By Stephenie Karony

Thursday, May 10, 2001

Mrs. Fields cookies
filled with fat

Question: Just how fattening are Mrs. Fields cookies?

Answer: No one food should be considered unhealthy. Even Mrs. Fields cookies are okay to eat as long as you eat them in moderation.

Here's how it works. Any food will make you fat if you eat too much of it. The difference between a Mrs. Fields cookie and an apple is that the cookie is loaded with sugar and fat calories, and contains very few, if any, other nutrients. The apple, on the other hand, is loaded with fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, and contains very few calories. To get fat eating apples you would have to eat an impossible number of them; to get fat on Mrs. Fields cookies you would have to eat incredibly few. But if you occasionally eat a Mrs. Fields cookie, or a portion of one, these cookies won't hurt you or make you fat.

That said, let's now look at the nutritive value of a Mrs. Fields cookie. All Mrs. Fields cookies are made with white flour, which is void of any nutrients; palm kernel oil, which is twice as saturated as lard; whole milk and butter, both loaded with saturated fat; and plain white sugar, which causes your insulin level to soar. Most flavors of Mrs. Fields cookies contain 5 grams of saturated fat. That's the equivalent of 4 strips of bacon. A Mrs. Fields cookie is definitely a junk food.

Q: We all know how important breakfast is, but what about lunch? Is a hearty lunch also important in maintaining good health?

A: Afternoon alertness, an end-of-the-day exercise routine and the energy needed to complete your day are three very good reasons to eat a high-octane fuel-packed lunch. Use lunch to recharge your batteries so you can finish your work day and be energized for all your after work activities.

Eat about 33 percent of your total calorie intake at lunch. If you eat a very light lunch you're more likely to snack all afternoon, or you may overeat at dinner. Both can result in undesirable weight gain.

If you work outside the home, as most of us do, I recommend you set aside a time to prepare your lunch either the night before or in the morning before you leave your house for the day. If you plan ahead it will be easier to make lunches that include foods that are healthy and energy-producing.

If you prefer to eat your lunch out, stick to healthy food choices like salads, sandwiches, soups and stuffed pitas. Stay clear of too many burgers and fries.

When you go grocery shopping for your lunch foods, include whole grain breads, bagels and crackers, which are packed with energy-producing carbohydrates. Choose low or non-fat dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese, fresh fruits like apples, oranges and bananas, which are available year-round, fresh veggies and low-fat chicken, turkey and tuna. Also, stock your kitchen shelves with dried soups, cereal bars, raisins, pretzels and nuts.

If you make the extra effort to pack a nutritious lunch, you may notice that you have fewer food cravings and fewer food obsessions. You'll have more energy and generally feel much better in the afternoon, and you won't be so starving at dinner that you eat everything in sight.

Stephenie Karony is a certified health and fitness instructor,
a personal trainer and author of "Body Shaping With Free Weights.''
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