July 4, 2008

In The News: The 100-Calorie Conundrum

The New York Times is reporting the findings of a recent Journal of Consumer Research study in which participants ultimately consumed more calories from single-serve items than large packages.

"In one experiment, students were primed to think about their body shape, then were given potato chips and left to watch television. They ate nearly twice as many chips when given nine small bags as when given two large ones. They also hesitated less before opening the small bags."

So, you may wonder, which is it? Aren't controlled calorie packages helpful for weight control?

After all, reaching into a large bag of chips while watching television can often result in unintentional 400 or 500 calorie snacking sessions!

The answer, as usual, is somewhere in the middle.

I think 100-calorie packaged snacks can be very helpful when purchased individually -- for instance, at a vending machine or in a drugstore.

The territory gets rockier when a multitude of these 100 calorie packages are sitting in the kitchen cupboard.

It's too tempting to open one up, finish the contents, and think, "Eh, what the hell, that was just 100 calories, I'll have another."

It's also important to train yourself to always read nutriton labels, no matter how small a serving may seem.

After all, a "single serving" cup of Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream (which, trust me, can be gobbled down in just a few bites) packs in 270 calories and 10 grams of saturated fat.

And so we come back to advice I have doled out in the past (and which I apply to my own life) -- keep trigger foods out of your kitchen.

If Oreos are your weakness, it's very likely that the 6-count box of 100-calorie Oreo snack bags will be history in one sitting.

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