Will Eating More Vegetables Cause you to Gain Weight?

vegetables variety

There is a new report out by the Economic Research Service called ‘Healthy Vegetables Undermined by the Company They Keep’ that really surprised me. It makes me question my mantra to always “eat more fruits and vegetables”.

In a nutshell, the report said that eating more fruit is associated with healthier weight but that Americans who eat more vegetables may actually increase their calorie and sodium intake. How can that be? Vegetables are naturally low in calories and sodium.

The report found that when many Americans eat vegetables they prepare them in ways that add calories and sodium while reducing fiber. So, if you eat more vegetables you will also get more fat, sodium, and calories.

I think the disconnect is that when I recommend eating more vegetables I am thinking roasted sweet potatoes or Brussels sprouts, raw baby carrots, spinach salads, steamed green beans, raw broccoli and cauliflower florets, etc. But some people hear this recommendation and automatically think about the vegetables they are used to eating such as French fries, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, 7 layer salad, zucchini bread, hash browns, pizza with mushrooms, spinach dip, etc.

In the future I’m going to modify my message about vegetables.  Here are a few of my modifications:

1. Most of us need to eat twice as many vegetables as we do.  But all vegetables are not created equal. Different colored vegetables provide different nutrients. Try to eat more of the dark green and orange vegetables.  Most of us don’t need to eat more white potatoes which we often fry or eat with butter or cheese.  Tomatoes are another tricky one. Fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes with no salt added are healthier choices than tomatoes cooked into pizza and spaghetti sauce which are typically high in sodium.

Dark Green Vegetables
raw baby spinach
broccoli
romaine lettuce
Orange Vegetables
baby carrots
baked sweet potato
Dry Beans*
and Peas

cooked black beans
cooked kidney beans
cooked pinto beans
Starchy Vegetables
cooked corn
baked potato
Other Vegetables
raw cauliflower
cooked green beans
iceberg lettuce
raw mushrooms
red onion
raw tomato
tomato juice
raw zucchini

2. Try to eat your vegetables without added calories and sodium.

Eat more of these…
Eat less of these…
Relish Trays or individual snack bags with raw vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms Creamed or au gratin vegetables
Spinach salad with reduced fat dressing Spinach dip
Roasted or grilled sweet potatoes or  Easy Roasted Vegetables White potatoes topped with generous amounts of butter and sour cream
Raw vegetable salads with a small amounts of reduced-fat dressing such as Creamy Cauliflower Salad or Summer Bounty Salad Raw broccoli/cauliflower salads with almost as much sour cream and mayo as vegetables
Roasted Tomato and Spinach Pasta or Cheesy Pasta with Summer Vegetables Pastas with lots of cream, cheese, or  canned sauces with lots of sodium

3.  Pay attention to labels. The sodium varies greatly on canned vegetables and tomato-based sauces and soups. Compare the labels so you can choose one with less sodium. Calorie labeling will soon be available in restaurant chains with 20 or more establishments and you can ask managers to provide the information in local restaurants.

Knowing the Cost and Calories of Holiday Treats May Give You Will Power

treatsMost adults have no idea how many calories they burn in a day, so they don’t realize that a piece of pecan pie that has 500 calories is probably 25% of all the calories they need for a day.

Calories are just a measurement tool, like inches or ounces. They measure the energy a food or beverage provides. Most women burn about 1600 to 2000 calories a day. A pound is equal to 3500 calories.  If you consistently eat more calories than you burn through daily living and exercise, you gain weight. Studies show a pound or two gained over the holidays sometimes never comes off again.

If you’d like to get an estimate of how many calories you use in a day based on your age, gender, and activity, check out Super Tracker from USDA. You can also set goals and track activities and calories at this site.

I don’t want to be surprised by the calories in my holiday treats. Below is a chart of some treats and their nutrition information along with links to the restaurants’ nutrition pages.  An extra treat like these added to your usual diet, could add a pound in just a week. The cost of these treats varies based on where you live, but each represents extra expense for me during a time of year when I need to keep a careful eye on my budget. When I consider the cost and know the calories, my self-control to make healthy choices is boosted and I can choose the treats I really love and pass by the ones that aren’t that special to me. Many restaurants have incredibly detailed nutrition information online so you can know the facts about your holiday favorites!

Holiday Treat

Approximate Calories

Source

White Chocolate Mocha Grande Latte

400 calories

Starbucks

Raspberry and Cream Muffin

540

Perkins

Cranberry walnut Bagel and cream cheese

500 calories

Panera

Eggnog

500 calories per cup  add another 100 calories if you add alcohol

Anderson Erickson

Red Velvet Drizzle Donut

410

Dunkin Donuts

Peggy Signature

App for Tracking Food, Weight, Exercise

I have used several apps to track my food and exercise. The one I am currently using, MyFitnessPal, is just about perfect for me and it receives the highest rating by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you don’t have a smart phone you can do the same thing on the MyFitnessPal web site.

myfitnesspal iphone

Why do I like it?

  1. It is free.
  2. It has a large food database with more than 1,100,000 foods with the option for food or recipe entry.
  3. It includes a database of more than 350 fitness exercises, with calories burned for a “net” calories remaining.
  4. It is easy to scan barcodes to add foods.
  5. It provides a weekly average and other detailed reports and charts of your progress over time. This is motivational for me.
  6. It offers the analysis of fat, calories, protein and carbohydrates; PLUS iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium.

MyFitnessPal also lets you add friends and link to Facebook for support. I haven’t used this feature, but it looks interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

Peggy Signature

$30 serves 8 a Healthy Holiday Dinner

Thanksgiving is just a couple weeks away and for many of us that means lots of great food. But it doesn’t have to mean a lot of calories, extra weight, and an empty wallet. Last weekend we figured out a traditional menu that will serve 8 people a healthy meal for $30.

Why is it healthy? The turkey is roasted—not fried, the food is homemade so it isn’t loaded with sodium like many of the  convenience foods, the vegetables and fruits are prepared letting the natural flavors shine rather than be smothered, and we have skipped the crust on the pie and gone right to the ‘good for you’ pumpkin filling.

My sister is trying to promote a “Turkey Trot” on Thanksgiving morning for us—just like they do in her husband’s hometown. The Turkey Trot is a 3K route and everyone walks or runs as far as they want and are able. This sounds like a great plan to me, and I think it would work with our family since we share the cooking. Walking and talking sure makes the exercise go more quickly.

Check out the turkey dinner recipes and see how we figured the costs.

-pointers from Peggy

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