TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Most Confusing Health Halo Food Terms

Local vegetables
David Malan—Getty Images

I frequently meet my clients at their local supermarkets so we can walk the aisles together. Most find it incredibly eye-opening: sometimes what they think they know about which products to select or how to read food labels turn out to be misconceptions. For example, one client recently told me she avoids oats because they contain gluten. In reality oats are gluten-free, unless they’ve been contaminated with gluten during growing or processing, but many companies make pure, uncontaminated oats, and label them as such. She was thrilled to be able to eat oats for breakfast again!

But gluten aside, there are a number of other issues and terms that can confuse even the most educated shoppers. Many of them sound healthy on their own—that is, they have a health halo effect. Here are five of the buzziest, what they really mean, and what they don’t.

Natural

The Food and Drug Administration has not developed a formal definition for the term natural. However, the government agency doesn’t object to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances. Natural does not mean organic though, and it doesn’t necessarily indicate that a food is healthy. For example, today I saw a cereal labeled natural, and it contained a whopping four different types of added sugar. Tip: when you see this term, read the ingredient list. It’s the only way to really know what’s in a food, and if it’s worthy of a spot in your cart.

Health.com: 12 Crazy Things That Happen to Your Food Before You Eat It

Organic

The USDA Organic Seal indicates that a food was produced without synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), or petroleum or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. The symbol also means that organic meat and dairy products are from animals fed organic, vegetarian feed and are provided access to the outdoors, and not treated with hormones or antibiotics. If the seal says ‘100% Organic’ the product was made with 100% organic ingredients. Just the word ‘Organic’ indicates that the food was made with at least 95% organic ingredients.

Health.com: 16 Most Misleading Food Labels

‘Made With Organic Ingredients’ means the product was made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, with restrictions on the remaining 30%, including no GMOs. I strongly support organics, but like natural, the term organic doesn’t necessarily mean healthy—in fact, there are all kinds of organic “junk foods” like candies and baked goods. Once again, when buying packaged food, the real litmus test is the ingredient list.

Local

This term generally indicates that a food was produced within a certain geographical region from where it’s purchased or consumed, such as within 400 miles or 100 miles or perhaps within the borders of a state. Like natural, there is no formal national definition for the term local. What local does not mean is organic, which is something 23% of shoppers falsely believe according to a recent U.S. and Canadian survey (17% also believe that a food labeled organic is also local, which isn’t accurate either).

Health.com: 14 Fast and Fresh Farmers Market Recipes

Nearly 30% also think that “local” products are more nutritious, and that’s not a given, since there are no specific standards pertaining to ingredients or processing. Also, it’s important to know that a locally produced food may not contain a Nutrition Facts label, because small companies with a low number of full-time employees or low gross annual sales are often exempt from the FDA’s food labeling laws. Hopefully a locally produced goody, like a pie from your farmer’s market, will include a voluntary ingredient list, but if not, be sure to ask what’s in it and how it was made.

Gluten-Free

According to the FDA, the term gluten-free means that a food must limit the unavoidable presence of gluten to less than 20 parts per million (ppm). The FDA also allows manufacturers to label a food as gluten-free if it does NOT contain any ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains, or has been derived from these grains, or if it contains ingredients that have been derived from these grains, but have been processed to remove gluten to less than 20 ppm.

Health.com: 18 Health Benefits of Whole Grains

This means that foods that are inherently gluten-free like water, vegetables, and fruits, can also be labeled as gluten-free. The term gluten free-does not indicate that a food is whole grain, organic, low carb, or healthy. In fact, many gluten-free foods are highly processed and include ingredients like refined white rice, sugar, and salt.

Grass-Fed

Recently, I’ve had several clients who eat beef and dairy tell me that they only buy grass-fed, but most mistakenly believed that grass-fed also means organic. The actual parameters, as defined by the USDA, state that the cattle must be fed only mother’s milk and forage (grass and other greens) during their lifetime. The forage can be grazed during the growing season, or consumed as hay or other stored forage, and the animals must have access to pasture during the growing season.

Grass-fed does not mean that the cattle’s feed is organic, and it doesn’t mean they cannot be given hormones or antibiotics. Compared to products produced conventionally, grass-fed meat and dairy have been shown to contain more “good” fats, less “bad” fats, and higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants. But if you want to ensure that the product also meets the organic standards, look for that label term and the USDA organic seal as well.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

5 Most Confusing Health Halo Food Terms originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Pepsi Made With Real Sugar: Is It Healthier?

Nutrition experts say sugar has the same nutritional value.

Pepsi Made With Real Sugar is the drink of summer, perfect—from the looks of their TV ads, anyway—for pool parties, river rafting, and other outdoor activities for the young and fit. The product, which is the centerpiece of a summer marketing blitz, ditches high fructose corn syrup for real sugar, but nutritionist experts say it isn’t really any healthier.

“It really doesn’t matter. Sugar is just sugar,” said Lisa Sasson, a faculty member at New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health “It’s broken down and it’s the same in our body.”

Dr. David Katz, founder of the Yale Prevention Research Center and editor of the journal Childhood Obesity, adds that replacing corn syrup with sugar would not yield any public health benefit.

Of course, Pepsi hasn’t explicitly said that real sugar makes the product healthier. Its advertisements focus on summer fun and a hearkening back to the soda’s origins, and a Pepsi spokesperson told TIME that the offering is designed to meet a consumer demand for a soda with real sugar.

“I can easily imagine people thinking that cane sugar is less processed than corn syrup and is some ways more natural and healthier for you,” said John T. Gourville, a professor at Harvard Business School, who studies marketing and consumer behavior. “It’s an attempt to expand a product category that is struggling to build sales.”

Indeed, carbonated beverage sales, especially in the diet market, have been on the decline in recent years. This summer isn’t the first time Pepsi has used real sugar. It began selling the product for a limited time as Pepsi Throwback in 2009. The company launched the Throwback as a permanent fixture in 2011 and added Pepsi Made With Real Sugar last month. The cola in both real sugar products are the same, but the cans are different.

 

 

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s What Happened When I Tried a Children’s Weight-Loss App

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Michael Hevesy—Getty Images

A new Silicon Valley startup is giving kids a way to manage their eating habits on that smartphone they're glued to all the time anyway

I’m seeing red everywhere—not because I have an anger management problem but because I’ve been using Kurbo, a new app designed to help kids lose weight. And as with many things aimed at children (See: remote control cars, trampolines, songs from Frozen), adults may find themselves loving the app, too.

Kurbo is built on a “traffic light” program that has roots in research conducted decades ago, and which the founders licensed from Stanford University. Here’s how it works: Foods packed with calories, whether an ice cream sundae or bagel, are classified as red-light. Foods that you should approach with caution, like pasta and whole wheat bread, are yellow. And the go-crazy-have-all-you-want things, like broccoli or mushrooms, are green.

Kids are instructed to log everything they eat in terms of portions—and a portion, a welcome video explains, is generally the size of their fist (or open palm if the food is flat like a pizza). Users are given an automatically generated budget of reds they can have each day, and that budget can quickly become a backdrop in your mind that affects decisions you weren’t thinking much about before.

Once I found out that each slice of sourdough bread was a red and whole wheat was yellow, I started choosing wheat for my sandwiches—because the difference, one I knew about but brushed off before, was hardly worth two of my precious reds. I didn’t pick at a bowl of olives at a restaurant this past weekend, something I usually wouldn’t have even registered, because I wanted to spend that red on a beer. I can no longer justify the guacamole by telling myself that avocados are full of “good fat,” because good or bad, those babies are red. Nuts? Red. Cheese? Red. Light cheese? Beautiful yellow. (Nota bene: Eating more than two servings of any yellow in a single sitting also starts counting as a red.) There is no calorie counting or quibbling.

The downside of being so simple is that the app is inevitably reductive. If you just have a few bacon bits on a salad, you might not have a whole portion, and there’s no way to log that—and almost any nutritionist worth their salt would agree that some of the “red” foods, like the aforementioned avocados I’m suddenly abstaining from, are healthy in moderation. Also, many foods are nowhere to be found in the app’s limited (though expanding) catalog. Expecting kids to break down a dish of beef and broccoli from the local Chinese joint into individual components—when it’s unclear what those components actually are beyond beef and broccoli—is unrealistic. And while foods like nuts and even cheese are high when it comes to energy density, they have good qualities, too.

That said, the simplicity had its benefits. I found, for instance, that because I wanted to be confident in my color-logging, I’d opt for foods like a salad for which I chose the ingredients instead of one that was prepackaged. “It’s a very important behavioral principle: If you can’t count it, you can’t keep track of it, and if you can’t keep track of it, you can’t change it,” says Tom Robinson, professor of pediatrics at Stanford and director of the university’s Center for Healthy Weight. People are generally lousy at counting calories, he says, and the calorie count on a menu might be far from what actually shows up on your plate. “If you’re trying to get from 40 to 35 red lights a week,” he says, “you’re going to be focusing more on the overall choices you’re making.”

Kurbo co-founder Joanna Strober conceived of the app when she was trying to help her son to lose weight. As they visited doctors, she found they had no tools that would fit naturally into his daily life. “Okay, your child is overweight. But what do you do next?” she says. One thing she did was discover Stanford’s program for treating childhood obesity, which has a solid track record but is only available to a couple hundred families per year for a hefty sum ($3,500 for six months of weekly visits). She also found that apps marketed to the 18-and-older crowd had proved effective. So Strober tried to take every element from Stanford that she could and pack it into the Kurbo app for kids, with the help of $5.8 million in venture capital funding, making a similar system more available to the masses.

For $10 per month, a whole family gets access to the app, which comes with virtual coaching, automated notifications that nudge users to log more regularly or congratulate them for staying within their budget of reds. For $75 per month, one person in the family also gets a weekly call from a nutritional coach, some of whom have come from the Stanford program. And if that price point still sounds high, don’t despair: The company is currently in talks with insurance companies about getting coverage for usage of the app. (For the whole family to get access, users need to sign up through Kurbo’s website; an Apple app is available now, an Android app is expected in September.)

Through the Stanford program, more than 80% of kids reduce the percentage that they’re overweight, and more than 75% of overweight parents lose weight, too. In Kurbo’s beta program, which included kids ages 8 to 18, more than 85% of participants reduced their body mass index over 10 weeks.

One of the beta users was Tiana Lepera, a 14-year-old from Ogdensburg, NJ. She’s lost 10 lbs. since she starting seeing the world in red, yellow and green. “Even when we go to restaurants, we know that certain foods would be red lights, yellow lights and green lights,” she says. “If I don’t eat the bread that will be one less red light. You always think about it. It changes the way you’re thinking about food.” Her mom has meanwhile lost 29 lbs. and gone off blood pressure medication she’s had to take for the past 14 years. “Everything,” Keshia says, “corresponds to how many red lights you eat.”

TIME Nutrition

Why Your Bottled Water Contains Four Different Ingredients

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Water you buy in the store is not just hydrogen and oxygen. Here's why food producers add all those extra ingredients.

Next time you reach for a bottle of water on store shelves, take a look at the ingredient list. You’re likely to find that it includes more than just water.

Popular bottled water brand Dasani, for example, lists magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride, and salt alongside purified water on its Nutrition Facts label. SmartWater contains calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium bicarbonate. Nestle Pure Life’s list includes calcium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, and magnesium sulfate. And these are just a few brands. Bottled water companies are purifying water, but then they’re adding extra ingredients back.

None of this should be cause for health concerns, says Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and professor of Sociology at New York University. The additives being put into water are those naturally found in water and the quantities of these additives are likely too small to be of much significance. “If you had pure water by itself, it doesn’t taste have any taste,” says Bob Mahler, Soil Science and Water Quality professor at the University of Idaho. “So companies that sell bottled water will put in calcium, magnesium or maybe a little bit of salt.”

Taste tests have revealed that many people find distilled water to taste flat as opposed to spring waters, which can taste a bit sweet. Minerals offer a “slightly salty or bitter flavors,” which is likely why low mineral soft waters have a more appealing taste, Nestle wrote in her book What To Eat.

Many of the ingredients that are added to bottled water occur naturally in tap water and in our daily diets. Potassium chloride, for example, is a chemical compound that is often used as a supplement for potassium, which benefits heart health and aids normal muscular and digestive functions. Magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and calcium chloride are all inorganic salts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that Americans reduce current levels of sodium intake by 2,300 mg per day, so you would have to drink a lot of water to make much of a difference, Nestle says. The typical amount of sodium in water averages at around 17 mg per liter.

But just because additives are generally naturally occurring ingredients doesn’t mean that consumers shouldn’t look at labels. If labels show calories, that means sugars have been added. Some bottled waters can be high in sodium, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends only drinking water that contains 20 mg of sodium per liter or less.

The best choice that many water consumers can make may be to just stick to drinking tap water. “To the extent that tap water is clean and free of harmful contaminants,” says Nestle, “it beats everything in taste and cost.”

TIME You Asked

You Asked: Will Eating Before Bed Make Me Fat?

What to eat at night
Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

You’ve been told eating before bed is a no-no. But a little pre-slumber snack can help you sleep more soundly without packing on pounds—if you reach for the right foods.

Especially if you tend to eat dinner a few hours before bedtime or you’re very active (or both), snacking before bed will help stabilize your blood sugar levels during the long, meal-less night, explains Stephanie Maxson, senior clinical dietician at the University of Texas’s MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Why should you care about blood sugar? As most diabetics know, blood sugar and its attendant hormones can supercharge or deflate your appetite and energy levels, as well as mess with your body’s efforts to store or burn fat. “Having low blood sugar in the morning will cause a person to feel sluggish and make it more difficult to get out of bed,” Maxson explains, adding that low blood sugar could also wake you up or otherwise disrupt your sleep in the middle of the night.

Ideally, you want to encourage stable blood sugar levels for optimal health, which will be tough to do if you’re going 10 or 12 or 14 hours without eating, Maxson says. (This is one reason she and many other nutrition experts underscore the importance of eating breakfast.)

“It’s such a big myth that you don’t need any energy for sleep,” adds Cassie Bjork, a registered dietician and founder of HealthySimpleLife.com. Not only can the right bedtime snack provide the fuel your body needs to burn calories while you sleep, but a little grub also calms the release of hunger hormones that tell your body to store fat, Bjork explains.

That said, a pint of ice cream isn’t going to do you any favors. Instead, you should be reaching for complex carbohydrates like whole wheat bread, non-starchy vegetables, popcorn, and fruit, Maxson says. These foods break down slowly, and so help stave off the blood sugar spikes or crashes that could mess with your sleep or appetite, she explains. For athletes, adding a protein like turkey or chicken to a bedtime snack can help with muscle repair during the night while also providing a hit of an essential amino acid called tryptophan, which is beneficial for sleep, Maxson says.

And don’t shy away from a little fat, which can further slow the absorption of carbohydrates into your system, Bjork says. Some avocado or peanut butter—or a splash of melted butter on your popcorn—can help if you frequently wake up hungry or tired.

Just be sure to avoid things like chips, cookies, cereal, or pretty much any traditional dessert food, advises Dr. Joan Sabaté, a professor of public health and nutrition at Loma Linda University. Because fiber and other digestion-slowing nutrients are typically stripped away from these foods during their preparation, your body absorbs them quickly and they tend to cause quick spikes in your blood sugar, which can make it tough for your to sleep, Sabaté explains.

Anything featuring caffeine—yes, that includes chocolate—is also a bad idea at bedtime, Maxson says.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Eating More Fruits and Vegetables Doesn’t Help You Lose Weight, Study Says

Fruits and vegetables
Getty Images

Fruits and vegetables are good for your health, but there's not enough evidence to prove that on their own they can help with weight loss.

The research, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reviewed studies that looked at fruit and vegetable consumption and weight gain, and concluded that simply eating more doesn’t doesn’t slim waistlines.

Loading up on more fruits and vegetables, without taking out more high-calorie foods like junk food, or making other lifestyle changes such as exercising, won’t have a significant affect on weight. And that’s especially true if the veggies are fried or coated in butter or cheese. In the study, the researchers only correlated fruit and vegetable consumption with weight, and did not ask the participants about their other lifestyle habits, or about how they were cooking their food.

In addition, the analysis included just nine studies, some of which involved a small group of participants and which lasted only 16 weeks at the most. It’s possible that weight changes resulting from a true change in diet including more fruits and vegetables might take longer.

For those reasons, the researchers still say that consuming more fruits and vegetables may be beneficial for weight loss. “We cannot say with high confidence that there is not some form of a [fruit/vegetable] intervention that may have significant effects on weight loss or the prevention of weight gain,” they write.

And there are other benefits of adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your plates. Beyond weight, produce is a reliable and efficient source of nutrients and fiber, and plenty of studies have linked eating them with lower risks of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

There’s A lot of Junk Food at the School Nutrition Conference

This year's annual conference run by the School Nutrition Association is not without politics

The 68th Annual National Conference of the School Nutrition Association is finishing up today in Boston, and it’s not go on without controversy.

Here’s some backstory: When the Obama administration revamped the school lunch requirements, they received a lot of praise and counted among their champions the School Nutrition Association. But now, the group, which is a national organization of school nutrition professionals, is heading up a lobbying campaign to let schools opt out of the requirements saying they are too restrictive and costly. (You can read in detail what the group is pushing for here.)

Many experts in the school-nutrition world are surprised by the stance the SNA has taken and some of its members have resigned, voicing criticism of SNA for accepting sponsorship money from food companies.

At the same time, Congress is considering legislation to delay by one year some of the school-lunch regulations, as the New York Times reported earlier this month.

Given the ongoing debate about school nutrition, it shouldn’t be surprising that this year’s convention—which brings together 6,000 school nutrition professionals and industry members—has been mired in politics. As Politico reported: Sam Kass, the Executive Director of Let’s Move! was even turned down when he asked to speak at the conference this year.

Though the conference has long allowed food companies to be involved, their new position on the school lunch standards have some nutrition groups and experts skeptical. And that makes the presence of fast food and junk food at the event all the more surprising.

Here are some tweets from public health lawyer Michele Simon:

To be sure, there were certainly booths with healthy food–even a great vending machine idea like this one:

So while the conference highlighted ways to get kids to eat more healthy food, it’s hard to take seriously when Cheetos and pizza are so heavily marketed.

TIME Food & Drink

5 Delicious Breakfasts That Won’t Leave You Hungry

Breakfast smoothie
madlyinlovewithlife—Getty Images/Moment Open

You may have seen reports in the news lately questioning the benefits of breakfast for weight loss, but I’m not ready to sanction skipping. In my experience, eating breakfast strongly supports weight control, and several studies back what I’ve seen in my 15+ years of counseling clients—breakfast fuels your body when you’re most active, and therefore most likely to burn off what you’ve eaten. It also tends to prevent late night overeating, when you’re less active, and more prone to racking up a fuel surplus that feeds fat cells.

Also, weight loss aside, “breaking the fast” is a savvy nutrition strategy, because it’s a chance to fit in servings of produce, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Missing that opportunity, particularly day after day, can lead to shortfalls that deprive your body of important health protective nutrients.

Health.com: Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

Eating breakfast, especially one with protein, is also a smart way to build and maintain metabolism-boosting muscle. One recent study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that muscle building was 25% greater among people who ate a diet with an evenly distributed protein intake, compared to those who consumed less protein at breakfast, slightly more at lunch, and the majority of their protein at dinner.

Finally, a study published last year from the American Heart Association found that over a 16 year period, regular breakfast skippers had a 27% higher risk of a heart attack or fatal heart disease.

If you’re on board for a daily breakfast, but your biggest barrier is time, here are five tips and tricks to help you create shortcuts, so you can reap the benefits without running late.

Chill your oatmeal
Oatmeal doesn’t have to be served warm. Cook, then chill individual portions, and stash them in the fridge in small containers you can grab, along with a spoon, on your way out the door. Just mix a protein powder (like pea, hemp, or organic whey) into rolled oats, add hot water, stir, fold in fresh fruit, cinnamon, and nuts, and chill. Or skip the protein powder, and mix the oats, fruit, cinnamon, and nuts into nonfat organic Greek yogurt, and chill to make a grab-n-go mueslix.

Health.com: 20 Snacks That Burn Fat

Hard boil it
Many of my clients enjoy omelets on the weekends, but feel like an egg-based breakfast takes too much time during the week. For a make-ahead option, prep hard boiled organic eggs on a Sunday for the upcoming week. While you’re making dinner, take a few extra minutes to whip up a simple egg salad for breakfast the next morning. Mix chopped egg with either guacamole or pesto, diced or shredded veggies, and a small scoop of cooked, chilled quinoa or brown rice. Grab a portion with a fork in the a.m., and you’re good to go.

Have dinner for breakfast
It may seem odd to chow down on a garden salad topped with lentils or salmon at 8 am, but who says breakfast meals have to look different than lunch or dinner? Many of my clients make double portions in the evening, and eat seconds for breakfast the next day. Give it a try – you may just find that warmed up stir fry, veggie “pasta,” or a crisp entrée salad is your new favorite way to start the day.

Health.com: 25 Surprising Ways to Lose Weight

Pre-whip your smoothie
Smoothies are pretty fast, but I know that when you’re running late, just tossing ingredients into a blender and pressing a button can require more time than you can spare. If that tends to be the case, blend up a smoothie just before bed, stash it in a sealed to-go jug in the fridge, grab it on your way out the door, and shake it up before sipping.

Make a meal out of snack foods
It’s perfectly OK to cobble together a breakfast from an assortment of snack foods, including veggies with hummus and whole grain crackers, or trail mix made from nuts or seeds, unsweetened preservative-free dried fruit, and a whole grain cereal you can eat with your hands. Bon (breakfast) appetit!

Health.com: 10 High-Protein Breakfast Recipes

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Boring TV Shows Make You Eat 52% More

Man watching TV bored and eating
Notorious91—Getty Images

Need another reason to kick back with a jaw-dropping episode of Orange Is the New Black? Didn’t think so—but here’s one anyway. A new study suggests there may be benefits for women who choose riveting TV programs over snoozers: We seem to eat less during the nail-biters.

That’s the conclusion of a group of researchers at Sweden’s Uppsala University, who studied 18 women while they snacked and watched different types of TV programming: an “engaging” episode of a popular Swedish comedy show and a “boring” televised art lecture. As a control, the researchers also monitored grazing during another “non-engaging” activity: reading a text on insects living in Sweden (seriously, we couldn’t make that last part up).

The results showed that boring content increased snacking by a surprisingly weighty margin. While watching boring TV, women consumed 52% more food than during the engaging comedy. This trend held up across different media, too: Subjects ate 35% less while watching engaging TV than while reading about insects. (Work On Your trouble spots during commercial breaks with this couch potato workout plan.)

The study authors conclude that it’s the level of excitement in our TV shows that may determine the amount we chow—not the act of watching (or reading) itself.

“At very low levels of engagement, you kind of eat to engage yourself because you’re bored,” says Aner Tal, a research associate at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, an organization devoted to the study of how and why we eat the way we do. “It might also have to do with the pacing,” he suggests. A rapid-fire story, for example, could speed your rate of eating.

Of course, whether it’s a sleepy Sunday Antiques Roadshow marathon or an edge-of-your-seat Game of Thrones binge, watching TV is still a setup for overdoing it on the munchies. Your healthiest bet is to snack smarter while couch-bound. “Use pre-portioned snacks as opposed to endless bowls,” advises Tal. That means keeping the source of food out of sight, too. “If you know you have a tendency to overeat while watching TV,” he adds, “just snack on something that’s better for you. Have veggies as a snack instead of chips.” And maybe a side of excitement or action, too—anything but art lectures and insects.

MORE: 15 Terrible Snacks For Weight Loss

This article was written by Caroline Praderio and originally appeared on Prevention.com.

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