Tag Archives: food

Simple Ways to Improve Your Eating Habits

Diet culture or societal beliefs that encourage restriction of food to get a leaner body are some of the ways people approach eating. Research shows that restrictive diet rarely results in long-term weight loss. Experts say that if you are in good health, you don’t necessarily need to severely  restrict your food choices.

According to the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 85% of your food should be focused on helping your body and leaving the rest for things you enjoy. It’s important to consult a doctor if you have restrictions on your diet related to health conditions.

If you’re trying to rethink your approach to food in the new year, experts suggest using the following three strategies to do it better.

It’s important to listen to your cravings and think about what you haven’t had in a while that will make you feel good. Allow yourself to have a little–remember you get that 15% indulgence!

The human body can tell you when to eat and when to stop, but diet culture has messed with those signals. Slow down, take your time with your meal, listen to the cues your body is giving and don’t over eat. Body-signal driven portion control can help reduce caloric intake.

Restricting what and how much you eat, like telling yourself you can’t have that burger or ice cream instead of allowing yourself to enjoy a treat, is behavior that can lead to eating more than you’re comfortable with later to make up for it.

Use all of your senses to appreciate what you’re eating. Much like listening your body for when to stop eating, use your senses to fully appreciate everything about the food you are eating–this will likely lead to your eating healthy and better prepared food. It will slow down your eating.

Some Thoughts on Portion Sizes

Portion sizes of our favorite foods have been getting larger and larger. These days some portion sizes might even be called monstrous.

Super-processed food and drink—things like chocolate, fried food, fast-food hamburgers, soda, chips and cookies—are being sold in sizes that are five times bigger than when the products first went on the market according to a recent study from the American Journal of Public Health.

These types of foods can be identified easily—they usually have more than five ingredients and usually contain things like hydrogenated oils, flavor enhancers, and dyes that aren’t found in other processed foods.

Hershey’s regular chocolate bar comes in lots of different sizes from as small as around half an ounce to the (gargantuan?) 7 ounce bar which comes in at almost 1,000 total calories from 8 servings.

The 1955 original McDonald’s burger patty was 1.6 ounces. The original patty size has not changed, but McDonald’s has added some high calorie burgers like their popular Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese that includes 8 ounces of meat. In 2020 McDonald’s released their Double Big Mac burger that is over 700 calories and includes four beef patties.

If an over-700-calorie sandwich gave you pause, Burger King’s Triple Whooper with cheese has almost 1,300 calories which is enough calories, depending on lifestyle and other factors, for a day for some people.

While, largely, smaller sizes are still available, there are many more options for very large beverages. Coca-Cola offers drinks in sizes from 7.5 fluid ounces to 24 fluid ounces. The original bottle was 6.5 ounces.

The ingredients of processed foods are so inexpensive, relative to expenses like equipment, staff, and property costs, that manufacturers will happily offer much larger portions to attract customers. When presented with lots of portion sizes many consumers see a larger portion size for not much more money as a win-win. However, constant exposure to larger portion sizes has been found to increase the chances of obesity and diet related disease.

How the Pandemic Has Caused Positive Food Changes for Families

Here are some positive ways in which the pandemic has changed some people’s relationship with food. Just because these changes were “forced” by unfortunate circumstances doesn’t mean you can’t adopt some of these practices as the pandemic wanes.

Some kids are only just having the experience of having both parents home during the week for dinner (while other kids may have found they are having less meals with parents, depending on the situation). Many studies have demonstrated that eating together as a family lead to kids having less substance use disorders, better self-esteem, better success in school and a lower risk of depression.

Many studies have found that young people and children haven’t learned to cook like their parents did. However, this trend has reversed somewhat in the wake of the pandemic. Many parents who are essential workers have found themselves away from home more and relying more on children to cook for the family.

Studies have demonstrated that kids who learn how to cook or help in the kitchen develop better eating habits as adults. One long-term study demonstrated that people who learned to cook by 18-23 years of age ate more veggies, less fast food and more family meals in their late 20s and early 30s.

People have started eating more plant-based proteins. They have stocked up on things like beans and lentils or trying meat-alternatives as supply shortages hit the meat section at the grocery store. This is good for both our bodies and the environment. You can begin by thinking of meat as a savory side dish rather than the main course.

These are just a few ways people have “accidentally” made positive dietary changes during the pandemic.

Tips to Avoid Mindless Snacking in Your Home Office

While the pandemic has been a mixed bag for people and their relationship with food (some people have cooked more at home while others have relied more heavily on take-out and fast food), one thing is for certain the temptation to snack has been enabled by close access to our own pantries and refrigerators.

Some of us may even be working in our kitchens making all our favorite snacks just steps away.

So, how do we avoid mindless snacking in our home office? Here are a few tips.

Try to start the habit of asking yourself things like, “do I really want this now?” “am I just bored or stressed?” If you honestly want a snack, it is probably OK to have one, but if not you’ve just avoided consuming unneeded calories.

Maybe you really want something else, you might try talking a walk, calling or texting a friend, taking a nap or maybe try doing some light stretching or exercising.

You can also try keep high density, high fiber foods in the house. These foods will fill you up quickly. And if you keep high density, high fiber fruits and vegetables around the calories are better for you than chips and cookies.

The best way to avoid eating something is simply not to bring it home in the first place. Just don’t buy it.

Portion control can also help. Don’t bring the family sized bag of chips to your desk. Make yourself a reasonable portion. You can also pre-portion your snacks or buy the single serving kind. It is also good to schedule your meals. Make sure you eat breakfast and take a break to eat lunch.


New Study Finds Kid’s Diets Nationwide Average 67% Ultra-Processed Food

A new research study has found that the diets of children and teens in the United States now consist of nearly 2/3rds ultra processed food calories.

Ultra-processed foods, like frozen pizza, microwave meals, packaged snacks and desserts, accounted for 67% of calories consumed by those demographics in 2018. Which is up from 61% in 1999.

The study analyzed the diet of almost 34k children and adolescents from across the nation.

Industrial processing of food is a mixed bag. While it does allow foods to keep much, much longer than nature allows and some foods to have added nutrients it can also modify foods in a variety of ways including taste, texture, color. Relatedly it makes foods extra tasty, cheap and convenient. All of this takes place via methods not possible in-home cooking. Additionally, they are marketed aggressively in general and often directly at children and teens.

While some foods like whole grain breads and dairy foods benefit from ultra-processing and are much healthier than other ultra-processed foods, many others are less healthy and contain much more sugar and salt, but less fiber than minimally or unprocessed foods which makes them far less healthy than other options.

This is what makes the increase in childhood consumption so concerning.