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Nutrition 101

By Megan Tempest in Food on Mar 9, 2010 4:40PM


March is the official National Nutrition Month. Let's get in the spirit with some basic nutrition talk. The American Institute of Cancer Research constructed the New American Plate which is comprised of 2/3 or more of vegetables, fruits, whole grains or beans, and 1/3 or less of animal protein.

Along with the New American Plate, the AIRC delivered four key messages for cancer prevention and weight loss. Nothing we haven't heard before, but important nonetheless.

-Eat mostly plant-based foods, which are low in energy density
-Be physically active
-Maintain a healthy weight (via steps 1 and 2, as well as reducing portion size)
-Reduce your portion size

While the basic tenet of "no food is unhealthy is small portions" holds true, it can be easier than we even think to over-indulge. It takes roughly 3500 calories to gain 1 pound of fat. By eating an excess of only 100 calories per day for 365 days, we could gain up to 10 pounds! On the flip side, it takes only about 20 minutes of brisk walking to burn 100 calories (the equivalent of an average slice of bread). A healthy-sized meal should average at about 500 calories, based on a diet of 2000 calories per day that includes three meals and two snacks.

Calories of select foods and drinks around town:

Goose Island 12 oz Matilda Beer = 212
Starbucks’ Grande White Chocolate Mocha with nonfat milk= 350
One Counter Burger = 880
Order of Counter Burger fries for two = 1210
Portillos Italian Beef Sandwich = 450
Chicago-style Vienna Beef Hot Dog = 350
Chipotle Chicken Burrito with cheese and sour cream = 1179
Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza (1 slice) = 300
Cheesecake Factory Carrot Cake (1 slice) = 1550
Cheesecake Factory Caesar Salad with Chicken = 980
Subway Foot long Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki = 760
P.F Chang’s Coconut Curry Vegetables = 1020

Tips for cutting calories and portion sizes:
1. When dining out, ask for a to-go box right away to save half of your meal for another time.
2. At home, eat from smaller size dishes and bowls
3. Avoid going extended periods of time (more than 4 hours) without eating - when we’re super hungry we’re much more likely to choose the wrong foods, and then overeat them.
4. Don’t drink your calories. The occasional cocktail or full-sugar soda aside, try to stick with low calorie drinks such as sparkling water, hot or iced tea on most days.
5. Use visual cues to determine appropriate portion sizes. A healthy meat serving is about the size of a deck of cards. Check out this online serving size finder for more visual references.