Quality vs. Quantity – Healthy Eating Habits

This post comes, once again, from Deborah, LPN and Special Needs Program Coordinator.

As the holiday season comes around, we are all sure to indulge in a few seasonal goodies. That’s part of the experience!  But remember that we should, for our health, strive to eat quality food. Especially if we already have other underlying health issues, as do many people with disabilites.


Anyone who knows me knows I love carbs! Carbohydrates have been some of my most loyal friends. So, it is with that deeply felt attachment that I write this article.

I am not one of those fitness gurus who seem to find no challenge eating a healthy diet. I, too, tend to tune out and not listen to what the experts are trying to tell all of us: Six out of ten Americans are overweight!

And there’s more: 1 out of 3 adults are more than overweight. They are obese – which is 20-30% over the average weight for their age, gender, and height. Over the last 20 years the number of obese adults has doubled in this country.

There are many reasons why things have changed. We’re on the go more and, as a result, more than half of us do not get the recommended amount of daily physical activity. Only 1 in 4 Americans eats the recommended 5 servings of fruit/veggies a day.

To top it off, serving sizes have grown.  Compare serving sizes from 20 years ago to today’s serving size:

  • The average bagel was 3 inches and 140 calories. Today’s 6-inch bagel has 350 calories!
    It takes 50 minutes of raking leaves to burn off just the difference in calories.
  • The average cheeseburger had 333 calories. Today’s cheeseburger has a whopping 590 calories!
    It would take 1½ hours of lifting weights to burn off the difference in the calories from 20 years ago and today’s burger.
  • The average serving of spaghetti and meatballs of 1 cup pasta and 3 small meatballs had 500 calories. Today’s serving size is doubled at 2 cups pasta and 3 large meatballs and has 1,025 calories! Count on cleaning your house 2½ hours to burn off the difference.
  • The average soda was 6½ oz and 85 calories. Today’s is 20 oz and has 250 calories – more than double from 20 years ago. You would have to garden 35 minutes to burn off the difference – for just one soda! How many people drink only one soda a day?
  • An average serving of french fries was about 2½ oz. and 210 calories. In today’s age of “super size” me – french fries are now 6.9 oz and have 610 calories/serving. Your nightly stroll around the neighborhood would have to last 1¼ hours to burn off the difference.
  • The average turkey sandwich had 320 calories and today has 820. You would have to ride your bike 1½ hours to take care of the 500 calorie difference.

The need to write this article became apparent as I saw an individual eat his entire lunch, including (among other items), two whole lunchmeat sandwiches (that’s four pieces of bread) with plans to go to the vending machine to buy a cheeseburger, too. At this rate, he would have eaten the recommended calories for an entire day in one meal! He needed help to make healthier choices.

We serve people across disabilities. Many disabilities, like Down syndrome and those that make a person less active, come with weight issues. Heart problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes follow. Help your loved one stay healthy by making healthy meals and re-evaluating money sent for vending machines.

Calorie information is from the Portion Distortion Quiz of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

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