Monthly Archives: March 2014

7 Tricks to Eat Less When Eating Out

7 Tricks to Eat Less When Eating Out

March 28, 2014 | By


For many of my clients, going out to eat feels like a mini vacation where anything goes and healthy eating goals fall by the wayside. Trouble is, many are dining out more often and the effects of those splurge meals snowball, leading to weight gain or preventing weight loss. According to one recent study, a single meal at a sit-down restaurant can pack nearly a day’s worth of calories, and meals consumed away from home are higher in unhealthy fats and sodium and lower in filling fiber. But restaurant meals don’t have to be dietary disasters. These 7 savvy tricks can help you enjoy dining away from home without going overboard.

Review the menu before you go

Most restaurants post menus online. Do a little recon and scope out healthy options in advance (and when you’re not already hungry). Mentally pre-ordering can prevent you from feeling stressed or rushed when you’re there. It may also lessen the chances that you’ll throw caution to the wind and order what sounds good in the moment, rather than what will feel good later.

Forgo the extras

Some of my clients tell me they wind up nibbling on chips and salsa or tearing into a slice of bread not because they’re favorites, but simply because they’re there. That’s easy to do when food is within arm’s reach and you’re hungry, but eating extras that aren’t worth it, well, just isn’t worth it. Next time you dine out, set a mental agenda to decline anything that isn’t a favorite or worth the splurge. If you don’t really love it, you won’t regret passing.

Strategize your splurge

If you know you’re going to splurge, plan it by choosing one special food and building your meal around it. For example, if you’re going to a place with fantastic French fries, which are rich in carbs and fat, pair them with veggies and lean protein to create balance. The same goes for dessert. Ordering grilled fish and steamed veggies with a side of fries or following it with dessert may seem odd, but it makes a whole lot more sense than going all out and leaving the restaurant feeling stuffed and sluggish. Forget all or nothing: in between is the best, and sanest, place to be.

Order unapologetically

Some of my clients tell me that they end up overeating at restaurants because they’re hesitant to “make a fuss” when they order. But these days, customizing your meal when dining out is the norm, so don’t feel bad about asking for swaps or making special requests. For example, ask for a turkey burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun, trade fries for steamed veggies, order side dishes in place of an entrée, and nix unwanted toppings, sauces, or garnishes. At one of my favorite restaurants I always order the same salad, but with five changes. Each time I tell the server, “I’m so sorry to be a pain, but…” they always respond with a friendly “No problem!” and say they want happy customers who get what they want and keep coming back. Win, win.

Become the pacesetter

Recent research shows that we tend to mimic the eating rate of whoever we dining with. For example, one study found that when two women eat together, when one women’s fork moves towards her mouth, the other is likely to take a bite within five seconds. This unconscious effect could trigger you to eat faster, and gobble down more overall food than you would on your own. To counter it, consciously set a slower pace. Put your fork down between bites, take eating breaks to talk or sip water, and resist picking up speed, even if your dining companion is chowing down faster. Taking it slow has been shown to result in naturally eating less, while feeling more satisfied, the perfect way to end a restaurant meal.

Stick with H2O

Not only are sugary drinks bad for your health, research shows they’re not filling. So when you drink 250 calories worth of sugar, you won’t compensate by eating less food, and those liquid calories just get tacked onto a meal. When dining out, stick with good old fashioned H2O, and drink a glass or two before you start eating. Studies have shown that this trick can result in taking in fewer calories without trying. Sipping water between bits can also help to slow your eating pace, and keep you hydrated, which is key for both digestion and metabolism.

Redefine value

Sometimes clients tell me they overeat when dining out because they don’t want to waste food they paid for. I get it—wasting food or feeling like you’re throwing money away doesn’t feel good. However, if you eat more than your body needs you’re still wasting food. The difference is instead of getting thrown in the trash, the surplus gets socked away in your fat cells, and you have to carry the waste around with you 24/7. When I share this analogy with clients, this powerful realization often leads to paying closer attention to their hunger and fullness levels, ordering more appropriate portion sizes, stopping when full, and quitting the clean plate club—all changes that can lead to effortlessly shedding pounds and inches, especially when dining out.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches. Connect with Cynthia on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Marriage Linked to Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Marriage Linked to Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

March 28, 2014 | By Health Editor


By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Marriage is good for the heart, yet another study has found.

Married partners don’t just have a lower risk of heart problems, the researchers said. They also have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease affecting the legs, neck or abdominal areas.

“We found that being married was associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease in general,” said study researcher Dr. Carlos Alviar, a cardiology fellow at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Alviar is scheduled to present the findings Saturday at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, in Washington, D.C.

Although several other studies have found that marriage helps the heart and overall health, this newest one is believed to be the largest, Alviar said. And although some other studies have found the benefit greater for married men than for married women, this study did not find gender differences, he said.

For the new study, the researchers analyzed records from a database of more than 3.5 million people nationwide. All had been evaluated for cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and vascular problems in the limbs and other areas. The database included information on whether they had high blood pressure or diabetes, were smokers or were obese — all risk factors for heart disease.

The participants’ ages ranged from 21 to 102, and the average age was 64. Of all the people studied, 69 percent were married, 14 percent were widowed, 9 percent were divorced and 8 percent were single. The singles were considered the comparison group.

Even after taking into account risk factors such as age, gender and race, marriage was still protective, researchers found.

“Married men and women had 5 percent lower odds of any vascular disease,” Alviar said, comparing them to singles. “Widowed men and women had 3 percent higher odds, and divorced men and women had 5 percent higher odds of any vascular disease.”

Alviar called that degree of risk reduction good, but “not substantial.” In younger people, however, the protection for the married men and women was even more pronounced, he said.

Although the researchers found a link between marriage and lower risk for heart disease, they didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

“It’s such a large population that you can’t cast this study off,” said Dr. J. Jeffrey Marshall, past president of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. Marshall reviewed the findings but wasn’t involved in the study.

Although other studies have looked at death rates from heart disease, this study is looking at the odds of getting cardiovascular disease, said Marshall, a cardiologist in Gainesville, Ga.

Neither Marshall nor Alviar could explain the apparent protective factor of marriage, but both have some thoughts about the reasoning behind it. “Maybe married people look out for each other,” Marshall said. “They may exercise together. Your spouse may help you watch your diet.”

Although the new study did not find gender differences, Marshall said, he finds that many of his male patients with heart problems are “dragged to the emergency room” by their wives.

Alviar agreed that partners might look out for each other. “Those who have a spouse may be more likely to comply with doctors’ appointments and medications,” he said.

The study findings suggest that doctors might need to be more clued in to the heart risk factors of unmarried patients, Alviar said.

Marshall said he tells patients — regardless of their marital status — to follow five simple steps to lower their risk: “Don’t smoke; eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet; sweat every day; achieve your ideal body weight; and stay on your medicines.”

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, it should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

To learn more about heart health, see the American Heart Association.

I am an Indian, new to this thing…. need help!!!!!!!!!!!

I am new here. I am an Indian male, vegetarian and new to calorie counting etc. The whole thing is so confusing. I need help, so please……..

Due to health issues, I lost a lot of weight, now I am pencil thin at 121 pounds at 5’10”. I need to bulk, so I have two questions.

1) I have no access to weights, so is it okay to do bodyweight exerices every day? Or will pushups etc. act as a cardio and make me lose more weight?

2) This is my bulking diet. Can someone pls see whether it is at least 2500 cals and enough for bulking? I am not able to calculate, at least an approximate calc. will do, so pls. help. I do not know how to calculate for Indian food.

Morning: 1 bowl of corn flakes, one slice of bread/1 spoon of peanut butter, 10 peanuts, 5 almonds, 1 glass of milk

Afternoon: one medium plate of rice (cooked), a medium cup of green veggies (cooked)

evening: two slices of bread with two spoons of peanut butter, 10 peanuts

Night: Indian bread/roti (4 pieces) with two cups of Indian side dish/side order

Later: a glass of milk, two pieces of chocolate

thanks for any help.

fancy sharing your weekly food plan?

Apologies if there is a similar running thread, I’m posting from a tablet which can be restrictive!

I thought some (read:me) might find it helpful to share the meals you’ve planned for the week ahead!

I’ll start: evening meals

Monday: chilli con carni
Tuesday: chicken stuffed with hours in wrapped in bacon
Wednesday: curry
Thursday: pizza chicken
Friday: meatballs
Saturday: pork stir fry
Sunday: Shepard pie (which I plan to mix sweet potato into the topping)

Lunches I plan a combination of leftovers, jacket spuds and I will make a minestrone soup.

Share! And ask for recipes or syn values. Help one another out! :-)

Being Underweight Is Even Deadlier Than Being Overweight, Study Says

Being Underweight Is Even Deadlier Than Being Overweight, Study Says

March 28, 2014 | By Health Editor


FRIDAY, March 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) — It’s said you can never be too rich or too thin, but new research suggests otherwise. People who are clinically underweight face an even higher risk for dying than obese individuals, the study shows.

Compared to normal-weight folks, the excessively thin have nearly twice the risk of death, researchers concluded after reviewing more than 50 prior studies.

Obesity has occupied center stage under the public health spotlight, but “we have [an] obligation to ensure that we avoid creating an epidemic of underweight adults and fetuses who are otherwise at the correct weight,” said study leader Dr. Joel Ray, a physician-researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

The findings appear in the March 28 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health.

Studies included in the analysis followed people for five years or more and focused on associations between BMI (body-mass index, a key indicator of healthy weight) and fatalities related to any cause.

Ray’s team also looked at how death rates related to weight patterns among newborns and stillborns.

Underweight patients of all ages (those with a BMI of 18.5 or under) were found to face a 1.8 times greater risk for dying than patients with a normal BMI (between 18.5 and 25.9), the study found.

By contrast, obese patients (those with a BMI between 30 and 34.9) face a 1.2 greater risk for dying than normal-size patients. Severely obese patients — those with a BMI of 35 or more — faced a 1.3 times greater risk.

Ray said it’s important to keep a healthy body size in mind when attempting to tackle the obesity epidemic.

“BMI reflects not only body fat, but also muscle mass. If we want to continue to use BMI in health care and public health initiatives, we must realize that a robust and healthy individual is someone who has a reasonable amount of body fat and also sufficient bone and muscle,” Ray said in a hospital news release. “If our focus is more on the ills of excess body fat, then we need to replace BMI with a proper measure, like waist circumference.”

Typical factors linked to a higher risk for being underweight included malnourishment, drug or alcohol use, smoking, poverty and mental health issues.

More information

For more on weight and health risks, visit the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Which is Healthier: Nachos or Buffalo Wings?

Which is Healthier: Nachos or Buffalo Wings?

March 28, 2014 | By Kim Tranell

Say you’re at a bar. What should you order? While these sauce-drenched nibbles aren’t rabbit food by any means, eating a whole order of wings is a better choice than a platter of nachos, which can weigh in at 1,340 calories and 27 grams of saturated fat—or more! “You’re taking fried carbs and piling on high-fat toppings,” says Stephanie Middleberg, RD, a New York City nutritionist. “Even if you share them, it’s hard to keep track of a proper portion.”

An order of wings, however, holds fewer surprises: Eight with blue cheese and celery are about 850 calories and 14 grams of saturated fat. And you’re less likely to blow through them, since gnawing even one wing takes time and effort. The low-cal celery sticks also help fill you (though dip sparingly into the fatty blue cheese dressing). Bonus: Looking at the bones left on your plate may make you eat less, research suggests.


Related: Which is Healthier: Pancakes or Bacon and Eggs?