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Nutrition morsels


December 2012

Souper satisfying

We all know soup is good for the soul, but how about your waistline? According to a study conducted by the Journal of Nutrition, individuals who ate a plate of food and drank a glass of water got hungry sooner than those who ate a pureed soup of all the same ingredients.

"Depending on portion sizes of the foods eaten, soups can take longer to eat than solid foods. Sipping hot soup may force you to slow down your eating and pay more attention to feelings of fullness," says Sarah Zangerle, registered dietitian at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.

"Studies have shown that people who start a meal with a cup of soup eat less at meal time because they feel more full," says Zangerle. "This is a great tip for eating in restaurants, when the main meal is often high in calories and fat."

Make sure to choose lower calorie broth or vegetable-based soups, and avoid high-calorie cream soups, to receive the "full" benefits.

Number Decoder

Itís all in the numbers. According to Lisa Stark, dietetic department chair at Mount Mary College, the International Federation for Produce Standards has developed four- and five-digit Price Look-Up numbers to use on loose produce, making it easier for people to check out at grocery stores ó and for grocers to keep track of inventory. Most importantly, the codes indicate the size and type of produce, and where and how it was grown.

Organic produce has a five-digit number that begins with a nine; conventionally grown produce PLU numbers begin with a four; and genetically modified foods (GMO) have five-digit numbers beginning with eight.

Looking for other ways to identify organically grown foods? Look for producers that are certified organic and for the USDA Organic seal (95 to 100 percent organically produced).

Splurge attack

If you often chow down for the warm and fuzzy feeling certain foods may bring, take note: You may be a victim of "hedonic hunger."

"There is chemistry involved in the hedonic mechanisms in the brain, however we donít know a lot about them," says Sarah Zangerle, registered dietitian at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. "We do know that some of these chemicals in our brain may cause us to feel good when we eat certain foods, but we donít understand yet how to control the production of these chemicals in order to stop eating."

Zangerle explains that one of the reasons we may crave certain foods at specific times may be related to experiences around food from early on in our childhood. "It is very important that we do not medicate ourselves with food," warns Zangerle. "We need to change the coping mechanisms we use to deal with stress and emotion vs. comforting ourselves with foods."

Although these are difficult habits to break, says Zangerle, making small changes can build up over time to create new habits that become a part of our lifestyle. One small step for your diet ó one major step for living well!


This story ran in the December 2012 issue of: