Uptown Manhattan Office Midtown Manhattan Office Rego Park, Queens Office West Hempstead, LI Office
Penny Saver Articles
What Should I Eat?

















What Should I Eat? Substitutions
Low Fat Doesn't Mean Low Calorie Protein Helps to Maintain Metabolism
Skip The Beer and Chips, Have Some Protein Instead
The Smart Way to Snack Are Fruit Drinks Healthy?
Reading Food Thin Is As Thin Buys


What Should I Eat?

There are so many foods available today that claim to be "diet" or "health" foods that it can seem like an impossible task to figure out what to eat. Here are a few simple guidelines that should help you in making food choices.

You Probably Should Eat More Raw Fruits and Vegetables
It may seem difficult to believe that there could be foods that you should eat more of but if you are like most Americans then you are not eating enough fiber rich raw fruits and vegetables. These foods are not only nutritious, but they will also fill you up. Eat some raw vegetables and drink one or more glasses of water about an hour before a meal and you will be much less hungry during the meal. Have a piece of fruit and some water as a snack and you will find it satisfies your craving for something sweet and makes you feel full.

Fruit juice is not a good substitute for fruit if you are trying to lose weight. It is lacking the fiber that provides the sensation of fullness that you need for feeling satisfied and it is high in sugar. Vegetable juices don't have as many calories as fruit juices but they also don't have the fiber, which makes you feel full. Canned vegetable juices usually contain a lot of sodium. Cooked vegetables can be good but avoid the rich sauces and glazes that are often found in commercial products.

You Probably Should Eat Less Fat, Sugar, and Salt.
You can't go anywhere these days without seeing low-fat and fat free products but be careful. Many of them substitute sugar to make up for the fat. A high sugar food is not healthy. Make sure you know what is in the food you are eating. There are many foods available that will help you achieve your weight loss goals but there are also many that won't.

You Probably Should Drink More Water.
Imagine something with no calories that helps you feel full, is healthy, and is free. Of course you know I'm talking about water. If you are trying to lose weight, water is one of your best friends. Drink at least eight glasses of water every day.

Back to Contents Back to Top


By substituting healthier foods for the foods you are currently be eating you can keep the pleasure while losing the fat.

  • Instead of Bacon have Canadian bacon, which is lower in fat
  • Instead of Bologna have Chicken or Turkey Breast.
  • If you must have Cake make it Angel Food Cake.
  • Use low-fat or non-fat cheese for sandwiches.
  • Instead of Potato Chips and Corn Chips have Air Popped Popcorn or Crackers.
  • If chocolate is your weakness have Fat-Free Pudding or Hard Candy.
  • Instead of a commercial Powdered Creamer use Powdered Non-Fat Dry Milk.
  • Try Low Fat cookies like Animal Crackers, Fig Bars, Ginger Snaps, Low-Fat Graham Crackers or Vanilla Wafers.
  • Make creamy dressings and dips with Non-Fat Yogurt or Yogurt Cheese.
  • Instead of Donuts have a Fat-Free Muffin or Bagel. Be careful about the serving size. Some of these can be quite big and still be loaded with calories. Cutting fat doesn't do any good unless it also cuts calories.
  • Instead of French Fries have some Oven Baked Potatoes. These are made by thinly slicing potatoes and baking them on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. They are just as good tasting as French Fries but with only a fraction of the fat.
  • Avoiding Fried Foods is not difficult. There are many ways to prepare foods without frying. You can Bake, Broil, Grill, Poach, Roast, Steam, and you can have many foods raw. Experiment with other methods of cooking to eliminate frying.
  • Instead of Granola use Low-Fat Granola or add a small amount of dried fruit to your favorite low-fat cereal.
  • Instead of Gravies use Worcestershire or Soy Sauce. You can also buy low-fat gravies. If you are making your own then start with non-fat broth and skim the fat from the meat drippings.
  • Instead of Ham you can have lean low-fat ham or Turkey Ham.
  • Instead of Hamburger you can use Ground Turkey Breast, Ground Chicken Breast, Low-Fat Ground Beef (93% lean or higher), or Vegetable Patties. Be careful as some of these alternatives can have as much fat as regular hamburger.
  • Instead of Hot Dogs you can buy Low-Fat or Non-Fat Hot Dogs. Be careful when buying products such as "Chicken Franks" or "Turkey Franks". Some of these have just as much fat as beef hot dogs.
  • Instead of Ice Cream you can have frozen yogurt or Non-Fat Ice Cream. Ice Pops and Frozen Diet Bars are also good substitutions. Try to choose items that come in single serving portions so that you know exactly what one serving is.
  • Instead of Oil try Applesauce plus Skim Milk. You can use non-stick cooking spray or Butter-Buds as well.
  • You can make a pie crust from low-fat or non-fat Graham Cracker crumbs and corn syrup.
  • Instead of Salad Dressings try lemon juice, Non-Fat Yogurt with spices, Vinegar, Salsa, or Non-Fat Salad Dressings.
  • Instead of Whipped Cream try Vanilla Non-Fat or Low-Fat Yogurt.
  • Use Egg Whites instead of Whole Eggs.
  • By learning to look for and use substitutes you can improve your diet while still being able to have the foods you enjoy. There really is a way to have your cake and eat it too.

Back to Contents Back to Top

Low Fat Doesn't Mean Low Calorie

The Low Fat and Fat Free food choices have exploded in the past several years. In an attempt to live a healthy life and lose weight people have been snacking on all sorts of Low Fat and Fat Free products. Everything that people crave including brownies, cookies, ice cream, and potato chips is available in Low Fat or even Fat Free. Will these products help you to lose weight? The answer seems to be no!

The Low Fat and Fat Free products have almost as many calories as the full fat versions and calories do count. It is true that 97% of the fat calories that you eat can be directly converted to body fat (3% is used up in digestion) and only 78% of the non-fat calories can be converted to body fat (22% is used up in digestion). But what does that really mean?

If you eat a 160 calorie brownie that is 50% calories from fat then 131 calories are available for use after the calories needed for digestion. If instead you eat a Fat Free brownie with the same 160 calories then 124 calories are available for use after digestion. You have saved 7 calories. You will have to eat 500 brownies before you have saved the number of calories in one pound.

So should you bother to eat low fat? Yes. Eating low fat is the healthiest way to eat but you have to remember that what you eat has calories and calories do count. If you must have a snack try to stick to raw fruits and vegetables. If you do indulge in something sweet remember to include it in your eating plan.

Back to Contents Back to Top


Protein Helps to Maintain Metabolism

Many of you have probably heard that metabolism slows down in response to dieting. It makes you wonder how you can ever manage your weight successfully. The old answer (and still the best answer) is to reduce calories moderately and increase muscle mass through resistance exercise. Don't try to lose "30 pounds in 30 days" because you'll put it back on in only 15 and you run the risk of putting on another 30 in the next 15.

Some new research has shown that protein helps to maintain metabolism better than either carbohydrates or fat during dieting. In fact metabolism decreased only half as much after seven days when people ate a high protein diet as compared to those eating other diets. When several groups were put on various 1000 calorie per day diets the high protein group had only a 3.2% slow down in metabolism compared to 6-7% for the other diets. The amounted to about 50 calories per day difference. The high protein diet was also better at satisfying appetite then any of the other diets tested.

If you are trying to manage your weight you should consider lowering your sugar and fat intake and increasing your protein intake. The protein rich diet will help you to spare muscle tissue, keep you metabolism high, and feel satisfied.

Back to Contents Back to Top

Skip The Beer and Chips,
Have Some Protein Instead

It is obvious that anyone trying to lose weight should not drink beer (or other alcoholic beverages) or eat potato chips which are very high in fat. What is less obvious is that it is even worse to do both at the same time.

A study found that men consumed 194 more calories at lunch after eating a high fat snack and drinking an alcoholic beverage than after a low fat snack and vegetable juice. The additional calories at lunch did not reduce calorie intake at dinner. The high fat group had 55% of calories from fat and 23% of calories from alcohol in their snack. The low fat group had 25% of their calories from fat and 0% of calories from alcohol in their snack.

A different study showed that women who ate a 240 calorie protein snack an hour before lunch at less than women who had a snack that was high in fat, carbohydrate, or alcohol. The appetite reducing effect of protein tended to be greater in overweight women than in lean women.

What these studies are telling you is that you have to learn to be careful about the snacks you choose. You can choose snacks that are high in fiber or protein which will make you less hungry later or you can choose snacks high in fat and alcohol which will make you more hungry. Choose wisely.

Back to Contents Back to Top

The Smart Way to Snack

Most people on a weight control program are advised not to snack. Some people blame snacking for their inability to control their weight but snacking can actually be good for you in many ways.

Wholesome snacks can be the ideal way to control your weight and your appetite. Following these simple guidelines will make sure that your snacking is good for you.

Don't go too long without eating.
This may not seem to make sense since most people tend to think that eating is their problem. When you go for a long time without any food your blood sugar level drops and you experience food cravings. These are the craving that make you binge and break your diet. Have small, healthy snacks often and you will avoid those cravings and find that you aren't as hungry when you sit down for a meal.

Choose your snacks wisely.
High protein snacks and high complex carbohydrate snacks will make you feel less hungry. High fat and sugar snacks will make you feel more hungry. High fiber snacks when eaten with a glass of water will make you feel full. Choose snacks such as fresh fruits and vegetables or whole grain breads. Low-Fat or Non-Fat yogurt that is also low in sugar is also a good choice. Always remember to check the ingredients.

Always have one or more large glasses of water with your snack. This will enhance the snacks effect of reducing your hunger.

Don't "Snack on Automatic".
Just because you might be sitting down to read or watch television doesn't mean that you must have a snack. If you are hungry then you should have a snack. The snack shouldn't be part of some automatic behavior or habit. If you "always" buy a roll with your coffee then stop doing it. If you are really hungry then its OK but remember to check.

Remember that "No Fat" doesn't mean "Not Fattening".
Choose your snacks wisely. Go for things that don't have a lot of sugar but that do provide a lot of bulk. Air popped popcorn is a good snack because a serving is very bulky. A "Nutrition Bar" with the same number of calories is not as good a snack (although there are some good ones so get in the habit of reading the labels).

You can have your snacks and lose weight too. It only takes a little knowledge and planning.

Back to Contents Back to Top

Are Fruit Drinks Healthy?

When most people see a product like "Mango Madness" from Snapple they assume that it must be healthy. When you actually read the label you find something quite different. It is one of many fruit drinks that is simply flavored with fruit but is mostly water and sugar. Even a product that contains "100% juice" may not be as healthy as you think it is.

That box of Cran-Grape juice drink may seem like a good choice but it's only 25 percent juice, and contains little else except water and sugar. How many calories? Would you believe 170? Names such as `'fruit blend,'' `'fruit punch'' and `'juice drink'' mean you're not buying a pure juice. These are diluted juices, with diluted nutrients. Some juice drinks are fortified with 100 percent of daily vitamin C but even this doesn't make them nutritious.

According to Food and Drug Administration rules, a food must be low in fat, contain no more than 60 mg cholesterol and no more than 480 mg sodium and have at least 10 percent of the daily value of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, protein or fiber to be labeled `'healthy.'' The only beverages that naturally meet these criteria are orange juice, grapefruit juice and skim milk.

"Natural'' on the label has no official meaning, and certainly is no guarantee of nutrition; after all, corn syrup is natural. People see natural and they think it's healthy.

What about sports drinks which also come in fruit flavors? They are mainly intended to replace electrolytes potassium and sodium lost during heavy sweating. The average person just doesn't need a sports drink. Ideally everybody should drink more water but you can get tired of water. One suggestion is to mix one part fruit juice with three parts of either plain or sparkling water. This way you get some variety but not the large dose of added sugar.

Fruit juice is naturally high in sugar. It has about the same amount that gets added to fruit beverages. Eight ounces of Mistic Kiwi Strawberry has 30 grams of sugar. Eight ounces of orange juice or apple juice has about 24 grams of sugars. The calories are about the same for all three, 120. Eight ounces of Coca-Cola for comparison's sake has about 94 calories and 26 grams of sugars, so it actually has fewer calories than some of the fruit beverages or fruit juices. That doesn't make it a better snack, however, it only points out that fruit drinks and juices are not as good a snack as most people think they are.

The best way to get the fruit juice is by eating the fruit. Eating the fruit can even save calories over drinking the juice. A whole orange has 60 calories, which is found in just half cup of orange juice. In general, eating the fruit is better than drinking juice because the fruit also contains fiber.

Back to Contents Back to Top

Reading Food

Anyone interested in long-term weight control has to learn to "read food". What I mean by this is that you have to develop an ability to look at food and understand what you are eating. If you don't learn to get a sense of how big a "serving" is or what the ingredients are in the foods that you eat then you will never know exactly how much you are really eating.

One of my employees likes to tell this "food reading" story. In a store where he often shops they put out a new brand of muffin. They were labeled "fat-free" and "heart friendly". They were huge and looked very tasty. A sheet of paper nearby listed the ingredients and nutritional information. The claim was that these muffins had only 250 calories each. Because my employee had learned to "read food" he knew that this couldn't be true. He guessed that they had to be more like 700 - 800 calories. He knew that a regular bran muffin of that size would be over 1000 calories. He read the sheet again and it said that a serving was "1 muffin". He knew there had to be an answer. He inspected the tray of muffins and discovered that there were two sizes. There was a smaller size that he hadn't seen at first. It was about one third the size of the large muffins. He understood immediately that it was the small muffins that were 250 calories. This meant that the large ones were approximately 750 calories which is exactly what he had guessed.

Without the ability to "read food" he might have bought the muffin and not realized that he was consuming 500 calories more that he intended to. If he did that only twice a week it would be enough calories to gain a pound every month. Learning to "read food" is an important tool in your long-term weight control program.

Back to Contents Back to Top

Thin Is As Thin Buys

Recently there have been more and more "warehouse" stores appearing. It seems as if there is one in almost every community. These are the stores where you can by products in large case quantities or in sizes usually reserved for the food service industry. You might wonder what this has to do with either weight control or dieting.

There was an interesting study done at the University of Pennsylvania by marketing professor Brian Wansink, Ph.D. Professor Wansink set out to see how package size effects consumption and his results were fascinating. It appears that people consume more when it comes from a larger package.

What this means for the person trying to manage their weight is that they should avoid buying food products in these large quantities. The price per pound may be a little less but when you add in the cost of losing the weight that you might put on because you overate then it doesn't seem like such a bargain.

Shopping more often may seem like as hassle but there are many advantages to it. Your food will be fresher; It won't require so much storage space; and best of all you won't be tempted to eat as much of it. Shop for food in quantities that you will use in one week or less. If the food is available in "single-serving" sizes then buy them. They cost more but the portions are pre-measured for you and it reduces the chances that you will eat too much.

Back to Contents Back to Top



Last Updated: 21-Dec-2009
WebMaster: Pen and Plowshare, Inc., lizgrip@verizon.net