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    Archive for the ‘Subway’ Category

    2011: A Year to Remember (and Forget!)

    It wasn’t until I started compiling stories for this post that I realized just how much had taken place this year on issues of food, agriculture, and nutrition. While by no means a definitive list, I think it covers the most substantial events.

    So, if you’ve been spelunking in Antarctica for the past twelve months — or just want a short trip down memory lane — let’s review 2011, the year where:
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    Subway’s New Fortified Breads: A Good Source of “Healthwashing”

    Last week, while the new and “healthier” Happy Meals captured the attention of the nutrition and public health world, the folks at Subway quietly announced their latest “commitment to nutrition” — breads fortified with calcium and vitamin D. In brief, “now, each 6-inch serving of bread in the 24,000-plus U.S. restaurants provides 30 percent of the daily recommended value of calcium and 20 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin D.”

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    In The News: Are You Calorie Blind?

    This New York Times article — centered around a French marketing expert and American attitudes towards food and nutrition — makes the following case: health claims like “trans fat free” and “low fat” create a “health halo,” providing consumers with a false sense of security, and ultimately making them more susceptible to overeating.

    When random Americans in a nutritionally conscious Brooklyn neighborhood were asked to estimate the number of calories in an Applebee’s meal, they overshot by an average of 100 calories.

    Good news so far.

    However, when that meal included two crackers labeled “trans fat free,” those additional 100 calories went seemingly unnoticed!

    Furthermore, the total caloric count of that meal received lower estimates than that of the cracker-less photograph.

    Meanwhile, “[foreign tourists in Times Square] correctly estimated that the meal with crackers had more calories than the meal without crackers.”

    Sounds simple (more food = more calories), but this French professor of marketing contends that health halos can blind us from seeing the larger picture.

    The theory is that foreigners, most of whom stem from countries where nutrition and weight loss mainly concerns calories (rather than specific nutrients), are not deceived by what Marion Nestle calls “calorie distractors.”

    What is a calorie distractor, you ask?

    Any kind of claim that makes you forget the total caloric impact of what you are eating (i.e.: tortilla chips containing a mere sprinkle of flaxseed and soy protein, or Gummi candies with as much ALA Omega-3 as four walnuts.)

    The article also mentions a most fascinating experiment conducted by this French researcher and Brian Wansink last year.

    “After giving people a chance to order either a Big Mac or a 12-inch Italian sandwich from Subway, the people ordering the subway sandwich [which has more caloric than a Big Mac] were more likely to add a large nondiet soda and cookies to the order, end[ing] up with meals averaging 56 percent more calories than the meals ordered from McDonald’s.”

    This article cements a lot of the concepts commonly discussed in this blog. Let’s recap:

    1. Forget about “good” and “bad” foods. Instead, focus on the big picture. A donut and coffee breakfast is not worth fretting about if it only happens once a week.

    2. Above all, think calories. Whole wheat pasta covered in 500-calorie Alfredo sauce is not a healthier choice than that same amount of “white” pasta accompanied by 100 calories of marinara sauce.

    3. Don’t be fooled by claims of “a day’s worth of vitamins” or “x milligrams of Omega 3” on boxes of high-calorie, sugar and sodium laden junk foods. You might as well down a Centrum pill in between bites of a King Size Snickers bar.

    Remember — the less processed your diet, the less you have to worry about scavenging the supermarket aisles for sugar-free, vitamin fortified, and low sugar Frankenfoods.

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    In The News: A Decade of Jared

    Think back to 1998.

    Britney Spears was a newcomer on the music scene, an intern named Monica dominated the headlines, the tech bubble was in full force, and a guy named Jared became an overnight sensation — and new Subway spokesperson — after losing 245 pounds eating nothing but the chain’s sandwiches for several years.

    Sally Squires dedicates her latest Lean Plate Club column to Jared, mainly because he is now on his tenth year of sustained weight loss!

    “Jared supports our findings in the registry that it is possible to achieve and maintain triple-digit losses using behavior changes, says Rena Wing, Brown University psychologist and one of the founders of the National Weight Control Registry.

    Do Subway sandwiches hold a weight loss secret? Not at all – Jared just found it easy to cut back on calories while eating one six inch and one twelve-inch sub every day.

    Although his approach was far from perfect (he didn’t consume fruits, dairy, or Omega-3 fatty acids for a long period of time, and variety was completely lacking from his diet), Jared is a testament to the simple “eat less, move more” philosophy behind weight loss.

    His successful weight-loss plan was composed of approximately 60 percent carbs, 15 percent fat, and 25 percent protein.

    It was foolproof, though.

    Why? He cut calories! Imagine that.

    “At his peak of about 425 pounds, Jared figures that he consumed about 10,000 calories daily.”

    A September 2004 48 Hours feature on Jared detailed his eating plan back when his waist size was 60 inches.

    Every day for breakfast, he’d have two bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, with a large order of hash browns, a large coffee with cream and 10 packets of sugar.

    Lunch was an entire pizza — extra meat, extra cheese, and, of course, dessert.

    Believe it or not, he would need a mid-afternoon snack, usually two large bean burritos with extra cheese.

    And dinner? That usually consisted of not one or two, but three trips to the Chinese buffet, and ice cream for dessert.

    Then, he topped off each day with a late-night snack – not a warm glass of milk, but usually a hamburger, French fries and some kind of dessert.”

    Once he replaced regular soda with diet and ate two sandwiches (and an accompanying bag of Baked Lays’) every day, the calorie total plummeted to approximately 1200.

    “The first month, he lost about 30 pounds. At three months, he had shed 94 pounds. When he lost 100 pounds, Jared began to walk 30 minutes daily.”

    In a 2003 interview with The Washington Post, Jared was asked what his eating plan is like now.

    In a nut shell, moderation is my diet today. I pretty much eat whatever I want. I just don’t eat the quantity that I used to eat. For instance, if I wanted pizza back when I was heavy, it would have been an entire pizza. Now, it’s a couple slices and maybe a salad to go with it.

    Jared’s “cold turkey” method (slashing caloric intake by 90 percent literally overnight), lack of variety, and non-integration of all food groups is not recommended, but he certainly demonstrates that cutting calories, engaging in some physical activity, and staying committed go a long way in helping people reach their weight-loss goals.

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    All-Star of the Day: Subway (!)

    Earlier this afternoon, I experienced hunger in the enemy’s territory – a shopping mall food court!

    Although Coldstone beckoned me with the tempting aroma of freshly baked sweets, I remembered that a small serving of cake batter ice cream with an added brownie mix-in added up to 527 calories, 68% of my daily saturated fat limit, and 12 and a half teaspoons of added sugar.

    I had a good workout earlier in the morning, and there was no way I was going to sabotage 60 minutes of hard work.

    McDonald’s? In the (wise?) words of Whitney Houston – “hell to the no!”

    My eyes then wandered to Subway’s yellow and green sign. Although I have never been a big fan of theirs (having had their sandwiches only once before), I recalled hearing about a new company initiative to offer healthy sides and options.

    A sandwich was out of the question since I am vegetarian and find their cheese and vegetable sandwiches rather tasteless (and too high in sodium).

    Upon walking in, a quick glance at the menu made me smile. I decided to order three sides: a small bag of sliced apples, a small box of raisins, and a 12 ounce bottle of 1% milk.

    In other words, I was able to go to a fast-food chain and nourish myself with:

    365 calories
    3.5 grams fat (for my caloric intake, I should get approximately 80 grams)

    2.5 grams saturated fat (everyone’s limit is set to 20 grams per day)
    4 grams fiber
    240 mg sodium (a mere 10% of the maximum allotment)
    18 grams protein

    Kudos to Subway for offering truly healthy choices. Hopefully, other food court staples will follow suit.

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