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Posts Tagged ‘Eating Behavior’

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Monday, December 13th, 2010

Last week I wrote a post on sugar for the Food Undressed blog at ConsumerBell (a website that aims to connect consumers and serve as a resource for cases of consumer mistreatment by corporations).

The post had two main points:

1. Some scientists think that what really counts is how sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream and what effect it has on your body. To measure the impact that sugar has on the body, scientists have come up with terms such as “glycemic index” and “glycemic load.” Glycemic index is a measure of how much and how quickly the sugar from a food will enter the bloodstream (roughly, how much it will increase blood sugar and insulin levels). Glycemic load takes into account both the rate at which sugar enters the blood stream and total quantity of sugar in that food. So, for example, watermelon has a high glycemic index because the sugar in watermelon gets right into the bloodstream (it’s just sugar and water after all). But there isn’t much total sugar in watermelon, so it’s glycemic load is relatively low.

2. Things like “glycemic index” and “glycemic load” can be even more confusing than thinking about grams of sugar, however. One alternative might be to describe the amount, index, or load of sugar in foods in terms of “apple equivalents.” For example, you could tell someone that they would have to eat 8 apples in one sitting in order to get the same amount of sugar as they would get from one medium McDonald’s chocolate shake. Or you could tell someone that the glycemic load of a Snickers bar is three times that of an apple. Personally, I like the idea of “apple equivalents” as a unit of measurement. Seems pretty simple and intuitive.

So, when you’re sizing up sugary desserts and portion sizes over the holidays, try to ask yourself how many apples that would be…



Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Three items with take-away points for your weekend perusal.

Have a great weekend,



1) It’s Friday night – will you split the bill among friends if you eat out?

Here is a paper showing that people tend to consume more when they split the bill (and dilute the cost of consuming more by sharing it with others).

Take-away: Avoid splitting the bill. At meals where someone else is picking up the tab, order as if it was hitting your pocketbook.


2) It’s the weekend – will you spend some time making a nice meal?

Here is an article that posits that microwave meals and easy-to or no-prepare foods are less satisfying to us than meals that we have put time and effort into creating. If true, less satsfaction might lead to excess consumption of these easily accessible, microwavable foods.

Take-away: You don’t need to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner or gourmet feast every night, but do take the time to prepare your own food. Start with something that is recognizable as food (a vegetable, a piece of meat, etc.). You will likely appreciate your own efforts and it will taste better than this stuff (I give their commercials that try to dissuade people from preparing their own meals an equally poor review).


3) It’s Saturday or Sunday morning/afternoon – what will you decide to buy at the market or grocery store?

Here is just one example of how consultants and industry will try to get you to buy their product (regardless of their nutritional value for you) and will try to get you to consume more, more, and more. Food is a big business and they have more resources than you do.

Take-away: Know what you want before you go shopping and leave with those items only – if you decide at home that you want to eat nutritious food, make a list of specific items and stick to that list – you will save time and money. Consider what features are most important to you: brand, characteristics, or price. The importance of these factors might vary from product to product, but if you feel that product characteristics (e.g., nutritional content, organic, etc.) are more important than price for at least some things, make sure to follow through on your convictions when you’re at the market.


Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Many folks use the beginning of a new year to make resolutions or promises to themselves to change something in their lives. For a lot of people, new year’s resolutions include things like losing weight, eating better, or exercising more. The beginning of a new year feels like a fresh start. The new date suggests that we have a clean slate and can do things differently.

Well, guess what? Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new month. If you want to make a change in your life, why wait for the new year? Why not make that change starting tomorrow?

This time of year there are a lot of food drives going on. Many folks are collecting food for the needy. If you are planning to make a change in your diet (e.g., to try a Paleo diet), a common suggestion is to clean out your cupboards to make a clean break from your old habits to your new ones. Right now is a great time to do that because there are a number of organizations and workplaces that are more than happy to take all of those non-perishable goods off of your hands. So, if you’re thinking of moving away from boxed pastas, canned soups, cookies, crackers, cereals, puddings, etc., give them to an organization who will feed someone who is hungry and in need. You will be doing a good deed for yourself and for others.

The time is now.

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