Mini Challenges

Challenge Your Food Knowledge

Do you know how many calories, fat, fiber, or nutrients are in the foods you eat? If not, how do you know you’re making the right food choices, and are eating nutritiously? Lighten Up Lenoir has put together some mini food challenges so that you can test your knowledge, and hopefully learn how and why certain foods are better for you than others



Challenge yourself to MAINTAIN, DON’T GAIN THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS! Here comes the holidays! It's time to make a plan to survive them without gaining five - ten pounds. Focus on eating wisely, and adding in lots of time for healthy activities. Example: Go for a walk with your family instead of parking it on the couch all day. Visit the CDC's Physical Activity website for more ideas.


Eat Healthier!

“Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy.”  CDC
Click here for some great veggie recipes!

Don’t Know How to Begin a Walking Program? Start Here!

Here’s an easy chart to ease your way into walking regularly.  This 12-week walking schedule from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide for gradually increasing your walking time.

One of the best ways to change your unhealthy eating habits is to keep track of them. Keeping track of everything you eat can help identify unhealthy food choices, and keep track of the amount of calories, and fat, you eat every day.   Most of us underestimate what we actually eat in a day. By identifying unhealthy eating choices, you can begin to change them to healthier choices.
Take the challenge Click here: for free walking exercise videos.


Learn to stop eating when you’re full by learning to listen to your internal cues. Based on research, “instead of using our internal cues to know when to stop eating most of us allow external, and usually visual, cues to determine how much we should eat.” Here are a few tips to help: Stop eating before you’re full. Eat only when you are hungry. Eat slowly. Use smaller plates. Don’t go back for seconds, and finally leave something on your plate. Click here for more healthy eating tips.


Good Greek yogurt is low in sugar, high in protein and delicious, making this weight loss staple a perfect breakfast-on-the-go or snack to quell that angry 3 pm hunger. But navigating the dairy aisle is no easy task; with tons of brands offering “authentic” Greek yogurt lined up on your grocery store shelves, you may need a little help weeding out the good from the bad. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best (and worst) Greek ‘gurts: so you don’t have to stress or even read nutrition labels on your next grocery trip.

Most brands of yogurt contain good-for-you bacteria. The words "live and active cultures" on the container mean that your yogurt has probiotics, beneficial bugs that live in your digestive tract and help crowd out harmful microorganisms that can cause intestinal infections. (Only a very small number of companies put yogurt through a post-pasteurization process that kills off all bacteria.)


Are you working hard to adopt healthier eating habits? Be careful what you order when dining out. Here’s an example of one of the examples of recent winners of the "worst chain restaurant meals of the year." According to The Center for Science in the Public Interest, “Red Lobster topped the list with its "Create Your Own Combination" dish. The combination of Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp, Walt's Favorite Shrimp, and Shrimp Linguine Alfredo, Caesar salad, French fries, and one Cheddar Bay Biscuit add up to 2,710 calories and four days' worth of sodium at 6,530 milligrams.”

Your challenge? Order the grilled shrimp instead!


Challenge yourself to eat whole-grain pasta versus white flour pasta. Why? Whole-grain pasta contains significantly higher fiber and nutrients than regular pasta. It also contains fewer calories and supplies about three times as much fiber, more protein, as well more B vitamins and minerals than traditional pasta.  So challenge yourself to add more whole grain pasta to your healthier diet.


How about challenging yourself to not eat fast food or deep-fried foods for the next week? Instead of traditional French fries, try Gwyneth Paltrow’s Baked Fries. Traditional French fries are around 365 calories and 17g fat versus
This baked fries recipe which is 175 calories per serving and 7g fat.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Baked Fries recipe


It’s BBQ and grilling time again. Do you know how many calories you normally consume from typical BBQ food? For example, one serving of Cooking Light's Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Bourbon-Peach Barbecue Sauce (5oz) contains 206 calories and 5.9 grams of fat. On the other hand, a typical Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork (5oz) equals 336 calories and 20 grams of fat! Try the Cooking Light recipe below. You'll never miss the extra fat and calories. Fire Up Those BBQ Pits, and Let the Grilling Begin!
Cooking Light's Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Bourbon-Peach Barbecue Sauce


Here are some additional examples of the more you know about the foods you eat, the more likely you are to choose healthier choices that contain less calories, and fat.

Save 140 calories, and 26 grams of fat by choosing the Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sub!


Better fast food choices? Lighten Up Lenoir is continuing on our quest to provide you with better choices when you’re eating out. We realize that in a perfect world you would cook healthier meals at home, but we also know that most people don’t have time or maybe the desire to cook. Keeping in mind that you don’t want your entire diet to be based on fast food, there are better choices that you can choose when you eat out.
Example: Arby's® Beef ‘n Cheddar Classic: 440 calories – 18 grams of fat versus Chick-fil-A® Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich: 290 calories – 4 grams of fat. That’s a savings of 150 calories, and 14 grams of fat!


Meeting friends for dinner is certainly something we all look forward to, but when you are counting calories, and trying to eat healthy, ordering healthier choices can be a bit confusing.
To highlight better menu choices, we picked Olive Garden® Restaurant because it is a popular place and one that many people seem to enjoy.
If you choose to order Olive Garden’s Garlic-Herb Chicken, you’ll be ordering 960 calories! But, if you choose their Venetian Apricot Chicken, you’re only getting 360 calories, and a lot less fat. To help you be prepared, it is a good idea to go online and check out the menu before you go out to dinner.
Click here for Olive Garden®’s menu.  Take a look at their “Lighter Italian Fare” section.

Eating on the Run

What's for lunch? It’s Saturday, and you’re out running errands around town. You want to grab a quick bite for lunch. But, you don’t want to ruin your healthy diet that you’ve followed all week long with one bad meal choice. Food choices can be difficult to manage at fast food restaurants. For example, if you choose a McDonald’s® Big Mac® and French Fries, you’ll be eating a whopping 960 calories with 48 grams of fat. But, if you choose to stop at Panera® and order a half smoked turkey breast sandwich on country bread with a low fat garden vegetable soup, you will only be eating 330 calories and 6 grams of fat. So, instead of opting for the drive thru at McDonald’s®, choose to park and walk into a Panera® Restaurant!

M&M's®vs grapes

One day, while at the grocery store checkout counter, you see a large bag of m&m’s®, and it’s on sale! Well, before you grab that bag and go for it, you might want to stop a moment and think about the calories and fat that a bag of m&m’s® candies really represents. Let’s compare ¾ cup of m&m’s® candies and ¾ cup of green grapes. The m&m’s® = 767calories versus the grapes 58 calories. The fat content is even more telling: 33 grams of fat for m&m’s® candies and 0 grams of fat for green grapes. Instead of m&m’s® head for the produce aisle, and pick up some green grapes!

A bowl of Minestrone soup (2 cups) vs pizza

You might be craving a slice or two of pizza, but for 1/16 a slice of pepperoni pizza, you can enjoy a bowl of minestrone soup. Both servings equal 300 calories, but you’ll fill up and enjoy having a whole bowl of soup, versus a skinny sliver of pizza. The more you know, the more you’re in control.

Grapes versus Chocolate

Yes, dark chocolate in moderation is good for you, but did you that grapes are equally as good for you and 3.5 oz of grapes serves up 67 calories and .16 grams of fat. But 3.5 oz of milk chocolate equals 535 calories and a whopping 29.66 grams of fat. Once in a while, a small amount of chocolate is okay, but on a day-to-day basis, grapes or other fruits are a much better choice. Your waistline will thank you!


Healthy Foods Versus Fast Foods

How many French fries would equal the same amount of calories as 1 cup of grape tomatoes?
1 cup of grape = 25 Calories and for 25 calories you can eat 2 French Fries! Which food choice would fill you up more, and would be healthier for you? If you’re counting calories, and eating healthier, the choice is obvious.

Fried Chicken versus Grilled Chicken

How many fat and calories are you saving by choosing baked chicken versus fried chicken. If you ordered 3.5 oz of Hardees fried chicken you would be eating 370 calories and 15 grams of fat. 3.5 oz of grilled chicken equals 190 calories and 7.4 grams of fat. You can see that choosing grilled chicken can save you fat and calories, and over time, help you lose weight, and may even lower your cholesterol.

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