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100-calorie packs arrive

April 13, 2009

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Hostess Twinkies are among the products being remade into 100-calorie snack packs.

Hostess Twinkies are among the products being remade into 100-calorie snack packs.

For the dieter who’s looking to lose a few, the market wants to help you. For the past couple of years, certain companies have offered small portions of snack foods bundled in 100-calorie packs. Roughly 175 products — among them Nabisco’s Oreos and Teddy Grahams, Hershey’s Dark Chocolate and, yes, even Hostess’ Twinkies, in the form of Twinkie Bites — come in small sizes. Do they work?

The answer is a qualified “hardly.”

Annette M. Hudson, of myfitnesstrainer.com and a personal trainer, says her clients have had, at best, mixed results cutting back on calories with the packs.

“For some, it’s the perfect solution to portion control, allowing an occasional treat,” Hudson says. “For others, the danger of temptation is too great, and they need to keep all junk food out of the house.”

She suggests dieters pay attention to their eating habits, and if they feel they can’t fight the temptation to eat more than one pack, then place the box in the freezer. Set out one pack to defrost each night, to be consumed the next day. If that doesn’t work, throw away the box or give it to someone who has more control.

Beverly Rothstein, president of Your Slim Vision, suggests waiting 15 minutes before you open a pack.

“Walk away, don’t stare at it for 15 minutes,” Rothstein says. “If you truly feel hungry, that’s when you can quell the hunger part of it, take one and walk away.”

Rothstein lost 40 pounds four years ago — and kept it off — after trying “every weight loss program you can name.” She credits her success to a change in attitude more than a product.

“Until your mind changes, and you have a very firm picture of a slim you, you will never be able to keep the weight off,” Rothstein says. “The mind is extremely powerful, and that’s the thing you need to harness.”

Susan B. Roberts, a professor of nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University and co-author of “The Instinct Diet: Use Your Five Food Instincts to Lose Weight and Keep It Off,” says five triggers move us to eat:

• Hunger;

• Availability;

• Calorie density (the more calories, the better);

• Familiarity (the appeal of comfort food like mashed potatoes);

• Variety (the more choices we face, the more we tend to eat).

But Roberts agreed that some people can’t stop at 100 calories, and then “the whole idea backfires.” She suggests adding healthy alternatives to every 100-calorie pack. Eat the small amount of Oreos and an apple.

Other personal trainers are less hopeful about the products.

“One-hundred-calorie snack packs are another way an incredible number of people make sound nutrition complicated,” says Uche Odiatu, personal trainer and, with his wife Kary, co-author of “The Miracle of Health: Simple Solutions, Extraordinary Results,” coming out this month.

“Dieting by itself will go down in human history as one of the worst medical interventions,” he says. “Ninety-five percent of all dieters who do not exercise will return to their pre-diet weight within two years. All of the successful people who lost weight and kept it off exercise as 50 percent of their healthy living tools.”

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