If you know me at all, you know that I’m not a fan of obsessing over the scale. And I recently came across this scale called The Quantum. The premise is actually an interesting one. Rather than telling you what you weigh, it stores your weight from the first time you step on it and reports back to you your weight changes without revealing your weight. It sure is an interesting idea and may help those who obsess over a number that determines whether they’ll have good day or a bad day.
It’s probably no surprise that I don’t love it. (Obviously, this is a product no case post.) Let me tell you why:1. It cannot tell you what is responsible for your body weight changes. Are you dehydrated? Did you have a salty meal? Are you pre-menstrual? Has your body composition (ie. lean mass vs fat mass) changed?
3. It cannot tell you if you’re behavior is truly healthy and sustainable. You may see “results” on the scale that seem impressive but may not ultimately be healthy for you. For example, dieting is extremely effective at creating weight loss…until you give up on the diet and gain back more than when you started it.
If the goal of weight loss is taken out of context of behaviors that support health and sustainable behaviors, it is completely useless.
Bottom line: I believe in putting energy into what is “actionable.” And because body weight is a by-product of several factors (like genetics, eating habits, exercise, etc.) I don’t consider it to be an “actionable” goal.
So let’s put our energy into what is within your scope of change:
Getting adequate rest
Honoring body cues for hunger and fullness
Exercising in a way that increases energy, strength, and improves mood
Speaking to yourself in a way that is kind and positive
Drinking enough water
Focusing on actionable behaviors is the key to ultimate health. And no scale can ever capture that. Ever.
I periodically review products that I personally think are pretty crappy. Products that tout themselves as health food or diet food but don't do much more than set you up for overeating while providing no nutritional value. Do not get me wrong. I am totally a proponent of incorporating food into your diet that is simply for fun. I am the last to turn down dessert. But I can't stand all of the products that advertise as healthy options but leave you feeling unsatisfied and undernourished.
And this month's product no-case has been around a long time. In fact, I can't believe I haven't blogged about them yet! Yes, the dreaded 100 calorie pack by Nabisco. Here are a few reasons why I don't like them.
#1: They taste gross. If you like them and find them satisfying then go for it. But if you find yourself reaching for one bag...and then another....and then another, it's an indication that they aren't satisfying. You may want to consider another snack option.
#2: The 100 calorie frenzy. There is nothing magical about the number 100. It is a marketing gimmick. If you are using the 100 calorie packages as a snack, 100 calories of refined flour will hold you over for approximately 10 seconds. If you are looking for a snack that actually keeps you full and satisfied (rather than hungry and irritated) you'll need some protein and fat to add in the mix. For example: pretzels with PB, pita chips with hummus, you get the idea.
#3: For most people, it doesn't really teach portion control even though that's exactly what it's marketed for. I explain this in #s 1 and 2. But the bottom line is, if you are truly hungry for a snack, you will likely need more than one of those packs to do the job. If you reach for a 100 cal pack to "be good" then find yourself wanting more it becomes demoralizing and frustrating.
So what do you think about the 100 calorie snack packs? Like them? Hate them? I want to hear about it!
A big thank you to my anonymous blogger who wrote this post for my site. I thoroughly enjoyed every line and think you will too! Remember, these product "no case" postings are intended to highlight products out there that tout themselves as health food, but are anything but nourishing! Talk about a wolf in sheep's clothing. Enjoy!
I have been struggling with an eating disorder for 17 years. I have become remarkably adept at convincing myself that I like low-calorie, low-taste, low-nutrient foods. In fact, I have rarely found one that I didn't covet. That is why I was pretty excited to see Arctic Zero staring at me from my grocer's freezer last week. Mint chocolate cookie. 150 calories per pint. Nutritious and all natural. High protein. High fiber. I could feel my eating disordered adrenaline pumping. What could be better than that?! Well, let me tell you: pretty much ANYTHING is better than that. This stuff tastes so bad I couldn't even eat more than one bite. Think battery acid. Do yourself a favor- if you want a sweet, frozen dessert or snack, eat something real that will taste good and leave you satisfied. Life is just too short. Thank you, Arctic Zero, for helping me get one step further in my recovery.
I am in full support of eating what gives you a true feeling of fullness and satisfaction. When we do that (while honoring our hunger and fullness) our food cravings and food thoughts actually diminish naturally. So the next time you are craving something sweet, go for the real deal!
There seems to be no shortage of "product no cases" out there. Send along any products you think are absolutely fabulous too!
A few months ago, someone was telling me about Lundberg brown rice cakes and how amazing they are. Now, my level of skepticism climbs pretty darn high when someone says delicious and rice cake in the same sentence. Rice cakes speak of dieting food in my book, but I am always on the lookout for tasty whole grain snacks. So I gave them a try…And then I spit it out and threw them away. Ew! These rice cakes are the very reason healthy eating gets a bad rap (tasteless cardboard) and why faithful dieters can’t “stay on the bandwagon.” Ick, ick, ick.
I promise that it is possible to eat nutritiously and deliciously. Check out my last product show case, where I shared with you my favorite whole grain cracker. In the mean time, you can toss your brown rice cakes away.
*In an attempt to help you sort through the advertising hype, each month I write about products that tout themselves as healthy and delicious but I don't think fit the bill. Do you have any products that you think fit this category? Let me know!
I just saw an advertisement that made my stomach turn: "The Miracle Noodle: imagine the world where noodles are calorie free." If you know me at all, you know that I am screaming "noooo!!!" While a large percentage of the US population may go crazy for calorie-free food, I dig in my heels and cringe. And that is why I couldn't resist selecting the Shirataki Noodle for this month's Product NO Case. Why do I hate this no-cal noodle phenomenon (see another blog post on calorie-free salad dressing)? Let me count the ways.
1. It tastes disgusting. Ok, I'll be honest, I haven't tried it. But I've talked with multiple clients who have eaten the stuff and admit, it's totally disgusting. It's made of tofu and yam flour- enough sad.
2. Eating no-calorie/low-calorie foods leaves us feeling deprived. Do you know what happens when you're deprived? You are set up to want to binge. Plus when you eat food that is unsatisfying, your brain continues to produce "I want to eat hormones" causing you to think about food more.
3. Demonizing calories is NOT helpful! Calories are the very stuff that allows our brain to function, heart to pump, legs to walk, etc. We can't feed our bodies calorie-free substitutes and expect to feel well and be healthy! Let's embrace the fact that we are humans and that means we are EATERS- consumers of calories. And when we feed our body balanced, satisfying meals we feel good and think about food less.
So the next time you feel like enjoying some noodles, check out this awesome recipe for Peanut Soba Noodles & Veggies. Even if your goal is to lose weight, no need to fill up no-cal nonsense. Promise.
All too often, a product appears that causes me to shake my head in disappointment. The latest product? Fullbar, a granola-type bar that claims to help you “feel full and satisfied on smaller amounts of food”. Developed by a bariatric surgeon (Dr. Snyder), the bar’s use is simple: consume with 8 ounces of water 30 minutes before a meal and you’ll eat less at the actual meal! Exciting, right? Not so fast! Let’s look at the ingredients, shall we?
A cranberry almond fullbar has the following ingredients: brown rice syrup, puffed wheat, soy protein concentrate, honey, acacia gum, cranberries, sunflower seeds, agave syrup, glycerine, almonds, canola oil, salt, cinnamon, sugar, natural flavor, sunflower oil, soy lecithin.
Can you say “sugar”? Sugar by any other name is just as sweet: brown rice syrup, honey, and agave syrup are all sugar. This quick-digesting carbohydrate will provide a little energy and almost no nutrition. The bar’s five grams of protein will not keep you full for long. The other ingredients, such as puffed wheat, acacia gum, and glycerine, also do not provide adequate nutrients. And, what is “natural flavor”, anyway?
If the bar causes you to eat less at meals, you will be consuming less of the nutrients you need from “real” food. In general, real food is more satisfying that processed food. Unfortunately, fullbar fills your stomach with quick-digesting sugars and fillers, so that you will eat less real food. Thanks a lot, Dr. Snyder. I don’t know about you, but not only do I like to know what I’m eating (and “natural flavor” doesn’t cut it), I prefer real nutrition to fake “food”.
Also, as Marci wrote in a prior post, intuitive eating is flexible and allows you to enjoy a wide variety of foods without guilt or shame. Listening to your hunger cues is an important part of intuitive eating. Unfortunately, a fullbar is designed to suppress the hunger cues that help us decide when to eat and may increase feelings of shame and guilt around these natural cues. Eating a fullbar is like saying “my hunger cues are not natural and should be suppressed!”
This product has a definite health halo. The packaging is stamped with as many healthy looking words and images as it can hold, from the “100% Natural!” claim (“natural” is not a regulated FDA term and means nothing), to the mistakenly-used medical symbol surrounded by the words “Developed by a leading weight-loss surgeon”. fullbar even displays plump cranberries and healthy-looking almonds and puffed wheat on the front to complete the look. I had a chance to try a fullbar and was turned off by the chemical taste and Styrofoam-like texture. Why eat something that doesn’t taste good and offers little nutrition? Skip the fullbar and enjoy real food with real nutrients. Your body will thank you!
This post was written by Jessie Erwin, dietetic intern at the University of Connecticut. You can follower her on Twitter @JessieHealth.
As an aside, I tasted the Full Bar and have two words: flavored Styrofoam. Yuck!
Product No Case: Vitamin Water
It took me absolutely no time to come up with a No Case food for this blog post. I’m from the school of thought that all foods can fit in a healthy diet, but there are a handful of “foods” that I truly believe have absolutely no place in our diet. Top on my list? Vitamin Water. Sure I could choose to battle with foods like bacon ice cream or fried Oreos, but I really just don’t understand why we need to enhance water! Water in its purest form is exactly what our bodies need for hydration, and our cells need to function. But water enhanced with vitamins, minerals, and sugar?! No need. Sure it has flashy colors and tasty flavors, but so does fresh fruit!
If you’re eating a balanced diet, you’re already getting the vitamins and minerals you need. Want to be extra sure? Speak to your dietitian about taking a daily multivitamin. The vitamins and minerals added to Vitamin Water aren’t ones we’re typically low of in our diet. To get a good dose of vitamin C – a typical vitamin in the beverage - try an orange, bell pepper, broccoli, or strawberries.
Not a fan of plain water? Try flavoring your water with citrus slices, like limes, lemons, and oranges (you’ll get vitamin C!). Or, drop melon cubes, cucumbers, or mint leaves for a refreshing flavored beverage without the added refined sugars. While there are calorie free versions of Vitamin Water, it’s best to reduce beverages with artificial sugar.
Stick to whole foods for your vitamins and minerals, and water for hydration. That’s all your body needs.
Janel Ovrut MS RD LDN is a Boston-based dietitian who enjoys helping others reach their nutrition goals, one bite at a time. Janel shares her culinary adventures in her blog Eat Well with Janel and loves to tweet @DietitianJanel.
January 16-22 is Health Weight Week. I love their 3-fold mission:
1. Celebrate diet-free habits
2. Prevent eating & weight problems
3. Work towards being accepting, happy, and healthy at our natural weights
On the Healthy Weight Week website, they name their 2010 "Slim Chance Award Winners" for the worst weight products of the year. These horrible weight products has inspired this month's "Product No Case" post. And here it is folks: HCG Supplements. Let's agree together to never support a product that offers empty promises, a 500 calorie a day diet, and horrific side effects.
In a resurge in popularity of HCG injections among some practitioners and spas, this 1950s weight loss method has spawned excitement in the supplement field, as well. HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone produced during pregnancy, is claimed to reset the hypothalamus, improve metabolism and mobilize fat stores. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting HCG treatment as a weight or fat loss strategy. In its herbal versions, HCG drops are placed under the tongue (5 drops times 6 times a day or 10 drops, 3 times). Advertisers claim, “You easily can lose 1-2 pounds per day safely! Shed Excess Fat … HCG resets your hypothalamus so that your weight loss is permanent!” “HCG will melt fat permanently while maintaining muscle tone.” HCG does all this, it is claimed, without exercise. The caveat: the program requires a semi-starvation diet of 500 calories a day, with attendant severe risks to long-term health and almost guaranteed weight rebound. Further, the HCG program often begins with a liquid fast detox period. Common short-term effects include fatigue, headache, mood swings, depression, confusion, dizziness and stomach pain.
NO THANK YOU!
Have you noticed that they just don't make yogurt like they used to? It's weird. Yogurt is now loaded with everything from added fibers, strains of bacteria, artificial sweeteners, Vitamin D, and probably some other things I haven't named. And unfortunately, most of the label claims aren't back by research and are just simply misleading.
Case in point: Yoplait YoPlus. The product labeling claims "YoPlus cultures are clinically proven to help naturally regulate digestive health." Clinically proven sounds pretty serious...until you take a look at the faulty clinical research. Turns out the Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division stated that General Mills didn't have enough evidence for its claims. And General Mills' latest study turned out to be too flawed in its design to have meaningful results.
Bottom line: There is little published evidence that YoPlus helps with irregularity, bloating, or other digestive issues.
Marci's tips for bowel irregularity: slowly increase your intake of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and beans/legumes, drink plenty of water, and try a high quality probiotic from your local health food store.
I have a pet peeve- Lean Cuisine. They masquerade as a good for you, weight friendly option. When in reality, they leave plenty to be desired in terms of nutrition, taste, and health benefits. Why?
1. From a caloric standpoint, Lean Cuisines are more like a large snack. All my clients and readers know I’m not a fan of calorie counting, but eating a 280 calorie lunch will leave you primed for overeating when you get home from work FAMISHED! Not to mention it can't give you the energy you need to get through your busy day.
2. For so little calories, most meals supply more than 30% of the daily recommended amount of sodium. What does that say to me? Heavy processed, not so yummy food.
3. Each meal contains refined grains and a few measly (and might I add overcooked) veggies.
Still looking for a fast food option that’s not only tastier but better for you? Try Kashi meals with a side salad and a piece of fruit. Their portions are more reasonable and most are made with whole grains and a more generous serving of vegetables. Or check out Amy’s frozen veggie burritos and add some frozen veggies and a glass of milk to go along with it. What about a bowl of lentil soup and whole grain bread?
Nutritious eating doesn’t have to take hours, but you can do a heck of a lot better than a measly Lean Cuisine.
Your good food lovin' dietitian in Cambridge,