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5 Things to Know About the New Food Labeling Laws

movie-popcorn

Late last week the Food and Drug Administration made a huge announcement that basically holds more businesses accountable for the calories in the food they choose to serve. The new food laws, which falls under the Affordable Care Act, will absolutely affect you; expect to know how many calories are in that tub of popcorn at the movie theater, for instance.

Let’s break down the most important changes you will notice next year.

1. All major businesses will need to display their calorie counts. 

Some big cities are already held to this standard, like New York City. But the FDA’s new laws will require any establishment that sells prepared food (and also has more than 20 locations) to display its food’s calorie information. A one-stop independent bakery will not be affected, but your local and booming coffee purveyor that’s become a chain will not be exempt.

2. Calories will be on the menu. 

Calorie content will appear on menus and menu boards in restaurants, though bakeries, coffee shops, pizza joints, movie theaters, and amusement parks will be affected, as well. The idea is to provide easy access to the caloric information of your food choices to help you realize exactly what you are ingesting. The FDA also hopes that it will inspire restaurants to make healthier food preparation choices.
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Work it Off: 3 Ways to Burn Off a 244-Calorie Serving of Guacamole

May is here and Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. You know what that means: Guacamole season—which in my mind  lasts from around May through September—is upon us!

guac

It may be obvious, but Guacamole is probably my favorite food, one of the three things I would want with me on a desert island. A few years ago I even had a “guac off” for my birthday party, asking guests to bring different versions of the classic green condiment/first-course which we of course then taste-tested and voted on. Versions included one with cranberries, one with chipotle chilis, and one with bacon. All were delicious, no surprise.

The good new is, guacamole is made of all sorts of good for you stuff: the avocados are full of heart healthy omega 3s and the onions, cilantro, jalepeno, and so forth provide a ton of nutrients. But moderation is not something I have an easy time practicing with guacamole, and I know I’m not alone: nutrition sites suggest a serving size of 1 oz., or about 2 Tablespoons. But as anyone who’s ever planted themselves next to the guac bowl at a party, it’s hard to stop there. I’ve easily eaten 2/3 of a cup on my own, which contains more like 244 calories. (Let’s not even get into the calories from the chips, which shoot this number way way up!)


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Something to Chew On: Food Texture Can Make You Overeat

Just like people prefer certain tastes over others, we all tend to have texture preferences when it comes to food. Take for example the chocolate chip cookie. Some will insist the best cookies are thin and crisp, while others will argue soft and chewy is the way to go.

food texture

Texture can influence a lot more than food preference. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research revealed texture can also affect how people perceive the number of calories in food.

Study authors Dipayan Biswas, Courtney Szocs (both of University of South Florida), Aradhna Krishmna (University of Michigan), and Donald R. Lehmann (Columbia University) wrote, “We studied the link between how a food feels in your mouth and the amount we eat, the types of food we choose, and how many calories we think we are consuming.”


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Work it Off: 3 Ways to Burn Off the 272 Calories in a Slice of Cheese Pizza

As a former New Yorker, I used to live on pizza. (Or, “slices”, as we said in Brooklyn.) I had a handful of go-to spots, places with thin crust that’s been tossed to perfection, savory sauce, and just enough cheese. But when I moved I largely gave up my pizza habit. It’s not as easy to come by restaurants selling slices to go, and the consistency is just different. Or so I thought.

pizza

A few days ago I stopped into one of the few local pizza chains that do offer individual slices. Most were piled with artisanal toppings—things like roasted squash and apples—but on that particular day I spied what looked like a classic slice. Fresh mozzarella, a little red sauce peeking thorough, and not much else.  I ordered one, sprinkled on a few fresh pepper flakes, and was immediately transported. It tasted like home.

Still, my waistline has been happy to not have to deal with regular stops for slices. Just how many calories had that pitstop cost? Around 272, by my math (and Self.com).
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Work it Off: Burn Through a 600-Calorie Plate of Nachos

There are certain weeks when my “TGIF” attitude carries over to what I eat. This past Friday was a good example of this. I’d worked hard for the past 5 days and when Friday rolled around I was ready to unwind. I met up with some friends and ordered one of my favorite comfort foods—nachos.

burn nachos

To me, few things feel as good—or bad—as a heaping plate of nachos. You’ve got the crunchy pile of corn chips. The warm black beans and melted cheese. The salsa and, if you’re really lucky, guacamole. On last night’s order there was even a healthy helping of pulled pork. Delish!

Luckily I shared the snack—which actually served as dinner—but the calorie count of this one was a real doozy: Somewhere around 1,200 calories for the gooey plate. That means I ate around 600 calories worth of nachos in one sitting. Ouch!


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