Tag Archives: calories

The scoop on diet frozen meals

Every day, FoodFacts.com looks into the benefits and drawbacks of hundreds of different food products in our database. Sometimes we surprise even ourselves with the information. And sometimes, we know that the measure of nutritional value of a food product is really determined by the lens through which it’s being observed.

For instance, when it comes to frozen diet meals, there are a few different ways to observe nutrition. You might say that would be a simple matter of calories and fat — and then all the brands would qualify as healthy options for those seeking to reduce their weight. But there are a few other manners in which to look at these frozen meals and determine whether or not they should be part of a diet plan at all.

FoodFacts.com has a “rule of thumb” — that is to be wary of any food product with a long list of ingredients. Generally speaking, the longer the list, the more likely you are to find ingredients you don’t recognize and that may, in fact, be controversial. And generally speaking, in most cases, frozen diet meals feature these long ingredient lists. There are certainly exceptions, but the majority of frozen diet meals contain ingredients that you wouldn’t find in your fridge or your pantry. We thought we’d take a look at four common ingredient concerns for these meals.

Sodium
The recommended daily allowance for sodium for adults is about 2300 milligrams. That’s about a teaspoon. You’ll find that most diet frozen meals contain about 30% of the RDA for a 2000 calorie per day diet. That’s a lot of salt — especially when you consider the portion sizes of the diet meals This can vary slightly up or down depending on meal content and brand. Excessive sodium consumption can lead to high blood pressure, or hypertension, which is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
BHT is an antioxidant that is used as a preservative, keeping foods from oxidizing and spoiling. You’ll find BHT in a wide variety of processed foods. It is popularly used in frozen foods. BHT may be carcinogenic. Other side effects of this food additive include elevated cholesterol, liver and kidney damage, infertility, sterility, immune disorders, increased susceptibility to carcinogens, and behavioral problems. While BHT isn’t present in every frozen diet meal, it’s not an uncommon additive and something you may want to carefully watch out for.

Sodium Benzoate
Manufacturers have used sodium benzoate for a century to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. The substances occur naturally in many plants and animals. Sodium Benzoate can cause hives, asthma, or other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Again, not every frozen diet meal contains sodium benzoate, but it’s a fairly common ingredient and one you want to keep an eye out for.

Disodium Inosinate
An expensive flavor enhancer usually used with the cheaper Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) alternative. It comes from the nucleotide Inosine monophosphate (IMP) commonly found in mushrooms and meats. Nucleotides are information-carrying molecules (seen in DNA) and help with the body’s metabolic processes. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration but like MSG, is associated with certain allergic reactions after consumption. Again, if you’re purchasing diet frozen meals, read the labels carefully – this is not an unusual ingredient.

While it’s certainly tempting to go the route of frozen diet meals while trying to lose weight, we all need to keep in mind that it would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to cook lasagna with meat sauce for 270 calories per serving. Even if you use skim-milk cheeses and 97% lean ground beef, you’ll have a problem bringing it in at under 300 calories. The point is it’s not diet food. Most of the food featured in frozen diet meals, regardless of brand, isn’t meant to be diet food. Hence, the food additives and ingredients you can’t pronounce and the high levels of sodium. They have to add to the food to make it appetizing.

So if you’re trying to lose weight, the healthiest option would be to stick to foods that will work within your diet goals. Grilled chicken and turkey, fish, and lots and lots of fresh vegetables will fill you up, nourish your body and help you to reduce your caloric intake. The additives you’ll find in diet frozen meals won’t do any of that for you.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO ALL!!!

FoodFacts.com hopes you have a great Halloween with your family! Tonight, after you’ve tucked the little ones in bed, you’ll probably engage in the tried and true parental secret tradition that’s existed since the very invention of trick-or-treating … the annual parental dig through the candy bag.

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You know you’ve done it year in and year out. Kids are picky, and most of the time their favorites and adult favorites are two very different things. So we adults go through the stash piece by piece, finding the candy that we know our kids aren’t going to eat and we make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

So, exactly how detrimental is our yearly sweet, secret tradition? And are some of our favorites worse than others? Here’s a short list of our most popular Halloween treasures with the basic information we need to figure out how much damage we’re doing.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups 230 calories, 13 g fat, 4.5 g saturated f, 20 g sugar (one large peanut butter cup)
Snickers, 280 calories, 14 g. fat, 5 g. saturated f., 30 g. sugar (regular bar)
M&M’s, 210 calories, 9 g. fat, 6 g. saturated fat, 27 g. sugar (1 ½ ou.)
Hershey’s Kisses, 230 calories, 13 g. fat, images-418 g. saturated f., 21 g. sugar (9 pieces)
Nestle Crunch, 220 calories, 11 g. fat, 7 saturated fat, 24 g. sugar (regular bar)
Three Musketeers, 260 calories, 8 g. fat, 5 g. saturated fat, 40 g. sugar (regular bar)
TWIX Caramel Cookie Bars, 280 calories, 14 g. fat, 11 g. saturated fat, 27 g. sugar (one package)

You can see pretty clearly that there really isn’t that much difference between these popular candies, although the sugar content spikes in a few of them. We do have to be careful though, just a little bit of any of these choices goes an awfully long way, and each packs a punch of calories and fat that we really don’t want to overdo. So if one isn’t enough (and it usually isn’t) it’s very easy to go overboard with calories, fats and sugar.images-21

So … remember the old rule you’ve repeated to your children so many times … sometimes more isn’t better. Enjoy your stash! And Happy Halloween!

Labeling Tricks

food-advertising
Foodfacts.com came across an article featured on Food Network which discusses how to avoid food labeling tricks which are used to make some foods appear healthier. Check it out below! Have any advice of your own to share?

Food labels are carefully worded to entice shoppers to choose certain items. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found dieters often fall for simple labeling tricks that make them believe certain foods are healthier than they are. Find out the top 5 traps people fell into and how to avoid them.

#1: Fruit Chew vs. Candy Chew
The same food labeled with the word “fruit” verses “candy” had dieters opting for the fruit-labeled boxes with identical chews inside. If it doesn’t contain real fruit, it’s probably the same product with different flavoring. Check the ingredients before you buy!

#2: Pasta vs. Salads

Diners watching their calories often jump to the salad section over pasta, since that seems like the healthier choice. But not always: Toppings like avocado, cheese, beans, croutons, fried chicken or too much dressing drive salad calories sky-high (that’s why they made our top 9 “healthy” foods to skip). Ask the server how the salad is prepared, and if any of the toppings or dressings are optional. Get our tips for swapping out high-cal salad toppings >>

#3: Flavored Water vs. Juice
Find yourself grabbing the “flavored” water because it seems like the healthier choice? That’s what the Journal of Consumer research study found their subjects did. Water seems harmless, but many varieties are nothing more than sugar water. If sugar isn’t added, then oftentimes artificial sweeteners are. A glass of freshly squeezed juice may contain natural sugar called fructose, but also a variety of vitamins and minerals. If in doubt, real, unadulterated water is always a great choice.

#4: Veggie Chips vs. Potato Chips
Think veggie chips are healthier than potato chips? Think again: Aren’t potatoes vegetables?!? Any vegetable fried and made to look like a chip can be labeled a veggie chip, so don’t fall for that labeling trick! If you want chips (whether veggie or potato), be sure to stick to a reasonable portion (about 15 chips).

#5: Smoothies vs. Milkshakes

Milkshakes are loaded with fat and calories, but slap on a label that says “smoothie” and dieters feel they’ve made a healthier decision. Be sure to inquire about the ingredients that go into that smoothie, and keep the portion size reasonable. Get our tips for a healthier smoothie >>

Bottom Line: Don’t fall into the naming trap — if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Do some investigating by reading food label ingredient lists and nutrition facts. If you’re dining out, don’t be shy! Ask the wait staff about menu items.

(Food Network- Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN)

“Half of the adults in the United States will be obese by 2030″

adult-obesity

Thank you to one of our Foodfacts.com followers for bringing this article to our attention. It won’t come as a shock to most that our population continues to fall deeper into the obesity epidemic. We find this article helpful because it discusses a possible new theory to cut calories, rather than the rule of excluding 500kcal from your current diet. If anyone knows anyone dealing with obesity, or experiences it themselves, make sure to share and read this article in hopes of starting your own journey towards a healthier weight. Also, if you have any tips of your own that has helped you reach a more desirable weight, post it on our Foodfacts.com Facebook Page in an effort to help others!

(Washington Post) Based on trends, half of the adults in the United States will be obese by 2030 unless the government makes changing the food environment a policy priority, according to a report released Thursday on the international obesity crisis in the British medical journal the Lancet.

Those changes include making healthful foods cheaper and less-healthful foods more expensive largely through tax strategies, the report said. Changes in the way foods are marketed would also be called for, among many other measures.

A team of international public health experts argued that the global obesity crisis will continue to grow worse and add substantial burdens to health-care systems and economies unless governments, international agencies and other major institutions take action to monitor, prevent and control the problem.

Changes over the past century in the way food is made and marketed have contributed to the creation of an “obesogenic” environment in which personal willpower and efforts to maintain a healthful weight are largely impossible, the report noted.

It also laid out a new way of calculating how many calories to cut to lose weight, giving what it said is a more accurate means of estimating projected weight loss over time.

The common weight-loss wisdom is that reducing calorie intake by about 500 calories a day “will result in slow and steady weight loss of about 0.5 kg (about a pound) per week.” That rule doesn’t take into account the way the body adapts to the change. In particular, as anyone who has actually lost weight can attest, the less you weigh, the fewer calories you can consume if you wish to lose more weight or maintain the loss.

The report said that weight loss should be viewed over a longer period of time and proposed a new “approximate rule of thumb” for an average overweight adult. It said that “every change of energy intake of [about 24 calories] per day will lead to an eventual body-weight change of about 1 kg (just over two pounds) . . . with half of the weight change being achieved in about 1 year and 95 percent of the weight change in about 3 years.”

Though the report acknowledged that it’s ultimately up to individuals to decide what to eat and how to live their lives, it maintained that governments have largely abdicated the responsibility for addressing obesity to individuals, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations. Yet the obesity epidemic will not be reversed without government leadership, regulation, and investment in programs, monitoring, and research, it said.

The report, issued in a four-part series published in the Lancet, was released in advance of the first high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly focused on noncommunicable disease prevention and control, which will take place in New York next month.

Cutting Calories with DietsInReview.com

Foodfacts.com has again partnered with DietsInReview.com to provide our followers with the latest health and nutrition information to sustain optimal health! Check out their tips below to cut calories at breakfast!

Cut Breakfast Calories at Restaurants Without Noticing

By Lacy J. Hansen for DietsInReview.com
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Try as we might, there’s no way around the science of calories. Each calorie counts and most of our favorite foods have far too many of them. No need to fret! Life doesn’t have to be lived eating flavorless celery and lettuce. There are many ways to reduce calories without feeling like you’re being deprived.

Here are 7 simple tricks you can use to cut calories from your breakfasts when dining out. You’ll consume fewer calories without sacrificing flavor.

1. Order a Guiltless Latte at Starbucks

Order a grande Americano with 2 pumps of sugar free vanilla syrup and add a splash of fat free milk and half a Splenda. It tastes exactly like a vanilla latte but with about 100 less calories, and a cheaper price tag.

2. Request Ice for Smoothies Instead of Milk

After all of the fruit, yogurt or protein powder is added, ask the smoothie maker to add ice to the blender instead of milk. The result is less calories and a very refreshing morning treat.

Make your own Blueberry Smoothie at home

3. Add more Veggies to Omelets

An omelet is already loaded with protein due to the eggs, so forget the high fat meats and cheese and load it with low-calorie, high-nutrient peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, onions, and anything else you prefer. You’ll cut hundreds of calories and end up with a well balanced meal.

4. Flavor with Jam Instead of Butter

When topping toast, bagels, or English muffins, (whole wheat, of course) reach for the all fruit jam and forget the butter. Most jams are less than 50 calories per tablespoon- 50% less than butter. Ask servers not to butter your toasted sides.

5. Use Turkey Bacon Instead of Pork

Some slices of bacon can be over 100 calories per slice. Most people don’t stop at one slice either. Turkey Bacon can come in as low as 20 calories per slice. So be sure to ask your server is turkey options are available.

6. Use Egg Whites

One egg clocks in at about 70 calories. If you ditch the yolk, you cut over 50 of them. Granted, you’ll need more than one egg’s worth of whites for most dishes, you still get lots of protein and miss very little flavor in your morning scrambles or omelets.

7. Use Applesauce or Honey Instead of Maple Syrup

Still sweet and flavorful, applesauce on your pancakes or waffles will save you literally hundreds of calories as you start your day. 100 grams of applesauce equals 40 calories, while 100 grams of syrup equals a whopping 261 calories. You can also use much less honey than you would use in syrup and get more than enough sweetness.

Try more ways to cut calories with honey .

Restaurants Misrepresent Calories on Menus – DietsInReview.com

Foodfacts.com has partnered with DietsInReview.com to expose food and nutrition-related news and research. Check out this article below on restaurants misrepresenting calories on menus!

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Restaurants Misrepresent Calories on Menus
By Theresa Delay at DietsInReview.com

Many restaurants and fast food restaurants have begun listing calorie counts on their menus, to comply with some state regulations and to help consumers get an accurate idea of what they’re eating. This information should be used by consumers to make educated and well thought-out decisions about their meals. It’s supposed to help curb the obesity trend by allowing the Americans to enjoy eating out without entirely giving up on their nutrition goals.

A new study was published in the Journal of American Medical Association that sheds light on the accuracy of this addition to menus across the country. According to CBS News, nearly 20 percent of restaurant menus contain inaccurate calorie counts. In most instances, the laboratory results revealed as little as 10 calorie difference. However, some menu items (also close to 20 percent) contained more than 100 calories over what the menu claimed. The dish with the highest discrepancy was found to have over 1,000 calories than the amount stated on the menu.
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Overall, the fast food chains had more accurate calorie estimations than sit-down restaurants, perhaps because items that are packaged off-site are more uniformly prepared. Although highly processed and mass produced food typically less nutritious than fresh food, it does ensure an accurate reporting of calories. When food is freshly prepared in the kitchen, a there’s a larger margin or error because of inconsistency between chefs at different locations.

There are many reasons not to eat at fast food chains, calorie inaccuracies aside. It would be better to eat a healthy, reasonable diet (even with indulgences) rather than counting the calories in junk food. A McDonald’s burger or a Wendy’s frosty aren’t healthy either way. More importantly, this study reminds of the importance of knowing about the food you put in to your body. Knowing basic nutritional information, where the food comes from and how the dish is prepared, will help you make wise decisions in any situation.

When you chose to eat a meal out, whether it be drive-thru or sit-down, it’s probably better to overestimate the number of calories you’re consuming. Eat just a little bit less and focus more on quality over quantity because you can’t always count on the calorie estimation of a dish.

CBS source link: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20081070-10391704.html?tag=cbsnewsMainColumnArea

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

no-high-fructose-corn-syrup
A corn-derived sweetener representing more than 40 percent of all caloric sweeteners in the supermarket. In 2005, there were 59 pounds produced per capita. The liquid sweetener is created by a complex process that involves breaking down cornstarch with enzymes, and the result is a roughly 50/50 mix of fructose and glucose.

FOUND IN Although about two-thirds of the HFCS consumed in the United States is in beverages, it can be found in every grocery aisle in products such as ice cream, chips, cookies, cereal, bread, ketchup, jam, canned fruits, yogurt, barbecue sauce, frozen dinners, and so on.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Since around 1980, the US obesity rate has risen proportionately to the increase in HFCS, and Americans are now consuming at least 200 calories of the sweetener each day. Some researchers argue that the body metabolizes HFCS differently, making it easier to store as fat, but this theory has not been proven.

The 5 Saltiest Meals of 2011

Imagine pouring one and a half teaspoons of salt directly into your mouth. Can you taste it? Blah, blech! You’d shed an ocean of tears trying to choke down those tongue-tingling crystals.

Yet, if you’re a typical American, you eat that much salt every single day. And that’s one primary reason why 50 percent of us are considered at risk for high blood pressure.

I know, that sounds impossible—you seldom if ever reach for the salt shaker, right? Well, you don’t have to: Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that most of us consume about 3,400 mg of sodium a day, but only 5 percent of it comes from home cooking. Some occurs in foods naturally, but the overwhelming majority of the sodium you eat—77 percent—comes foods sold in supermarkets and restaurants. Heart disease is the number-one killer of Americans, and sodium is one of the primary culprits.

We should be eating no more than 2,300 mg a day, and less—about 1,500 mg—if we’re at risk for high blood pressure. And yet, while researching my latest book, The Eat This, Not That! No-Diet Diet, I uncovered countless restaurant meals with one, two, even three days’ worth of salt in them. Think I’m exaggerating? Take a peek at the saltiest dishes coming from America’s kitchens.

1. WORST PASTA: Ruby Tuesday Mediterranean Shrimp Pasta
3,933 mg sodium
1,086 calories
63 g fat
ruby_tuesday_med_pasta

Sodium Equivalent: 11 Large Orders of McDonald’s French Fries

Somebody needs to tell Ruby Tuesday that to make “Mediterranean” pasta, you don’t need to actually boil the noodles in Mediterranean seawater. Ruby Tuesday makes only one pasta dish with fewer than 2,000 mg of sodium (almost an entire day’s worth!), and it has only two pasta dishes with fewer than 3,000 mg. The other four pasta dishes on the menu each have more than 3,000 mg.

2. WORST BREAKFAST:IHOP Thick-Cut Bone-In Ham & Eggs
4,310 mg sodium
1,170 calories
61 g fat (19 g saturated)
ihop_bone-in_ham_eggs1
Sodium Equivalent: 37 servings of Planter’s Cocktail Peanuts (that’s more than three 12-oz cans!)

IHOP is another chain known for egregious sodium levels. Even foods that sound relatively sodium-free are swimming in the stuff. Take an order of Buttermilk Pancakes. One order—5 pancakes—has 2,640 mg sodium. Things turn especially ugly when you start adding meat to the plate. You’d be wise to avoid any dish with steak or ham, which consistently contribute to a total of more than 2,000 mg per dish.

3. WORST “HEALTHY” ENTREE: Applebee’s Weight Watchers Chipotle Lime Chicken
4,990 mg sodium
490 calories
12 g fat (2 g saturated)
salt
Sodium Equivalent: 31 servings of Ruffles (that’s more than two “Family Size” bags!)

Avoiding salt at Applebee’s is nearly impossible. Not even the “healthy” selections pass muster. The six items on the Under 550 Calories menu average 2,341 mg of sodium per entree. The five items on the Weight Watchers menu average 2,448 mg. Even the side dishes are dangerous. A side of Loaded Mashed Potatoes will cost you 1,340 mg, and a side of Broccoli Cheddar Soup will cost you 1,690. If you order anything off this menu, you’d be wise to stick to sodium-free foods for the rest of the day.

4. SALTIEST APPETIZER: Applebee’s Appetizer Sampler
6,830 mg sodium
2,590 calories
173 g fat (54 g saturated)
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Sodium Equivalent: 370 Funyuns (that’s more than four bags of ‘em!)

Restaurant appetizer samplers are notoriously riddled with sodium, but Applebee’s is a full-blown tour de force of heart-stopping potential. Piled onto this plate are a bacon and cheese quesadilla, fried cheese sticks, spinach and artichoke dip and chips, and boneless buffalo wings. Just one of those things is bad enough, but add all four and you have three days’ worth of sodium and more than an entire day of calories—in just one appetizer!

5. SALTIEST CHINESE: P.F. Chang’s Double Pan-Fried Noodles with Pork
7,900 mg sodium
1,652 calories
84 g fat (12 g saturated)
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Sodium Equivalent: 263 Triscuit crackers (that’s 4.3 boxes!)

PF Changs’ menu is probably the saltiest in America; even a bowl of Hot and Sour Soup has 5,000 mg. For that half of the population that’s supposed to max out at 1,500 mg daily sodium, the Double Pan-Fried Noodles with Pork harbors more than five times the limit. Even for those in the higher tier, it still represents three-and-a-half days worth of sodium consumption. If you end up at Chang’s, let the Steamed Buddha Bowl be your safety plate. But remember: It’s got to be steamed. Order it stir-fried and the same dish suddenly leaps to 2,740 mg sodium. Yikes.

Information provided by Menshealth.com

Calorie Counts Coming Soon

Calorie Counts Coming Soon | Foodfacts.com

Calorie Counts Coming Soon | Foodfacts.com

It is about to get easier to count your calories when you eat at a chain restaurant. The health bill, which passed into law on Tuesday, includes a requirement for chain restaurants with 20 outlets or more to list calorie counts on menus, menu boards, drive-through displays and vending machines. The disclosure of calorie information is intended to give consumers better information to make healthier choices. Continue reading

Food Calories-Weight Loss

Food Calories

Food Calories

Cutting Food Calories – A Change In Lifestyle, A Change For The Better

What is the best way to lose weight? Cut food calories. What is the best way to cut food calories? Change the way you eat. Cut back on calories, maintain your weight, and keep yourself healthy with these simple little tips. Take the time to read these 35 tips and put them to work for you. Your body will thank you for it. Continue reading