The assumption was that giving people accurate information about the calories in their restaurant meal would help them pick healthier foods, eat less and lose weight. Unfortunately that turns out not to have worked. Why is that? Research News at Vanderbilt University notes that price determines whether or not people are swayed by calorie counts of their food.
Despite a mandate from the Affordable Care Act that restaurants with 20 or more locations post calories on their menus, people don’t seem to be choosing healthier dishes. New work from Vanderbilt University suggests there’s another number that may play a critical role in dining decisions: price.
In America’s continuing fight against obesity, posting calories on menus-so consumers can know what dishes are the healthier choices-seemed a promising strategy to give diners the upper hand in the battle of the bulge. But in the real world, cost matters. When diners are presented with a good value on an unhealthy meal, they take it.
Research shows that people are getting an increasing number of their calories from restaurants and obesity is a problem in the USA. However, putting calorie counts on the menu does not seem to work as people ignore calorie information when the meal is cheap!
Clean Your Plate!
Many of us of a certain age were raised in homes where waste not want not was inscribed on a plaque on the wall if not in our hearts. It turns out that researchers have seen this tendency too.
In addition, researchers have found that humans have a tendency to finish whatever is presented to us as a “portion” even if it contains far more calories than we need in single meal. Some restaurants offer meals labeled as a single serving that contain more than 2,200 calories. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a daily caloric intake of 2,000-2,200 calories for a moderately active, 19- to 30-year-old female.
So, no matter what the calories count says we tend to clean our plate to satisfy the voice of our mother from the dinner table in years past. Again putting the calorie count on the menu is of no help.
When Do You Stop Eating?
If you are not a member of the clean your plate club, at what point do you stop eating? SF Gate Healthy Eating has suggestions for knowing when your stomach is full and when to stop eating.
Your stomach can hold up to 4 liters of volume – about 17 cups – but the feeling of satiety is not caused by your stomach being full. Instead, feeling full is a result of your brain reacting to chemicals released when you put food or drink in your stomach. Your brain takes around 20 minutes to register these chemicals. After your meal, the levels continue to rise over 10 to 30 minutes. They stay elevated for three to five hours following the meal, keeping you sated. As the chemical levels fall, the feeling of hunger returns. If you do not feel full directly following a meal, wait. As the level of chemicals increases, your hunger will dissipate.
An excellent suggestion is to practice eating until you are no longer hungry and not waiting until you feel full! Another approach is to count every calorie and exercise sufficient self-control that you only put on your plate the number of calories that you decide to eat.
If you are looking for advice you can get some of the best consumer tips from BBB, the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau was founded in 1912 and is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering marketplace trust. The BBB collects information about millions of businesses and provides this information to tens of millions of consumers upon request. In addition BBB acts as an intermediary between consumers and businesses handling nearly a million disputes a year. Considering that these folks have their eye on the marketplace it should not be a surprise that some of the best consumer tips come from the Better Business Bureau. Here are their tips with our comments.
Best Consumer Tips from BBB
KRISTV.com of Corpus Christi, Texas offers the top 10 consumer tips for 2016 from BBB.
The BBB can help people find and recommend trustworthy businesses, brands and charities. In addition to helping consumers fight scammers, the BBB can also provide guidance in preventing identity theft and saving money by avoiding scams.
With the start of a new year, Corpus Christi Regional BBB Director Kelly Trevino offers 10 of the group’s top consumer tips:
Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Remember the old saying that if something seems too good to be true it is probably too good to be true. People get pulled into scams and send money to strangers when they don’t use this rule.
Limit information shared on social media. We share a lot on social media but be careful about advertising that you will be away from home for months. Your friends may not want to rob you but they may not be able to keep their mouths shut and someone less honest will come to visit your home and take your valuables while you are on vacation.
Get everything in writing. Don’t just take a company’s word for it. Get every verbal agreement in writing to limit miscommunication and misunderstandings between what you expect and what the business delivers.
Give wisely. Most philanthropists give year-round. To ensure your time, treasure and talents are going to the cause you’re looking to support, research all charities at www.give.org and check their BBB charity review to see how their monetary donations are distributed.
Protect your identity. Always shred paper documents that include sensitive financial data and dispose of computers, cell phones and digital data safely. Safely store all personal documents, such as your Social Security card. Pull your credit report at least once a year and check your credit and debit card statements frequently.
Create a budget. Setting a budget can help you stay afloat in 2016. This is especially important if you are having credit issues. The best way to repair your credit score is consolidate any debts and pay regularly. Setting a budget helps you do this.
Keep your computer safe. If you haven’t already done so, install anti-virus software on your computer and check regularly for software and operating system updates and patches. Do not open attachments or click on links in emails unless you can confirm the email came from someone you trust. Always log out of websites you are not using. And check out our article about the best free antivirus programs.
These are the best consumer tips from BBB for 2016. To learn more about BBB visit https://www.bbb.org/.
You may wear wool socks to keep your feet warm in the winter but what the heck is the point of a tire sock? The quick answer is that a tire sock is meant to give your car better traction on slippery roads. The ultimate best choice for icy and dangerous hilly and mountainous roads is to put chains on your tires. But what do you do when you come down the mountain and are now in violation of a country or city ordinance for driving with chains on a dry road? Getting out and taking off your chains only to have to put them on again when you go back up the mountain can be a real pain! Of course you could invest in snow tires, which only requires changing tires in the fall and spring. But how about snug tire socks in bright colors?
What the Heck is a Tire Sock?
According to the AutoSock web site:
AutoSock is the easy to use textile cover designed to help vehicles get traction on snow and ice. It is the only supplier of traction solutions to thirteen car manufactures in Europe and Asia. Over two million pairs have been sold worldwide. Additionally, AutoSock has now released the product for commercial buses. Shop Now! AutoSock is approved across the US.
Alternatively this product is referred to as a snow sock and is typically sold as an easy replacement to putting on chains. It that the case?
The Michigan Live TV station reports on tire socks and quotes a consumer report comparing three brands.
Products that bill themselves as quick and simple ways to improve your vehicle’s traction in slick conditions – known as “tire socks” – work for getting better grip, but are not so easy to install.
That’s according to Consumer Reports, which reviewed three of the products, including the ISSE, the Autosock and the Michelin Easy Grip.
Consumer Reports used a 2012 Toyota Camry with 215/60R16 tires to test the products. Without the socks on, it took the Camry 73 feet to accelerate to 20 miles per hour. The publication found that the Autosock and ISSE products reduced that acceleration time to about 58 feet, and the Michelin Easy Grip reduced it to 49 feet.
The tire socks are only supposed to be used at speeds of about 25-30 mph, and are sometimes advertised as alternatives to putting chains on tires, though Consumer Reports notes that the products may not meet certain requirements in some states.
As the comparison is often made to putting on chains how is it that kneeling on cold and wet pavement putting on a tire sock is all that much easier or more comfortable than putting on tire chains?
It turns out that using tire socks does help your traction on slippery roads albeit this product is mean for slow city speed driving or slow country driving. If you are going to be driving both on slippery roads at 25 miles an hour and dry highways at 60 miles an hour in the same day you will probably want to invest in snow tires!
You have been told that you should use an antivirus program on your computer but you have no idea which is best. And, for that matter, you are not interested in forking over a bunch of money when you don’t know what you need or what you are getting. SmallBusiness.com recently posted an article about the top ten free antivirus utilities for a small business. Here is a snapshot of what they have to say.
PCMag.com’s top three free antivirus utilities (Avast Free Antivirus, AVG AntiVirus Free, and Panda Free Antivirus) all include some useful bonus features., according to PCMag.com’s Neil Rubenking. “(For example) Avast includes a password manager and a network security scanner in its toolkit.” Rubenking’s advice: “If you do have a little cash in your budget for security, the best paid antivirus products do tend to offer more and better protection. If not, try a few of these free tools and see which one you like best.”
The list of best free antivirus programs courtesy of SmallBusiness.com and PC Magazine is as follows:
- Avast Free Antivirus 2016
- AVG AntiVirus Free (2016)
- Panda Free Antivirus (2016)
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2014)
- Check Point ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2016
- Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free
- Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ 11
- Qihoo 360 Total Security Essential
- Comodo Antivirus 8
- FortiClient 5.0
These are PC’s best free antivirus programs. Now, why do you need them?
Why Do I Need an Antivirus Program?
A common argument for not needing an antivirus is that the person surfs the internet but does not keep any personal information on their computer. Security Watch on PC Magazine explains why you need antivirus software.
These days, “antivirus” is just a word for a tool that protects your data and your PC against viruses, Trojans, botnets, rootkits, rogue security software, ransomware, and all types of malicious software. Actual viruses are the least of your worries, since they lay low to avoid detection.
A Trojan horse gets onto your system by pretending to be useful, but once inside the walls, it releases a malicious payload. You say you don’t store personal data? How about your email address-that’s about as personal as it gets. A Trojan might try to capture your email address and password, or insert itself into financial transactions to drain your bank account. That’s bank robbery with no need for a mask or a gun.
If your computer gets co-opted into a botnet, the bot herder can make it do just about anything, including spewing spam, participating in a denial of service attack, or serving as a peer-to-peer command and control server. If your ISP detects GameOver Zeus traffic coming from your IP address, you might find yourself cut off from all Internet access.
Another risk is that you inadvertently download a malware that gathers passwords and other personal info which the perpetrators use for identity theft. Then you open your credit card statement and find that you paid for a trip to the Bahamas first class and stayed for five nights at a five star hotel for a mere $15,000. The best free antivirus programs can help you avoid this sort of scenario, for free.
In response to the damage done to the human body in high and even medium velocity collisions the law requires seatbelts for adults and car seats for children. In general children under the age of 13 should sit in the back seat of a car and should not use adult seat belts until they are 57 inches tall and between eight and twelve years old.
Car Seat Laws and Criteria
A pediatrician in Tennessee, Dr. Robert Sanders, helped pass the first car seat laws. This was in 1978. The American Academy of Pediatrics launched a program called First Ride-Safe Ride in 1980 promoting the use of car seats for newborns. Twenty years before that the academy recommended the use of seatbelts by adults and kids. It turned out that adult seatbelts could be dangerous for kids and so car seats came into being. About Health reviews the issue of kids and car seat guidelines.
It is important to keep in mind that all car seats must meet the same federal safety standards and crash performance standards. According to the NHTSA, “the best car seat is the one that fits your child properly, is easy to use, and fits in your vehicle correctly.” Some car seats and booster seats are easier to use than others though, either because they have clearer instructions, are easier to install, have better labels, or make it easier to secure your child correctly in the seat, which can be seen in the wide variety of ease of use ratings that car seats get.
So that you follow the latest AAP car seat guidelines, you might also try to find a car seat and/or booster seat with high weight and height limits, so that you don’t have to move your child to a new seat before he is ready.
About Health lists a number of specific car seats with higher weight and height limits as well as best practices for car seats.
Tight is Right – make sure your car seat is installed tightly using a seat belt, or LATCH if it is available. If, when holding the bottom of the car seat, you can move the seat more than 1 inch, then it may not be installed tightly enough.
Seat Belt Readiness – Your older child isn’t ready for regular seat belts unless he can sit with his back against the seat and have his knees bent at the edge of the seat without slouching, with the shoulder belt lying against the middle of his chest and shoulder (not his neck), and the lap belt against his upper thighs (not his abdomen).
Avoiding Common Car Seat Mistakes – in addition to choosing the wrong type of seat for your child’s age, common car seat mistakes include having loose harness straps, not installing rear-facing car seats at a 45 degree angle, and not using LATCH when it is available.
Pickup Trucks – children should never be allowed to ride in the cargo area of a pickup truck and parents should be aware that the smaller rear seats of some compact extended-car pickup trucks may not be as safe as other cars and trucks with larger back seats.
Register Your Car Seat – you will be notified of any car seat recalls if you register your car seat.
Consumer Reports Testing
Recent testing by Consumer Reports indicates that switching sooner rather than later from a rear-facing infant seat to a convertible car seat is a good idea.
One of the main objectives in developing the new test was to better differentiate the ability of a variety of child seats to protect a child’s head. Head injuries to children in crashes are a significant concern for Consumer Reports.
[A] key component of our test is the addition of a surface that simulates the interaction the child seat would have with the front seatback in an actual vehicle crash.
In previous testing of a group of infant seats that include a detachable carrier, we found that the 22-pound dummy, representing an average 12-month-old child, suffered a head strike against the simulated front seatback with 16 of the 30 tested models (53 percent).
In our most recent tests of rear-facing convertible models with that same dummy, we found that the dummy’s head contacted the front seatback with only one of the 25 convertible models we tested (4 percent). The longer shells and shape of the convertible seats provided additional space between the dummy’s head and the simulated seatback preventing direct contact of the head.
The results the test implies that moving up to a convertible car seat sooner than later is a good idea.
Coupon shopping can lead to great bargains providing that you have a coupon for something that you wanted to get anyway. Coupon shopping can be hazardous if you buy things that are still too expensive and that you really do not want but purchased just because with the coupon you got 20% off. There is an art to shopping with coupons in order to maximize the benefits and avoid the pitfalls. Here are a few of our thoughts about the art of shopping with coupons. And, by the way, if you simply want to cut to the chase and see some coupons, Coupon Insanity always has useful ones.
Getting a Deal versus the Price of Gasoline
A friend of mine and his wife always clipped coupons from the Sunday paper. Then they spent all day Sunday driving from mall to mall and store to store in their big old Buick in search of bargains. They did, in fact, save money on virtually everything that they purchase. But when you factored in the cost of gasoline, car maintenance and the value of their time the savings most likely vanished. On the other hand they liked going around in their nice car so their travels could have been counted as recreation and no counted against the cost of shopping. The art of shopping with coupons has to do with saving money on things that you buy routinely and exceptional items that you buy once every few years or once in a lifetime.
Brand versus Price
If you absolutely love a certain brand of fabric softener, hand soap or canned ham you probably do not want to change brands. But, you may be open to a little experimentation and quality comparison while saving some money. The art of coupon shopping is to check out other brands and save a little money along the way. But, remember that there may well be a good reason why brand xyz sausage is selling at a third of its regular price. Ideally the producer and seller of a given produce has thought through the issue of price versus profit in marketing and is looking for more sales and more brand recognition.
Success Belongs to Those Who Pay Attention
There times, routinely, when you can find coupons for the items that you want and at substantial discounts. This applies to weekly shopping and the occasional expensive purchase. But, as the comedian, writer and director Woody Allen said, 90% of life is showing up. The point is that the art of shopping with coupons starts with finding where to get good coupons, going through the process of getting them and using them appropriately when you go shopping.
There are a few coupon shopping tips from Huffington Post that you might find useful as well.
- Sign up for alerts
- Text to save
- Use social media
- Use a coupon app
- Find online coupon codes
- Stack your savings
- Don’t settle for discounts of 25% or less
- Check for coupons often, especially during the holidays
- Always try to use more than one coupon code
And there are more. Read the article. And if you want to cut to the chase take a look at what Coupon Insanity has to offer.
The biggest shopping day of the year is fast approaching, Black Friday.
Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States. This day is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. This is because many people have the day off and have a long list of people to shop for. Retailers use this day to promote holiday sales and always offer discounts. The term, Black Friday, came to be in Philadelphia in the early 1960’s and referred to the terrible traffic jams caused by shoppers. Retailers came to refer to this day as Black Friday because it is the start of the season when they are most in the black, that is to say make the most money. All of this having been said how about the best Black Friday shopping deals?
We wrote this last year and offered some useful info about where to find the best deals on Black Friday. But there are perils of Black Friday shopping too.
Perils of Black Friday Shopping
The Oakland Post Online offers pros and cons of Black Friday shopping. The article lists injuries related to the rush for bargains on Black Friday.
Black Friday has its fair share of dangers when it comes to shopping in stores, such as getting hurt. Many of the fights or accidents relate to electronic products.
Sources from Fox 13 in Salt Lake City reported in 2013 that a Wal-Mart employee in Clinton, Utah was trampled due to the electronic tablets on sale.
According to a story in The New York Times, in 2008, a Wal-Mart employee lost his life because of everyone rushing into the store for holiday bargains. Among the death of the employee, four other people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were admitted to the hospital for minor injuries.
Perhaps the lesson here is to arrive for Black Friday shopping wearing a football helmet, shoulder pads and a hockey stick for whacking away competing shoppers!
Black Friday Deals
There are three reasons to go shopping on Black Friday.
- Holiday gift buying before everything is picked over
- You have the day off
- There are lots of discounts
We will not dispute the need for holiday gift buying or the fact that you have the Thanksgiving weekend off. But, how good are the bargains both on and off line? Forbes asks just how good are Amazon Black Friday 2015 deals. Remember that no matter how good the deals may be online there are times that you simply need to go to the store.
Amazon has long made a compelling case that the best shopping experience happens from the comfort of your own home. Now as Black Friday approaches, it is also hoping to tempt you to stay away from the inevitable crowds of main street shoppers. But are the deals good enough to let you put your feet up?
Take a look at the list of prices in the article. If you know precisely what you want and can get a better price online you probably want to buy there and wait for delivery. If you like hands on shopping and need to see displays to get ideas it is better to risk the perils of Black Friday shopping and go to the store. Also if you forgot about your nephew’s birthday and need to gift today, your only choice is to go out in the crowd and make an immediate purchase.
We would like to discuss the potentially dangerous Thanksgiving turkey. What, you ask, could be dangerous about the traditional main course when all of the family gathers around to give thanks? Think bacteria, food poisoning, sedation and café coronary. The first aspect of the potentially dangerous Thanksgiving turkey is bacteria and food poisoning.
Germs on the Bird
Good cooks make sure that meat, fish and poultry are cleaned before cooking. However, KIMATV.com quotes Consumer Reports as saying that you will kill the bacteria on the turkey when you roast it. By washing it beforehand you will contaminate your sink and countertops with turkey bacteria and risk contaminating salads, veggies, etc. So, to avoid food poisoning from your potentially dangerous Thanksgiving turkey, do as they say and simply defrost, remove the gizzards and cook the bird. (Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and cook for two hours for a 10-12 pound bird and 15 minutes per pound longer for a larger bird.)
Germs in the Bird
Everyone likes stuffing with their Thanksgiving turkey. But, there are germs in the birds as well as outside. It is possible to roast the turkey sufficiently but not roast the stuffing that has gotten contaminated with germs from the inside cavity of the turkey. A good suggestion is to make your stuffing separately.
So What Is Wrong with a Few Bacteria?
According to the Baylor Scot & White Health web site, food poisoning from turkey is usually from a germ called salmonella.
Usually symptoms are seen in 12–36 hours, but can appear within three hours. Vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever and headache are some common symptoms. Although anyone can be affected, the highest incidence of severe illness occurs in children under 5 and the elderly.
Treatment of food poisoning is as simple as rest and plenty of fluids. If you are afflicted with food poisoning, time is your greatest ally.
If symptoms persist see a doctor. People who are immunologically suppressed such as people with cancer, AIDS, those receiving anti-rejection drugs after a transplant can become deathly ill from salmonella. The germ recurs after treatment in about 40% of cases in these people. The potentially dangerous Thanksgiving turkey can be really dangerous if your immune system is compromised.
Don’t Eat Turkey and Drive
There is a reason why people eat a Thanksgiving meal and take a nap afterwards. Turkey meat contains high levels of an amino acid known as tryptophan, one of the so-called essential amino acids (that are essential for protein formation but cannot be manufactured by the body) in our diet. Tryptophan is an important precursor for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which has a calming, sleep-inducing effect on the brain. Eat a full meal, settle onto the couch and drift off to sleep. It is part of the Thanksgiving ritual. Just don’t drive right away.
The Café Coronary
Be careful of the bones when eating turkey leftovers. A potentially dangerous Thanksgiving turkey bone may find its way into your throat where it will get stuck or down your windpipe and get stuck which is worse. Medical Lexicon defines café coronary.
Café coronary is a sudden collapse while eating that results from food impaction closing the glottis; often erroneously thought to stem from coronary artery disease.
The culprit here is really not the Thanksgiving turkey so much as eating too fast, not chewing well and often times too much alcohol. Nevertheless, remember what you mother said about chewing your food and be careful of small bones in the turkey leftovers.