Diet and Incontinence, Calories in Boxed Chocolates, Serving of Spinach

Diet and Incontinence, Calories in Boxed Chocolates, Serving of Spinach

Q: Does diet affect urinary incontinence?
Q: Do I get a lot of calories from those boxed chocolates if I just have a piece or two?
Q: A large portion of raw spinach cooks down to such a small amount, how much does it take to count as a serving of vegetables?

Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Does diet affect urinary incontinence?

A: Incontinence becomes more common with age, but diet may play a role. Many studies show incontinence is strongly linked to obesity, probably due to increased pressure within the abdomen. The good news for overweight and obese women with bladder control problems is that, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year, weight loss averaging 17 pounds was enough to cut weekly incontinence episodes almost in half. So if you are overweight, probably the most effective dietary change you can make is to cut a few hundred calories a day to promote weight loss. For those with uncontrolled diabetes, changing your diet may also affect incontinence. Years of uncontrolled diabetes can create nerve damage that affects bladder control. A diet that supports better blood sugar control is clearly advisable to reduce further damage throughout your body, but it’s not clear whether normalizing blood sugars will allow you to regain lost bladder control. Smoking and lack of exercise may also inhibit bladder control, so there’s one more reason to avoid tobacco and keep active. If you are experiencing urinary incontinence, make sure to discuss it with your physician because a variety of treatments are available to resolve the problem.

Q: Do I get a lot of calories from those boxed chocolates if I just have a piece or two?

A: The calories of chocolate candies varies with the type of filling, size and ingredients unique to each brand. A reasonable estimate for various flavors of assorted boxed chocolates is about 50 to 60 calories per piece. Chocolate truffles, however, tend to be richer and denser, often weighing in at about 70 to 120 calories each. If you are a chocolate lover, boxed chocolates offer the advantage of a pre-portioned taste of chocolate. You may find it easier to stop at one or two pieces than to stop mid-way through a candy bar. But be careful not to graze your way through a box. Some stores sell gourmet chocolates individually, which allows you to buy just a few at a time. For many people, having a box of chocolates in the cabinet means they end up eating chocolate more often than they plan.

Q: A large portion of raw spinach cooks down to such a small amount, how much does it take to count as a serving of vegetables?

A: A half-cup portion of cooked spinach is considered a serving. On average, for each half-cup of cooked spinach you’ll need about half a pound of raw spinach. No wonder it supplies more than a day’s worth of beta-carotene. But don’t worry: When you eat that spinach raw in a salad, the standard rule of 1 cup of raw leafy greens as a serving of vegetables still holds.