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Family Times
Single Dietary Changes Equal Big Results!
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 • Posted January 23, 2014

It takes an excess of about 3,500 calories to gain a pound. Break that into smaller bites and 100 extra calories a day can put on about 10 pounds a year. The GOOD NEWS is LOSING 10 pounds can be as easy as eating 100 calories LESS each day for a year. Here are some easy ways from UNL Extension to make small changes that can add up- in a good way!

1. Modify Your Milk

Instead of drinking two cups of whole milk, switch to two cups of 1% lowfat milk or skim milk. The nutrients are comparable.

2. Modify Your Mayo

Switch from two tablespoons of regular mayonnaise to two tablespoons of low-fat mayonnaise.

3. Rethink Your Drink

Substitute a 12-ounce can of a diet soft drink at 0 calories for a similar amount of a regular soft drink at 150 calories. Or, drink a cold glass of water, perhaps with a slice of lemon! This strategy also may help you eat less in other ways. According to Dr. Barbara Rolls, Pennsylvania State University nutrition professor and author of Volumetrics: Feel Full on Fewer Calories. Various liquids are processed by different mechanisms in the body. The hunger and thirst mechanisms are quite separate. A soft drink will trigger thirst mechanisms, not hunger mechanisms, and add calories without satisfying hunger. You may end up consuming more total calories than if you didn’t take the drink.

4. Downsize Your Drink

If you’ve been drinking a 20-ounce container of a regular soft drink, switch to a12-ounce container size.

5. Dress, Don’t Drown Your Salad

Pam Anderson (How to Cook Without a Book, Broadway Books, 2000) advises about 1tablespoon of oil and a teaspoon of vinegar for each 1-1/2 cup portion of salad. In How to Make Salad (Boston Common Press, 1998), the test kitchen staff for Cooks Illustrated magazine advise 1/4 cup of vinaigrette should be enough to dress 2 quarts (8 cups) of loosely packed salad, an amount they suggest for 4 servings. That means each 2-cup serving of salad greens should have about 1 tablespoon of dressing on it.

TIP: Dressing slides off damp salad greens and collects in the bottom of the salad bowl. You’ll get more flavor with less dressing if salad greens are washed and thoroughly dried. Bagged lettuce that is pre-washed and labeled ready to eat should be dry enough as is. If you need to wash salad greens, the easiest way to dry them is in a salad spinner. Pack lightly to avoid overcrowding and bruising the greens. After spinning, pat off any remaining moisture with clean paper towels. If you don’t have a spinner, dry greens thoroughly with clean paper towels. If you’ve been using 3 (or more!) tablespoons of dressing per two cups of salad, try cutting back to 1-1/2 tablespoons of dressing or less. Or experiment with some of the reduced calorie versions. Even then, your salad will taste best if dressed, not drowned.

6. Size up Your Cereal Bowl

A study reported in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (June, 2001) found the amount of cereal eaten by adults was approximately twice the serving size listed on the box. That is not necessarily bad, but may be one place calories are sneaking into meals. Check the portion size you’re pouring in relation to the size cited on the box; decide if you’re pouring more calories than desired. Try eating from a smaller bowl to aid in portion control.

7. Watch Your Bread and Spread

Limit the amount of bread (or rolls) and spread eaten before the main course to one serving when dining out. You always can eat more later if you’re still hungry!

8. Count Your Cookies

A single medium-sized cookie easily can have about 100 calories. Often we pop two or more into our mouths before we realize it. If you feel you’re not getting enough crunch by limiting yourself to one cookie, try eating an apple instead- the calories are similar.

9. Top Your Potato with Fewer Calories

It’s easy to slather a couple of tablespoons of butter or margarine (200 calories/2 tablespoons)on a baked potato. Try switching to sour cream; you can have as much as a fourth cup for 100 calories. For even fewer calories, use one of the light or fat-free sour creams. Or, substitute plain Greek yogurt for sour cream- Brooke and I both like it!

10. Lessen Your Liquor

If you drink alcohol, limit your daily consumption to one drink for women and two drinks for men as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines. A typical 5-oz. glass of wine has 100 calories; a 12-oz. serving of beer, 150 calories; and 1 1/2 ounces of distilled spirits, 100 calories.

11. Be Size-wise with Fast Food

Try one or more of these strategies the next time you visit your favorite fast food restaurant and you easily can save 100 or more calories: Skip the mayonnaise when ordering your favorite fast food burger. If you’re not very hungry, perhaps a small,Regular, junior or whatever term is used by the restaurant for its smallest burger, may be enough for you. Order the smallest size of fries or split them with a friend. Instead of fries, consider a side salad with a fat-free or reduced calorie dressing. It’s still important to check the calories on the salad dressing. Many salad dressings come in packets; a reduced calorie dressing still may contain around 100 or more calories per packet. Refer back to tip number 5- your salad might taste just fine without using the whole packet.

Order a diet soft drink or plain water. See tips 3 and 4 for more about this. Most fast food places offer nutrition information, including calories, at their restaurant. Many also provide nutrition information on their company Web site. At your next opportunity, total the calories you obtain from your favorite fast food meal. For many adults and children (age 2 and older), a calorie range somewhere between 1,600 to 2,200 is sufficient. It’s easy to consume one-half or more of your daily caloric needs at one fast food meal, especially if you’re super-sizing portions!

12. Practice Portion Control with Popcorn

Popping microwave popcorn can be a daily occurrence in many work places and homes. It’s easy to eat half a bag or more at a sitting. While even TWO cups of the more buttery popcorns may weigh in at 100 calories or less, the entire package might yield 10 or more cups, or possibly over 500 calories! To gauge how many cups of corn you’re consuming, one cup is about equal in size to a baseball or to your fist. Microwave popcorn can be a great snack. If you’d like more than a few cups, experiment with some of the lower-fat versions.

Email me at and I’ll send you a great handout on healthy microwave popcorn using plain kernels and a brown paper bag, or search for an old Family Times article I did on that!

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