August, 2014

Eating Out is Doing Us In

If you knew that an order of Pasta Alfredo at Olive Garden had 12 teaspoons of artery-clogging grease and a whopping 1,220 calories or that Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger with fries packs 1,820 calories, 46 grams of saturated fat, and two day’s worth of sodium, would you eat them anyway? It’s no surprise that several recent studies have found that eating out is doing our waistlines (and health) in.

Everyone already knows that fast-food fare is mind-boggling awful for your health and weight. But, it doesn’t stop there. National chain restaurants, from Chipotle Mexican Grill, Ruby Tuesdays, and Red Robin to the grand-daddy of them all – The Cheesecake Factory – also serve platters not portions of high calorie, fat, and salt-laden gorge sessions. For example, it’s a no-brainer that a slice of cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factor will cost you between 800 and 1,200 calories. But, would you have guessed that the Charbroiled Flat Iron Steak w/ Fries has 1,760 calories, 30 grams of saturated fat, and 3,840 mg sodium. Get it Philly Style and the cheese sauce brings the total to 2 ½ days worth of saturated fat (47 grams) and a more than a day’s worth of calories, with more than 3-days worth of sodium (5,340 mg).

A study from Tufts University in Boston found that independent and small-chain restaurants are even worse. Here meals average 1,327 calories (66% of the average person’s total daily calorie allotment) and some meals top out at an entire day’s calorie need. Almost three out of every four meals have more than half of the 2,000 daily calories recommended for adults. That is before you order a beverage, appetizer, or dessert, or start taking bites off someone else’s plate. According to a study from the University of Toronto, the average meal in a sit-down restaurant is flavored with 1,455 milligrams of sodium (the recommended daily limit for sodium is 1,500 milligrams). Many sandwiches, wraps, ribs, Mexican dishes, and pasta entrees come in at an alarmingly high 2,300 milligrams of sodium. Even if you choose a healthy option, such as a grilled chicken salad, you could be guzzling 2,000 milligrams of sodium and 40 grams or more of fat. Those extra restaurant calories aren’t free and research shows people who eat out are much more likely to be overweight. That means more heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, dementia, gout, depression, etc.

In the “good ol’ days, going out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner was a special occasion. You planned it days in advance, you dressed up, and you went a little crazy on your choices at the restaurant. Hey, why not? You only ate out on rare occasions, so live it up a little. While eating out was once a treat, now it’s a routine, with one in every five meals eaten at a restaurant, for a total of more than 53 billion meals and more than $300 billion per year, according to the National Restaurant Association. Almost one in ten women eat out up to seven times a week! More than 45% of money spent on food goes to restaurant meals and other away-from-home foods, up from 34% in 1970.

Good old-fashioned home-cooked meals are healthier. In addition, family meals at home keep kids healthier and leaner, support better relationships within the family, reduce disordered eating and substance abuse, and improve well-being. Oh, and you’ll save money! Eating in and cooking real food could be the simplest step toward halting this nation’s obesity epidemic.
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Just Do This Today

1. Eat at home and bring healthy food with you if you plan to be out of the house for more than a couple of hours.

2. If you stop at a coffee shop, order a plain coffee or a nonfat latte and sweeten it with Splenda or another sugar substitute.

3. When you do frequent a restaurant, order without looking at the menu. For example, ask “Can I have a grilled salmon fillet with a heaping side of steamed vegetables?” Split an entree, ask for salad dressing on the side, and request that the bread basket be removed from the table.

Hot Off the Diet Press

1. Lutein: The New Anti-Aging Supplement: Lutein supplements got seniors up and moving in a study from the University of South Australia. Forty-four seniors who did not meet the Australian physical activity guidelines were given daily placebos or supplements of lutein (21 milligrams), and were encouraged to exercise more. After one month, those seniors taking lutein showed increased blood levels of the carotenoid and a significant reduction in sedentary time. In fact, the percent change in blood lutein was directly associated with the increase in daily activity. The more, the better.
Thomson R, Coates A, Howe P, et al: Increases in plasma lutein through supplementation are correlated with increases in physical activity and reductions in sedentary time in older adults. Nutrients 2014;6:974-984.

2. Veggies are a Stroke of Luck: Once again, colorful fruits and vegetables are found to lower disease risk, in this case stroke. Researchers at the Medical College of Qingdao University in China conducted a meta-analysis of 20 studies published during the past 19 years for a combined total of 760,629 men and women who had 16,981 strokes. Results showed that stroke risk decreased by 32% with every 200 grams of fruit consumed each day and 11% for every 200 grams of vegetables consumed. As produce consumption increased, stroke risk decreased. The researchers also cited studies showing that a produce-rich diet lowers blood pressure, improves microvascular function, and lowers body mass index, waist circumference, cholesterol, inflammation, and oxidative stress.
Hu D, Huang J, Wang Y, et al: Fruits and vegetables consumption and risk of stroke. Stroke 2014;May 8th.

3. The Young Child’s Memory Diet: What young children eat influences on how well they remember, according to a study from the University of Illinois. Researchers investigated the relationship between performance on direct and indirect memory tasks and intake of various dietary components, including saturated fats, omega-3 fats, and refined sugar, in 52 children between the ages of 7- and 9-years-old. Results showed that saturated fat intake was associated with poor memory on both tests, while children who consumed the most omega-3s showed significantly higher memory performance. Eye movement measures of relational memory was inversely linked to sugar intake. That is, as sugar intake increased, memory decreased.
Baym C, Khan N, Monti J, et al: Dietary lipids are differentially associated with hippocampal-dependent relational memory in prepubescent children, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2014;99:1026-1032.

4. Speed Aging Kids: Being overweight speeds the aging process in children, according to a study from the University of Houston in Texas. Because obesity is linked to accelerated biological aging and suppressed immunity, the researchers investigated how this affects being overweight even in children. Body weights were compared to immune markers in the blood of 123 adolescents aged 10- to 14-years-old. Results showed that overweight or obese children had significantly lower levels of immune cells, such as T lymphocytes, compared to lean children. Immune cells of the overweight children also resembled those of older adults. The researchers conclude that being overweight even in adolescence accelerates the aging process, at least as it related to immunity, thus predisposing children to an increased risk of immune-related diseases in adulthood.
Spielmann G, Johnston C, O’Connor D, et al. Excess body mass is associated with T cell differentiation indicative of immune ageing in children. Clinical and Experimental Immunology 2014;176:246-254.
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Food & Mood Tip

The research overwhelmingly shows that the more color-rich produce you eat, the better you think. At Tufts University in Boston, animals fed diets enriched with extra produce, such as blueberries and spinach, performed best on memory tests throughout life. The same holds true for people. Folks who eat the most broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, and other deep-colored produce, maintain the highest blood levels of antioxidants. They also score highest on memory tests, exhibit the best judgement and reasoning, maintain a youthful ability to learn new tasks, and react quickly
You should limit your intake of sugar, fat, salt, and processed foods, but when it comes to vegetables – the more you eat, the better. Aim for 8 to 10 servings a day for starters. That recommendation is not as unreasonable as it might sound. All you need do is: Include two fruits and/or vegetables at every meal and one at every snack. You don’t have to eat 10 different fruits and vegetables! Just double a serving size of any bright-colored vegetable and you are well on your way to meeting the daily quota.
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Mood-Boosting Recipe of the month-

Ginger Salmon on a Bed of Sauteed Sesame Spinach
This flavor-packed meal supplies almost 2 grams of omega-3s and half your daily requirement for folate. Serve with brown rice and a fresh fruit salad to round out the meal.

1/3 cup bottled hoisin sauce
2 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons canned chipotle peppers, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 pound wild salmon fillet
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed
salt to taste
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat broiler. Line cookie sheet with tin foil.
1) In a small bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients.
2) Rinse and dry salmon. Rub with lemon juice, then brush both sides with sauce mixture, place on foil-lined cookie sheet, cover, and refrigerate while preparing spinach.
3) In a large, non-stick frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute, stirring continuously so as not to burn for 2 minutes. (If you like a little hot “zing” flavor, then add crushed red pepper flakes during last 30 seconds of sauteing the garlic.) Add spinach and saute until heated through. Remove from heat and keep warm. (Or, prepare spinach while salmon is in broiler.)
4) Broil salmon until opaque in center, basting occasionally with remaining sauce (approximately 6 minutes, depending on thickness of fish).
5) Place spinach on serving platter, sprinkle with sesame seeds and top with salmon. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Analysis: 305 calories, 50% fat (16.9 g; 3.6 g saturated;1.8 g omega-3s), 14% carbs (10.7 g), 36% protein (27.5 g), 193 mg calcium, 3.4 g fiber, 209 mcg folate.

Answers to “Do you know?” from last issue:

1. Should you eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper? The bottom line is, your weight is a direct reflection of how often you exercise balanced with how many calories you take in daily, regardless of when you eat them. However, it is common for people to eat high-calorie foods at night, such as ice cream, chips, and other snack foods. The calories add up fast in that case. In addition, people who skip breakfast are most likely to overeat later in the day. The best advice is to eat regularly throughout the day, starting with breakfast, then choose healthy, low-calorie foods rich in fiber to fill you up without filling you out.

2. Does everything you eat after 9 P.M. turn to fat? In many countries, people don’t sit down to eat until 9 or 10 o’clock, yet they aren’t fat. As stated above, it is your total calories, not when they are eaten. The only time your body stores fat is when you’ve eaten more calories than you burned that day. It is the EXCESS that is stored.

Is it true?

1. You don’t need supplements if you eat a balanced diet.

2. Brown sugar, agave, and honey are healthier alternatives to table sugar.

Check next week for the answers….

Label Lingo

The Word “Natural” on a Label.
This word is meaningless. While $41 billion worth of foods labeled as “natural” were sold last year, there is no legal definition of the term and it promises nothing other than enticing you to buy a product that might or might not be healthy. For more on this topic, check out:

Food Finds/Food Fails:

Food Finds:
Alpen® Original  [bar-025711.jpg]1. Alpen All-Natural Muesli: Looking for a healthful alternative to most of the processed stuff in the cereal aisle? In this case, a muesli labeled as natural is worth a try. A 2/3 cup serving has no saturated fat or cholesterol, almost no sodium, and 5 grams of fiber, both soluble fiber from oats and barley and insoluble fiber from 100% whole wheat. It does pack 11 grams of sugar, but some of that comes from the raisins. The hazelnuts and almonds, as well as the combination of fiber, protein, and liquid (from the milk you pour on top) will help keep you satiated through the morning hours.

2. Dreyers Outshine Fruit Bars: 
When you just have to have something sweet, these bars are a great alternative to ice cream. Made from real fruit, the single serving bar has only 70 calories, no fat, cholesterol, or sodium, and 20% of your daily’s requirement for vitamin C. There is sugar, 4 teaspoons total counting the fresh fruit and added sugar. The bars come in a variety of fruit flavors, including raspberry, strawberry, and pomegranate.

Food Fails:
1. Good Tastes Brie and Fig Mac & Cheese: How can you say “no” to a comfort food with a promise that “Aged Brie & sun dried figs create a flavor that would make even Mona Lisa smile?” The promise that this meal will be filled with wholesome gourmet ingredients quickly falls short when you read the ingredient list containing xanthan gum, maltodextrin, and “natural” cheese flavor. And, oops, did you notice that the box contains two servings, not one, which means you’ll have to split that 1 1/3 cups with a loved one. Eat the whole thing, which would be very easy to do, and you’ve swallowed up to 640 calories and 4 teaspoons of artery clogging saturated fat.

2. Marzetti Cream Cheese Fruit Dip: What an ingenious way to turn fresh fruit into a cardiac-arrest snack! Just dip a half-cup of brain-boosting, antioxidant-rich strawberries into 2 tablespoons of this goo and you’ve quadrupled the calories, added 2 grams of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of sodium, and 2 teaspoons of refined sugar without increasing any of the vitamins, minerals, or phytochemicals by even a smidgen. Worse yet, it is easy to scoop a tablespoon of this grease onto each strawberry, which means you’ll be adding 100s of calories and inches to your waistline if you polish off that serving of fruit. Oh, and did I mention the list of additives you will ingest, from sodium phosphate and high fructose corn syrup, to modified corn starch, and a handful of preservatives?

The Daily Menu

Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Eliminate the snacks if you want to cut additional calories. And, with all the menus in my newsletter, feel free to tweak to your food preferences and choices.

1 two-ounce, low-fat bran muffin topped with 1 tablespoon cashew, almond, or peanut butter
Fruit Salad: 1/2 cup pineapple chunks (fresh or canned in own juice) and 1 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced (Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon crystalized ginger – Optional)
1 cup low-fat milk or soymilk w/ DHA

Mid-Morning Snack:
2/3 cup plain, nonfat yogurt mixed with 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds and 1 teaspoon honey

Tossed salad: 3 cups leaf lettuce w/ red onion, 1 tablespoon dried tart cherries, 1 tangerine sectioned, and 3 ounces grilled chicken
Topped with 2 tablespoons low-fat honey mustard dressing
1 slice French bread

Mid-Afternoon Snack:
3 whole wheat crackers topped with 2 teaspoons fat-free cream cheese, a slice of a Granny apple, and a bread and butter pickle slice

1 serving Ginger Salmon on a Bed of Sauteed Sesame Spinach
1 cup instant brown rice
1 cup mixed fresh fruit

Late-Night Snack:
1 /2 whole wheat bagel, toasted and topped with 1 tablespoon fat-free cream cheese and 2 teaspoons apricot jam
Decaf Earl Grey tea (sweetened with Splenda – Optional)

Nutrition Analysis: 1,984 Calories, 31 % fat (68 g, 13.6 g saturated), 48 % carbs (238 g), 21 % protein (104 g), 38 g fiber, 2,348 mg sodium.

What Has Elizabeth Been Up To?

Quoted in:
On AMNorthWest in Portland, OR on July 21st talking about how sugar affects your waistline.
On AMNorthWest on August 18th. Topic: Take the Nutrition Test.
On San Diego Living on July 17th talking about the 5 diet pitfalls of summer.