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Posts Tagged ‘Larry’

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Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011


(A menu from a Holiday Inn in London – I added the black rectangles)

Many menus offer different portion sizes. Often, the portion sizes are described in relative (i.e., vague) terms such as small, medium, and large; tall and grande; appetizer-, lunch-, and dinner-sized portions; etc. Because I am somewhat used to seeing such descriptions, the menu shown above caught my eye. If you can read the text in the black rectangles (I apologize for the poor quality of the camera phone pic), it describes portion sizes based on how hungry one (or in this case one’s child) is feeling. The small plates are labeled “a little bit hungry,” the larger plates are labeled, “really hungry,” and the desserts are labeled, “room for a treat?.” We like the idea of using this type of “nudge” to encourage folks to think about how hungry they are before choosing a portion size

The thing with portion sizes labeled small, medium, and large is that there is a natural tendency to want more of something that we like and are ordering. Consciously or subconsciously, “more” tends to be equated with “better.” You like milkshakes? Then why order a small when you can get a large (usually for what seems like a nominal increase in price)? You like french fries? Then why not supersize your order? This choice architecture, or the way that the options are presented to you are designed to encourage you to order the largest size (no matter how large that size might be). The largest size is often presented as the default option, presented in the largest and most visually appealing way, and marketed as being available for only a small additional cost.

Now, this situation wouldn’t be such a problem if it was simply analogous to buying food in bulk where we could save money by purchasing more at a lower price. And it is possible to take advantage of large portion sizes in such a way by splitting a large single portion with a dining companion or having half of a portion size boxed up (at the beginning of the meal) to be eaten at a later time. However, more often than not, we fall into the trap of ordering more than we need and then “cleaning our plate.”

So, here are a few alternative ways for thinking about or replacing the typical small, medium, and large terminology

- (as above) little bit hungry, quite hungry, really hungry

- snack, meal, feast

- gonna eat again in an hour or two, gonna eat again in 5-6 hours, gonna skip a meal

- my activity today has been: sedentary, active, vigorous

A large serving might always sound better than a smaller serving (at least before you finish eating), but by thinking about your hunger level, when you plan to eat next, and your activity level for the day prior to ordering (or serving a meal at home), you can better link your needs to your choices and set yourself up for making decisions that are in your best long-term interest.




Friday, March 4th, 2011

I have been traveling for work lately, which is something that can easily throw one off of their diet and fitness routine. Today, I’d like to offer a few travel techniques that I have found to be helpful for successfully staying on track.


1. Be prepared. I had a late-morning flight out, I made sure to eat a hearty breakfast with a lot of protein and little sugar (ham and green pepper 3-egg omelet with black coffee). This keeps me feeling satisfied and keeps hunger at bay for a longer period of time.


I also packed a bag of cashews for eating on the road. Again, these are a nice source of protein and easy to carry and eat in transit – you’ll see that they came in handy later on… (plus $3 for a pound of cashews? booyah! thanks manager’s special!)


2. Choose wisely. I had a couple of meals out in Minneapolis and one was at a great restaurant called Restaurant Alma that focuses on local and organic food. Eating out can easily help you get off track and so I wanted to see if I could do the prix fixe menu like my other colleagues and still eat well. In addition, I have been experimenting with eating according to a Paleo lifestyle (see here and here) and so I wanted to try to do that as well. The menu is below – what do you think I ordered?

Well, I started with the Arugula and Smoked Whitefish app (avoided the bread and custard). I had the Squash and Chestnut Soup for a second course (avoided the grains). And then I had the Glazed Beef Short Ribs for a third course, which was delicious. With a nice pinot noir to wash this down, I was feeling satisfied and not too full. Unfortunately, that is not where things ended. I succumbed to the pressure of dining with others and to my own temptations, and I ordered dessert. I had the Bittersweet Chocolate Tart, which I thought was a pretty good choice, but it did also leave me feeling more full that I would have liked. I actually regret having ordered it. However, it did remind me of how your eating companions can influence your eating behaviors and how it is easier to overconsume when you are not picking up the tab.


3. Have tools on hand. On the way back home, I had a two-hour layover in Chicago, which was extended to about four hours by delayed flights as is often the case at O’Hare. The good news is that this allowed me to have a relaxed sit down meal at the Macaroni Grill between the terminals. When I sat down, I asked the waiter what he recommended and he listed three things that sounded good to me, the Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Salad, the Chicken Scaloppine, and the Grilled Chicken Rosemary Spiedini. Now, I could have guessed at the nutritional information associated with each of these options (and to be fair, I didn’t ask for it at the restaurant), but what I did instead was to quickly and discretely pull out my iphone and fire up the app below.

This quickly and easily gave me the following information:

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Salad: 870 calories, 57g fat, 1180mg sodium, 40g carbs, 5g fiber, 48g protein

Chicken Scaloppine: 1090 calories, 59g fat, 3030mg sodium, 59g carbs, 7g fiber, 38g protein

Grilled Chicken Rosemary Spiedini: 390 calories, 9g fat, 970mg sodium, 31g carbs, 7g fiber, 48g protein

So, before the waiter had even returned to my table to take my order, I knew what I wanted (any guesses?). Having this tool right in my pocket allowed me to be a more intelligent eater and avoid the first two options. I can also say that the Grilled Chicken Rosemary Spiedini was pretty good and went down well with a Stella Artois. For dessert, I revisited my bag of cashews about 2 hours later in the airport terminal, but that is a story for another day…

So, those are a few recent adventures of mine (by the way, I weighed in at exactly the same weight as when I left – something I can’t quite say for previous business trips). So, what about you folks? What are your travel techniques for staying on track when you’re on the road?

Have a great weekend and safe travels.



Thursday, February 24th, 2011
Watch on Posterous

We’ve talked before about how it can be difficult to muster the effort (and sometimes the courage) to get some physical activity when the weather isn’t great. Well, this video makes me want to get out in the snow right this minute.

Now, I have to warn you, that what you are about to see just might be the most kick-ass snow slide you have ever seen. I grew up in Michigan, so having built and sledded upon many a snow slide, I feel I have some basis for comparison and some standing to speak on the matter – but really, check this thing out!

It looks so fun and awesome that you might not even think about how many “stairs” those folks are doing as they keep going back for more. Spend all day on the stairmaster? No thank you sir. But, spend all day on this thing? You bet!

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