It's that time of year, when all things candy come in unique shapes, itsy-bitsy sizes, and are wrapped in festive orange, yellow, and black wrappers.
Our MM On The Way To Wellness Groups were challenged this week to an active game of "Calorie Match." The goal of the game was to match 30 calorie cards to 30 different foods, including a number of seasonal Halloween treats. This was a team project, which opened itself up for lots of great discussion.
Among some of the interesting observations:
- A handful of M&M's (3 mini-packages) is a whopping 270 calories, while a handful of almonds (1 oz) has 160 calories. Laying on a dinner plate, those M&M's looked so small and harmless. Some people guessed they only had 50 calories! When comparing nutritional value, the almonds are the big winner in nutrient density, providing a great source of healthy fat, fiber and protein.(Nutrient density is the amount of healthy vitamins, minerals, grams of protein, etc. per calorie.)
- Mini and fun sizes are only fun in name and mini in how few you actually get! (By the way, the words mini and fun don't provide a regulated, accepted size by weight.) It's a game of marketing. Who wouldn't want to have fun and be mini?
- Most of these treats cost between 50 - 90 calories for each little package. You can find a mini box of Junior Mints or fun size Twix bar for 50 calories, but you'll be spending 80 calories on a fun size Snickers or Milky Way and 90 for your M&M's.
- Vegetables came in at only 25 - 37 calories per half cup serving. These were the most nutrient dense group of all. They are so healthy, with so few calories, that you really don't have to count how many calories are in them..just make sure you get them in!
- A handful of dried cherries came in at 120 calories. But a 1/4 cup of these little sweet gems are so rich in nutrients that they count as 2 fruits!
- Which would you rather have for 100 calories: a medium size apple, large grapefruit, or 4 mini Smarties packs?
- Drinking a 24 oz regular soda delivers 300 calories . Drinking 12 oz. apple cider gives you 180. Both are loaded with sugar. The soda in the real failure in nutrient density: all calories and no other nutritive value. The apple cider does have 60 calories in each 1/2 cup serving, along with potassium and a fair amount of vitamin C--enough to count the 12 oz glass as 3 fruits!!
The goal of "Calorie Match" was to increase the awareness and mindfulness of the real cost and value of different food choices at this time of year. Yes, one mini-pack of candy may taste good. That's just fine if you only eat one and don't go overboard. But if one mini bar leads to 6, you may need to fully aware of the consequence of overeating sugary, non-nutrient dense foods. You may need to decide not to take the first one and reach for a big carrot or apple instead.
This week, be mindful of what different types of food do inside your body. If you choose to eat candy, be aware of how you feel after you eat. Are you fully energized, tired, bloated, feeling rotten? How about when you eat the carrot? How do you feel after that?
It's really OK to chose an occasional candy. Just don't make them half your day's food intake! I heard from one woman this week who ate an entire bag of candy in one day. She felt life and total failure. I know some of you can certainly relate to her. Try to be in control of your treat choices this week. If you do lose it, like our MM groupie and end up sliding down into the deep, dark chocolate pit of despair, let it go. Shake it off. Then, grab onto your healthy goals and remember: