Sunday, May 31, 2009

CRON Chat Room at Vegan Done Light

Ever since the Oprah segment on CRON aired, the keyword search "Calorie Restriction Meetup" has been THE highest ranked search linking to my blog. In fact it is a good 6 times more popular than the next search phrase "CRON diet". So, it would appear that there is at least some motivation to attend local CR Meetup groups.

However, I have a sneaking suspicion that there isn't much of a true CR following in my home town. Starting a CRON Meetup group would cost about $12 a month. And I'm certainly contemplating it.

Until then, Erin Dame (ZenPawn) set up a CRON Chat Room at some point and I have just found it. Check it out! And, of course, the Calorie Restriction Society has links to a chat forum that has never been activated to my knowledge. Maybe in their next website overhaul?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

FDA Allows Food Industry to Bend Truth

FDA and USDA nutrition labeling guide: decision diagrams, checklists, and regulations
By Tracy A. Altman
Published by CRC Press, 1998
ISBN 1566767067, 9781566767064

I thought I would share the above little snippet about FDA labeling on low calorie products. I'm not sure if you can read it but to paraphrase it says that products can be labeled Zero Calories if they contain less than 5 calories per labeled serving size. So, that's why some sweeteners and diet soft drinks can say they are zero calorie per serving but technically if you have enough of it you may be adding a fair bit of extra calories.

There seems to be games that are played with some companies reducing their serving size just so they can claim their product has no calories. Does a litre of diet pop actually have no calories? No. It could have as many as 14 calories. But the serving size shown is for 355ml and therefore shows no calories.

There is nothing that grinds on me more than the manipulation of truth by a whole industry. There are definitely some products that seem to abuse this labeling policy more than others. I hope that I can identify them and bring their tactics into the spotlight where they deserve to be. Do you know of any? I'd like to hear it.

I'm happy to say that aside from the occasional Splenda packet or diet pop this labeling doesn't affect me greatly. It really bothers me that it could add as much as an extra few percent to someone's daily calorie consumption just due to manipulation of a labeling policy. Is it a pressing issue? Is major harm done? No. However, the public can handle the truth and they want the truth. Tell me that my diet pop has 4 calories per can instead of saying it's Calorie Free.

What other skeletons are in the Food Industries labeling closet?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Awesome Product - PB2

Peanut butter. Mmm. So many great childhood memories. Probably because I'm not allergic to it.

Despite my love of peanut butter, with CR I have curbed my use to almost nothing because it has so many calories per tablespoon. says that my favourite Chunky Style peanut butter likely has 188 calories per 2 tbsp. Healthy and tasty as it may be, it is not very filling so it is doomed to moderate consumption.

The other day I was surfing through DollDust's wonderful links and I found a recipe referring to PB2. So after a quick search I found PB2 was powdered peanut butter. With only 54 calories per 2 tbsp. and to prepare it you add a tbsp of water thus creating 3tbsp of total peanut butter spread. That blog was using the PB2 as a dip for fruit and veggies. I think I will too.

Quick recap:
2 tbsp Normal Chunky Style Peanut Butter = 188 Calories
2 tbsp PB2 = 54 Calories

AND they claim to have all the same taste of regular Peanut Butter.

Bell Plantation is the manufacturer. There weren't any stores carrying it near me, so I will probably end up buying some online. Enjoy!

Here are the nutrition stats:

PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter
(6.5 oz/184 g)
Ingredients: Roasted peanuts, sugar, and salt.
Serving size = 2 tablespoons (12 g) Servings per container: 16
Nutritional Values:
Calories 53.2
Fat Calories 16.8
Total Fat 1.87 g
Saturated Fat 0.34 g
Trans Fat <>
Monounsaturated Fat 1.04 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.40 g
Cholesterol <>
Sodium 77.6 mg
Carbohydrate 3.4 g
Dietary Fiber 0.48 g
Simple Sugars 1.66 g
Protein 5.65 g
Vitamin A (IU) 0 %
Vitamin C (mg)
Calcium (mg) 1 %
Iron (mg) 1 % *

Friday, May 22, 2009

Eating Strategies to Reduce or Control Hunger

When CRON started to be a bigger part of my daily life I was drawn quite quickly to certain foods and strategies that significantly reduced my hunger while allowing me to reach my goals. Yet I often read elsewhere that hunger is a real issue for many people beginning CRON or already on a CRON diet.

So here is a list of my eating strategies for reducing and controlling hunger:
  1. Eat vegetables as they are high fibre, high nutrient, and calorically sparse. Some of my favourites are cucumbers, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, various lettuce blends, and radishes. You will quickly notice that a CRON diet favours vegetables so find ones you like but limit consumption of high calorie vegetables like corn and carrots.
  2. Eat fruit as they are also high in fibre and nutrients, yet calorically sparse. My favourites are strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, okay almost every berry, and apples. These are now my "sweets" of choice.
  3. Trade processed grains for natural grains. Processed grains often have little nutritional value and tend to have a higher calorie content. Natural grains are low calorie, have nutrients and more fibre. This means they are much more filling for the same amount of calories. Most pastas, breads, and white rice are replaced very quickly with beans, barley, and the like. Do your homework and be honest with yourself.
  4. Reduce foods with sugar. Fructose, glucose, sucrose, corn syrup, cane sugar, lactose, and the like all have sugar in them. Sugar is high calorie and has no nutrients and is therefore completely incompatible with the goals of a CRON diet. Not only that, but sugar is very quickly absorbed by the body which keeps you hungry. If you want something sweet try fruit as it will keep you full longer.
  5. Reduce consumption of fats. A tablespoon of oil is about 120 calories. That is among the most calorically dense food items we can consume. So fats and oils need to be reduced if we are going to reach our caloric goals without feeling hunger. Our bodies need fat and there are good fats and bad fats. The fats from meat are generally worse for us than the fats from vegetable sources. For this reason my consumption of meat has become more infrequent and has changed to favouring leaner meats like fish and poultry.
  6. Choose lower Glycemic Index (GI) foods. The Glycemic Index is a rating of the effect a food has on the level of sugars in the blood. Lower GI foods do not spike your blood sugar nearly as much. They also tend to keep you full longer. Become familiar with the GI of the food you are eating and aim for the lower GI foods.
  7. Only eat when you are hungry. How many times have you felt obligated to eat because everyone else was or out of habit (ie. lunch break)?
  8. Eat slowly and purposefully. Do not eat on the run and don't eat because of boredom or stress. And see #7 - eat because you are hungry.
  9. Use smaller dishes to serve your meals. Perception is everything. If you use smaller utensils and plates the food really does seem to be much more abundant as it seems to take up more real estate.
  10. Don't overeat. Stop eating just before you are full and it will change your perception of how much you need to eat to be full.
  11. Have a plan. Without a plan to have CRON food items around it is pretty easy to eat non-compliant food or resort to dining out. Make a plan and stick to it.
  12. Have fun. CRON isn't about restriction specifically. It is about Optimum Nutrition. If CRON gets hard or you are hungry, eat and have fun. Don't get stressed out or suffer. It simply isn't worth it. So have that extra serving or that slice of pie and then return to CRON right after. CRON is not an all or nothing thing. By having fun you will make CRON a lifelong habit or lifestyle instead of a short term tool for weight loss and nutrition.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


This May long weekend I have family visiting. Family: well meaning, well intentioned individuals related by blood or marriage who don't understand me, CRON, or what their scales are trying to tell them.

It is always good to see family and I do love them lots. However, you don't realize how much mental preparation and support CRON takes until you are in a close knit group of people who know you well but don't "get" CRON and therefore have trouble being supportive of this change. I was asked "is this is a long term thing or is it just a passing phase?".

So far this weekend it has been easy enough to stay more or less on CRON. However, the discussion always comes up as to "what will I eat again?" and "will I have a piece of that special dish I used to love so much?" it wears away at you when you have your guard let down. Or at least, it wears on you when and where you most want to let your guard down: with family.

Groups, including family, survive due to some homogeneity. Their interests, values, or goals need to overlap if they are going to survive. In some ways, family meals are an important part of family. Then with my new approach to eating I am seen as a deviant in a small way for pulling away from or at least altering the established norm for family meals.

I no longer share in the pancake eating contest or brag about who ate more plates of dinner or dessert. I am very subtly a bit withdrawn from the family. It is not about leaving that group as I really can't. However, instead, I am treated like I am sick and not myself. That one day I may come back to my former self. It's like the rest of the family is grieving the loss of the old me. Either way, my new CRON practice has to overcome this gravity from my family history to become a lifelong practice.

It is what it is. Human nature. Group dynamics. Change.

Change isn't always comfortable. I've always wanted to decide who I am instead of letting groups, society, or the media dictate to me what is normal or acceptable. There is no place that the slight lack of acceptance and the floundering of not knowing how to fully support a new CRON practice is more magnified and difficult than within the family.

My family visit this weekend has been great so far. However, my CRON practice has bent and so has my family. Truly, when you change yourself you change your whole world. Notice the changes. Accept the changes. There is nothing you can do. Different isn't necessarily bad; it's just different. Be who you need to be.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dining Out

The thing about dining out is you just never know... how many calories, how much oil, how much dressing, how much sauce, how much high fat mayonnaise. And, if you're like me, you find it hard to not eat everything on your plate or stop eating a tasty meal half way through. Then add in the social control like your friends, family, or the staff thinking your too fussy... dining out is a stressfull minefield for CR.

Dining out continues to be one of my biggest struggles. It is made worse by Spring being here and friends wanting to go for coffee or meals with much greater frequency. Last week I went for coffee with someone instead of eating my normal meal at that time. I had a slice of banana bread which the staff all agreed was the healthiest and lowest calorie item in the display case and a tea latte. My calories were almost half of what my daily goal was... in one little coffee shop. And believe me, despite meeting my goals for the day, it wasn't worth it.

For the same amount of calories I would rather have had significantly more (and filling)vegetables. It would have made me feel much fuller and better overall. But somehow, it doesn't seem right to pack vegetables or salads to my favorite restaurant or coffee shop.

I want to live in a world with greater CR understanding, choices, and acceptance. Where coffee shops offer some fresh fruit and vegetables... maybe even salads. Yup, I guess I'm a dreamer.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Great Week

This entire week I have had a great time with CR. Everything has just seemed so easy. Very little hunger. Almost having to remember to eat.

What worked: planning, a better variety of fresh veggies, and less stress at work.

I have also dropped the caffeine (by tea and coffee) out of my diet almost completely now and I think that is also having a positive effect on me.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Souper Trooper

Soups can be and often are some of my favourite CR meals. I don't think I ever expected that.
First of all soups were never really all that filling for me in the past. I still don't much care for smoothies that are too smooth for just that reason. Anyways, with the CRON approach there are generally lots of vegetables in your soup and they get to be really filling as there aren't a lot of calories in turnip, cauliflower, kale, onions, and the like.
Second I thought soups were too much of a fuss. However, my 30 to 40 minute soups now become my planned over meals. They are so easy to split into multiple servings and store in the fridge or freezer (on occasion). So 30 or 40 minutes is actually for 4 or 5 meals which is a time savings.
Third thing about soups is that when I make my own I can customize it for the tastes, textures (I like garbanzo beans), and various other things like weird chemicals mixed in with your soup base. Lately I use miso paste in place of bouillon. With the wather getting warmer I was even thinking about cold gezpacho soups.
Calories are another thing that is customized. Depending on the soup I may store it in containers as a smaller midmeal or as a larger regular meal. Voila! Serving size and calories easily "contained" so to speak.
All of these things keep me and my CRON-o-Meter happy with soups. Not to sound like an infomercial but "Try one today!"