Posts Tagged ‘nutrition facts’

Labeling the Food Label

The New Year gives rise to new resolutions, but many have grown tired of attempting unsuccessful diets and seeing numbers on the scale crawl up, year after year. Although there is no magic bullet for weight loss, it is possible to reach your health goals by lifelong commitment to a healthy and balanced diet.

Making healthy choices isn’t as difficult or intimidating as it may seem: one useful strategy is to take advantage of the Nutrition Facts Label (Figure 1). Found on most prepackaged foods, the table is designed to inform consumers about the nutritional content of the food they are purchasing. Read below for a summary of the components:

  • Figure 2: Side-by-Side Comparison of current and new food labels Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

    Figure 2: Side-by-Side Comparison of current and new food labels
    Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

    Serving size determines the nutrition information you receive—including calories and nutrients—of a food. The amount of each nutrient consumed will change relative to eating more or less than the serving size provided. Serving size and portion size are not the same! The next you eat a meal, try comparing serving size to the amount you actually eat.

  • Calories correspond to the amount of energy by any given food. Consuming excess calories results in unintended weight gain. You are more likely to keep your weight in check by tracking the number of calories you consume. Contact a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or visit www.myplate.gov to calculate individual calorie needs.
  • Percent Daily Value (%DV) can be used to evaluate whether a food is low (5% DV or less) or high (20% DV or more) in a specific nutrient. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends choosing foods providing 20% DV or more of vitamins and minerals, and providing 5% DV or less of sodium and saturated fat, the average American consumes excess sodium and saturated fat, and consumes inadequate amounts of key nutrients.
  • The Ingredient List itemizes ingredients by greatest to least weight, and allows consumers to identify the contents of a food product For example, you can use the ingredient list to determine whether a bread has been made from whole or refined wheat.
Figure 2: Side-by-Side Comparison of current and new food labels Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Figure 2: Side-by-Side Comparison of current and new food labels
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Nutrition recommendations for American have changed considerably since the introduction of the current food label in 1994. To better reflect these changes, the FDA approved a number of revisions on the current food label (Figure 2). The new label is scheduled to launch in 2018, and will feature a more prominent placement of serving sizes and calories, issue a mandatory % Daily Value for added sugars, and introduce values for potassium and vitamin D. Serving size will also change, and will be measured based on the amount American actually consume, versus what they “should” consume: for example, a 20 ounce sports drink will be designated as being one serving, rather than two (or three!).

The Nutrition Facts Label is intended to inform and assist consumers when they are selecting foods, and can become a valuable tool when used to your advantage. Paying attention to the foods you purchase and choose to eat brings you one step closer to achieving your health goals.
References

Emory Bariatric Center

If your resolutions include improving your health and weight loss, let Emory Bariatric Center help you. We offer both surgical and non-surgical weight loss programs. View our website www.emoryhealthcare.org/bariatrics for program options or call 404-778-7777 for more information.

Resources

  1. “Food Labeling Guide”. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. N.p., 2013. Web. 6 Jan. 2017.
  2. “Report Index – 2015 Advisory Report”. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. N.p., 2015. Web. 6 Jan. 2017.
  3. V. R. Delgado, RDN, LD, M. Moyer, MPH, RDN, LD, and E Lin, DO FACS. “The Food Label: A Guide To Educating Bariatric Patients”. Bariatric Surgical Practice and Patient Care 10.3 (2015): 87-92. Web.”Changes To The Nutrition Facts Label”. N.p., 2016. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.

Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping Success

healthy-groceries250x250Have you ever left the grocery store with more food than you intended to buy? Has that extra food ended up being chips, cookies, or sugar-sweetened sodas? It’s easy to feel tempted by the products the store has on display. Keep in mind that the main goal of many stores is to advertise cheap and appealing products rather than healthy and nutritious ones. In order to help you maintain your healthy eating goals, follow these tips for grocery shopping success.

Before beginning your trip, make a list of items to buy. This will prevent purchasing unnecessary food. It may also help to eat a meal or snack at home before heading to the store. Shopping on an empty stomach makes it more tempting to purchase unhealthy junk food. If you do end up at the store while you are hungry, head straight for the produce section. Choosing your fruits and vegetables first will help keep your mind on track to shop healthy.

Often, companies advertise foods as healthy when in reality, they might not be the best for our bodies. For example, some cereals are advertised as “made with whole grains.” Although whole grains are a healthy choice, many of these cereals contain 10-15 grams of added sugars per serving. In order to understand the ingredients in your food, try looking at Nutrition Facts Labels. The goal is to keep total fat, sodium, and sugar as low as possible.

In order to help you keep MyPlate in mind while grocery shopping, follow these tips:

  • Fruits and vegetables
    • Purchase fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. When buying canned products, look for “no salt added” vegetables. Fruit should be canned in juice rather than syrup.
  • Dairy
    • Look for low fat or fat free dairy options. You can also try an alternative dairy product, such as unsweetened almond milk or unsweetened soy milk.
    • Many brands of yogurt add extra fat and sugar. In order to avoid this, try plain fat-free Greek yogurt and add fresh berries and nuts or granola for flavor.
  • Protein
    • Canned or dried legumes are a great source of protein and fiber, keeping you full longer. Legumes, such as black beans, pinto beans, and black eyed peas are easy to add to soups and saladS.
    • When shopping for meat, choose leaner meats such as fish and chicken. If you do purchase red meat, look for 90% or greater lean products.
  • Grains
    • According to the Dietary Guidelines for America, half of your grains should be whole. Search for whole grains, such as 100% whole wheat products, corn, oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, and whole barley.

For more information about healthy grocery shopping, visit these websites:
http://www.nutrition.gov/shopping-cooking-meal-planning/food-shopping-and-meal-planning/build-healthy-diet-smart-shopping
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/smart-food-shopping.htm

Nourishing Our Bodies – Foods True Purpose

healthy-snack2Previously we introduced the topic of mindful eating. For many, this is a new concept; for others, this may be a part of your daily routine. Wherever you are on the spectrum, I would like to continue to delve further into the concept of mindful eating by discussing food’s true purpose – to nourish our body – in the hope it will illicit a better understanding of why we may eat vs. why we should eat, and how to battle some old habits.

We eat for many reasons. Some of those reasons include:

  1. when we are with others (celebrating/mourning, gathering with friends)
  2. when there is a medical need (taking medication, treating a low blood sugar)
  3. when we are by ourselves (comforting or punishing ourselves; boredom)
  4. out of habit (watching TV/movies, because it is your normal time to eat)

…and the list can continue. We may eat before a party so that we don’t eat at the party, but when we arrive at the party, we find ourselves eating anyway, whether to be polite or to indulge, etc.

Food is to nurture, not harm. Being completely honest with yourself, ask yourself these questions: If you eat a large meal, how do you feel? If you eat until your feel uncomfortable, did you eat too much? Why did you eat that quantity? Did it fulfill you and give you a sense of well-being, or did you undermine your needs and purpose by overindulging?

Implementing a mindful eating technique

Considering the reasons above, and any you may have thought of, answer the following: Is food really answering these needs? What other ways could you satisfy those needs without using food?

Ask yourself before you eat, “Do I need this food for nourishment, energy or another purpose?” Consider your answer honestly and entirely, and then make your decision to eat it or not.

Think of some ways that will help you remember to “check in” before you eat. With consistent thought, you will begin to make mindful choices based on your body’s needs and become a more active participant in your health!

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.