Healthy Tips for Picnic Celebrations
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Food Hangovers and Portion Distortion

HangoverEver experience a "food hangover"?  You know the morning after a night of binge eating or eating unhealthy foods that give you a stomach ache, head ache and terrible taste in your mouth.  Often times, food addicts swear off they'll never repeat such an incident and before long they're right back in the same situation.

So what do you do if you have this experience and you want to correct your faltering ways? You must identify the triggers that lead you into this scenario so you can break the behavioral chain.  What were you feeling leading up to prior to this overdose of sugary, starchy and/or fat ladened foods?  Who were you with?  Where were you?  Why do you feel like you made this unhealthy choice?

“In general, mankind, since the improvement in cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires.”  ~ Benjamin Franklin

Maybe it wasn't all emotional eating for you.  Perhaps it was the portion distortion that got you a little confused.  The key to weight loss and to managing a healthy body is to first be aware of the basics such as what you are eating, why, how much and where are you eating it?  These simple questions can tell us a lot about where we’re at and where we need to go to get healthier.

Here’s an important question to ponder.  Do you eat foods for entertainment vs. searching for foods that fuel for your body for energy and performance?  If you’re like most other Americans, you’re answer is probably “entertainment” as it’s become such a major part of our culture. This means you’re likely consuming more energy than your body needs for optimal performance. 

Most of us can improve our health simply through improving our nutrition balance in our daily snacks and meals and with a little better portion control.  Most of us need some nutrition and portions training as the knowledge that got us into our current health status will probably not lead us to better health. 

“What should I be eating?  What are proper portion sizes and how many calories should I eat in a day?”  These are common questions for anyone trying to lose weight or get into better shape.  So what does the body actually need and how can I balance this with what I want to eat?  This is where it gets a little tricky.  Each of us is different and our bodies use different amounts of fuel to perform at our best. 

The problem is nowadays the plates in most of our homes and restaurants are 12-14” and most of us are not burning enough calories to consume the larger the portion sizes.  To lose 1 lb the average person needs to burn an extra 3500 calories.  Now the average person burns about 3500 calories running a full marathon (26.2 miles).  Do you get the point?  It takes more activity and exercise then we think to burn off our over eating.  Just look at these examples of commonly ordered appetizers and meals in the marketplace…

Outback Steakhouse Aussie Cheese Fries & Ranch Dressing
2,900 calories, 182 g fat, 240 g carbs

Macaroni Grill Spaghetti and Meatballs with Meat Sauce
2,430 calories, 128 g fat, 207 g carbs)

Today’s fast foods are filled with more empty calories, unhealthy fats, salt (sodium), sugar (high fructose corn syrup) and other unnatural food chemicals.  They are designed for our taste buds and not for our nutrition.  In light of this you’ll want to make healthier choices on what to order and definitely use a smaller 7 to 9” plate (or the inner ring of the larger plate) as a portion guide.  You’ll also need a general understanding of how many calories you’re burning in a day.

To find out how many calories you’re burning (your Total Energy Expenditure or TEE) using the easy method, use the following formula:

Your current weight (in pounds) x 11 calories = TEE (daily caloric need)

This formula is based on a sedentary individual, so you’ll need to adjust it as you step up your exercising, as follows:

Multiply your TEE by:

1.2 (for light exercise)
1.5 (for moderate exercise)
1.7 (for heavy exercise)

For example: 162 lbs × 11 kcal/lb = 1,782 kcal × 1.2 = 2,138 kcal/day (TEE)

You can use the formulas below to determine your calorie-burn while running and walking. Scientists consider this the best way to evaluate the actual calorie-burn of any exercise.

1 mile of running = .63 x your weight

1 mile of walking = .30 x your weight

This basic information can guide you to better balanced nutrition and calorie intake but you’ll need a more personalized plan to help you get the specific results you desire.

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