# Great Way to Visualize Calorie Density

Most people eat until they feel satisfied or full, and this is why portion control alone will not work for weight loss. To lose weight without chronic hunger, you need to choose the right foods — the ones that are low in calorie density. The illustration above shows 400 calories of 3 different foods: oil, protein and vegetables. 1 cup of broccoli is about 53 calories so you would need to eat 8 cups to get 400 calories. You would only need about 1/4 cup of olive oil for 400 calories. And 1.3 cups of chopped chicken would equal about 400 calories.

What is “calorie density”?
Calorie density is defined as the concentration of calories in a given weight of food. Comparing calories per pound, ounce, or gram provides a useful way to compare foods for weight loss purposes.

Why is calorie density important?
Foods with a high calorie density provide MORE calories than foods with a low calorie density. For example, your favorite chocolate candy bar is far more calorie dense than a low-fat green leafy salad.

Let’s take a look at that in more depth. Two ounces of chocolate contains 240 calories. To eat the same amount of calories in lettuce, you would have to eat 3.2 pounds of lettuce! Of course you can probably fit in a little chocolate into your eating plan, but if all of the foods you eat are that calorie-dense you will be starving yourself to keep the portions very small so that you don’t consume too many calories. And we all know where that leads us — to diet failure and weight regain.

How does calorie density aid weight loss?
A Penn State study (Am J Clin Nutr 69:863-871) looked at how lean and obese women ate. Study subjects ate all their meals in a testing laboratory for 4-day periods. They were required to eat the entire portion of the main dish at each meal (and this main dish varied in calorie density). Otherwise, they could eat whatever they wanted during meals and snacks. When the calorie density of the main dish was lower, the women ate fewer calories over the day. Their calorie intake decreased by 16 percent, yet they felt just as full.

Okay, so how do I choose foods that are low in calorie density?
We don’t want to bore you with huge lists and charts of foods. Just remember that the best foods are fruits, vegetables, cooked grains (especially cooked whole grains) and low-fat dairy products (without sugar). Water- and fiber-rich foods are the best choices for weight control.

Very low-calorie-dense foods have 0 to 0.5 calories per gram. These include non-starchy vegetables, many fruits, skim milk, and light nonfat yogurt.

Low-calorie-dense foods have 0.6 to 1.4 calories per gram. These include starchy vegetables, cooked grains (barley, rice, pasta), canned beans, canned fruit, skinless turkey breast, low-fat fish, and shrimp.

Medium-calorie-dense foods have 1.5 to 3.9 calories per gram. These include chicken breast, whole-wheat bread, apple pie, bagels, lean ground beef, and dried fruit.

High-calorie-dense foods have 4.0 to 9.0 calories per gram. These include baked and regular chips, croissants, cookies, French fries, pretzels, oils, margarine, cake, and many other high-fat/high-sugar foods. Most people are surprised to find that many fat-free snacks and cookies fall in this category too.

Compare a few popular foods by calories per gram to understand how fat and fiber have an impact on the calorie density of foods:

• A skinless, roasted chicken breast provides fewer calories by weight than lean ground beef because it is lower in fat.
• An apple has 0.6 calories and apple pie has 2.4 calories per gram. The addition of fat, white flour, and sugar increases calorie density. This comparison helps you realize that it is better to choose whole foods versus refined foods.

Get a fun portion control science project here!

There are more portion control resources:

# MyPlate Meal Makeover Handout

Check out this amazing MyPlate meal makeover! I originally kept this handout as an exclusive part of the soon-to-be-released My Plate activity book, but my resolve has crumbled and I can’t wait to share it with you today! If you like what you see, be sure to keep an eye out for the free printable MyPlate handout at the bottom of the post…

### Meal Makeover: Use MyPlate to Rearrange This Plate of Fried Chicken

Revise Fried Chicken:

A typical plate filled with fried chicken and macaroni and cheese weighs in at over 850 calories! That’s way too huge for a single meal. Plus, the plate is full of solid fats and processed grains, with very few nutrients in sight. This is where MyPlate comes in handy. Use MyPlate to rebalance the plate and make the meal more nutritious!

Since filling half the plate with fruits and vegetables is key to MyPlate, start there, replacing half of the chicken and macaroni with steamed corn and green beans. Then keep protein to a quarter of the plate, choosing white meat to cut down on saturated fat. This leaves the dairy and grain groups, which are represented by the macaroni and cheese. Look at the new plate! It’s got only 333 calories, and it looks just as full as the other plate!

Dinner Meal Makeover Details:

Using MyPlate to make over this meal saves you 517 calories!

This new meal is far higher in nutrients, especially fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also lower in empty calories than the first plate.

You could make this meal even better by replacing the refined grain macaroni with a whole grain pasta like whole wheat pasta or quinoa pasta. If you replaced the full-fat cheese with low-fat cheese, you’d take the improvements even further!

The green beans add 30% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin C and 20% of your DV of vitamin K.

Like what you see? Here’s a free (and printable!) My Plate handout:

And don’t miss these other engaging MyPlate materials from the Nutrition Education Store!

MyPlate Coloring Book

MyPlate DVD

MyPlate Floor Sticker

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# Eating Mindfully in 3 Steps

Mindful eating is a great way to build healthy habits and a balanced relationship with food. To help make eating mindfully more appealing and accessible to your clients, I’ve created a brand new poster and handout set: A Guide to Mindful Eating.

Today, I’d like to preview the handout that comes with the poster. Take a look and let me know what you think!

Mindful Eating

People often follow food and diet rules that they believe will help them reach their health goals. These rules might be what to eat based on cave men or avoid a food group like carbohydrates. All of this can become overwhelming. Recently, a new buzzword has entered the diet world: mindful eating.

Mindful eating, also called intuitive eating, happens when people consume food while staying aware of their hunger and without passing judgement on the food or the act of eating. When practicing mindful eating, eaters listen to internal hunger and satiety cues. Sound nutrition information becomes a guideline for food choices, but food is selected based on hunger levels, nutritional needs, and existing illnesses or allergies.

Step 1: Recognize hunger cues and the feeling of satiety. Hunger can have both physical and psychological sensations. One may feel an emptiness or a hollow fee ling in the gut, restlessness, the inability to focus, irritability, or fatigue. Satiety should feel more comfortable than hunger. Satiety is the feeling of being full but it does not mean being stuffed from over eating or  trying to clean your plate.

Step 2: Put your food on a plate and sit down to eat. This will help you balance your meals, avoid over eating, and enjoy the flavor of your food. It helps you feel satiated and keeps you from eating on the run. It also helps you see how much you are eating instead of eating what food manufacturers and restaurants dictate for portions.

Mindful eating does take practice, but it’s actually an innate technique. Consider a newborn. When she is hungry, she sends a signal that it is time to eat (crying). When she is satiated, she will stop eating. Over time, we may lose this skill as external factors come into play. The “clean plate club,” eating with family at a set time, or various diet rules can all contribute to a loss of this skill. The good news is that people can return to mindful eating and take the focus away from food and external cues. This offers an opportunity to focus on a more joyful and healthy life. When people begin to listen to their bodies, eating becomes a form of self-care. It can restore food to its original function: a source of nourishment.

It’s time to get back to basics, ditch the rules, use sound nutrition as a guideline, and truly listen to what our bodies need. It’s time for mindful eating.

By Beth Rosen, MS, RD, CDN

Did you like it? Here’s a free copy of the printable mindful eating handout!

And here are some other great resources, just for you!

\$49.00

\$22.75 \$25.50

\$22.75 \$25.50
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# Confessions of a Juice Drinker

You would have thought I had committed a heinous crime when I admitted to a group of women that I frequently drink orange juice in the morning.  I know that eating whole fruit is a better choice, but I like juice.

Their astonished comments were accompanied by what they thought was a known fact that there was lots of sugar in juice. OK I admit this. One eight-ounce glass of juice contains 21 grams of sugar. However, if you drink only pure 100% juice, then that sugar is all from the fruit itself, not added sugar.

After their admonishments, I’m still trying to convince myself that drinking juice is acceptable. One of my rationalizations is that I make an effort to seek out juice that has added calcium and vitamin D. At least I’m getting those extra nutrients.

I also admit that I like lots of pulp. The pulp in orange juice is real orange pulp, but it doesn’t amount to any significant fiber. That said, I still like it. The majority of orange juice sold is pulp free, so the pulp is actually removed at the beginning of the process and then added back into juices that have pulp.

It takes about three oranges to make a cup of juice. Juice allows for a lot of calories to be consumed quickly. There are 71 calories in one orange, yet 8 ounces of orange juice provides 112 calories. If I ate three oranges instead of drinking the juice, I certainly would feel a lot fuller! Part of that is due to the three grams of dietary fiber in each orange.

It seems I’m not the only person who likes juice. According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 1/3 of all fruit consumption in America is in the form of juice. The most commonly consumed fruit juices are orange, apple, and grape.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we “shift to mostly whole fruits, in nutrient-dense forms.” The guidelines also say that “although fruit juice can be part of a healthy eating pattern, it is lower than whole fruit in dietary fiber and when consumed in excess can contribute extra calories. Therefore, at least half of the recommended amount of fruit eaten daily should come from whole fruits.” They also go on to say that when juices are consumed, they should be 100% juice, without added sugar.

Here’s a tip when it comes to children and juice: the amount of fruit juice allowed in the USDA Food Patterns for young children aligns with the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Young children should consume no more than 4 to 6 ounces of 100% fruit juice per day.

Let’s end with a comparison:

Whole fruit: offers fewer calories for the satiety it provides, features more dietary fiber, takes longer to eat and therefore provides more eating satisfaction

Juice: offers a quick and easy way to reach daily fruit servings and could be enriched with needed nutrients

Here are the take home messages:

• Seek moderation in all things.
• Watch the amount of juice consumed.
• Make that “shift” to whole fruit whenever possible.

Some habits are hard to break.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

PS Here’s a printable handout that features the highlights of today’s post.

\$49.00 \$55.00

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# Sneak Peek: Work It Off

It’s time for another sneak peek inside the Nutrition Education Store!

Today I want to talk about healthful eating habits. After all, there’s simply not enough time to work off a bad diet. That’s why Beth Rosen, MS, RD, CDN and I teamed up to create this wonderful new poster, Work It Off.

Work It Off outlines exactly how much time it would take a person to burn off the calories in common foods like burgers and soft drinks. Do your clients know that it would take 1 hour and 40 minutes to walk off the calories in half a frozen pizza? Or that an oversized cinnamon roll would take 2 hours and 14 minutes to walk off? Share all this painstakingly-researched information — and more! — with this fun and colorful poster.

Of course, the fun doesn’t stop there!

This poster comes with a free PDF handout. As a bonus just for you, I’d like to share that handout in its entirety, right now!

Here’s a preview…

Exercise is an important tool for achieving a healthy lifestyle. But beware of this diet pitfall: Exercise alone will not help you reach your weight loss goals, especially if you’re eating a high-calorie diet filled with solid fats and added sugar.

Exercise does burn calories, but there is a common misperception about just how long it takes to burn enough calories to equal the calories in a meal, snack, or drink. This chart includes the calorie counts of common food choices in the typical American diet, and the duration of time that a 150-pound person needs to walk in order to burn off those calories.

How long will it take you to work it off?

Get a personalized guide to both food and exercise at Food and Health’s Exercise and Calorie Calculator. You can access it for free at https://foodandhealth.com/excalc.php!

Simply choose an activity (aerobics, yoga, walking, etc), then enter the amount of time you will take to do it. Fill in your weight in pounds, then click “Compute”. You’ll end up with a number of calories burned.

The figures are based on moderate activity levels. If your workouts are more vigorous, you can add a few calories to the number you burn.