July 27, 2007

Nutritional restaurant food costs more than junk

There's a reason it's called junk food. Because it's cheap nutritionally, and cheap for your wallet. Good food costs money. But most times the local vegetable farmer is not subsidized like McDonald's and Walmart.

A recent report from the University of Washington compared the weekly costs of eating high- and low-energy-dense food in 1,500 French teens and adults. It found that fruit, vegetables and other lower-calorie fare cost more than fast-food burgers, fried chicken and other energy-dense foods. That suggests, the team concluded in June in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, that 'lasting improvements in diet quality may require economic as well as behavioral interventions.'

Here are some tips from the researchers:

  • Add a first course to lunch and dinner. Make it a large leafy salad with plenty of vegetables and low-fat or nonfat dressing. Penn State researchers have found this practice can cut an average of 100 calories from the main meal without affecting fullness.

  • Sip soup. It's filled with water, which helps you feel full on fewer calories. Stews are another smart option. The exception: Avoid cream-based soups, which are packed with fat and calories.

  • Cut fat but not flavor. Choose fat-free or low-fat cheese instead full-fat varieties, especially in casseroles and mixed dishes where other ingredients can take up the slack.

  • Add fruit or vegetables to cut calories. Diced grapes, celery, carrots and water chestnuts lower the calories in chicken salad or tuna salad and add flavor and texture. Use mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, spinach and other vegetables on pizza in place of some of the pepperoni and sausage. Add spinach, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and other veggies to pasta dishes while cutting back on meat

  • Get more fiber. Not only does it help dilute calories, but it also increases satiety. So add beans to taco fillings, salads and soups. Switch to whole-wheat bread, pasta and cereal.

  • Read more at: You can eat more and still lose weight.

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