Eating out and Your Weight

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Now that I’ve sold you (or at the very least you are in the precontemplation stage) on keeping a food diary/log, you are probably going to tell me that you eat out all of the time right?  Sure, you can keep a food log when traveling  but you may have no clue what is in that delicious creamy dish you are devouring.  Wonder no longer.  Dr. Jo, a dietitian who specializes in dining healthy when dining out, created an entire series of books and printable cards that give you the strategies you need and provide meal suggestions for dining healthy when dining out!  She includes tips and strategies for breakfast, lunch and dinner and every dining situation you can think of.

You can lose weight or maintain your weight when you eat out if you make it a priority.  Sure, not every restaurant has the best selection of healthy entrees but most will alter their cooking method if you just ask (grilled vs. fried for instance).  Many people have told me that they can’t lose weight because they travel, don’t have time to exercise and they eat out all of the time. However, it comes down to priorities.  Jarred made it a priority (Subway Jarred that is) and became a huge success. (By the way, if you haven’t read his amazing story, I encourage you to do so.  Pure inspiration!)  All you need are the tools to navigate you along the way.

Keeping Track of your Food Intake

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Yesterday I discussed how important it is to keep track of your food intake if you want to lose weight.  The money experts tell you that it is wise to figure out where your money is going if you want to make sure that it isn’t going to steep credit card interest payments.  Well, I am telling you the same thing with food.  If you have trouble losing weight or maintaining your weight loss, you need to take a better look at what you are eating and how you are exercising.  Here are some of the internet-based tools (many are free) that you can use to do this:

www.fitday.com
www.sparkpeople.com
www.mypyramidtracker.gov
www.calorieking.com
www.dieticianmobile.com (just $9.99 from itunes for your iphone and ipod)
www.nutrihand.com
www.prevention.com/cda/healthtracker.do?wpisrc=newsletter
www.dietorganizer.com/blackberry/index.htm
Most of these (if not all) analyze your intake as well, so they’ll tally your calorie intake, macronutrient intake and sometimes even your vitamin and mineral intake.  Sometimes it takes an easy tool to bring you lasting results.

Is losing weight one of your New Year’s Resolutions?

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 If weight loss was one of the resolutions you committed to on January 1, 2009, by now you should have made some progress.  That progress could be weight loss, behavior change or a combination of the two.  If you don’t feel like you are making progress though, it is time to take a step back and ask yourself why you haven’t.  As a dietitian I’ve heard literally every excuse in the book but it really comes down to priorities.  If you didn’t exercise all week, what did you do with that time instead?  Watch TV?  Run errands?  Talk on the phone?  Take a nap?  As with any goal, you have to make weight loss and your overall health a priority.  A top priority in fact if you want to trim down your future health care costs while increasing your productivity in all areas of your life.  

A great, cheap tool to help you lose weight is a weight loss diary.  If you have access to the computer you can enter your food intake into one of the many programs (some free) on the internet that help you track your total calorie, fat, protein and carbohydrate intake.  If you are on the go try using a spiral notebook. For just $2 you have a handy weight loss tool that you can take with you anywhere and log your food intake.  Why do diet diaries work?  They hold you accountable. If you are eating a brownie you have to write it down.  When you reach for brownie #2, you’ll think twice about eating it since you will have to log that too. A multi-center trial published this past summer with a total of 1685 participants found that the mere act of keeping a daily food intake record led to twice as much weight loss as not keeping a record at all.  So if you are serious about weight loss (or weight gain for young athletes), keep track of your intake and watch the weight fall off.

Where’s Your New Year’s Resolution?

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It is now Friday, January 23rd.  Where are your New Year’s resolution or resolutions?  If you can’t answer that question, it’s time to re-visit the written (or typed) list you made 3 or more weeks ago.  Once you pull that out and put it in front of your eyes, you can assess how much progress you’ve made.  If you are falling short, don’t wait until Monday or Feb. 1 or exactly 3 months out from your beach trip or some other arbitrary day to start going to the gym.  (though I have to admit I’m very thankful my gym isn’t packed)  Start today.  According to the experts who have publicly discussed Oprah’s weight loss, weight gain, weight loss cycle, it often takes several tries before you succeed at something.  Think about smokers.  How many people do you know that have put down cigarettes forever only to pick them back up when they get stressed?  Then they go through this cycle so many times you don’t even pay attention until one day you realize they put down those little cancer sticks for good.

So, take a look at your goals, make sure they are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive (always time stamp them).  If they aren’t, re-adjust them.  One of my goals is to finish a list of house projects I still have on my plate.  Because of the time stamp I put on each of these, I realize that tomorrow I’ll be visiting the paint store to buy just a little more paint to finally (and I do mean finally) finish painting my bathroom.  Without a time stamp, I am sure I’d procrastinate for weeks or months to come.  But deep down I know finishing each project takes some weight off my mind and my ever-increasing “to do” list.
Over the next few days I am going to cover a different topic related to resolutions and goals everyday.
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Yesterday a friend invited me to the Steamhouse Lounge Oysterfest here in Atlanta in February.  Although my grandfather was a seafood merchant, scouting out the best seafood up and down the east coast and venturing over to Houma, LA for oysters, I’ve never eaten an oyster.  Here’s what I know though – they are slippery little things that are loaded with copper.  In graduate school I had to design a perfect diet for three days that met all nutrient needs (all vitamins and minerals as well as carbohydrates, protein and fat for the calorie level assigned to us).  The catch?  No meat.  Let me tell you how hard that was.  After almost finishing my project, I realized I fell short on copper.  Beef is loaded with copper yet I couldn’t include it.  The next best food? You guessed it, oysters. We need 900 micrograms of copper per day.  Mushrooms, tomato paste, semisweet chocolate and soybeans all contain copper as well.  This mineral is needed in to help us make hemoglobin, it is a component of many body enzymes, it helps your body produce energy and helps our body make connective tissue.  Given the fact that I can’t a cup of semisweet chocolate everyday to meet my copper needs, it looks like I may have to venture out and give oysters a shot this year!

Salmonella in our Food? How did this happen again?

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There are plenty of things to be concerned about in the world today but the safety of our food shouldn’t be one of them.  The latest food safety scare is once again salmonella, a group of bacteria that can pass from the feces of people or animals to other people or animals.  So how did it get in our peanut butter?  The FDA, CDC and state agencies are searching for clues to answer that very question.  
The source of the outbreak has been traced to a Georgia plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America – a company that manufactures peanut butter and peanut paste. As noted by the FDA, a variety of different products could be contaminated including cakes, cookies, crackers, candies, cereal and pre-packaged shelf-stable peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
While the FDA and various food companies are working hard to get these products off store shelves, take a look in your cabinet to see if you have anything that should be tossed (keep the bar code and contact the company – you can probably get your money back).  For more information on questionable products, check the FDA website:  http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/salmonellatyph.html
And, if you think you may be feeling a bit under the weather but you aren’t sure why and wonder if you have been infected with salmonella, check the CDC website for more information about this bacteria:  http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/salmonellosis_gi.html