Busted! 5 Major Eating Mistakes

By Holly McCord, RD, with Gloria McVeigh, Prevention
Ever get the guilty feeling that you're being watched as you toss the double fudge brownie mix into your grocery cart? Well, you are! We checked with some of the top US nutrition experts, who admitted they secretly spy on the rest of us as we make real-world choices in restaurants and grocery stores. Here are their top five gripes.

1. We can't tell the good fats from the bad ones.
"Most people still don't get that some fats are actually good for you," says Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, an American Heart Association spokesperson. "You want to avoid saturated and trans fats, but you need more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Good sources are fish, nuts, avocados, and soybean and canola oils."

Smarter: Fit in good fats. "If you keep track of total calories, you don't have to worry about how much fat you eat, just what kind," explains Dr. Lichtenstein. Grandpa Po's Slightly Spicy Nutra Nuts use only canola oil (160 cal, 10 g fat, 1 g sat. fat, 2 g fiber, 60 mg sodium); at healthy food supermarkets.

2. We supersize to save money.
"People think that supersizing a restaurant meal is a money saver, but it's not a health bargain if it has way too many calories," says Karen Weber Cullen, DPH, RD, research nutritionist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Smarter: Judge with your palm, not your purse. A serving size is about what fits into the palm of your hand (larger for men than women, smaller for children). For most meals, pick one protein, one starch, one veggie, and one fruit based on the serving that will fit into your palm.

3. We think anything liquid has no calories.
"What freaks me out is the amount of sugared soda and juice we drink," says Judith Stern, ScD, RD, professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University of California, Davis. "I'd like to see all the sugared drinks sent out into space, where they could orbit the Earth forever." Sugared drinks balloon your calorie intake and squeeze out more nutritious foods.

Smarter: Try a cup of tea. Available in myriad varieties, the calorie-free brew promotes heart health, staves off several types of cancer, strengthens bones and teeth, and protects the skin.

4. We don't know how "hungry" really feels.
"If you don't know when you're hungry, you don't know when you're full, so you won't know when to stop eating," says Elisabetta Politi, RD, nutrition manager of the Duke University Diet & Fitness Center in Durham, NC.

Smarter: Tune in with mindful eating. Here's how.
1. Before you eat, relax, and rate your hunger from 1 (hungriest) to 7 (fullest).
2. Eat slowly, pausing often to rate how your hunger changes.
3. When finished, rate yourself one more time. Try to stay between 2 1/2 and 5 1/2: not too ravenous when you start and not completely full when you stop.

5. We have a microwave addiction.
Many women come home from work and pop a frozen entrée into the microwave. "Eating too many heavily processed foods can leave you short on fiber and antioxidants such as vitamin C," explains Jo Ann Hattner, RD, clinical dietitian at Stanford University Medical Center.

Smarter: Complement a frozen entrée with a green salad, a 100 percent whole wheat roll, and fruit for dessert. Stock up on the freshest fruit for maximum flavor.

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