Nutrition

Understanding Nutrition Facts Labels

Nutrition LabelCalories? Fat? Sodium? Carbohydrates? What do you look for on a nutrition facts label? Food labels tell you a lot about what’s in the foods you choose to eat. But they can be hard to decipher. Follow these simple steps to help you make the best food choices for what your body needs.

Step 1: What’s the serving size?
One of the most important pieces of information is also the most ignored! How many times have you eaten an entire package, thinking it’s one serving, just to turn it around and see that it’s actually two servings! That means you have to double all the numbers on the label. Instead of 150 calories, you ate 300. Instead of 7 grams of fat, you ate 14, and so on. Always check the serving size before portioning out your food.

Step 2: How many calories?
This section is helpful to look at if you are working on losing, gaining or maintaining weight. “Calories” listed on the left side are the number of calories for one serving. “Calories from Fat” tell you how many calories come from the fat in the food for one serving. Balance how many calories you eat with how many calories your body uses to maintain weight. Eat more calories than you burn to gain and less calories than you burn to lose.

Step 3: Nutrients to Limit
Choose foods with lower numbers of the following nutrients: Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Cholesterol, and Sodium. Eating too much of these nutrients may increase your risk for heart disease, some cancers, or high blood pressure.

Step 4: Get More of these Nutrients
Most Americans don’t get enough fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron from the foods they eat. Eating more of these nutrients may improve your health and help reduce the risk for some diseases and health conditions.

Step 5: What are Percent (%) Daily Values?
The percentages listed on the right side of the label tell you whether the food gives you a lot or a little of that nutrient. Five percent (5%) or less gives you a “low” amount of that nutrient. Twenty percent (20%) or more gives you a “high” amount of those nutrients.

The Gluten Free Diet: Is It for Me?

Gluten FreeThere has been a lot of hype around “gluten-free” diets in recent years. While thousands tout the benefits of going gluten-free, many people aren’t exactly sure what it is or if it’s the right diet for them. If you’re unsure of what “gluten-free” really means or if you should give it a try, here’s a quick and dirty rundown of things you should know:

  • The first thing you should know is that a gluten-free diet is used to treat celiac disease.
  • So what is celiac disease? Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the small intestine is sensitive to the protein gluten, often found in wheat, rye and barley.
  • What are the symptoms of celiac disease? It’s a digestive disease, and symptoms include abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, iron-deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, missed menstrual periods and numbness in the hands and feet.1
  • How does an allergy cause such a wide array of symptoms? The effect of celiac disease is twofold. First, when gluten is ingested by a person with celiac disease, it can damage the lining of the small intestine, causing uncomfortable digestive symptoms. Secondly, due to the damage of the small intestines, crucial vitamins and minerals don’t get absorbed properly, leading to malnutrition and long-term negative health effects.
  • How do I know if I have it? Celiac disease is genetic, so if anyone in your family has tested positive, it’s probably a good idea for you to get checked, too. The disease can occur at any age, and affects people in all parts o f the world. You can get tested for celiac disease with a simple blood test. People with the disease will probably have higher levels of certain autoantibodies that your doctor will be able to identify.
  • What if I don’t have celiac disease? Can I still do a gluten free diet? Gluten free diets are only necessary for individuals with celiac disease or a wheat allergy. Before going gluten free, take a closer look at your diet- Is your diet balanced? Are you eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes/beans, nuts/seeds, whole grains, and lean meat/low fat dairy? Often, when someone goes from a diet high in processed foods to “gluten free” they end up increasing other foods groups. This increase in fruits, vegetables, legumes/beans, nuts/seeds which may actually be reliving the symptoms, not the avoidance of gluten. If you’re not convinced, make any appointment with your gastroenterologist and discuss how to determine food allergies or sensitivities.
  • Will eating gluten-free help me lose weight? Not necessarily. Don’t fall prey to the idea that “gluten-free” equals “healthy” or “low-fat.” Some processed gluten-free foods are low in fiber so you won’t stay full as long, and they’re often stripped of important nutritional elements. In one case study, the vast majority of participants that adhered to a gluten-free diet gained significant weight.3 And since gluten-free foods often carry a heftier price-tag, you might want to think twice about going free just for weight-loss’ sake.

Takeaways: The gluten-free diet is really only necessary for people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Don’t get sucked in to the mindset that gluten-free equals a healthier diet. If you want to improve your health choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds, lean meats, low fat dairy, and whole grains.

Related sources:

References:

1. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) . http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/celiac/#1
2. Antonio Di Sabatino, Gino Roberto Corazza. “Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: Sense or Sensibility? Annals of Internal Medicine. 2012 Feb;156(4):309-311.
3. T. A. Kabbani, A. Goldberg, C. P. Kelly, K. Pallav, S. Tariq, A. Peer, J. Hansen, M. Dennis andD. A. Leffler. “Body mass index and the risk of obesity in coeliac disease treated with the gluten-free diet.” Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 35:.6; 625-744, March 2012.
4. Biesiekierski JR, Muir JG, Gibson PR. “Is gluten a cause of gastrointestinal symptoms in people without celiac disease?” Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2013 Dec;13(6):631-8.

Four “Healthy” Foods That Sabotage Weight Loss

Multigrain BreadIf you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to fall into the trap of all of the “healthy” products food companies are pushing these days. Extra calories can be cleverly hidden in these products, sabotaging even the most well-intentioned consumer. The best way to manage or lose weight healthily is to control portion sizes and to eat a balanced diet consisting of lots of fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, lean proteins like chicken, fish, and beans, and low fat dairy. Do your best to avoid these sneaky “health” foods at your grocery store.

Fruited or flavored yogurt
The benefits of yogurt are plenty. It’s a good source of calcium, the live active cultures in yogurt help promote a healthy and happy digestive tract and it packs a protein punch (especially Greek yogurt). But this health food angel can often be a devil in disguise. Fruited or flavored yogurts are usually low fat or fat free, but can have as much as 31 grams of sugar in one six-ounce container! That’s almost eight teaspoons of sugar in your so-called “healthy” snack. Get all the benefits of yogurt without the extra sugar by buying plain, nonfat yogurt (Greek or regular) and adding your own fresh or frozen fruit.

Enhanced waters
Staying hydrated is important to maintaining a healthy weight, but getting the recommended eight glasses a day is difficult for some. Many people fight plain-water boredom by drinking enhanced waters like Vitaminwater. These are basically sugar water and a vitamin pill. If you eat a well-balanced diet filled with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low fat dairy, you may be getting enough nutrients from food. Do your waistline a favor and drink plain , calorie-free tap, purified, or bottled water. Check out this previous blog post for ideas on making regular water taste delicious without the extra calories.

Fast food salads
Fast food chains want you to believe you really can eat healthy at their restaurants. Many have extensive salad offerings to reel in weight conscious consumers. But beware: the dressings, toppings, and add-ons for these salads can add as much as 500 extra calories to your healthy bowl of fresh veggies. What’s more, the nutritious parts of a salad, like tomatoes and cucumbers, are often used sparingly. If you find yourself with no other choice besides fast food, your best bet is a grilled chicken sandwich — hold the mayo — paired with a side salad. Don’t forget to use the dressing sparingly!

‘Multi-grain’ products
Whole grains are an important part of a balanced diet, giving us carbohydrates for energy and several key nutrients. But don’t confuse ‘multi-grain’ with whole grain. A whole grain product will contain all parts of the grain: the germ, the bran and the endosperm. Whole grains provide essential fatty acids, fiber,and B vitamins. Unfortunately, a lot of the grains in our food supply are refined. A refined grain has the germ and the bran removed, leaving the endosperm, which is mostly nutrient-poor starch. Refined grain flour is easy to work with in cookies, cakes, and breads, which makes it a cheap and versatile ingredient for food manufactures. A food company can claim their product is ‘multi-grain’ even if all of its grains are refined. The term implies nothing about the product’s nutritional value, and it could still have the same amount of calories and fat as any other cookie, cake or cracker out there. To make the right choice, look at the ingredients list on the package label. Look for the word “whole” before the grain listed, and make sure it’s one of the first two ingredients. Better yet, avoid packaged or processed foods and choose whole grains you can see: oats, brown rice, bulgur or quinoa.

Author: Courtney Plush, MS, Emory Healthcare Dietetic Intern

Attend a Cook’s Warehouse Class taught by an Emory Healthcare Registered Dietitian!

Meagan Moyer, RD/LD Emory Bariatric Center

Adapting a healthy lifestyle and enjoying tasty food can go hand-in-hand. Meagan Moyer, RD, LD, a Clinical Dietitian at the Emory Bariatric Center is here to show you how with solutions to your New Year’s resolutions!  Meagan will take crowd pleasing recipes and give them a makeover to cut out fat, calories and sodium without taking away any of the things that make them taste delicious.

Join her and find out how to:

  • Lower fat and calories without sacrificing flavor
  • “Sneak in” vegetables
  • Make your baked goods and desserts healthier

In addition to these tips and tricks, Meagan will also be passing out free recipe idea cards and Emory Healthcare measuring cups to take home with you! The class will be held January 15, 2014 from 7-9 pm at the Midtown location.  Visit www.cookswarehouse.com for more information and to register!

As it Turns Out, Apples May Keep More Than Just the Doctor Away

Apple a Day Keeps the Pounds AwayAmericans have a nasty habit of depriving ourselves when we want to drop pounds. We often believe that cutting calories is the secret to success, but we wind up just feeling hungry all the time. It may surprise you that one healthy alternative to the hopeless feeling of hunger is to actually add food to your diet. Evidence suggests that adding nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods to your diet can actually help reduce your cravings. The secret? Fiber slows down the digestion of food, so you get a slow and steady source of glucose rather than ups and down in blood sugar levels.

Most Americans don’t get enough fiber. On average, we take in 15 grams a day of the 25 to 38 grams that are recommended, depending on your gender 1. So where do apples fit into all this? One apple with the skin on contains roughly 4.4 grams of fiber, about one fifth of your daily intake. Also, apples are rich in a very powerful kind of fiber called pectin, which is typically used as a gelling agent and stabilizer in food. It’s that stuff that they make jams and jellies out of. Pectin also is effective in delaying the emptying of the stomach by slowing the movement of food from your stomach into your small intestine, which works to discourage overeating and help you sustain that full feeling for a greater extent of time.

Still have your doubts? One study showed that substituting pectin for regular fiber doubled the time it took subjects’ stomachs to empty, keeping them full that much longer 2. In another study, scientists found that when participants ate an apple or a pear before meals they experienced weight loss 3. So, while it might seem counterintuitive, adding in those extra calories before meals can actually help you stay full for longer so that you resist those dangerous junk foods between meals!

But that’s not all. There is more to apples than just their awesome ability to keep us feeling full for longer. Apples provide many positive health benefits, specifically anti-cancer benefits. One report published in 2008 claimed that apple extracts and components have been shown to influence multiple mechanisms relevant for cancer prevention in in vitro studies. They also went on to say that epidemiological observations indicate that regular consumption of one or more apples a day may reduce the risk for lung and colon cancer 4.

Next time you’re looking around for something to eat, try grabbing an apple. By you’ve taken that last bite, you probably won’t be hungry anymore. You may just find that over time it helps you to become a slimmer, healthier you!

 Related Resources:

Infused Water Recipes: Hydrate & Improve Health!

Infused Water RecipesOne of the keys to preventing dehydration is drinking plenty of fluids, including water. This is especially important as the temperature and humidity rise in the summer months. While water is almost always the best drink choice, a lot of people complain that they get bored drinking plain water. While you can add purchased flavored drink mixes to water, you can also make your own flavored water by infusing it with different fruits and herbs.

Infusing water with a little flavor is really simple. Fill a pitcher with water, add thinly sliced fruits, herbs or spices, and chill in the refrigerator. You also can add sliced fresh fruit to a reusable water bottle. The combinations are endless. Some fruits work better than others. Berries tend to break down faster than hardier citrus fruits like lemons or limes. For stronger flavored water, prepare it a day ahead and keep it in the fridge overnight before drinking.

A great benefit of infusing water with fresh fruits, herbs, and spices is that you can get some added nutritional benefit. Lemons, lime, oranges, grapefruit and berries all are excellent sources of vitamin C. Fresh ginger and fresh mint are both refreshing flavorings as well as being good for upset stomachs.

Making your own flavored water is also a good way to avoid the unnecessary added sugars, preservatives or chemicals that often are added to drink mixes or commercially available flavored waters. Eager to get started? Check out the simple infused water recipes below!

Cucumber Infused Water

What you will need:

  • 1 cucumber
  • A strainer or cheese cloth
  • Water and ice

For a slightly flavored infused cucumber water, cut a cucumber up into small slices or chunks, add it to your water and cover and let sit in the fridge overnight. Strain the mixture before drinking.

For a more flavorful cucumber infused water, blend the cucumber and pour it into a strainer and let drip overnight. In the morning, mix the cucumber juice with a pitcher of water.

Grapefruit, Orange, and Lime Infused Water

What you will need:

  • 1/2 a grapefruit thinly sliced
  • 1 Orange thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a lime thinly sliced
  • A few mint sprigs (optional)
  • Water and Ice (1 quart)

Chill for a stronger flavor or serve right away for a nice light refreshment

Pineapple, Ginger and Mint Infused Water

Ingredients:

  • Pineapple slices (6-10)
  • Thinly sliced ginger (5 slices)
  • Mint leaves (14)
  • Ice and water (1 quart)

Chill for a stronger flavor or serve right away for a nice light refreshment

Fruit Infused Iced Tea

What you will need:

  • Fruit flavored herbal tea such as Celestial Seasonings Red or Lemon Zinger or Tazo Passion
  • Cubed Pineapple
  • Sliced Tangerines

Some infused water recipes sourced from: http://www.infusedwaterrecipes.com/

Super foods for a Super Diet!

Super foods are foods that are professed to help with weight maintenance, fight disease and live longer. Blueberries, kale, tomatoes, spinach, salmon, walnuts and tea have all topped the list of super foods.

It may seem overwhelming to include super foods in your everyday diet, but from looking at the list above, you might already be consuming super foods without knowing it. Many super foods—which have similar characteristics to those found in a variety of whole and fresh foods—are super rich in nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients.

But be wary of foods labeled as “super foods.” Many health bars or energy bars that make such claims have instead been highly processed and fortified. Other items often have added sugars, saturated fat or sodium to make them taste better. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s processed, it’s not a super food.

Rather than focusing on increasing your intake of individual foods, focus instead on your total diet. Replace your breads and pasta with plenty of whole grains (high in fiber such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa). Eat fruits and vegetables with most meals and for snacks because they are high in antioxidants and fiber. Eating foods that are naturally high in beneficial nutrients will help you have a Super Diet!

Below, we have provided one of our favorite recipes which includes a super food: salmon. We searched through several easy super food recipes and chose a baked salmon recipe to modify and help you kick start your Super Diet!

Super Food Recipe: Baked Salmon (adapted from allrecipes.com)
Parchment Baked Salmon Recipe
Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 25 mins
Serving size: ½ of recipe Makes 2 servings

Ingredients
1 (8 ounce) salmon filet olive oil cooking spray
¼ cup chopped basil leaves 1 lemon, thinly sliced
Pinch of salt & ground black pepper

Cooking Instructions

  1. Place an oven rack in the lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Place salmon fillet with skin side down in the middle of a large piece of parchment paper; season with salt and black pepper. Cut 2 3-inch slits into the fish with a sharp knife. Stuff chopped basil leaves into the slits. Spray fillet with cooking spray and arrange lemon slices on top.
  3. Fold edges of parchment paper over the fish several times to seal into an airtight packet. Place sealed packet onto a baking sheet.
  4. Bake fish on the bottom rack of oven until salmon flakes easily and meat is pink and opaque with an interior of slightly darker pink color, about 25 minutes. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fillet should read at least 145 degrees F. To serve, cut the parchment paper open and remove lemon slices before plating fish.

What’s your favorite super food? If you know of any super foods recipes that you love, or if you have a super food recipe of your own that you would like to share with us, feel free to leave it in the comment section below.

Author: Cecilia Batchelor, Emory Dietetic Intern

Top Five Ways to Boost Your Metabolism & Lose Extra Weight

Because of words like diet, cleanses and fasts, our definition of normal eating has gotten lost. Normal eating should be flexible, and it should change based on your response to hunger, your schedule, your feelings and your proximity to food. A lot of people want to know how to jumpstart their metabolism, normalize their eating pattern and utilize what they eat more efficiently. We all know that if your goal is to lose weight then you must expend more energy (calories) than you take in. With that in mind, here are five tips to boost your metabolism.

Do You Have to Choose Between Wine & Your Waistline?

Alcohol Weight Gain

When it comes to drinking alcohol and your health, thousands of experts have weighed in. One thing that they can all agree on is that when it comes to drinking alcohol and your weight, moderation is key.

A recent article on CNN.com shed some light on the fact that alcohol not only adds hundreds of calories to your diet – a regular beer can add up to more than 150 calories while a glass of wine can cost you 100 calories – but it also temporarily halts your body’s ability to burn fat. So, while the beer you had with pizza and wings might not be a major caloric offender, your body insists on breaking down the calories from the alcohol first, leaving the calories from what you ate to get stored as fat.

So, does this mean that you must resign yourself to teetotaling? No, says Meagan Moyer, registered dietician for the Emory Bariatric Center. But you do need to follow a few rules to keep from growing a beer belly or wine waist!

  1. Keep it simple – A good rule of thumb is the fewer ingredients the better. It’s generally safer to go with a glass of wine or a beer rather than a fancy mixed drink that is loaded with sugar or salt from added juices, soda and mixers.
  2. Eat before you drink – It might sound counterintuitive if you’re trying to skimp on calories, but eating a snack or meal with healthy fat, fiber and protein can help stave off the sugar crash that often comes after a night of drinking. It also can help you feel full so that you’re not picking off of every tray being passed.
  3. Keep count – Conventional wisdom points to the one drink a night rule for women. So, does this mean you can abstain all week and then blow it out on Saturday? Not so fast. Drinking several drinks in one night will mess with your blood sugar, add hundreds of calories to your diet and decrease your judgment in making good food choices – a trifecta of disaster for your waistline.

Author: Meagan Moyer, RD/LD, Emory Bariatric Center

 

 

Nutrition Fact or Fiction? Emory Bariatric Center Dietician Sheds Light on the Most Important Meal of the Day

Nutrition Fact or FictionWhen it comes to losing weight, exercising and eating healthy, myths and misconceptions abound. And, with an overabundance of conflicting diet and weight loss information available, it’s hard to know if your breakfast routine is keeping you on target for your weight loss goals or if you’re  unknowingly derailing your path to healthy living.  Is it best to work out in the morning or at night? Can a doughnut really be better for breakfast than a muffin? Fortunately, Meagan Moyer, a registered dietician with the Emory Bariatric Center, can help distinguish diet and exercise myths from the truth to help you get your day off to a great start.

Check out Meagan playing a friendly game of nutrition fact or fiction with 11Alive’s morning news team.

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