Monday, July 10, 2006

Un-Supersize It

Americans eat too much. According to a recent New York Times features, we spend $46 billion annually on diets, but obesity rates in kids and adults are "doubling and tripling."

One reason may be portion size. And in the New York Times article, "
Forget the Second Helpings. It's the First Ones That Count," we learn that food producers are working against you. For example, bagels in this country have bloated to between five and six ounces; that's five to six servings of bread (remember you just need six to eleven in a day); and they pack around 500 calories, "not counting cream cheese or butter," reports the Times.

And what about those irresistible muffins at Starbucks? According to the Times, "muffin tins from my childhood produce muffins one-third the size of those at Starbucks." I don't know when the author, Jane E. Brody, was born, but I can pretty much guarantee that Americans aren't three times as active today as they were when she was a kid. And I'm pretty sure Americans aren't sharing their muffins, quitting at one-third of the muffin and tossing it, or cutting the extra calories from other portions of their diets (unless it’s the fruit and vegetable part), as evidence by rising obesity rates.

Money, or getting your money's worth also plays a role. "The cheapest dining establishments serve the most food," reports the Times. Also, "Drinks are in 24-ounce sizes or larger, often with free refills. And most people eat and drink what they pay for."

How can you fight back? The Times piece suggests looking for foods that are less energy-dense. According to the Times, "The more energy-dense a food is -- that is, the more calories per ounce or gram -- the more calories people tend to consume." And, according to a recent Pennsylvania State University study reported by the Times, "All other factors being equal, people eat about the same weight of food each day."

Thus, the more calorie dense your diet, the more weight you are likely to gain. So, try switching out some "meat, cheese, pizza and French fries" for "soup, green salad, nonstarchy vegetables and fruit."

Two tips. Look for foods naturally high in water like broccoli or watermelon. "The main ingredient that influences energy density is water," points out the Times. Also, load up on fiber. "Fiber adds noncaloric bulk to foods. It is filling, it holds water, and it slows the absorption of food, so people are more likely to feel satisfied before they overeat."

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.