Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Don't eat the whole turkey! Avoiding gorging during the holidays

For many of us the holiday season offers cherished moments with family and friends celebrated with the joy of giving and food, lot's and lot's of food.

Though smiling on the outside, the holiday season is actually very stressful for a lot of the population. Many get anxious and are worried about over eating and gaining weight.  Most won't talk about their concern because they don't want to be seen as a Christmas killjoy.

We can have a good time without over eating.  Here are a few tips:

Avoid prompting others to over eat, and If someone says they're done at one plate, then so be it, enjoy their company and try not to cajole them into eating more.

Don't do the no eating thing during the day to save up over eating points for dinner.  This usually backfires because you're so hungry by the time dinner comes around you eat far more than you would have had you ate breakfast and lunch.

Although it's tempting to load the plate to make it look like the great pyramids, serve a normal sized plate.  You'll still enjoy all the food and you'll avoid the uncomfortable bloat that inevitably follows.

If you're set on going back for seconds then plan ahead.. Make your first plate smaller, then go back for less than half a plate of things you like the most.

Don't trick yourself with the "it's only one time" excuse to over eat.. in reality most of us have already over ate at the office party, have more than one family dinner to attend, will be eating left-overs for days, then we're hit New Years over eating.  Additionally it's likely that we've been over eating all year anyway so there is no way it can really be a one-time thing.

Enjoy your friends and family because of their human value, because of your history with them.. we don't need to pig out in order to enjoy the company of friends.

Besides, we all know that we regret over eating afterwards.  Why spend any time during the holidays regretting over eating?   Simply skip the over eating to begin with.  I promise you you'll still enjoy the celebration.

Click here to read what Heart and Stroke has to say about holiday eating

Monday, December 9, 2013

Is Mac & Cheese The Cheapest Way To Feed Kids?

While on air with Richard Cloutier (CJOB) talking about how most healthy food choices are cheaper than most unhealthy food choices, we had a loyal CJOB listener email the show..

"Cris is comparing the most expensive bad food to the least expensive healthy food.  Kraft Dinner is 50 cents a box and you can feed four kids on that."

He was referring to these comparisons I made in these blog entries:

 Healthy Food Still Cheaper; Despite new "Research"

 Healthy Food Cheaper: Potato chips 1134% more $$ than potatoes


I've heard the cheap mac and cheese argument before.  First, I'm not cherry picking the cheapest healthy foods, I'm picking common healthy foods that are readily available at all grocery stores, and comparing those to the most commonly purchased unhealthy foods.

At any rate the reality is I generated a lengthy list of healthy foods that are less costly than unhealthy foods.  The choices are real, the choices are available.

Right after the interview I went straight to Walmart.  I'm not trying to advertise for Walmart and not all shoppers will choose to shop for food there.  Regardless, Walmart will have amongst the lowest prices for food so it's a reasonable place to do lowest-cost food comparisons.

I went straight to the Kraft Dinner.  On air I claimed that rice, beans, and potatoes were cheaper than Kraft Dinner.. let's see if I was right..

Kraft Dinner $5.00/ kg

Great Value (Walmart brand) Mac and Cheese $2.22/ kg

Basmati rice $6.23/ kg

 Parboiled rice $1.25/ kg

 Brown rice $4.29/ kg

 Spinach lasagne $2.74/ kg

 Canned beans $2.19/ kg

 Oatmeal $2.00/ kg

Potatoes $0.66/ kg

If you shop you will find alternatives to mac and cheese that are more expensive, as well as cheaper.

Your choice. 

The fact is, it doesn't take much to find healthy foods that are about the same price as mac and cheese or, cheaper. 

So why do most believe the urban myth that mac and cheese is bar-none the cheapest food you can buy?  We love urban myths and never bother to fact-check them. It feels better to boast about  sensationalized things than to converse with straight-talk about facts.

Potatoes are one of the cheapest foods that still have a pretty good nutrient profile, and are easy to prepare in many tasty ways.  A big plus is that most people like potatoes.

You can see the spinach lasagne is about the same price as the mac and cheese, and that the actual Kraft brand of mac and cheese is about double the price of the lasagne.

So what gives here? A lot of this has to do with packaging.  The mac and cheese is sold in a much smaller quantity in a much smaller package allowing for a lower price per package.

Many shoppers will look at the package price only, and not realize that the price of the product sold by weight is actually not as cheap as it appears at first glance.

There are definitely healthy foods that are expensive, but there is a very long list of healthy foods that are cheaper than less healthy foods.  It's easy to divert our attention by focusing on expensive healthy choices like kale and allowing ourselves to cry and moan about the cost; or you can buy broccoli (which is about $2.10/ kg, less than mac and cheese), and has similar nutrient density compared to kale and spinach.  You don't need specialty items like kale or expensive fruits like papaya to meet your daily nutrient needs. I'm not saying don't eat kale (which is coming down in price as popularity rises, and you can grow it in your back yard for dirt cheap), or papaya.

I'm saying that for every expensive healthy food, there are at least a few less expensive healthy food alternatives. Turning to junk food because it's supposedly cheaper, is blindly following an urban myth.

Did you catch that?  Broccoli is cheaper than mac and cheese. So are apples, oranges, and bananas.

Carrots, broccoli, apples, oranges, bananas, eggs, rice, beans, oatmeal -- all are cheaper than mac and cheese.

You can meet all your energy and nutrient needs with less costly choices than are found through junk foods or cheap processed foods.

Are we really trying to find a way to buy the cheapest food simply because it's the cheapest?  What if the cheapest food doesn't nourish us very well?

Don't be duped by small packages and urban myths.

Shop smart, compare prices, and be aware of nutrient density.  Potatoes and beans are cheaper than mac and cheese and deliver more vitamins and minerals.

We're not just eating to get full. We need to meet our daily vitamin and mineral needs as well.  Keep this in mind while food shopping and you'll become a savvy consumer.

Healthy Food Still Cheaper; Despite new "Research"

I'll cut right to the chase..

In this sale comparison we see that bacon is a bit cheaper than boneless chicken breast, about $2.00 per pound less.

Well I guess that's it then; proof that the healthier lean poultry is more expensive than the fatty bacon.

That would be science without the science part though, you know, when you measure and compare the actual details?
 42 out of 100 grams are fat.  You are buying a lot of fat.

Chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
 4 out of 100 grams are fat. You are buying a lot of lean chicken.

So is the bacon actually cheaper?  If your goal is to buy fat and a ridiculous dose of sodium (42% of your money is going into fat) then the bacon is cheaper.  If you're looking to feed yourself or your family healthy lean cuts of meat and poultry, then the chicken is a better deal.

We're not further ahead over-consuming fat calories; this is a false economy.  Even if it were cheaper to eat unhealthy it would still cost families and the national economy more money in health care costs, not to mention the emotional costs of facing chronic illness, as well as the emotional turmoil that accompanies trying to quit over eating to lose weight.

 Cheesecake $13.00 for about 1000g

 Mixed veggies $6.00 for about 900g

Looks like the veggies are cheaper than cheesecake (about half the cost).  And we know which of these two delivers more vitamins minerals to you and your family.

 About 1600 grams (1.6 kg) for $11.00.  Good deal eh?

37 out of 100 grams are fat.  You are buying a lot of fat, not much potatoes, and it costs you more than actual potatoes.

 4500 grams (4.5kg) for $3.00.  

0 out 100 grams are fat.  You are buying all potatoes, and at a significant savings. 
Potatoes are about 66 cents per kilo.
Potato chips are about $6.87 per kilo.

Potato chips are 10X the cost of potatoes!

I've done this comparison before, a couple times.  I do it whenever there is a press release from some think-tank claiming healthy food is far more expensive than unhealthy food.

Last week a study published in the British Medical Journal resolved that healthy eating costs $1.50 per day more than consuming less healthy processed foods.  The study didn't actually compare any real prices in any grocery stores.  They looked at 27 previously done studies on the cost of foods.

I've always found in my real life grocery store bill comparisons or flyer price comparisons, that for the most part, healthy choices are less costly than junk food, processed foods, and fast food restaurants.

Please folks, don't believe the hype.  With few exceptions, healthy choices are cheaper.

Here's a reader comment from the "comments" section below the study..

"This study is nonsense!
How can you possibly think that meta data can actually give you information needed to do a study that tells real people that eat real food that it only cost on average $1.50 per day more.
First off $1.50 more than what? What is the base cost of three meals per day?
Where are you buying meat that cheep cuts are only 29 cents per serving less than good cuts. How many tons of meat must one buy at a time for that price?
I would love to tell you where to put this study!
I know my comment won't show up if I tell you that.
You people that like to crunch numbers, do you really believe the nonsense that you write into what you call a meta data study?
I have news for you.
Go shopping for food. By some crap processed food type products.
Then go shopping and buy fresh vegetables and fruits and see what the real difference in price is."


Here is the link to the study

 I'm not saying that it is inexpensive to eat.  I'm saying the cost of healthy food is very competitive with the cost less healthy food, and is often considerably cheaper.