Summer School

Here’s a great family idea that is free, educational and healthy: next time you’re in Wally-World or your favorite grocery story, give everybody in the family a small notebook and let them do some perusing of nutrition labels. There is an incredible wealth of info there for those interested in cutting calories or just eating healthier. Since 3500 calories equal a pound, shaving 250 calories off your daily intake and combining that with 30 to 45 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity for the other 250 calories can result in a one-pound loss weekly.

 When I was traipsing the aisles today, I did a bit of that (and if I move fast enough, I can call it aerobic exercise!); here are a few things I discovered:

*Honey Nut Cheerios® has 110 calories in ¾ cup, whereas a full cup of plain Cheerios® has only 100 calories. 

*A king-size Payday® candy bar, which would seem like a “serving”, is actually considered two servings – the whole bar is a whopping 440 calories!

*One cup of prepared mac and cheese offers 410 calories.

*Ranch dressing is 140 calories and 14 fat grams for a “serving”, which is two tablespoons, but two teaspoons is probably plenty, for a savings of about 98 calories. Of course one can cut the calories almost in half by using Italian dressing instead – it’s 80 calories for the two tablespoon serving…use only one–third that and the count is negligible. And lower fat varieties will save more calories if a person wants to go that route.

*100% whole-wheat bread is better for us than plain white bread, but even there, brands vary. Standard-size slices in one loaf may have 50 calories each, and another may be 110.

*Some 20-ounce soft drinks contain around 240 calories. Drinking two a day will pack 50 pounds on a person’s frame in a year’s time.

 So how much of a bother is it to measure what we eat? Not much, really.  A “kitchen shotglass” includes measurements for teaspoons up to one ounce (got mine at the aforementioned Wally-World). A set of measuring cups and an inexpensive kitchen scale will help avoid over-estimating other serving sizes, as well.

 If you decide to do this “study”, I’d be interested in hearing about some things you learned. You can leave me a comment in the section below.

 Thought for the day:

“A calorie saved is a calorie lost…and they do add up!”



Filed under counting calories, healthy weight loss, label-reading, nutrition data

2 responses to “Summer School

  1. Andi Cacciatore

    I just gave this a try – since I work in the grocery stores all over the SE coast of Florida – and boy was I shocked!! I picked up a bottle of Caesar’s salad dressing that a friend had recommended and found out the fat for just one serving was 18 grams!! I dropped the bottle before looking at the calories for fear my cholesterol would climb just holding it!! Strange that we have to protect ourselves by checking the nutritional information. You would think that if it’s sold as FOOD that it would be something that would be safe to put into our bodies. It made me want to stop eating anything packaged and preserved. What else is hidden in those chemical compounds labeled as “natural”?

    The food industry and the cooking channels are really doing our country a disservice, and if we don’t wake up and change our lifestyle, it will be too late. Thanks for being a leader in helping us all do that by prompting thoughtful and meaningful insights and awareness with this blog!!

    • Ann

      Yes, there are some incredibly unhealthy (although quite tasty) foods lining our shelves, and it only takes a few seconds to scan a label to help us make wiser choices. My hubby found a frozen chicken dinner that has 26 grams of fat and 1140 mgs of sodium! How (or why) manufacturers put the equivalent of 1 2/3 tablespoons of fat and almost half a teaspoon of salt in one average-size dinner is beyond me!

      Thanks, Andi!

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