A little splurging keeps diet interesting


September 15, 1992|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Contributing Writer

I was really craving chocolate today, so I picked up a "single serving" package of Hershey's chocolate kisses.

The nutrition labeling stopped me cold. Nine little kisses cost 240 calories and 13 grams of fat, about 1/3 of my fat budget for the day!

I asked myself "How much is enough?" And settled for four, plus a carton of non-fat, Nutrasweet-ened yogurt. I satisfied my chocolate craving in the same number of calories, but fat dropped to 6 grams, while protein, calcium and vitamins soared.

Lately I've seen commercials for junk food smugly proclaiming ,, "there ae no good foods and no bad foods." This gives me the shivers.

The practice of eating in moderation, including sweet, salty and high-fat goods is one I suggest publicly and privately.

But I'm afraid that lack of a "gold standard" for judging moderation will increase "diet schizophrenia" in America.

While the practice of restricting foods to only the lowest in calories (like tuna and rice cakes) then pigging out on junk food (half a cake or a whole bag of Doritos) has an outside chance of working calorically, it's the pits nutritionally and emotionally.

Actually, a "gold standard" was proposed by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) in 1987, with publication of its "Lowfat Living" pamphlet. It foreshadowed USDA's Food Guide Pyramid in a low-fat version.

ADA recommends 2-4 servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy products; 5 to 7 ounces of lean meat, fish, poultry, dried beans and peas, tofu, peanut butter or eggs; at least 6 servings of whole grain or enriched bread and cereal products; 3 to 5 vegetables; 2 to 4 fruits; no more than 6 teaspoons of added fat, and sweets and alcohol in moderation.

The problem, again, is failure to define moderation.

So how can you figure it out?

You can eat everything they suggest in the lowest fat versions and the fewest servings for 1,400 calories. That's suitable for a nutrient-dense, slow weight-loss diet for most any woman. You can eat the maximum number of servings of anything on the list for 2,800. That's suitable for most men trying to maintain their current weight.

Given that range of 1,400 to 2,800 calories, it's clear that "alcohol and sweets in moderation" means "not very much and not very often."

What I suggest is a junky "good food" range of 100-200 calories per day, relaxed and guilt-free, and a focus on nutritionally good food for a look better, feel better life style.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.

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