NUTRITION LABELS: FACTS AND FICTION

NutritionFactsPanel

Start with the Serving Size

  • Look here for both the serving size (the amount for one serving) and the number of servings in the package.
  • Compare your portion size (the amount you actually eat) to the serving size listed on the panel. If the serving size is one cup and you eat two cups, you are getting twice the calories, fat and other nutrients listed on the label.

Check Out the Total Calories and Fat

  • Find out how many calories are in a single serving and the number of calories from fat. It’s smart to cut back on calories and fat if you are watching your weight.  Try to keep the calories from fat below a third of the total calories.

Let the Percent Daily Values Be Your Guide

Use percent Daily Values (DV) to help evaluate how a particular food fits into your daily meal plan:

  • Daily Values are average levels of nutrients for a person eating 2,000 calories a day. A food item with a 5 percent DV of fat provides 5 percent of the total fat that a person consuming 2,000 calories a day should eat.
  • Percent DV are for the entire day, not just one meal or snack
  • You may need more or less than 2,000 calories per day. For some nutrients you may need more or less than 100 percent DV.

The High and Low of Daily Values

  • 5 percent or less is low. Aim low in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • 20 percent or more is high. Aim high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Limit Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium

Eating less fat, cholesterol and sodium may help reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.

  • Total fat includes saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fat.
  • Saturated fat and trans fat are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
  • High levels of sodium can add up to high blood pressure.
  • Remember to aim for low percentage DV of these nutrients.

Get Enough Vitamins, Minerals and Fiber

  • Eat more fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron to maintain good health and help reduce your risk of certain health problems such as osteoporosis and anemia.
  • Choose more fruits and vegetables to get more of these nutrients.
  • Remember to aim high for percentage DV of these nutrients.

Additional Nutrients

You know about fat and calories, but it is important to also know the additional nutrients on the Nutrition Facts Panel.

  • Protein Most Americans eat more protein than they need, so a percentage Daily Value is not required on the label. Eat moderate portions of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, plus beans, peanut butter and nuts.
  • Carbohydrates There are three types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches and fiber. Eat whole-grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta plus fruits and vegetables.
  • Sugars Simple carbohydrates or sugars occur naturally in foods such as fruit juice (fructose) or come from refined sources such as table sugar (sucrose) or corn syrup.

Check the Ingredient List

Foods with more than one ingredient must have an ingredient list on the label. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. Those in the largest amounts are listed first. This information is particularly helpful to individuals with food sensitivities such as soy, wheat, nuts, and shellfish.  It is also useful to help those who wish to limit added sugars, sulfites, color additives  or people who prefer vegetarian eating.

WATCH OUT FOR DECEIVING LABELS AS WELL

For example, this Broccoli Cheese Campbell’s condensed soup label only contains the Nutrition Facts for the condensed soup yet the directions call for the addition of a can of milk.  Even using skim milk, this effectively doubles the calories of the soup.  This is not stated ANYWHERE on the label!

And, this one is one of my favorites! Great Value No Stick Cooking Spray:  check out the serving size !  1/4 second spray?  Who knows what 1/4 second is and who could possibly coat a pan or casserole dish with that amount?  Don’t be fooled, you are adding some fat to your cooking by coating the pan or casserole dish!  I also know someone who buys the butter flavor no stick spray, gets lite popcorn and liberally sprays the popcorn thinking it has zero calories!

BE SURE TO READ YOUR NUTRITION LABELS BUT DON’T ALWAYS TAKE THEM AT FACE VALUE!

Adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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WHY CAN’T I LOSE WEIGHT?

THIS COULD BE THE REASON!

EXERCISE BLOCK

SERIOUSLY, I KNOW YOU’RE REALLY TRYING WITH CUTTING BACK ON CALORIES, REDUCING FAT INTAKE, AND EXERCISING MORE.  BUT YOU MAY BE DEFEATING THE PURPOSE BY MAKING A FEW COMMON MISTAKES – SOME INGRAINED HABITS THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO BREAK.  IF YOU FIND ONE OR MORE OF THESE FITS YOUR LIFESTYLE, FOCUS ON OVERCOMING THEM AS YOUR NEW YEARS RESOLUTION AND YOU SHOULD SEE A SLOW (1/2 TO 1# PER WEEK) WEIGHT LOSS.

1. You “Fall off the Wagon” with one small slip and  decide to binge the rest of the day!

CAKE

Sometimes this happens at work because there are loads of goodies around the water cooler or the staff is celebrating a birthday.  Sometimes it’s on the weekend and there is a football party where everyone brings something loaded with fat! Or you just have a craving.  Then after you have had that one taste, you say to yourself, well, I’ve blown it for the day so I’ll have a little more…This might only happen once a week but it can sabotage the rest of your weekly efforts quickly. You haven’t blown your diet by having a portion-controlled “treat” occasionally,  just don’t guilt yourself into eating more!

2. You Drink Your Calories

eggnog

We just went through the Blizzard of 2014 in Lake View, NY!  We shoveled several hours for days on end.  We cross-country skied at least an hour every day.  We ate healthy, home-cooked meals.  My husband stepped on the scale and found he had gained a few pounds!  I could argue that he built muscle from all the work he did, but more likely it was from the calories consumed from all the cappuccinos he drank throughout the day.  Granted we had 30 below wind chills but 3 or 4 cappuccinos a day at 300 calories a piece (900-1200 calories) is enough to gain 1-2 pounds a week!  Think about what you’re drinking!

3. You Don’t Eat Enough Protein

Adequate protein intake is especially important if you are cutting calories to keep your muscle while you lose fat.  The RDA for protein is about .4 grams per pound of body weight (ex: 150 lb x .4 g/lb = 60 gram) . You may want to add 10-20 grams and cut your calories from fat first, then carbs (since you need carbs for energy).

4. You Skip Breakfast

When you skip breakfast your metabolism slows down so that when you do eat, you don’t burn those foods off as efficiently.  Your slower metabolism also leads to a sluggish day where you have little energy for that workout you really need so you may do it with less enthusiasm and reap less of a reward.

5. You make excuses why you simply cannot work out

Danskin Toning Band (2) (570x428)

There are so many excuses and I have made them myself:  there isn’t enough time in the day; it’s too cold, rainy, icy outside; I don’t want to go back out and drive to the gym….The key is to make sure to do something everyday (not just walking around the block as above!).  It can be something different every day and it must be at a time that works for you that day.  For example, I might grab a quick lunch and take a walk on my lunch break because I have a meeting after dinner and know I won’t be able to do my usual routine.  I might use the elliptical inside during the blizzard because there truly is life threatening wind chills outside.  I might pack my toning band since I’m traveling and won’t have any weights to work out with.

THE LIFESTYLE CHOICES YOU MAKE EACH DAY WILL MAKE OR BREAK YOUR WEIGHT CONTROL EFFORTS SO CHOOSE WISELY!

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