Category Archives: Nutrition

Dieting Mistakes You Are Making

Kate Fodor
Sunday, April 29, 2012

Eating less, but not losing

Trying to slim down and feeling frustrated?

If you’re giving it your all but the number on the scale still isn’t budging, you may be sabotaging yourself in spite of your best intentions.

Here are a dozen dieting don’ts to help save your weight-loss efforts.

You eat fake foods

We admit that prepackaged weight-loss products like shakes and bars are convenient, but they may not be helping you to lose weight in the long run.

“You never feel satisfied after you eat something like that, because it’s just a bunch of processed stuff,” says Manuel Villacorta, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

There are lots of healthier, more filling options with the same or fewer calories, like a cheese stick or a serving of plain nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries.

You burn the midnight oil

Sure, you need to log time at the gym, but to lose weight, you also need to log time in your bed.

Skimping on sleep, especially sleeping less than five or six hours a night, can slow your metabolism and cause hormonal changes that hurt your weight-loss efforts.

Being tired may also make you eat more. One recent study found that people who are sleep-deprived consume a whopping 500 extra calories a day.

You exercise too much

Yes, you read that right. Exercise is important, but Villacorta maintains that being too focused on it can backfire.

“People think that if they exercise they will magically lose weight, and then they get frustrated,” he cautions.

In fact, about 80% of dieting time and energy should be focused on nutrition and 20% on exercise, he says. “If I have a client who’s exercising six times a week, sometimes I’ll cut that in half and have them spend the extra hours shopping and planning meals.”

You always choose the salad

Contrary to popular belief, heading for the salad bar may not be your best option.

Salads may not contain enough carbohydrates to help control hunger hormones, according to Villacorta. He suggests a healthy soup and sandwich instead, or tossing a serving of brown rice, lentils, or garbanzo beans into your greens. And beware of high-calorie salad bar additions like blue cheese and candied walnuts.

Add enough of those and “you may as well just have a burger,” he says.

You’re a high-calorie health nut

Just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean you can eat a mountain of it.

Switching from white bread to whole wheat bread, eating nuts instead of chips, using olive oil instead of butter —these are all healthy changes. But they aren’t low-calorie substitutions, so portion control is still key.

You eat too early

Popular wisdom says not to eat in the evenings, but that may not make sense unless you turn in extra early.

“People eat at 6:00 and stay up until 11:00 or midnight, so their bodies are naturally asking for fuel again,” Villacorta says. “I tell people to aim to eat 70% of their calories before dinner and 30% at dinner, but it doesn’t matter how late dinner is.” Healthy eating in the evening can prevent a late-night binge on ice cream or cookies.

You’re a loner

Remember the buddy system from your kindergarten field trips? It works for dieting, too. Studies show that support from friends and family increases the likelihood that women will lose weight.

If you can’t get what you need from your nearest and dearest, other forms of support—including advice from a weight-loss counselor or encouragement from online buddies—can also do the trick.

You never snack

To keep your metabolism at its peak, you need to eat every three to four hours.

“People think they need to eat less frequently, but really they need to eat more often, in smaller amounts,” Villacorta advises. “There’s no real reason you need to think in terms of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

You don’t have a diary

One large-scale study found that keeping a daily food journal doubled the amount of weight participants lost.

Researchers speculate that simply writing down what you put in your mouth makes you more accountable and cuts your daily calories.

Create your own food log or use one of the many available for free online.

You don’t like water

Substituting water for sugary sodas and even for juices can make a major dent in your daily calorie count. Drinking water may also help you manage your appetite.

In one study, people who drank two glasses of water before eating a meal consumed up to 90 fewer calories.

You skip breakfast

There’s lots of evidence that people who eat breakfast tend to have healthier weights, so start the day right by making time for a morning meal.

Experts say whole-grain cereal is one of the best breakfast choices for dieters.

It’s quick and easy, too—so there goes the excuse about not having time before work.

You hate to cook

Restaurant meals are frequently more caloric than home-cooked ones, so dust off your apron and hunt down some healthy recipes.

When you do eat out, consider splitting a meal with your date or asking the water to serve you half of your meal and have the other half boxed up to go.

Original Article:

Weight Loss Tips That Don’t Suck

By Camille Noe Pagan

If weight loss came in a pill, the list of side effects might include “May cause shortness of cash” and “Some users experience a loss of friendships.” After all, that’s what happens when you spend half a paycheck on healthy food and pass up happy-hour invites so you can avoid the bar snacks. And those side effects aren’t just misery inducing, they’re self-defeating too: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people who turned these pitfalls into excuses were up to 76 percent less likely to lose weight than those who figured out ways around them. This advice will help you battle the bulge without missing a beat of your life.

Lose Weight, Not Friends

Ever notice that the day you announce you’re starting a new diet, your friends go AWOL? Here’s why: Cutting calories causes your level of serotonin (a feel-good brain chemical) to nosedive, leaving you cranky and unpleasant to be around.

To keep your serotonin levels in check, figure out how many calories your body needs based on your activity level. And make sure those calories are split evenly among protein, whole grains, and produce at every meal.

“Unbalanced meals—made entirely of refined carbs, for example—cause blood-sugar fluctuations that make you irritable,” says Caroline M. Apovian, M.D., director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center.

Apovian also recommends adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, because research shows that they may fight depression and slow digestion, which helps you stay full longer. (Try eating two or three three-ounce servings of salmon a week, or adding a tablespoon of olive oil, canola oil, or flaxseeds into your daily meals.)

Lose Weight, Not Money

When you’re on a diet, you expect your stomach to be on the empty side—not your wallet. But researchers at the University of Washington found that the cost of healthy, nutrient-dense foods like whole grains and lean meats has increased nearly 30 percent in the past four years, while candy and soft drinks have gone up only 15 percent.

One money-saving tactic: Eat less meat. “Meat is one of the priciest items on a grocery bill, and most Americans eat more of it than they should,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and the author of The Flexitarian Diet. Plus, meat is a source of excess calories and saturated fat.

Most women can slash around 15 percent of their daily calories by sticking to one or two servings of meat a day, estimates Blatner. Fill the void with fiber-rich foods like beans, oatmeal, and brown rice, plus hearty veggies like portobello mushrooms and eggplant. All of these will fill you up for a fraction of the calories and cash.

Lose Weight, Not Time

In a recent study, 41 percent of women cited “not enough time” as the reason they don’t eat better. Spending just an hour or two on the weekend shopping for a week’s worth of healthy meals and getting a jump-start on the prep work (cutting veggies, making marinades) will save you time and pounds in the long run. A survey by the CDC found that almost 40 percent of people who lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off planned their weekly meals.
“When you don’t map out your meals, you’re too tempted to grab whatever’s nearby, which is often high-calorie junk,” says Elizabeth Ricanati, M.D., founding medical director of the Lifestyle 180 Program at the Cleveland Clinic.

Lose Weight, Not Muscle

If you drop weight without lifting any, you risk shedding muscle tissue instead of fat. Muscle takes more than twice as many calories to maintain, and it keeps your metabolism revving at peak calorie-burning speed, so it’s important to hang on to it, says Donald Hensrud, M.D., an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the College of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic.
Your best strategy is to eat lots of protein and strength train for 20 to 30 minutes two or three times a week. Protein will fuel those workouts and help you maintain lean muscle, says Hensrud. Eat at least three or four servings of two to three ounces of protein-rich beans, soy, fish, lean meat, poultry, or low-fat dairy every day.

Lose Weight, Not Your Lifestyle

Watching your waistline doesn’t mean you have to become a recluse who spends every spare moment on the elliptical machine. In fact, an all-or-nothing approach is counterproductive. “Many women make changes they’ll never be able to stick with—like eating nothing but raw food or vowing to go for a run at 5 a.m. every day—and set themselves up for failure,” says Hensrud. “Total deprivation doesn’t work.”

He advocates skipping extreme regimens in favor of small changes. When he asked a group of overweight study subjects to make several small lifestyle shifts—such as eating breakfast, having as many veggies as they’d like with each meal, and watching TV for only as long as they’d exercised that day—they dropped an average of eight pounds in two weeks. “When you combine a bunch of little strategies, the cumulative effect can be huge, and you won’t feel as if you’ve given up your entire life to be slim.”

Original Article:’t%20Suck

20 Habits That Make You Fat

Decades ago, around the time of Steven Tyler’s last haircut, a completely wrong-headed idea started being passed around America’s dinner tables: Eating fat makes you fat.

Wrong. Eating fat won’t make you fat, any more than eating money will make you rich. Calories make you fat, and most “low-fat” or “fat-free” foods actually have just as many calories as their full-fat versions, because of added sugar and chemicals. And there’s no debate on this one: Since we made “cut down on fat” our favorite food craze roughly 30 years ago, the U.S. obesity rate has doubled. Among children, it has tripled. That’s a failed food policy if ever there was one.

But it’s just one of many “get fat” habits that can be turned into a “slim-down” habit, starting today. All you need is a pinch of resolve and a few new routines. Here are the 20 habits you can replace right now . . .

#1: Eating “low-fat”

It sounds crazy, but stop buying foods marketed as low-fat or fat-free. Typically, they save you only a few calories and, in doing so, they replace harmless fats with low-performing carbohydrates that digest quickly—causing a sugar rush and, immediately afterward, rebound hunger. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that meals that limited carbohydrates to 43 percent were more filling and had a milder effect on blood sugar than meals with 55 percent carbohydrates. That means you’ll store less body fat and be less likely to eat more later.

#2: Not seeking nutrition advice

Good news here: By reading this, you’re already forming habits that can help you shed pounds. When Canadian researchers sent diet and exercise advice to more than 1,000 people, they found that the recipients began eating smarter and working more physical activity into their daily routines. Not surprisingly, the habits of the non-recipients didn’t budge.

#3: Sleeping too little or too much

According to Wake Forest researchers, dieters who sleep five hours or less put on 2½ times more belly fat, while those who sleep more than eight hours pack on only slightly less than that. Shoot for an average of six to seven hours of sleep per night—the optimal amount for weight control.

#4: Eating free restaurant foods

Breadsticks, biscuits, and chips and salsa may be complimentary at some restaurants, but that doesn’t mean you won’t pay for them. Every time you eat one of Olive Garden’s free breadsticks or Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits, you’re adding an additional 150 calories to your meal. Eat three over the course of dinner and that’s 450 calories. That’s also roughly the number of calories you can expect for every basket of tortilla chips you get at your local Mexican restaurant. What’s worse, none of these calories comes paired with any redeeming nutritional value. Consider them junk food on steroids.

#5: Drinking soda—even diet!

The average American guzzles nearly a full gallon of soda every week. Why is that so bad? Because a 2005 study found that drinking one to two sodas per day increases your chances of being overweight or obese by nearly 33 percent. And diet soda is no better. When researchers in San Antonio tracked a group of elderly subjects for nearly a decade, they found that compared to nondrinkers, those who drank two or more diet sodas a day watched their waistlines increase five times faster. The researchers theorize that the artificial sweeteners trigger appetite cues, causing you to unconsciously eat more at subsequent meals.

#6: Skipping meals

In a 2011 national survey from the Calorie Control Council, 17 percent of Americans admitted to skipping meals to lose weight. The problem is, skipping meals actually increases your odds of obesity, especially when it comes to breakfast. A study from the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who cut out the morning meal were 4.5 times more likely to be obese. Why? Skipping meals slows your metabolism and boosts your hunger. That puts your body in prime fat-storage mode and increases your odds of overeating at the next meal.

#7: Eating too quickly

If your body has one major flaw, this is it: It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s had enough. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that slow eaters took in 66 fewer calories per meal, but compared to their fast-eating peers, they felt like they had eaten more. What’s 66 calories, you ask? If you can do that at every meal, you’ll lose more than 20 pounds a year!

#8: Watching too much TV

A University of Vermont study found that overweight participants who reduced their TV time by just 50 percent burned an additional 119 calories a day on average. That’s an automatic 12-pound annual loss! Maximize those results by multitasking while you watch—even light household tasks will further bump up your caloric burn. Plus, if your hands are occupied with dishes or laundry, you’ll be less likely to mindlessly snack—the other main occupational hazard associated with tube time.

#9: Ordering the combo meal

A study in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing shows that compared to ordering a la carte, you pick up a hundred or more extra calories by opting for the “combo” or “value meal.” Why? Because when you order items bundled together, you’re likely to buy more food than you want. You’re better off ordering your food piecemeal. That way you won’t be influenced by pricing schemes designed to hustle a few more cents out of your pocket.

#10: Facing the buffet

Cornell researchers found that when eating at a buffet-style restaurant, obese diners were 15 percent more likely to choose seats with a clear view of the food. Your move: Choose a seat that places your back toward the spread. It will help you avoid fixating on the food.

#11: Eating off larger plates

One study found that when given an option, a whopping 98.6 percent of obese individuals opt for larger plates. Translation: More food, more calories, and more body fat. Keep your portions in check by choosing smaller serving dishes. If need be, you can always go back for seconds.

#12: Putting serving dishes on the table

Resist setting out foods buffet- or family-style, and opt instead to serve them from the kitchen. A study in the journal Obesity found that when food is served from the dinner table, people consume 35 percent more over the course of the meal. When an additional helping requires leaving the table, people hesitate to go back for more.

#13: Choosing white bread

A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when obese subjects incorporated whole grains into their diets, they lost more abdominal fat over the course of 12 weeks. There are likely multiple factors at play, but the most notable is this: Whole grain foods pack in more fiber and an overall stronger nutritional package than their refined-grain counterparts.

#14: Taking big bites

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who took large bites of food consumed 52 percent more calories in one sitting than those who took small bites and chewed longer. By cutting food into smaller pieces, you can increase satiety and enjoy your food more thoroughly. A good general rule? The smaller your bites, the thinner your waistline.

#15: Not drinking enough water

Adequate water intake is essential for all your body’s functions, and the more you drink, the better your chances of staying thin. In one University of Utah study, dieting participants who were instructed to drink two cups of water before each meal lost 30 percent more weight than their thirsty peers. And you can magnify the effect by adding ice. German researchers found that six cups of cold water a day could prompt a metabolic boost that incinerates 50 daily calories. That’s enough to shed five pounds a year!

#16: Having overweight friends

Research from the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that when a friend becomes obese, it ups your chance of obesity by 57 percent. This probably has to do with the social norms that you’re exposed to. Rather than ditch a friend who starts to put on a few extra pounds though, suggest healthy activities that you can do together, and avoid letting him or her dictate the meal (“Let’s split the cheesecake!”).

#17: Eating too late

Your body can burn flab while you sleep, but only if it isn’t too busy processing a full stomach. A new study in the journal Obesity looked at the sleeping and eating habits of 52 people over seven days, and it found that those who ate after 8 p.m. took in the most daily calories and had the highest BMIs.

#18: Not using a scale

Looking at your body weight reinforces weight-loss goals and makes it difficult to cheat your diet. When University of Minnesota researchers observed dieters who weighed themselves daily, they discovered that the routine of stepping on a scale helped those people lose twice as much weight as those who weighed themselves less frequently. Avoid being thrown off by natural fluctuations in body weight by stepping onto the scale at the same time every day.

#19: Drinking fruity beverages

Most restaurants and bars have ditched their fresh-fruit recipes in favor of viscous syrups made mostly from high fructose corn syrup and thickening agents. As a general rule, the more garnishes a drink has hanging from its rim, the worse it is for your waistline.

#20: Eating when emotional

A study from the University of Alabama found that emotional eaters—those who admitted eating in response to emotional stress—were 13 times more likely to be overweight or obese. If you feel the urge to eat in response to stress, try chewing a piece of gum, chugging a glass of water, or taking a walk around the block. Create an automatic response that doesn’t involve food and you’ll prevent yourself from overloading on calories.

Original Article:

20 Scariest Food Facts

There’s a scene in the 1973 movie Soylent Green where food shortages cause people to riot in the street, and the throng becomes so unruly that front-loading construction machines roll in and begin shoveling people up into big metal buckets. These people are hungry—no, ravenous—for a food called soylent green. But here’s the twist: They know that they love soylent green, but they have no clue what it’s made from.

Sound familiar? It should. That’s basically how we eat today. Okay, we’re not rioting in the streets, but it’s rare that we fully understand what’s in the food we’re eating. Pick up a random package in the supermarket and look at the ingredient list. Chances are you won’t know half the ingredients. Of course, Soylent Green is just a movie, and we eventually learn that the food that people are rioting for is made from dead humans.

Fortunately, no food company has yet to put the deceased into our Cornflakes or Pop-Tarts, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely safe from the dangers of mystery. Take a look at the gross, disturbing, and downright frightening facts Eat This, Not That! 2012 has uncovered. You may never look at food the same way.

1. Your food can legally contain maggots, rodent hair, and insect eggs.

The FDA allows certain “defects” to slide by. Have a look at what your food can carry:

  • Canned pineapple can pack in up to 20% moldy fruit.
  • Berries can harbor up to 4 larvae per 100 grams.
  • Oregano can legally contain up to 1,250 insect fragments per 10 grams.
  • Cinnamon can carry up to 1 milligram of animal excrement per pound.
  • Ocean perch can harbor small numbers of copepods, parasites that create pus pockets.


2. Nutritious food costs 10 times as much as junk food.

University of Washington researchers calculated the cost discrepancy between healthy food and junk foods and found that 2,000 calories of junk food rings up at a measly $3.52 a day. Yet for 2,000 calories of nutritious grub, the researchers plunked down $36. To add insult to fiscal injury, out of every dollar you spend on food, only 19 cents goes toward the stuff you eat. The other 81 percent goes toward marketing, manufacturing, and packaging. Think about that the next time your grocery bill jumps into triple-digit dollars.

3. Grocers don’t have to tell you where your salad comes from.

With fresh fruits and vegetables, supermarkets must tell you the country of origin, but with dried fruit and mixed produce, the law isn’t so strict. That means a mixed bag of salads isn’t required to disclose its location, and that can create problems if there’s a bacterial outbreak. News reports might warn you about E. Coli-tainted spinach coming from a certain country, but if your spinach is packaged with other greens, you’ll have no way of knowing if it’s in your bag. That’s a huge problem considering leafy greens top the CDC’s list of foods most commonly associated with food borne illness.

4. Fruits and vegetables are losing their nutrients.

According to the USDA, the fruits and vegetables we eat today may contain significantly fewer nutrients than those our grandparents ate. Researchers looked at 43 produce items and discovered drops in protein (6 percent), calcium (16 percent), iron (15 percent), riboflavin (38 percent), and vitamin C (20 percent). Your move: Eat more fruits and vegetables.




5. Calorie counts on nutrition fact labels aren’t accurate.

Researchers at Tufts University recently analyzed 269 food items from 42 national sit-down and fast-food restaurant chains, and they found that nearly 20 percent of samples contained 100 or more calories than reported by the restaurants. Think about it like this: If every meal you eat has 100 more calories than you need, you’ll gain more than 30 pounds this year.

6. Chicken today contains 266 percent more fat than it did 40 years ago.

What’s more, today’s chicken also has 33 percent less protein, according to a study from the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at London Metropolitan University. The problem is modern farming practices. Cramped environments and unnatural diets produce birds that have the same weight problems as the humans who eat them.



7. Milk contains hormones that may cause cancer.

In 1970, a typical dairy cow could produce about 10,000 pounds of milk per year. Today, that same cow produces roughly 20,000 pounds. So did cows change? Nope. It’s their feed that’s different. Today’s cows are routinely fed a hormone called recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST. Problem is, studies have linked rBST to a multitude of cancers, including those of the prostate, breast, and colon. And while milk from rBST-treated cows is ubiquitous in America’s supermarkets, some of the biggest players are getting wise. Stores like Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, and Kroger only carry rBST-free dairy.

8. Conventional supermarket peaches can be coated with as many as nine different pesticides.

Because peaches are prone to bruising, blemishing, and insect takeover, they’re routinely soaked in chemicals in the weeks before being shipped off to the supermarket. That’s why the Environmental Working Group rates peaches among the dirtiest conventional fruits in America. Also on that list: apples, celery, strawberries, and spinach. As a general rule, unless the produce has a thick, impermeable skin, assume it’s soaked in pesticides. Now wash it with water and mild soap before you eat it.


9. You’re probably eating trans fat without knowing it.

Slack FDA regulations allow food processors to claim zero trans fats even if the food contains .49 grams. To be clear, that’s .49 grams per serving. That means by the time you finish, say, an entire bag of Cheetos, you might be ingesting nearly 5 grams of trans fat. Sure the bag says “0 GRAMS TRANS FAT” right on the front, but if you look at the ingredient statement, you’ll see partially hydrogenated oil, the primary source of trans fat.



10. The number of daily calories available to each American has increased by 500 over the last 40 years.

USDA data shows that the food industry supplies 2,700 calories to every man, woman and child in America. In 1970, that number was 2,200. That increase translates into 52 extra pounds of fat per person, per year.


11. Commonly used food dyes can alter your kids’ behavior.

Researchers at the University of Southampton found that colors such as Yellow #5, Yellow #6, and Red #40 could cause hyperactivity in children. Ironically, foods marketed to children are often the most heavily dyed foods in the supermarket.



12. Your stomach bug is likely food poisoning.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year, 48,000 Americans receives food poisoning from contaminated food, and that puts a $152 billion strain on the economy. What’s worse, an astonishing 3,000 of those people die. Where’s the problem? Click ahead to find out.


13. Forty-two percent of raw supermarket chicken is contaminated.

In a study by Consumers Union, the driving force behind Consumer Reports, 12 percent of tested chickens were infected with Salmonella, and nearly half carried Campylobacter. Campylobacteriosis is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in America.




14. Gulf Coast oysters carry E. coli.

When researchers from Arizona tested Gulf Shore oysters, they found E. coli in every single sample. As filter-feeders, oysters naturally sift through the pollutants in the water, increasing their risk of contamination by pathogens. If you’re buying oysters from anything less than a highly trusted source, make sure you cook them through.



15. The USDA is allowing your meat to be “cleaned” with ammonia—and they’re hiding it from you.

The typical fast-food burger is made with slaughterhouse trimmings, fatty cuts of beef typically reserved for pet food and cooking oil. What’s more, these burgers contain pieces of hundreds, potentially even thousands, of different cows. This creates an environment where bacteria thrive, so to clean the meat, the USDA allows a company called Beef Products to pipe the raw beef through pipes and expose it to ammonia gas. Never mind that ammonia is a poison or that evidence suggests the process may not be fully effective. The USDA deems it safe enough, and it allows the meat to be sold without any indication that it received the gas treatment.

16. Aluminum cans are lined with a hormone-disrupting toxin.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is the chemical found in plastic bottles, glass jar lids, and the lining of food-containing tins and cans. In your body, BPA acts similar to estrogen, and it has been linked to behavioral problems, reproductive issues, and obesity. The industry has been slow to find a replacement, so limit exposure by switching to glass containers or plastic bottles labeled BPA-free.



17. Roughly two-thirds of bottled water doesn’t comply with FDA standards.

When the Food and Drug Administration set bottled-water regulations, it left in one gaping loophole: The regulations apply only to bottled waters sold across state or country borders. Bottles packaged and sold within a single state don’t have to comply with national standards. Although many states do have their own set of (nationally unregulated and unrecognized) regulations in place, one in five have none. Furthermore, government and industry estimates figure that 25 percent of water bottles sold in the US contain mere tap water. You should be so lucky as to end up with one of those; the FDA’s rules are far more lax than the tap water standards set by the EPA.

18. We drink twice as many calories today as we did 30 years ago.

The average American drinks 450 liquid calories every day, according to a study from the University of North Carolina. And booze isn’t the problem. Blame the bigger bottles of soda, the sugar-loaded coffee drinks, and the barrel-sized smoothies.





19. Fast food signs alter your behavior

A study published last year in Psychological Science reveals that the mere sight of a fast-food sign on the side of the road is enough to make people feel rushed, which can lead to impulsive decisions—and dangerous nutritional choices. Sidestep your impulses the next time you eat out: Plan your order before you walk through the door and then stick with it.



20. There are crushed bugs in your food.

Carmine, a vibrant red food colorant, is actually the crushed abdomen of the female Dactylopius coccus, a beetle-like African insect. Not only is the thought of eating bug juice gross, but it also poses an ethical issue for some vegetarians and vegans. Look for it in red-colored candies and juices.


Original Article:

The 7 Biggest Food Label Lies

Your favorite restaurants and local supermarket are full of health-food impostors

By David Zinczenko

This is an election year, which means that if you hate being lied to, the next 11 months are not going to be pleasant.

Your instinct might be to turn off the TV, cancel the paper, and unplug the Internet until November passes. And that will work, to a certain extent. But if you really want to avoid being lied to, I suggest you take an even more radical step.
Stop going to the supermarket.

Unless you’re as easily misled as Newt Gingrich’s ex-wives, you’re already clued in to the idea that most political campaigns are nothing but a pile of baloney, sandwiched between two slices of toasted mendacity. But unless you have a Ph.D. in nutrition, you might not realize that the supermarket shelves are as full of shysterism as the campaign trail. Every time you walk into a grocery store or a restaurant, food marketers are trying to feed you a line of bull.

That’s why we launched the Eat This, Not That! book series four years ago. By playing David to Big Food’s Goliath, we keep the food industry honest. More than 6 million books later, the mindset of hungry Americans is clearly changing. Recent polls show 96% of us would like genetically modified foods to be clearly labeled, and 70% of U.S. diners want more transparency about the sourcing and nutritional value of their menu items.

But until those improvements come to pass, you’ll have to take your nutritional fate into your own hands. The shelves of your local supermarket and the pages of your favorite chain’s menu are rife with health food impostors, and it’s up to you—and me—to call them out..  Some of these shady products are so egregious, in fact, that I believe they deserve a swift smack from the heavy hand of the law. Below I throw the book at 7 foods that just aren’t what they seem.

Food Label Lie #7: Sunny D

The Crime:  The day-glo liquid presents itself as a delicious, nutritious alternative to orange juice, but in truth, it’s little more than sweetened water.

The Evidence: Look at the label. The vast majority of this bottle consists of water and corn syrup, with less than two percent coming from concentrated juice swirled with artificial colors, sweeteners, canola oil, and sodium hexametaphosphate (don’t ask).  The beverage company bases its vague nutrition claims (“sunshine in a bottle”?) on the fact that Sunny D contains 100% of your vitamin C. But you know what else has 100% of your day’s vitamin C? A scoop of broccoli, a few thick slices of red bell pepper, a medium orange, or a multivitamin. Also condemnable is Sunny D’s current marketing campaign, which encourages children to collect Sunny D labels in exchange for schoolbooks. Care for some diabetes with that diploma?

The Takeaway: “Fruit-flavored” is no substitution for real fruit. If you want the full nutritional package, buy fresh, unadulterated produce—or at the very least 100 percent juice. Sunny D isn’t the only beverage that will drown your healthy diet.

Food Label Lie #6: Natural Cheetos

The Crime: Abuse of the term “natural.” Last I checked, Cheetos don’t grow in the wild.

The Evidence: When was the last time you saw a flowering field of disodium phosphate? Or how about a fresh crop of maltodextrin? Didn’t think so. These cheese puffs consist largely of corn, but they’ve been processed to the point that no 20th-century farmer would ever recognize them as food. What’s more, compared to regular Cheetos, they only have about 10 fewer calories per serving. Oh, and see those “natural flavors” on the ingredient statement? By FDA standards, those don’t even have to relate to the food in question. For all we know, those are tinctures made from bovine bone marrow.

The Takeaway: Except in the instance of some meat products, the FDA doesn’t regulate use of the word “natural,” leaving the food industry free to define it on its own terms.  In 2008, natural products reached $22 billion in sales, four times that of organic products. Defend yourself by reading the ingredient statement. If you can’t pronounce it, it probably ain’t natural.

Food Label Lie #5: Mott’s Medleys Fruit and Vegetable Juice

The Crime: Although wholesome by juice standards, this one is promoted to parents as a substitute for real fruits and vegetables. But fruits and vegetables have fiber; Mott’s has none.

The Evidence: The Mott’s label says that each bottle contains two servings of fruits and vegetables, and sadly, the USDA agrees. The government’s MyPlate considers juice to be a suitable substitution for produce. But here’s why it’s not: One of the biggest health boons of fruits and vegetables is the fiber, which fills the stomach, slows digestion, and fights disease. According to a recent study from Archives of Internal Medicine, people who consume the most fiber have a 22% lower chance of premature death from any cause. Yet at the current rate of consumption, Americans are getting only about half the fiber they need. A single apple has more than four grams of fiber. That’s about four grams more than a bottle of Mott’s Apple Medleys.

The Takeaway: Modest amounts of juice can fit into a healthy diet, but it’s no substitution for whole produce.

Food Label Lie #4: Mission Garden Spinach Wraps

The Crime: Mission’s “Garden Spinach” wraps are guilty of identity theft—there’s no spinach to be found in these crooked tortillas!

The Evidence: Along with a ton of unnatural, unhealthy ingredients like enriched flour, these spinach imposters contain less than 2 percent of “spinach powder” seasoning. Yum! And the wraps’ green color? Courtesy of food dyes yellow #5 and blue #1.

The Takeaway: Don’t judge a book by its cover—or a product by its package. The front label is little more than an advertisement for the company, so for legitimately useful information, look to the Nutrition Facts Panel and the ingredient statement. And remember: Just because a food is “flavored” like a whole food doesn’t mean it contains a whole food.

Food Label Lie #3: Doritos

The Crime: On the front of the bag, Frito-Lay reassures us that Doritos contain “0 grams trans fat.” Problem is, it’s a blatant lie!

The Evidence: Partially hydrogenated oil is the primary source of trans fat, and these cheesy chips contain two types: partially hydrogenated soybean oil and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil. So how does the company get away with the “0 grams” claim, you ask? The FDA allows manufacturers to market products as trans-fat free if they contain less than 0.5 grams of the artery-clogging acids per serving. But get this: The American Heart Association recommends we max out our trans fat intake at about 2 grams per day, so if you’re regularly eating foods with 0.49 grams per serving, then you can easily surpass that limit without knowing. That could lead to a host of cardiovascular problems, and one recent Spanish study even linked increased trans fat consumption with a lower quality of life and overall happiness.

The Takeaway: At the risk of belaboring the point: Read the ingredient statement. If you see anything that’s been “partially hydrogenated,” you have a trans-fatty food in your hand. Set it down and nobody will get hurt—least of all you.

Food Label Lie #2: Chili’s Guiltless Grill Classic Sirloin

The Crime: This “Guiltless” entrée is, well, guilty—of containing a shameful amount of salt.

The Evidence: Chili’s loads this sirloin with 3,680 milligrams of blood-pressure-spiking sodium, far exceeding the USDA’s recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams (for some people, like those at risk for hypertension, it’s only 1,500 milligrams!). And the Chili’s marketing team has the nerve to put this on the restaurant’s “Guiltless Grill” menu? Guffaw! Sadly, Chili’s isn’t the only guilty restaurant when it comes to the sins of salt. Chains like Applebee’s and Cheesecake Factory, for example, also pack egregious amounts of sodium into specialty items geared toward health-conscious eaters.

The Takeaway: In terms of calories, diet or “light” options are usually superior to other items on a chain’s menu, but almost all major chain restaurants still take a heavy-handed approach to the salt shaker. If you’re going to eat out, make an effort to keep your sodium intake as low as possible for the rest of the day.

Food Label Lie #1: Wendy’s Natural-Cut Fries

The Crime: Wendy’s promotes these spuds as a healthy alternative to typical fries—the chain’s website boasts that they’re “naturally-cut from whole Russet potatoes” and seasoned with “a sprinkle of sea salt.” But there’s more to it than that.

The Evidence: A quick skim through Wendy’s ingredient statement is all it takes to expose these fraudulent spuds. They contain preservatives, added sugars, and hydrogenated oil. Last I checked, there was nothing remotely natural about infusing vegetable oil with hydrogen. Technically, Wendy’s isn’t lying that these fries are “natural-cut.” But it makes one wonder: What would be the unnatural way cut a potato?

The Takeaway: Restaurants toss out buzzwords like “natural,” “fresh,” and “wholesome” as a clever way of making not-so-nutritious items seem closer to what you’d make at home. Truth is, food manufacturers haven’t found a way to align your health with their profits, and until they do, the onus of healthy eating is on you and you alone.

Original Article:

Fat In Foods: 7 Eats With More Fat Than A Stick Of Butter

The Huffington Post | By

You wouldn’t sit down to dinner at your favorite restaurant and order a stick of butter a la carte. You’re too smart for that — you know there’d be lots of calories and little nutrients and, most of all, lots and lots of fat.

But some of the cheesy entrees and meaty meals you’re ordering are packed with just as much fat — or more. There’s a total of 92 grams of fat in a stick of butter, much more than the maximum amount recommended for an entire day on a healthy diet.

The Dietary Guidelines For Americans recommend limiting fat intake to 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories. (A gram of fat provides 9 calories.) For a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, that means anywhere from 44 to 78 grams of fat a day won’t push you over the edge. Most Americans don’t have to worry about not getting enough fat; in fact, our diets are too heavy in saturated and trans fats and skimpy on the healthy, unsaturated kind, found in good-for-you foods like fish, olive oil and nuts.

Unfortunately, it’s too easy to find foods — especially on the menus of your favorite chain restaurants — that trample those daily fat recommendations in one fell swoop. Here are seven of the worst offenders. Let us know in the comments what other fat traps you’ve spotted — or even eaten!

Fried Fish

When health experts say to eat fish a couple of times a week, they don’t mean any and all fish.
Not only are certain types healthier for you (and the environment), but how the fish is prepared also makes a big difference, with fried dishes of course being the worst offenders.
No one expects fish and chips to be a healthy choice, but Applebee’s New England Fish & Chips has a jaw-dropping 138 grams of fat, about the same as one and a half sticks of butter and more than enough fat for three days.

Sneaky Salads

You can’t go wrong choosing the salad, right? Not quite. Whether you’re creating your own or ordering one at a restaurant, beware of piling on too many toppings like bacon, fried chicken, tortilla chips, creamy dressings, croutons, cheese and eggs.

IHOP serves a Crispy Chicken Salad that’s guilty of many of the above no-nos: It’s topped with fried chicken, bacon, two kinds of cheese and a hard-boiled egg, and served with garlic bread,  clocking in at 95 grams of fat.

Applebee’s serves an Oriental Chicken Salad that illustrates another common problem: dressing. Without the vinaigrette, this mix of greens, chicken, almonds and crispy noodles clocks in at 41 grams of fat — which on its own is nearing the lower end of the suggested daily intake range. But with the dressing? That’ll be 99 grams of fat!

Burgers That Overdo It On The Meat

This American staple can be part of a healthy diet — when toppings, cooking method and bread type are taken into consideration. But one of the biggest problems with today’s burgers is their sheer size. A serving of meat is generally considered to be three ounces, about the size of a deck of cards. You might make an appropriately-sized patty at home to throw on the grill, but when’s the last time you saw a three-ounce burger on a restaurant menu?

One particularly scary option: Hardee’s 2/3-lb. Monster Thickburger.  With two 1/3-lb. patties, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese and mayo, it’ll set you back 92 grams of fat — as much as that stick of butter.

Burgers That Overdo It On The Toppings

Pizza burgers, quesadilla burgers, burgers that have doughnuts for buns — our cravings for fatty foods have led us to try all sorts of wacky combinations. But, like salad toppings, burger toppings, especially when they are really piled high, can cause fat counts to suddenly skyrocket.

TGIFriday’s Southwestern Burger is a serious offender, with cheese, spread, avocado and fried onion strings, rounding this mega-meal out to 100 grams of fat.


You’ve probably heard that you generally don’t want to drink your calories. Well, you probably don’t want to drink your fat, either. While shakes and smoothies can be healthy, they are often loaded with hidden sugars and fats.

You probably wouldn’t expect to find a healthy shake at an ice cream store, but Cold Stone Creamery’s PB&C Shake blows regular ice cream out of the water. This indulgent sip has made headlines around the world after Men’s Health named it the worst beverage in America. At the time, the chocolate ice cream, milk and peanut butter concoction was listed at 131 grams of fat — the equivalent of about 68 strips of bacon, Men’s Health wrote. Today, Coldstone’s website clocks the large size at well over a stick of butter, with 118 grams of fat. (Even the small has an entire day’s worth, at 74 grams!)

Fried Chicken Meals

This southern splurge became trendy in late 2009 and has enjoyed a lengthy 15 minutes of fame over the last few years. For the time being, the fried chicken buzz may have settled down, but the dish will remain a standby on comfort-food and southern-style menus.

You can healthy up this pick by opting for veggie sides, white meat chicken and by removing the crispy skin. You can also trim back the portions. The Popeye’s website depicts a meal consisting of three pieces of chicken, plus a biscuit and a side. We calculated that a similar meal, topped off with a slice of pecan pie for dessert, would add up to 108 grams of fat.


All that ooey-gooey cheese, sour cream and guacamole really add up. Other ingredients, like chicken, may be deep-fried. And tortillas are often coated in butter to get that perfectly-toasted appearance. Of course, portion size is a factor here again. If you’re craving a quesadilla, opt for an appetizer-sized one.

Ruby Tuesday’s Baja Chicken Quesadilla sounds innocent enough — it’s stuffed with grilled peppers and onions, and topped with a chile-lime sauce. But one order costs you 95 grams of fat!

Original Article:

Two Magic Words That Break Temptation

By Liz Vaccariello Apr 19, 2012

When it comes to losing weight and starting a healthier lifestyle, I’m a firm believer in little changes that make a big difference. It’s hard—perhaps impossible—to overhaul eating and exercise habits overnight (and have them stick weeks or months later) but making small tweaks one at a time seems more manageable.

That’s why I loved this neat little study recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The authors found that a tiny swap of words and thinking helps resist temptation better. You simply say “I don’t” instead of “I can’t.” Then “I can’t eat ice cream for dessert,” which implies deprivation, turns into “I don’t eat ice cream for dessert,” which helps you feel more in control of your decisions. Research shows diets and eating plans that are all about deprivation ultimately backfire, so next time temptation strikes, choosing a more empowered mindset may help.

1. Turn your fork upside down

Do you stab or scoop with your fork? Americans tend to scoop up food, which can promote mindless eating; British people, on the other hand, keep their forks turned down and stab food to pick it up.

2. Pace yourself

Are you always the first one done eating? Consider it a sign you’re chowing too quickly. Use your fellow diners to help set a pace—observe who is eating fastest and slowest, and aim to eat on par or slower than the slowest eater at the table.

3. Crunch an apple

One study found that eating an apple before lunch can cut how much you ultimately eat by 15 percent, thanks to its filling fiber preventing you from overeating. Another fiber-rich fruit, like pears or berries, should work as well.

4. Get smart about leftovers

One of the worst times for mindless eating is right after dinner—because it becomes part of the clean-up ritual. (You tell yourself, “If I take one more bite of this garlic bread, I don’t have to put it in container or throw it away.”) Downsize your cooking so you’re less tempted to pick at leftovers, or commit to packing up leftovers right away.

Original Article:

11 Fitness Myths Holding You Back

By Jenna Bergen Apr 19, 2012

With so many people offering advice on weight loss, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. All too often I’ve overheard a hardworking gym-goer sharing a well-meaning but ill-informed tip with another exerciser. And I’m not the only one who’s heard fitness folklore being swapped on the training room floor. I spoke to top experts in the field to find out the common fitness myths they hear from clients. From the pseudo miracles of the“fat-burning” zone to the misguided magic of working out on an empty stomach, here are the fitness falsehoods you should never follow.

MYTH #1: The best way to lose weight is to drastically cut calories

“Our bodies are smarter than we think,” says Jari Love, star of the Get Extremely Ripped: 1000 Hardcore DVD. “When we eat too little, our body believes that it’s starving so our metabolism slows down and holds onto fat as a potential energy source.” A much better approach: Eat more often, but eat less food at one time, don’t eat fewer than 1,200 calories if you’re a woman or fewer than 1,800 calories if you’re a man—into five to six small meals to keep your metabolism humming.

MYTH #2: Heavy weights will bulk you up

“This just isn’t possible for most women,” says personal trainer and Preventioncontributing editor Chris Freytag. “Ladies have too much estrogen in their hormone makeup. Yes, heavier weights build muscle and strength, but most of us women aren’t lifting anything so heavy that we are at risk for building man muscles.” Plus, muscle is the secret to a revved up metabolism, as it burns more calories than more fat, even when you’re sitting on the couch or at your desk.

MYTH #3: Keep your heart rate in the fat-burning zone

If you’ve been exercising at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate in order to shed flab faster, you could be slowing your slimdown. “The fat-burning zone is a complete myth,” says Wayne Westcott, PhD, Preventionadvisory board member and fitness research director at Quincy College. “While it’s true that you burn a higher percentage of fat calories when exercising at a moderate pace, you burn fewer calories overall.” For instance, if you get on a treadmill and walk at a 3.5 MPH pace for 30 minutes, you might burn 250 calories. If you raise the speed to 7 miles per hour, you’d burn 500. Bottom line? “It’s much better to go at the faster speed.”

MYTH #4: Boosting cardio is the best way to bypass a plateau

“The most effective way to lose weight is to include both cardio and weights in your routine,”says Love. “One study found that when individuals cycled for 30 minutes a day, they lost 3 pounds of fat and gained a half pound of muscle in 8 weeks. But individuals who cycled for 15 minutes and weight trained for 15 minutes a day lost 10 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of calorie-burning muscle.”

MYTH #5: Ab exercises are the fastest way to a flat belly

“Doing abdominal exercises can strengthen the different ab muscles, but it won’t burn body fat and reveal the ‘6-pack look,’” says Aaron Swan, Private Trainer at the Sports Club/LA-Boston. “Abs are made in the kitchen—not from doing crunches.” A proper diet low in refined carbohydrates and full of lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of low-glycemic fruits and vegetables will bring you closer to the flat belly you’re after.

MYTH #6: Doing squats will make your butt big

“This one cracks me up,” says Freytag. “We all know what makes your butt big and it isn’t squats. All of us who sit in front of a computer, at desk, or in a car seat all day are at risk for developing weak glutes unless we actively do something about it.” One of the best fixes: Squats! “Science shows that this move will help to lift, firm, and strengthen your buns,” says Freytag. “Just be sure to focus on good form. Keep your knees above your shoe laces and sit back into an imaginary chair; squeeze through your glutes as you return to standing.”

MYTH #7: It can take only a few weeks to reach a reach weight loss plateau.

“Recently, a woman told me she had been training for one month and the scale had already stopped moving,” says Love. “She insisted she had been sticking to her diet and that she was in a plateau, but that likely wasn’t the case.” Why not? A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that it takes 6 months for an individual to reach a weight loss plateau. “If you are only a couple weeks into your program and weight loss has halted, you probably need to watch your diet,” says Love.

MYTH #8: I can slim down by switching to diet soda

There may be zero calories, but chugging those cans of chemicals could be plumping your paunch. “A study at Purdue University found that rats given artificial sweeteners ate more calories and gained more weight than rats given sugar,” says Love. “A better option is to drink water that is naturally flavored with lemon or cucumber slices to keep calories low and hydration high.”

MYTH #9: An empty stomach means more fat burn

You’ve probably heard that working out sans food forces your body to tap into fat reserves to work, but this is far from true, says Freytag.“Science has shown you need to have some glucose in your system in order to ignite your fat-burning furnaces. If you run out of stored glucose, your flame goes out and you start burning up muscle.” Having a little pre-workout snack, 30 to 60 minutes before your workout gives you the energy to go longer and harder, which boosts your burn.

MYTH #10: You can target trouble spots

It would be nice to be able to choose where our bodies store fat (bigger cup size and thinner thigh, please!) but that just isn’t possible.“The scientific truth is that your body decides where to burn fat  based on genetics, regardless of the body part you are exercising,” says Samantha Clayton, personal trainer and co-star of YouTube’s Be Fit In 90.  Instead of focusing on one area, spend your time doing full-body workouts that blast calories, like running or body-weight circuits, for all-over slimming.

Orignial Article: