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The Right Way to Read a Food Label: Don’t Overlook the Fine Print

Clients love to tell me about the new snack bar or cereal they found at the grocery store. They tell me how it’s all natural or full of whole grains. I hate bursting their bubble when I ask how much sugar it has.

label

In your quest to be a healthy and fit you need to be a vigilant food detective.   You can’t trust the health claims on the front of the box. You have to read the back of the box, the ingredient list in particular, to really understand what is (or isn’t) in the oatmeal or protein bar you’re about to buy. Unfortunately, it’s not easy deciphering food labels. Without sounding too much like a conspiracy theorist, I think they do it on purpose.

The marketing team believes if they highlight the words “natural”, “light”, or “reduced” on the label we, the consumer, won’t look any further than that. We will simply trust that the product is good for us, load up our carts and go on our merry way.

The problem is a lot of people do just that. This is where they often get into trouble. You have to read the label to get the real story of what’s going on. Even on products you buy regularly you need to check in every so often to make sure they haven’t changed anything without telling you. Do a quick scan of the products going in your cart and look for these 5 things:

  1. Serving Size
    Don’t be so sure that a bottle of juice or a small bag of granola is just one serving. More often than not what appears to be a single serving package of chips or beverage has at least two servings. You could take in double or triple the calories without really even noticing.
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Energy Star Rating System May Make a Better Food Label

We’re used to seeing the Energy Star rating system on our appliances, but are we ready to see it on our food? With so much interest in how Americans are eating lately, it’s no wonder that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is proposing a change in the current food labeling system in an effort to declutter the nutrition claim overload seen on today’s food packaging.

The proposed labeling, which would appear on the front of packages and highlight a few top nutrients consumers are interested in, would allow consumers to more easily identify healthy options without having to spend too much time reading small print or interpreting the variety of health claims plastered on many of the products lining grocery store shelves.

Yet this isn’t the first front-of-package label to be introduced to consumers. In fact, the IOM’s label is just one of many new labels being touted as the “next best thing” in food packaging. Food companies have already begun to introduce their own line of similar labels designed to point out what makes their product better than their competitor’s variety. In fact, the IOM has quite the battle ahead as it attempts to put their unique mark on the foods we eat. Unfortunately, in the heat of that battle, consumers seeking better food choices may suffer in the short-term as they continue to make attempts to decode each unique food labeling system currently available.


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Top 10 Diet Tips

Eat a diet full of color

Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and are very low in calories. They help keep you satisfied longer, and are a great snack and can be eaten with every meal.

Eat regular meals

Eating meals throughout the day will help keep your metabolism stable as well as burn-ing calories all day long. When we don’t eat for an extended amount of time it actually inhibits calorie burning. Take mom’s advice to heart and be sure to have breakfast in the morning! Make sure and eat your 3 meals a day, but also sneak in some healthy snacks to keep your body going!

Give your stomach time to catch up

Many of us grew up being told not to snack before dinner as we would ruin our appe-tite. In actuality, having snacks can help prevent you from overeating. It takes our bod-ies 10-15 minutes to realize we’ve had enough to eat. Because of this delay, it is very easy to eat more than what our bodies actually need, leaving us feeling overstuffed. When eating at home watch your portions. When eating out at restaurants share your entrees as they typically serve larger portions. Go ahead, spoil your dinner with some snacks.

Eat whole fresh foods

In order for foods to last on our shelves in the grocery store they are filled with preservatives, which in turn deplete the nutrients and vitamins originally found in those foods. When possible, purchase fresh foods and avoid pre-packaged and convenient fast food, as these types of food are typically higher in calories, fat, and sodium.

Get moving

Our bodies were not meant to sit behind a desk all day long. We need daily exercise to benefit our overall health and especially to strengthen all our muscles including our heart. Exercise can also help you sleep better and improve your mood, so whether a high impact workout at the gym or a stroll through the neighborhood, hit the pavement and give yourself the optimal reward.
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