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    Archive for the ‘supersize’ Category

    More Bitter than Sweet

    In my opinion, there isn’t a better treat than ice cream. The creamy texture, the rich flavors, slowly savoring every bite.

    Unfortunately, the era of the single ice cream scoop in a cone or cup appears to be long gone.

    The country’s largest ice cream chains are instead unveiling mammoth-sized sundaes and shakes with mind-blowing amounts of calories, saturated fat, and sugar.

    Case in point: Baskin Robbins.

    Two of its four new limited edition products — a chocolate-covered strawberry sundae (pictured at right) and a chocolate chip truffle shake — are scarily decadent.

    The strawberry sundae clocks in at 790 calories, 23 grams (115% of the daily limit) of saturated fat, 410 milligrams of sodium, and 104 grams (26 teaspoons) of sugar.

    A medium chocolate chip truffle shake contributes 970 calories, 24 grams (120% of the daily limit) of saturated fat , 1 gram of trans fat (the recommended intake is zero) , 450 milligrams of sodium (20% of the daily limit), and 108 grams (27 teaspoons) of sugar.

    These two still don’t compare to the atrocity that is a Baskin Robbin’s Reese’s Peanut Butter shake. The figures below are for a medium!

    1,340 calories
    92 grams fat (141% of the recommended value)

    33 grams of saturated fat (165% of the daily limit)

    830 milligrams of sodium (40% of the daily limit)

    91 grams of sugar (23 teaspoons)

    That’s as many calories as SIX scoops of ice cream!

    So what’s an ice cream fiend to do? At Baskin Robbins, definitely stick to a single scoop.

    With each one weighing in at 4 ounces (half a cup), you’ll definitely satisfy your craving.

    A scoop of standard ice cream contains 260 calories and 40 percent of a day’s saturated fat.

    Keep the latter figure in mind as you go about the rest of your day and choose vegetable-based meals low in saturated fat (remember, this fat is found in meat and full/reduced-fat dairy).

    Since a scoop is also quite high in sugar (6 teaspoons a piece), I’d recommend making this your only sweet treat of the day.

    Their non-fat vanilla frozen yogurt is a tasty alternative. It’s still quite heavy on the sugar (at 31 grams, it’s practically equivalent to a can of Coke), but a scoop contains 150 calories.

    Similarly, sherbets are the highest in sugar (34 grams per scoop), but each scoop only adds 2 grams of fat and 160 calories to your day.

    Getting your scoop in a cup is a another quick way to reduce potential extra calories (a waffle cone alone contains 90).

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    A standard large popcorn and large soda combo at the nation’s largest multiplex theaters provides 1,900 calories, 275 percent of the daily saturated fat limit, and 13 tablespoons of added sugar.

    Yikes! That’s a day’s worth of calories for the average adult.

    The popcorn alone is calorically equivalent to THREE Big Mac’s.

    What’s truly a shame is that movie popcorn tends to give the whole grain an unfairly bad reputation.

    When air popped and sprinkled with a little salt, popcorn is a healthy, low-calorie snack.

    Why, then, is the stuff in the oversized buckets such a nutrition disaster? It’s all about the oil it is popped in.

    The large majority of movie theaters use coconut oil, which is chock-full of unhealthy saturated fat.

    This is the fat that raises total and LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol.

    The practice of then drenching this popcorn in liquid butter also does not help.

    Theater managers be damned, I like to bring my own healthy snacks to movies (yes, I throw out all my wrappers on my way out).

    Some good ones? A small bag of trail mix, a food bar (i.e.: Lara, Clif Nectar, gnu, Pure), an apple, whole grain crackers, and your best weapon against mindless snacking — gum!

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    Numbers Game: Killer Combo

    A standard large popcorn and large soda combo at the nation’s largest multiplex theaters provides _______ calories, ________ percent of the daily saturated fat limit, and ______ tablespoons of added sugar.

    a) 1,250/150/7.5
    b) 1,900/275/13

    c) 1,475/200/8.5

    d) 1,680/180/10

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Tuesday for the answer!

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    (Really) South of the Border

    My week in Buenos Aires revealed several interesting tidbits on how nutrition and dieting are perceived in Argentina.

    I’ll begin with similarities I observed between the land of tango and the nation of apple pie.

    The absence of trans fats in a given food product is heavily advertised on packaging.

    Supersizing is not limited to the United States. Alfajores – a popular Argentine treat consisting of dulce de leche filling between two chocolate-coated cookies – have recently started to become available in triple-sizes! This extra cookie – and additional layer of dulce de leche – increases the caloric content by 75 percent.

    Vegetarian items are becoming more mainstream at supermarkets. From soy burgers to soy milanesas (a traditional food, basically breaded beef or chicken cutlets), going meat-free in the world’s beef capital is becoming a little easier. Soymilk is unheard of for all intents and purposes, though, as are seitan and tempeh.

    Fiber consumption is well below recommendations. Very few restaurants offer high-fiber vegetables as side dishes, beans and legumes are not staples, oatmeal is not a popular breakfast item, and whole grains are not consumed as often as they should be.

    Now, the differences.

    The gluten-free market is considerably larger in Argentina. Many supermarkets boast “gluten-free” sections or aisles, and popular gelaterias indicate which flavors are celiac-friendly.

    Protein is not the star nutrient it is in the United States. Unlike in the United States, you do not see any foods advertised as “high in protein” or “x grams of protein per serving!” Protein shakes and supplements are not popular.

    Nuts, seeds, and legumes are not heavily consumed. Not only are they expensive for the average Argentine, they are also not culturally significant.

    Despite being one of the world’s leading blueberry exporters, Argentines do not traditionally snack on this wonderful fruit.

    When it comes to fighting the common cold, zinc lozenges are not advertised (or even sold, really).

    For some odd reason, Omega-9 fatty acids are heavily advertised on foods containing them. I find this strange because Omega 9 is not essential (since our bodies are able to produce it).

    It is Omega 3 and 6 that we must obtain from the diet (although, as I have explained in the past, our Omega 3 to 6 ratio is scarily disproportionate).

    I’ll expand on some of these points over the next week. Also, look for a “Shame on You” post on Argentina’s latest hotshot weight-loss doctor soon.

    Share

    (Really) South of the Border

    My week in Buenos Aires revealed several interesting tidbits on how nutrition and dieting are perceived in Argentina.

    I’ll begin with similarities I observed between the land of tango and the nation of apple pie.

    The absence of trans fats in a given food product is heavily advertised on packaging.

    Supersizing is not limited to the United States. Alfajores – a popular Argentine treat consisting of dulce de leche filling between two chocolate-coated cookies – have recently started to become available in triple-sizes! This extra cookie – and additional layer of dulce de leche – increases the caloric content by 75 percent.

    Vegetarian items are becoming more mainstream at supermarkets. From soy burgers to soy milanesas (a traditional food, basically breaded beef or chicken cutlets), going meat-free in the world’s beef capital is becoming a little easier. Soymilk is unheard of for all intents and purposes, though, as are seitan and tempeh.

    Fiber consumption is well below recommendations. Very few restaurants offer high-fiber vegetables as side dishes, beans and legumes are not staples, oatmeal is not a popular breakfast item, and whole grains are not consumed as often as they should be.

    Now, the differences.

    The gluten-free market is considerably larger in Argentina. Many supermarkets boast “gluten-free” sections or aisles, and popular gelaterias indicate which flavors are celiac-friendly.

    Protein is not the star nutrient it is in the United States. Unlike in the United States, you do not see any foods advertised as “high in protein” or “x grams of protein per serving!” Protein shakes and supplements are not popular.

    Nuts, seeds, and legumes are not heavily consumed. Not only are they expensive for the average Argentine, they are also not culturally significant.

    Despite being one of the world’s leading blueberry exporters, Argentines do not traditionally snack on this wonderful fruit.

    When it comes to fighting the common cold, zinc lozenges are not advertised (or even sold, really).

    For some odd reason, Omega-9 fatty acids are heavily advertised on foods containing them. I find this strange because Omega 9 is not essential (since our bodies are able to produce it). It is Omega 3 and 6 that we must obtain from the diet (although, as I have explained in the past, our Omega 3 to 6 ratio is scarily disproportionate).

    I’ll expand on some of these points over the next week. Also, look for a “Shame on You” post on Argentina’s latest hotshot weight-loss doctor soon.

    Share

    Turn It On: Super Skinny Me

    “Turn It On” is a new section highlighting television shows relating to food and nutrition you won’t want to miss.

    I’m very excited for the premiere of Super Skinny Me on BBC America this Sunday, December 2 at 10 PM EST/PST.

    In it, two female British journalists come up with a new — and, I would say, scarier — twist on the 2004 classic documentary Supersize Me.

    For five weeks, they will emulate notorious celebrity diets in hopes of shedding five dress sizes.

    I’ll be watching it for the first time myself this Sunday and publishing a review Monday evening.

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    Listen Up!

    Portion expert Lisa R. Young has kindly shared with me a very informative podcast on portion sizes and control she recently did for Wellcoaches.com.

    Find out how portions have grown over the past two decades, how this relates to rising obesity levels, tricks and tips to “smartsize” your life, what “trigger foods” are, and MUCH more.

    Click here to download the 35 minute-long interview in MP3 format — it’s definitely worth a listen!

    My suggestion? Zap it onto your Ipod and listen to it on your way to work tomorrow morning. I guarantee you’ll be making better choices by lunch time.

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    In The News: Bigger Isn’t Always Better

    Dr. Lisa R. Young, author of The Portion Teller and former New York University professor of mine, wrote a column for MSNBC.com on ever-increasing portion sizes at fast-food establishments.

    A great read!

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    Speaking With…: Lisa Young

    Dr. Lisa R. Young, RD, CDN, is a world renowned portion size expert.

    After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Health Care Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, she received her doctorate and master’s degrees in nutrition from New York University, where she has served as adjunct professor for 15 years.

    Her doctorate thesis focused on the link between increased portion sizes and rising obesity rates in the United States, and eventually led to the publishing of her first book, The Portion Teller: The No-Diet Reality Guide to Eating, Cheating, and Losing Weight Permanently.

    Over the past few years, Dr. Young has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, ABC World News Tonight, and several magazines, including O, Good Housekeeping, Forbes, Shape, Allure, Newsweek, and Elle.

    Her clips, appearances, and research papers can be viewed at her website The Portion Teller.

    I was fortunate enough to talk to her one on one about the United States’ increasing portion distortion problem.

    Your research clearly demonstrates a correlation between larger portion sizes and an increase in obesity, and there are studies showing that the more food we are provided, the more we consume. Does this mean our bodies are not efficient hunger self-regulators?

    Large portions have contributed to growing obesity rates because they contain more calories than small portions.

    I think the problem is that because we are surrounded by large food portions at cheap prices which encourage us to “eat more,”– whether at fast-food places, movie theaters, bakeries, delis we have lost our ability to regulate how hungry we are.

    Unfortunately, we eat with our “eyes” and when we see big portions of food around, even if we don’t even like the taste, we tend to eat it. And then, instead of feeling “comfortably full,” we end up feeling “stuffed.”

    Everyone knows a Big Mac and large fries add up to caloric overload. However, are there “healthy sounding/looking” or “harmless” foods people eat large quantities of, unaware of the high number of calories they are taking in?

    The vitamin enhanced waters and the gumballs and gummy bears sold as “multivitamins” for kids!

    People often like to rationalize why they eat something and when they see that they are getting a food marketed as a vitamin or enhanced with vitamins they think it is health food and they completely overlook the fact that the foods contain any calories.

    I counsel clients who would never drink soda but they are big fans of vitamin enhanced waters (until, of course, I tell them to read the labels!) Another healthy sounding beverage which people think is not too caloric is the jumbo fruit smoothies. While they do contain some fruit, they are also loaded with sugar and calories.

    Rule of thumb: we are better off “chewing” our calories than “slurping” them.

    Are there specific places, events, or times where we are most prone to portion distortion?

    Two of the biggest offenders would be the fast-food places ad the movie theaters. When McDonald’s first opened, a soda was seven ounces; today it is 32 ounces.

    And a bucket of popcorn is so big these days that it is large enough to feed an entire row. Also, the large popcorn at the movie theater is a better value so consumers are encouraged to “supersize”.

    Baked goods such as muffins and bagels have also blown up in size; a typical muffin at a deli is equivalent to 6-cups of cereal and a bagel is equivalent to 5 bread slices. People have no problem grabbing a muffin or bagel on their way to work but would think twice before consuming 5 slices of bread in one sitting.

    Many times when people hear the words “portion control”, they incorrectly envision a lunch of two lettuce leaves, three tomato slices, and one jumbo shrimp. What are some tips you would suggest for people who are looking to lose weight but need to see a lot of food on their plate?

    It is okay to eat large portions of certain foods as long as these foods are healthy and not loaded with too many calories. In fact, filling up on low-calorie healthy foods often helps people stick to a weight-loss program so they don’t feel deprived.

    Some examples would be to eat fresh fruit such as berries and melons which contain a high water content. Starting a meal with a healthy low-fat salad with a large assortment of veggies (watch the dressing, of course) and including cooked veggies such as broccoli and asparagus with your dinner adds volume to your food. An added bonus is that fruits and vegetables are also rich in vitamins and minerals.

    Finally, a great snack for “volume lovers” is air popped popcorn.

    Do you find it strange and frustrating that restaurants and fast food chains selling smaller entrees and desserts specifically label these as exclusively for “children under 12”? Why not call this part of the menu “for the portion conscious” and make it more acceptable for adults to order from it?

    I do indeed. And I completely agree with you. It would be a huge step in the right direction if portion-conscious adults were able to order these foods as well.

    Throughout your years of research, what are two or three statistics that still stand out as truly surprising or shocking?

    I found it truly shocking just how much portions have grown. Fast-food portions are two to five times larger than they were when they were first introduced.

    While I mentioned the McDonald’s soda example above, it is truly shocking that 7-Eleven markets a “Big Gulp” containing 64 oz of soda—a half gallon!—with nearly 800 calories and 50 teaspoons of sugar! The company first opened with the 16 oz size.

    What is even more shocking is that cup holders found in cars have also become larger to accommodate these drinks.

    Also, while a fast-food hamburger used to contain only 1.5 oz of meat, today they often contain 8 or even 12 oz of meat in one sandwich. Consider Hardee’s Monster Thickburger which contains 2/3 of a pound of meat (12 oz) along with several cheese and bacon slices, special sauce, and white bread. No wonder it contains 1400 calories.

    Some of these jumbo foods contain enough calories for an entire day.

    You were featured in “SuperSize Me!“, which resulted in consumers becoming more aware of the outrageous sizes offered at many fast food establishments. Have there been positive changes in this realm?

    With the focus on increasing obesity rates in both adults and children, we would hope that food companies would scale back on portions. However, according to my most recent research on portion sizes at large fast-food chains, published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, portions are not getting any smaller.

    In fact, in many cases, they are getting bigger. Just last year, Burger King introduced BK Stacker sandwiches in four sizes: Single, Double, Triple, and Quad. The Quad size has four beef patties, weighs over 11 oz, and contains 1000 calories.

    The largest fast-food companies are also involved in sleight of name. Last year, Wendy’s, for example, discontinued the terms “Biggie” and “Great Biggie” to describe its French fries and soda. However, the former “Biggie” soda is now called “Medium,” and the company introduced a new larger size called “Large.”

    While McDonald’s discontinued the “Supersize” soda in 2004, it is now marketing a new soda called “Hugo,” the exact same volume and calorie content as the discontinued “Supersize.” And, unfortunately, we eat more when large portions end up on our plates.

    Dr. Young is a top of the line, sought-after private practitioner in New York City who is “available for individual counseling sessions on a wide variety of nutrition-related issues including obesity and weight control, disease prevention, wellness, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, eating disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, pregnancy, lactation, menopause, and vegetarianism.”

    If interested, you may contact her at 212-560-2565 or: lisa.young@portionteller.com

    Thanks again to Dr. Young for offering her time and knowledge!

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    They’re Baaaack!

    Remember the pressure that was on McDonald’s after the release of Morgan Spurlock’s critically acclaimed 2004 documentary Supersize Me to drop said mammoth items from their menu?

    In what appeared to be an almost overnight move, 42 ounce (510 calories, when consumed without any ice cubes in the cup!) sodas were replaced by raw apple slices, healthier salads, and complementary pedometers.

    Somehow, Wendy’s and Burger King managed to escape scrutiny and made no excuses about their ever-growing menu (last year, Burger King proudly introduced the Quad Stacker — four beef patties, four slices of American cheese, and eight strips of bacon in one 1,000 calorie burger that provides 75% of our daily sodium needs!).

    It seems McDonald’s is ready to go head-to-head with the big boys. A new beverage size called Hugo (get it? It’s huge!) has been released in Berkeley, California. Its size? 42 ounces — the exact same as a Supersize beverage.

    This article in the New York Times‘ Business section explores this turn of events in more detail, and offers some great quotes from Marion Nestle and Lisa R. Young, two leaders in the nutrition field who I not only admire, but also have the honor and pleasure of working with at New York University.

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    Super (Triple Duper) Size Me!

    Ever dreamed of sinking your teeth into a 6-pound cheeseburger? Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pennsylvania sounds like the ideal destination for you!

    In fact, if you manage to clear your plate in less than 3 hours, you get your $35.95 back, a free Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub T-shirt, and your name on a Hall of Fame board.

    In January of 2005, Kate Selnick of Princeton, New Jersey downed that 96-ounce beef patty in 2 hours and 54 minutes. Did I mention she was 19 years old and 100 pounds when she became state champion?

    From a nutritional standpoint, though, Kate is a big loser. In one sitting, Kate downed 7,200 calories and 7500% of her daily sodium needs and 720% of her recommended saturated fat (the type of fat that clogs your arteries) intake. To give you a frame of reference, she ate the equivalent of 24 McDonald’s cheeseburgers in less than 3 hours!

    Click on this post’s title for more photos (and directions to the pub!).

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