoever organized the food had gone all out. Cake, cookies, brownies, chips and salsa… it was all there.

    Sure enough, about five minutes after I arrived, the cake was cut, someone handed me a piece, and I dug right in.

    It was actually a little dry, and the frosting tasted like chemicals. After the third or fourth bite, I felt uncomfortably full — and dissatisfied!

    It suddenly hit me. I wasn’t having cake because I truly wanted some, or because I enjoyed the taste. I was having it because somewhere in my mind I thought I was “supposed” to.

    I still remember that event pretty vividly to this day because it truly gave me a different perspective on my relationship with food.

    Now, in social situations, I don’t think about what I “should” be doing or even what everyone else is doing. I simply ask myself: would I be eating RIGHT NOW if I wasn’t in this situation?

    Sometimes the answer is “yes,” but a lot of other times it’s “no.” And if someone asks why I’m not having a slice of cake or one of the catered sandwiches, I reply with the truth, “I’m not hungry right now, thank you.”

    And then there’s the movie theater. Sometimes I’ll snack on some whole wheat crackers and some trail mix (yes, I sneak food in — so sue me!). Other times, though, all I need is a beverage to quench my thirst.

    A few years ago, though, my mind always equated movie watching with popcorn, pretzels, malt balls, and soda.

    This is not to say you can’t enjoy some popcorn or share a chocolate bar with your movie companion next time you hit the multiplex, but the key is in doing that out of actual physical hunger, rather than some ingrained mandate that advertisers have lodged into our minds.

    These check-ins with yourself might initially seem odd and different. In a society so obsessed with consumption, we generally don’t hear the “Ask yourself — why am I craving this right now?” message.

    Once you develop it into a daily habit, though, you have quite a powerful tool in your hand.

    PS: I’ll discuss emotional eating in a future post (later this week.)


    Numbers Game: Answer

    A traditional Long Island iced tea (shots of vodka, tequila, rum, gin, and triple sec combined with sour mix and cola) contains 650 to 750 calories.

    The recipe I’m referring to is the one many bars in the United States offer — four jiggers of hard liquor, half a jigger of triple sec, half a cup of sour mix (pure sugar) and another half cup of cola.

    Not surprisingly, these are served in very tall glasses.

    Granted, some establishments offer smaller versions of this drink, but even then you’re looking at roughly 500 calories.

    It’s always a good idea to stick to a few low-calorie alcoholic beverages since alcohol lowers blood glucose levels, consequently triggering hunger.

    As you might guess, the more you drink, the hungrier you get. Which explains why some people can feasibly eat an entire bag of chips after a night at the bar.


    You Ask, I Answer: Hunger/Metabolism

    I’ve always welcomed feeling hungry as an indication that I’d run out of easily accessible energy and therefore was digging into my accumulated fat.

    I mean, how can you lose weight without feeling hungry?

    But, I’ve also read that hunger is associated with a slowing of the metabolic rate which suggests I should NOT welcome the feeling, but instead eat something.

    For the sake of argument, suppose I’m disciplined enough not to eat when I feel hungry. Should I eat something or not?

    How much does one’s BMR vary in response to the sensation of hunger?

    I’m 10-20 pounds overweight, (i.e. not obese) and looking for a strategy to maintain my weight or lose a bit.

    — Robert Keyfitz
    Washington, DC

    Hunger is multi-layered concept.

    Firstly, we humans are “special” because our hunger can be motivated both physiologically (there are different theories on this, ranging from low glucose levels to altered body temperature to stomach contractions) and psychologically (reasons not related to the body demanding calories, such as eating to alleviate emotions, eating out of habit, or eating “because it’s time to.”)

    Oh, yeah, animals don’t know what they’re missing — only we Homosapiens run the risk of scarfing down a bag of chips after a lousy date!

    Your question also brings up the issue of weight loss and hunger.

    Since these two are closely linked together, it is very important to have a carefully constructed weight loss plan drawn up by a professional – preferably a Registered Dietitians – who is able to implement strategies to make weight loss more manageable.

    Telling someone who regularly eats 4,000 calories a day to go down to 1,400 overnight — as many popular diets recommend — is a recipe for disaster; yet, because people love quick fixes, they give it a try.

    We know what happens. A week later they are about to lose their minds, drop everything, and go back to their established patterns of eating, without having learned any fruitful tactics.

    So, should you eat something when you feel hungry?

    This really depends on where the hunger is stemming from. Is it physical hunger, or is it masking other underlying emotions (anxiety, depression, boredom, fear, etc?).

    Assuming we are talking about physical hunger, the answer is “yes.” The tricky part involves making the right choices.

    The key is to choose lower-calorie foods that satiate. Remember that protein, fats, and fiber are the three pillars of satiety.

    Note, though, that it is not necessary to have all three of those nutrients present in one food to feel full.

    Let me give you an example.

    A low-fat, low-protein, fiber-free food like pretzels is a terrible choice, as it takes quite a bit of them (and, thus, quite a bit of calories) to provide a feeling of fullness.

    However, something like oatmeal (prepared with some skim milk) provides plenty of fiber and protein. Those 200 calories will leave you fuller for much longer than 200 calories worth of pretzels.

    In order to keep metabolism running steadily, I recommend going no more than three hours without eating.

    Again, though, this means having small snacks in between meals, not meals in between meals. A large triple chocolate shake from McDonald’s may keep you full for several hours, but it also adds 1,160 calories to your day.

    Going long periods of time without eating a single morsel of food not only decreases your metabolism, it also makes you more prone to binging.

    One of the best weight-loss/maintenance strategies you can implement is to be in control of your food intake.

    This means respecting your hunger and satiety, making deliberate choices, and supporting your eating with some structure (i.e.: not letting yourself go more than 3 hours without eating).


    Numbers Game: Answer

    A correlation study by Gross et al. published in the May 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that the average per capita total carbohydrate intake in the United States consisted of 500 grams per day in 1909 and 500 grams per day in 1997.

    Fiber intake, meanwhile, was 40 percent lower in 1997

    Fascinating, don’t you think?

    In essence, we are eating the same amount of carbohydrates today as we did 100 years ago (carbohydrate intake reached its lowest point in the 1960s and has risen steadily since then)

    Obesity rates have certainly skyrocketed since 1909, though.

    So how can we truly place the blame for the increasing weight problem in this country on carbohydrates?

    Let’s consider a few things.

    We know that total caloric intake per capita has increased since 1909 (and it can certainly be argued that the average person leads a much more sedentary lifestyle), but this study throws in another interesting factor — fiber consumption has decreased by almost half since then.

    Remember, one of fiber’s weight-loss advantages is that it helps promote satiety (the feeling of fullness).

    It is easy to overeat (consume more calories of) refined fiberless grains in the form of muffins, cookies, and bagels simply because they aren’t very filling.

    Try out a simple experiment at home. Have nothing but two plain slices of toasted white bread for breakfast one morning, and two plain slices of whole grain toast the next.

    You will find that the whole grain toast — at 3 grams of fiber a slice — leaves you feeling fuller longer than the white toast (less than 1 gram of fiber per slice) despite the two being equal in caloric value.

    Truth is, a large percentage of today’s carbohydrate intake comes in the form of fiberless and nutritionally void sources like added sugars and refined flours.  Healthier carbohydrates — fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — tend to be the exception, rather than the norm, in most people’s diets.

    The last “numbers game” post revealed that 40 percent of adults in the United States do not consume a single serving of whole grains each day.

    Consider this. A large soda at a fast food restaurant contributes approximately 85 grams of carbohydrate to the diet, every single one in the form of sugar.

    These calories (approximately 300) are not filling, so you can bet that twenty or thirty minutes after you finish that last sip your body is demanding more calories.

    Another reason to focus on fiber.


    Numbers Game: Answer

    In a 2006 study by Mindless Eating author Brian Wansink (of Cornell University’s Department of Applied Economics and Management), office workers ate an average of 7.7 Hershey’s kisses a day if they were in clear jars on their desks, and 3.1 a day if placed six feet away from their desks in opaque jars.

    That’s actually a 110 calorie difference!

    More importantly, though, this points to a key factor in human eating behavior — if something is within reach, we are very likely to eat it, even if from a physiological standpoint we are not hungry.

    This is partially why large portions of food at restaurants and movie theaters are such a problem — it is NOT easy to leave half our food on the table or tell ourselves to “stop” after finishing half of a medium-sized popcorn bucket.

    In Mindless Eating, Wansink recounts several experiments he and his team at Cornell University’s Department of Applied Economics and Management conducted in which caloric consumption increased simply when more food was available to participants.

    One famous study had a control group drinking soup from a regular bowl, and another group from a bowl that inconspicuously refilled itself in a continual fashion.

The results? Those drinking from the “bottomless” bowl not only downed 65 percent more calories than the control group, they also did not report feeling full for much longer than those who had a limited quantity of soup.

    In other words, they unknowingly consumed extra calories.

    Wansink also experimented with movie theater popcorn. Subjects who later remarked the popcorn tasted bad and stale still ate more if they were eating from larger containers. Oh, by the way, the popcorn tasted so bad because it was two weeks old!

    Weight management isn’t just about your mouth and stomach — make sure your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you!


    In The News: Sneaky Sugar

    Earlier this week I spoke with Terri Coles of Reuters.com about the prevalence of sugar in the standard U.S. diet.

    In essence, my standpoint is as follows: sugar in and of itself in limited quantities is not a problem.

    What raises the red flag are the massive amounts being consumed — i.e.: a single muffin at Starbucks surpasses the daily maximum recommendation — partially because they contribute nothing but excess empty calories that do not satiate.

    It’s a simple concept — the less satiated you are after a meal, the sooner you will feel hungry and want to consume more calories.

    Unfortunately, keeping added sugar intake to recommended levels is difficult since food manufacturers like to put it in everything (especially in its ultra cheap form — high fructose corn syrup).

    When consumed in moderate amounts, I don’t have a problem with sugar (remember, “sugar” means regular white sugar, brown sugar, honey, evaporated cane juice crystals, or any other fancy synonym).

    It is an ingredient that has been consumed for tens of thousands of years.

    I definitely consider it safer than Splenda, aspartame, or any other Franken-sweetener concocted in a laboratory.

    In fact, I never understood sugar phobia.

    The fact that some people refuse to eat fruit (due to the naturally occurring sugars), but have no problem eating a bowl of heavy cream sprinkled with artificial sweetener absolutely blows my mind.

    Before I started studying nutrition, I experimented with Atkins.

    Their bars — which use sugar alcohols as sweeteners — not only taste awful, I also remember the not-so-pleasant gastric side effects.

    These days, I’ll gladly take three Hershey’s kisses over any low carb faux sweet treat.


    Say What?: Lip Service

    I received a text message in all capitals (capped off with exclamation marks) from a friend this afternoon.

    It certainly had all the makings of an emergency. Maybe a celebrity sighting?


    I was instructed to Google “FUZE lip gloss”, a product she had just seen at Sephora, the fragrance and cosmetics powerhouse.

    Following her orders, I typed those three words into the search box and proceeded to roll my eyes so strongly I was afraid they would never stay still again.

    Let me give you some background first.

    As some of you may know, Coca Cola sells a low-calorie juice/tea beverage named Fuze (the target is adolescent females, hence the quirkly post-modern misspelling).

    The newest variety is Fuze Slenderize — a 10-calorie drink containing “slenderizing” vitamins and minerals available in six different flavors.

    All six flavors contain L-Carnitine and Super Citrimax, “metabolism boosters.”

    Citrimax is actually the extract of a South Asian fruit named Garcinia cambogia.

    The manufacturers of Citrimax claim their product “suppresses appetite and inhibits fat production.”

    There is mention of clinical trials proving this, but the only research I read found no difference between subjects taking Citrimax and a placebo.

    In any case, the people behind Fuze (Coca Cola!) now sell “slenderizing lip gloss.”

    Infused with the health, delicious fruit flavors and appetite curbing energy boosting ingredients found in FUZE Slenderize beverages. One delicious dab on the lips will give you a taste of what all the Hollywood starlets are losing it over! Always on the lips, never on the hips!” the press kit reads.

    What poor intern was given the painful task of writing THAT?

    The idea is that Citrimax is absorbed via your lips, thereby curbing your appetite. Well, hey, you can’t say the Fuze folks aren’t creative!

    Ironically, the lip gloss comes in fruity flavors like blueberry-raspberry and strawberry melon. Wouldn’t the taste of candy on someone’s lips make them start thinking of food and feel hungry?

    A much smarter — and efficient — strategy to help curb mindless snacking or eating out of boredom (rather than hunger) is to pop some gum in your mouth.

    It’s not about plant extracts, acai berry enzymes or “slenderizing” ingredients.

    Rather, the chewing action and strong minty/cinnamon/fruity taste in your mouth can help stop you from picking up that Snickers bar at the supermarket checkout counter that you only want because it’s six inches away from you.

    I was initially going to post this as a “Shame On You: Coca Cola,” but decided against it because the only people who should be ashamed are those who open their wallets for this product thinking it is a weight-loss aid.


    Sharpen Your Vocabulary, Feed the Hungry

    The fact that many of us can actively implement nutrition into our lives by purposefully choosing certain foods while avoiding others or seeking out particular higher-priced products is truly something to be thankful for.

    In the United States alone, 35.5 million citizens live in food-insecure households. Globally, current estimates categorize 800 million people as suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

    You can help people all over the world while improving your own vocabulary over at Free Rice.

    Developed by the same people who brought you The Hunger Site, Free Rice — through the United Nations — donates twenty grains of rice for every right answer you provide to an SAT-like “find the correct synonym” question.

    Happy Holidays!


    Numbers Game: Answer

    According to figures by Consumer Insight, the average Thanksgiving dinner (three ounces of turkey with gravy + one serving of mashed potatoes + one serving of cranberry sauce + one serving of candied yams + one serving of green bean casserole + a slice of pumpkin pie + two bread rolls with butter) adds up to 2,777 calories and 90 grams of fat.

    Yes, just one meal provides approximately a day and a half’s worth of calories and fat for most people.

    It isn’t too far-fetched, then, to say that on Thanksgiving Day, many people can take in almost 4,000 calories.

    One huge mistake I see many people make on holidays like Thanksgiving is starving all day (or follow non-sensical rules like “I will eat nothing but celery sticks until dinner”) in anticipation of a huge meal where high-calorie foods are at their disposal.

    End result? Gorging and bingeing all through dinner (and taking in more calories in one sitting than they would have had they eaten sensibly throughout the day) followed by some unrealistic diet goal announcement like, “that’s it. Tomorrow it’s nothing but chicken broth and grapes.”

    The best thing you can do before sitting down to a meal where overindulgence seems imminent is to prepare yourself.

    Approximately forty five minutes to an hour before dinner, snack on foods containing fiber, healthy fats, and protein.

    Some good pre-Thanksgiving dinner snacks include a handful of nuts, a Lara/Clif Nectar/Pure bar, whole grain crackers with hummus, and a bowl of whole grain cereal with raisins or a banana.

    If you can make it to the dinner table without starving and wanting seconds of everything, you can enjoy your meal without overloading on calories.

    Besides, you know as well as I do that slices of those tempting pies — along with every other dish — will be in the fridge tomorrow (and the day after, and the week after that). There is no need to shove it down if, by the end of dinner, you already feel like a Macy’s parade balloon.

    Also, find ways to make classic dishes healthier.

    Serve whole wheat rolls with trans-fat-free margarine, opt for oven-roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes drizzled with olive oil and topped with chopped rosemary in place of mashed potatoes, and check out this delicious low-fat pumpkin recipe made with a whole grain crust!


    Numbers Game: Answer

    In a recent Men’s Health article, Registered Dietitian Cheryl Hartsough revealed that the average person consumes an additional 460-900 calories a day, every day, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

    The biggest culprits aren’t holiday family meals astronomically high in calories, but the barrage of food we encounter in our daily lives throughout that six week period.

    Vendors send cookies and sugary popcorn as a “thank you” to offices, friends invite us to holiday parties, potlucks at work result in piles of (usually unhealthy) food, dinners with friends we haven’t spoken with in months fill up our social calendars — the list is endless.

    The result? We are exposed not just to more food, but more high-calorie, high-sugar, fat-laden foods.

    And don’t forget alcohol! Two five-ounce glasses of red wine, for instance, add up to 250 calories. Being liquid calories, they do not contribute a feeling of being full, either, so they do not take the place of 250 calories we would have gotten from actual food.

    One of the worst mistakes you can make over the next few weeks is to attempt to “ban yourself” from eating certain foods. Trying to make it until January 1 without a single slice of pie or sip of eggnog is a recipe for disaster.

    Don’t get so hung up on what you are eating during the holiday season. Instead, focus on how much you are eating.

    Huge potlucks are especially tricky. Eight desserts compete for our attention, and we think that having “a little of each” (so as to not offend our coworkers) is harmless. Wrong!

    When it comes to desserts, choose one or two and serve yourself a small portion of each. Pick the ones that truly call out to you and ENJOY them. Don’t serve yourself a cup of fruit salad — instead of a small slice of that irresistible chocolate cake — if three of the four fruits in it are your least favorite.

    Prior to that, fill up most of your plate with healthier appetizers and entrees.

    If someone contributes guacamole the the office holiday party, for example, put more heart-healthy guacamole on a few chips instead of a slight dab of it on two handfuls of chips.

    The fiber and fat in the avocado-based dip will fill you up faster and also contribute nutrients not found in Tostitos.

    If you know you’ll be attending any sort of event with unlimited food offerings, have a light snack before heading out (a handful of nuts, a small apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter, a Lara, Pure, or Clif Nectar bar, etc.)

    Starving all day in anticipation of a potluck or buffet will undoubtedly increase your risk of binge eating and unnecessary extra calories.

    Above all, be prepared. Chocolate, cookies, candies, and other treats will soon become daily fixtures at your office. Fight back with a diet-friendly desk. Stash healthy snacks like trail mix, dried fruit, natural food bars, whole grain crackers, and low-calorie treats (like Soy Crisps) in your drawers.


    Numbers Game: Stuffed As a Turkey

    In a recent Men’s Health article, Registered Dietitian Cheryl Hartsough revealed that the average person consumes an additional _______ – ______ calories a day, every day, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

    a) 230 – 440
    b) 360 – 610

    c) 460 – 900

    d) 510 – 980

    Unbuckle your belt and leave your guess in the “comments” section. Come back on Sunday for the answer!


    You Ask, I Answer: Corn Flakes/High Fructose Corn Syrup

    I was eating Corn Flakes and saw that HFCS is one of the main ingredients but, per serving, it only has 2g of sugar. Is this still an unhealthier choice for breakfast?

    — Anoymous (via the blog)

    I must say — I have been getting some really thought-provoking questions lately.

    One cup of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes contains a mere 1.8 grams of sugar (that’s half a teaspoon). When the amount is so small, I don’t think too much weight should be placed on the particular sweetener listed on the label.

    It’s also worth mentioning that when it comes to the artificial high-fructose corn syrup, it’s important to place it within the context of dietary patterns.

    If Corn Flakes are your only source of high fructose corn syrup each day, there is no need for concern.

    If, however, you are also having a few cans of regular soda and lots of processed sweet foods, I would recommend taking certain steps to cut back on your consumption of the infamous corn-based sweetener.

    My real issue with Corn Flakes is that they are far from nutritious. They aren’t “unhealthy”, but I can think of much more nutritious, filling — and tastier! — choices for breakfast.

    For starters, they are fat-free and contain an almost non-existent 1.3 grams of fiber and 1.9 grams of protein per serving. Why am I pointing this out? Remember: fat, fiber, and protein are the three pillars of satiety (“feeling full”).

    Foods like Corn Flakes — which lack these three nutrients — will not help you feel full. In fact, you’ll very likely be hungry again just one hour after having your bowl of cereal (unless it is an accompaniment to a more substantial breakfast).

    Anyone interested in weight loss — and maintenance — should think about consuming healthy and nutrition foods that, in small amounts, satiate.

    Nuts, for example, contain healthy fats, fiber, and protein. This is why a handful of nuts as a snack can hold you over much better than a handful of pretzels (which, lacking these nutrients, will not help you feel full until you have consumed a significant amount of calories).

    Another eyebrow-raising fact? A cup of Corn Flakes has more sodium than a one-ounce bag of Lay’s potato chips (266 milligrams vs. 180 milligrams)!

    As I mentioned in my Small Bites newsletter on sodium, one way to get an idea if something we are eating is heavily processed or closer to nature is by looking at the sodium to potassium ratio.

    The more processed/artificial the product, the more sodium (and less potassium) it has.

    Corn Flakes? 266 milligrams of sodium in one cup, and a feeble 24.6 milligrams of potassium (we should be aiming for approximately 4,000 milligrams of potassium each day).

    If you can’t live without your cereal in the morning, opt for a wheat-bran based type (wheat bran is high in potassium) and have it with a banana, mango, or raisins (three breakfast-friendly fruits also high in that mineral).


    Numbers Game: Answer

    Just in time for Halloween: which of the following fun-size treats provides the least calories?

    a) Three Musketeers
    b) Skittles

    c) Snickers

    d) Milky Way

    The answer? Three Musketeers.

    One fun-size piece of this candy bar provides 63 calories.

    The rest? Milky Way’s fun-size delivers 75 calories, a fun-size bag of Skittles clocks in at 80, and the smallest of all Snickers bars adds 99 calories to your day.

    Missing a chocolatey coating, Skittles are by far the lowest in fat (.75 grams and 0 grams of saturated fat), but make up those calories by containing more sugar than the three sweet competitors.

    Even among its chocolate friends, the Three Musketeers prevail. A fun-size Milky Way packs 2 grams of saturated fat, Snickers is a close second with 1.8 grams, while the three amigos manage a not-so-bad 1.3 grams.

    This might surprise you, but, in my opinion, the worst treat to overindulge in on Halloween night is a virtually fat-free one like Skittles.

    The absence of fat (and, obviously, protein and fiber) don’t help us feel full, thereby make it easier to overeat and consume a large number of calories.

    Candies with slightly higher fat contents can help you feel full in lower quantities.


    Better Brownie

    One thing I absolutely love about keeping up with food trends and what’s hitting supermarket shelves is that it provides me with the perfect excuse to taste-test. Many times — as is the case with most energy drinks (or as I lovingly refer to them, “carbonated cough syrup”) — one miniscule sample is enough to make my insides churn.

    However, there are those great moments when you bite into something expecting the worst and end up thinking, “Wow, this is actually pretty good!” (after finishing the entire thing).

    Today I unexpectedly discovered a tasty 100 calorie treat — Glenny’s 100 Calorie chocolate brownie (although they also offer blondies and even a peanut butter brownie, which I am sure are rather similar to what I had, this post only discusses the chocolate flavor).

    100 calories, 75% organic ingredients (not that this alters its nutrition content, but it is an appreciated touch), 7 grams of fiber, a measly 1.5 grams of saturated fat, no trans fats, and a not-so-bad 11 grams of sugar (approximately one tablespoon, or a quarter can of regular soda).

    After reading those claims, I was expecting a dry “brownie-like” sponge with a chalky aftertaste.

    Not seeing any sugar alcohol or artificial sweetener in the ingredients list initially put me at ease. When it comes to baked goods, I prefer a small amount of real sugar rather than a mish mash of sweeteners made in a lab which linger on the palate for longer than I’d like.

    I was thoroughly impressed with my first bite. A rich chocolatey taste, the texture of a homemade — and much more fattening — brownie, and seven grams of fiber to boot.

    Yes, of course a piece of fresh fruit is a healthier way to get 100 calories, but there are times when we can’t — or don’t want to — have fresh fruit.

    Besides, as I have stated before, I see nothing wrong with enjoying moderately processed food once in a while, especially if it is low in calories, pleasant to the palate, and good enough to satisfy a craving that might otherwise lead to unnecessary indulgence.

    See, when it comes to eating healthy, I like to think of dietary patterns as a dart board. There are certain foods that should be in the bullseye and consumed every day (fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes), but there is also space for foods in the outer circles which should not be consumed as often.

    Is this item a health food? No.

    Should you make this brownie one of your daily high-fiber foods? I don’t think so. I certainly wouldn’t place it in the center of the dart board, but I also would not place it in the same “junky empty calories” category as a bag of Doritos or a Twinkie.

    However, if you get the chocolate munchies at four o’clock but don’t want the 280 calories (and 11 grams of saturated fat) in a Twix bar from your office vending machine, or if you’re looking to find a less caloric alternative to the huge Starbucks chocolate chip cookie you have with your morning coffee every Friday, I give you the green light to reach for Glenny’s 100 calorie brownie and enjoy every bite.

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