Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ten Ways to Cut Calories

Reading food labels

  • Eating measured portions slowly from plates
  • Employing healthy cooking techniques

A food's fat content is important, but when it comes to weight loss, total calories are more important. So many of the lowfat products on the market aren't calorie reduced. For example, 2 tablespoons of reduced-fat peanut butter have the same number of calories as the regular kind. And replacing a tablespoon of butter on a bagel with 2 tablespoons of jelly eliminates the fat but doesn't change the number of calories. In this chapter, you can find some calorie-cutting tricks to live by.

Paying Attention to the Nutrition Facts

Diet StartSeemingly healthy foods can be surprising sources of calories and fat, so make sure to check out the details on the Nutrition Facts panel on the food label. A container of ramen noodles, for example, packs 15 grams of fat and 400 calories; a bran muffin can top 10 grams of fat and 250 calories. Portion sizeshealthy diet and nutrition can be deceptively small, too. A serving of sugar-sweetened iced tea contains 60 calories, but each bottle often contains two servings. And a serving of ice cream or other frozen dessert is a skimpy %z cup.

Limiting Alcohol

Alcohol, although fat-free, delivers 7 calories per gram or about 70 calories per ounce (2 tablespoons). The higher the proof, the more calories alcohol has: 80-proof alcohol averages 65 calories per ounce, and 100-proof alcohol comes in at 85 calories per ounce. The average light beer or 5-ounce glass of wine contains about 100 calories. A typical regular beer has about 150 calories. And don't forget, usually the nibbles served with alcohol are high in calories.In addition to the calorie wallop, alcohol whittles away your resolve to stay in control of your eating. And any cardiac benefits you may derive from drinking, such as that seen in men who drink a daily glass of red wine, are not nearly as important as those you derive from weight loss and exercise.

Switching to Smatter Plates

Serve yourself on a salad-size plate, about 8 inches in diameter, rather than on a dinner plate, which is typically 10 to 12 inches in diameter. Your portion sizes will be closer to those suggested in the Food Guide Pyramid (see Chapter 9) and more in tune with the number of calories you should be eating.

Asking for the Kid Size

It may seem like a bargain, but is an extra 240 calories for 39 cents really a good way to spend your calorie budget? That's the difference between a small order of fries and a large one. Kid-size popcorn at most movie theaters contains 150 calories, but a large size can top 1,000 without the butter-flavored topping. A child-size soda (8 ounces) has about 95 calories; a large soda measuring 36 ounces or more contains at least 400.

Eating Proper Portion Sizes

Nibbling from packages of crackers and shaving "tastes" from the brownie pan or forkfuls of cake from the platter can add up to plenty of calories and more than you think you've eaten. Portion out everything you eat onto a plate or into a small bowl and put the package or pan away.

Use measuring cups and spoons to portion out a serving onto your dinnerware. Study and memorize how it looks. What does %z cup of ice cream look like in your dessert dishes? One cup of whole-wheat cereal in your breakfast bowl? One cup of pasta on your dinner plate? Five ounces of wine in your stemware? You can mark your dinnerware and glassware with a dot or dash of nail polish to remind yourself. If you have oversized dinnerware, use the salad or dessert plateshealthy diet and nutrition. You may even consider buying a luncheon set, which has smaller plates.

Dining in the Dining Room

When you bring plates to the table already filled, you won't be tempted to pick from serving bowls and platters in front of you. You're also forced to go out of your way for seconds and thus have the chance to reconsider. An added benefit: Because you don't have to dirty serving bowls and platters, you have fewer dishes to wash.

Eating Slowly

Your brain takes a full 20 minutes to register the fact that your stomach is full. Try putting your fork down and taking a sip of water between bites. Chew your food well and don't load up your fork or spoon until you swallow what's in your mouth. Doing so enables you to more easily recognize when you're full.

Filing Up on Plant Food

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains without butter, dressings, or sauces take up stomach space, leaving less room for denser, high-calorie foods. They also take more time to chew and eat. Consider the fact that a teeny little pat of butter has as many calories as 3 cups of broccoli or that a 1-inch cube (1 ounce) of cheddar cheese has the same number of calories as 1 cup - that's 8 ounces - of bran flakes.

Switching to Low fat Dairy Products

Dairy is one place where going with the reduced-fat, lowfat, or fat-free variety makes sense, because the calories are significantly reduced in the lowfat version. For example, an 8-ounce glass of whole milk contains 150 calories, but the same amount of fat-free (skim) milk has only 85. One ounce of regular cheddar cheese has 114 calories, but reduced-fat and lowfat varieties contain 80 and 49 calories, respectively.

Note one exception, however: Dairy products, such as ice cream and flavored yogurt that are marketed as reduced-fat, lowfat, or fat-free often contain added sugar to make up for the loss of flavor and texture that fat provides. Don't be fooled into thinking that they provide fewer calories, too. Always check the calorie content on the Nutrition Facts panel of the food label.

Remembering That Duff Is Better

Not dull as in boring, but dull as in not shiny. At the salad bar, shiny means a thick coating of oily (high-calorie) salad dressing. Vegetables that shimmer usually have butter added to them. Muffins that leave a grease slick on your napkin have more calories than ones that don't. Bread or rolls that are slick with butter. .. you get the idea.

Cooking Meats with Methods That

Broil, barbecue, bake (on a rack), or braise meats, and you save many calories over frying, sautéing, and stewing, because the fat (and therefore its calories) has a chance to drip away from the meat.

Cooking chicken and other poultry with the skin on and removing it after it's been cooked is fine, because the meat absorbs little of the fat but stays moist.

... andjoyohoxing