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Hungry Girl Today: 7.29.09


Help me, Hungry Girl!

My son is in the hospital for the next few months, and I am staying here with

him. Eating out of vending machines and from the cafeteria's short-order line

has been packing on the pounds. Any advice?? Thanks!

Cafeteria Dweller

Dear Cafeteria Dweller,

First of all, I hope all is going well with your son. I'm sure dealing with an

emotionally difficult situation is making it harder to watch what you're eating.

Couple that with having no choice other than to eat all your meals at the

hospital cafeteria, and I see your dilemma. I, too, recently spent some time

at a hospital (my mom had back surgery -- she's doing well now!), so I am

more than familiar with the hospital cafeteria and vending machine offerings.

When it comes to cafeterias in general, your best bet in the AM is probably

some combo of the following -- fruit (cut-up or whole), light yogurt, oatmeal,

an English muffin (with jelly), high-fiber cereal (with fat-free milk), and

hardboiled egg whites. For lunch and dinner, you can get in that deli line and

assemble or order yourself a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers or

pickles, and lean deli meat (like turkey). Sometimes, grilled chicken breast is

available -- also a great option. You'll want to avoid fatty breakfast items

(pastries, giant bagels with butter or cream cheese, greasy breakfast

meats), pre-made deli salads (tuna, egg, chicken), saucy and/or creamy

noodley offerings, and all those cafeteria desserts (FYI, they are NOT even

close to delicious!). As for the vending machines, you will likely be able to

grab something decent from there in a pinch. The hospital I was at had some

reasonable options. Look for 200-calorie-or-less snack bars with decent

amounts of protein and fiber, fruit/nut mixes with one or two servings max

(to avoid gobbling down 600+ calories' worth of snack mix at once), baked

chips (if you need a crunch), and sugar-free gum or hard candies (if you just

wanna keep your mouth busy). Another great thing to do would be to ask

visiting friends or family members to bring you a few classic HG emergency

snacks, like apples, jerky, 100-calorie packs of almonds, etc. (BTW, you can

click here to see a fun little HG video about emergency snacks.) Also,

remember that these are extreme and temporary circumstances -- so if you

put on a couple of pounds, you can always take them off once things return

to normal. Best of luck to you -- and I'm wishing your son good health and a

speedy recovery!

Hungry Girl,

The other day, my dad was nice enough to go out and buy me something

fresh -- a small pizza, with cheese and tomatoes, fit for one person. But like

most fresh items sold at bakeries, it didn't have a label; I wasn't pleased

about that. My mom explained that eating freshly prepared food is always

better than packaged things, which are processed. I'm not saying I'm going

to eat only processed food for the rest of my life, but how do I deal with

unmarked stuff? Do I just have to say no to every little thing without a

nutrition label?

Label Slave

Dear Label Slave,

Thanks for the Q. While having food labeled with nutritional info is a great

thing, it's not always available. To directly answer your question, NO, you do

not need to completely avoid everything that isn't labeled. If you tried to do

that, you would limit yourself way too much (and probably not be a lot of fun

to hang out with!). The key is to become good at sizing up all kinds of food --

even ones that don't have nutrition labels. Oftentimes those will have

ingredients listed, which is helpful -- but sometimes, they may not even have

that. In the case of your pizza, you can take notice of things like the

thickness of the crust, the oiliness of the cheese and toppings, the AMOUNT

of cheese, etc. Then you will probably be able to estimate the calorie and fat

counts. (Check out calorieking.com if you're unsure of certain food stats.)

Even if you can't come up with an estimate, you've gotta accept that there

are going to be unknowns, and you shouldn't let those stop you from living

your life. If you want to eliminate some fat and calories, just make a few

adjustments -- with that pizza, for example, you could blot the oil and not eat

all of the crust. Try to be extra-conscious of your fullness level, too -- you

may not need to eat the entire amount of food in front of you. And think of it

as the 80/20 rule -- if you make sensible, informed choices most of the time,

it'll all balance out. As for the comment about fresh food "always" being

better than packaged, I'm not sure I agree. I think it depends on what your

goals are. If you are trying to get to a healthy weight, then eating only fresh

food -- especially things that are super-high in fat and calories -- is not

necessarily better than eating some packaged items that have reasonable

calorie and fat counts and are easy to track. Those packaged goods can

really help you meet your weight goals. It's about balance. I'm all for eating

fresh food when you can and when it's truly good for you -- fruit, vegetables,

lean meats, and whole grains are all great. However, cream, butter, and

fatty cuts of meat can be fresh and natural, but eating those all day long

won't necessarily help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. I hope you

see my point. Bottom line: You do NOT need to completely avoid unlabeled

food OR packaged food. Just be aware, pay attention to what you're eating,

and aim for balance. Happy chewing!

For links in this email go to:



VITA SPECIAL NEWSFLASH!!! - You only have until midnight TONIGHT

(Wednesday, 7/29) to get HG's Crazy-Cool Vita Blast Pack! You'll get 24

decadent, high-fiber treats for just $29.00, and the shipping is FREE (no

promo code needed). Click NOW!


Today, July 29th, is Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day, the day you are

supposed to buy some cheese to load up mousetraps. (Um, EW!) It's also

HG's sister's b-day. Happy birthday, Meri!!!

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