What To Look For On the Food Label

If you are working on a healthy weight loss and management plan it is imperative that you read food labels when you shop. Here are a few tips on what to look for.

Check Serving Size and Calories. All the information on a food label is based on the serving size. Be careful—one serving may be much smaller than you think. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and nutrients, including the percent Daily Values (DVs).

Percent DV: This tells you if a food is high or low in nutrients. Foods that have more than 20-percent DV of a nutrient are high. Foods that have 5-percent DV or less are low.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fat is not healthy for your heart. Compare labels on similar foods and try to choose foods that have a 5-percent DV or less for saturated fat. Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Keep total fat intake between 20 percent to 35 percent of calories.

Trans Fat: Trans fat is not healthy for your heart. When reading food labels, add together the grams of trans fat and saturated fat, and choose foods with the lowest combined amount.

Cholesterol: Too much cholesterol is not healthy for your heart. Keep your intake of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol as low as possible.

Sodium (Salt): Salt contains sodium. Research shows that eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium about (1 teaspoon of salt) per day may reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

TIP: Many food labels say “low fat,” “reduced fat,” or “light.” That does not always mean the food is low in calories. Remember, fat-free does not mean calorie-free, and calories do count!

Fiber: Choose foods that are rich in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Sugar: Try to choose foods with little or no added sugar (like low-sugar cereals).

Calcium: Choose foods that are high in calcium. Foods that are high in calcium have at least 20-percent DV.

Hope these tips are helpful the next time you are at the grocery store!

No More Excuses, Have An Exercise Plan

If you want to be successful sticking to an exercise plan you have to drop the excuses. This is the first step. Think about excuses you may come up with in advance and then create a plan to get rid of the excuse. I have listed a few I have heard many times through the years below. Think about these and other excuses you may have.

“I don’t have time for physical activity.”
You can “sneak” it into your day, a few minutes at a time. Get started by making these small changes in your daily routine:

  • Get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk the rest of the way (be sure the area is safe).
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator (be sure the stairs are well lit).
  • You do not have to do your entire workout in one block of time.  Break it up—taking three 10-minute walks during your day may be easier than taking one 30-minute walk.
  • Walk and talk with a friend at lunch.
  • Put more energy into housework and yard work.
  • Make regular appointments for your workouts and keep them as you would a hair or nail appointment.
  • Be active while doing other things. For example, lift weights or march in place while watching TV. Try walking around your home while talking on a cordless telephone.

“I’m going to ruin my hairstyle.”
If you avoid physical activity because you do not want to ruin your hairstyle, try:

  • a natural hairstyle
  • a style that can be wrapped or pulled back
  • a short haircut
  • wear your hair in a braid or twist

“It’s too expensive.”
There are lots of ways to be physically active that are free or low-cost. You can:

  • Find a local park or school track where you can walk or run.
  • Walk around a mall.
  • Work out with videos in your home—you can find workout videos at bookstores or your local library.
  • Join a recreation center or fitness center at work or near your home.
  • Walk your dog. If you do not have a dog, pretend that you do.

“Physical activity is a chore.”
It can be fun! Try to:

  • Do things you enjoy, like walking, dancing, swimming, or playing sports.
  • Walk or take an exercise class with a friend or a group. This way, you can cheer each other on, have company, and feel safer when you are outdoors.
  • Be active with your kids—ride bikes, jump doubledutch, toss a softball, play tag, or do jumping jacks.  Physical activity is good for them too.
  • Use your daily workouts as time-outs just for yourself.

Any sound familiar? If so, plan ahead. I know you can be physically active most days of the week and have fun doing it.

The One Way To Increase Metabolism

I see false claims about metabolism daily. I have to be quite candid, these claims frustrate me a lot, because I know people desperate to lose weight are buying magazines, books and diet advice from companies making these claims, only to find out it will be one more diet failed. Then they will blame themselves and the vicious cycle of dieting starts again. Here are a few headlines I have seen. Any of these look familiar?

  • Got a slow metabolism? Fire up your body’s fat burner without a diet!
  • A type E metabolism might be making you fat!
  • Lose like a celebrity – Lose six pounds this week on this metabolism boosting plan!
  • Energize Your Metabolism with this six day energy charged diet and lose 10 pounds this week!

Well, you get the picture. If it sounds too good to be true it is too good to be true. We would not have an obesity epidemic if these claims were true. If you are struggling with your weight right now and you keep falling prey to such claims I want you to make this the day you stop. I believe in you and know you can lose the weight in a healthy, natural and effective way. Your first step is to ignore these claims and stop buying magazines and products that make these types of claims.

So here is the real deal.  The only way to increase your basil metabolic rate (resting metabolism) is to increase muscle size, therefore you need to weight train. Okay, that may freak some of my readers out. Weight training is not that difficult and you can start in the comfort of your own home with body weight exercises, like wall push ups, crunches, partial squats, etc.. I plan to shoot some video to make it even easier for you.

Cardiovascular exercise will have a temporary affect of burning extra calories, before and after your workout and is needed for a healthy heart, so don’t throw cardio out the door completely.

I wish you the very best! Remember one small change will develop into many. Just start with where you are and be proud of yourself!

Eat Right – You Can Eat Healthier – Part 3

In my last two posts I went over the macronutrients; carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Today I am going to cover micronutrients. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

If you read the first post of the series you understand my goal was to simplify nutrition. As I pondered what to write about the micronutrients I realized I could not possibly share everything and make it simple, so I am going to stick with the basics.

Vitamins and minerals play a part in every process that takes place in the body. This is why it is important to eat a variety of whole foods. Your body only needs a small amount, that is why the term micronutrients is used.

Vitamins are play an essential role in metabolism, growth and development. There are two types of vitamins, fat soluble and water soluble. Fat soluble vitamins are (A,D,E and K). Dissolve in fat. All other vitamins dissolve in water. Since A,D,E and K are stored in fat, there can have harmful affects if you ingest too much over a period of time. Since water soluble vitamins are excreted in urine there is less chance for negative affects, but you still do not want to take take water soluble vitamins in excess. These vitamins can also have harmful affects to the body when overused. Vitamins are found in fruits, vegetables and legumes.

Minerals regulate body processes and give your body structure. There are major minerals and trace minerals. Your body does not make minerals on its own, so it is imperative you get the right minerals in your diet. Three of the major minerals are calcium, magnesium, and potassium. While calcium is found in dairy and dairy alternatives magnesium and potassium are found in are mostly found in fruits and vegetables. Great magnesium dense foods are dark leafy greens, legumes and nuts. Potassium is found in red peppers, spinach, tomatoes and of course bananas.

And finally, trace elements. Trace elements are a small part of our diet, but needed for body process’. There are a number of trace minerals. Some of the most talked about are iron, zinc, and chromium. For the purpose of keeping it simple I am not going to cover all the trace minerals and their process’. If you are eating a well balanced diet of whole foods, including green vegetables, lean meats, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and a dairy or dairy alternative you will get what you need.

Phew, a lot of information! But at the very least, I hope you learned why it is important to eat a variety of whole foods!

Eating Right – You Can Eat Healthier – Part 2

I saved the best macronutrient for last! The much loved and hated Fats.

I say, love the Fats. It’s like dating, there are some good men out their and some good fats. The bad boys and bad fats just block the view sometimes.

Fats are needed for the body to function properly. Yesterday, I told you not to do the low carb diets anymore. Same for fats. The 90’s brought us the low fat/non fat craze and manufactures went nuts creating all kinds of low fat and non fat products. I have to admit I jumped into that craze and purchased many of the products. I still use some of these products, as not all of them are bad. Unfortunately, most were filled with extra sugar or sodium to make the product taste as good as the fat version. So my warning here is to read the labels carefully.

The key here is to start switching out fats in your diet for healthier fats. So how do you do that?

Here is what you need to know. There are two types of fats, saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats raise cholesterol levels. This can cause heart disease and also some cancers. Here are the types of foods that contain saturated fat and should be limited in your diet; fatty meats, whole milk, egg yolks, butter, coconut and palm oils, poultry skin.

Unsaturated fats are plant and seafood based and come in two forms, monosaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats are known as heart healthy and can contribute to lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) levels. Olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds are all great monosaturated fats. So slice some avocado into a salad or sandwich, spread some almond butter on whole grain toast, cook with olive oil. I know you can do that!

Okay, I know you have heard to get your Omega-3 and Omega-6. These are the two polyunsaturated fats. Omega-6 is found in vegetable oils, Omega-3 in fatty fish, like yummy salmon, other seafoods, flaxseed and walnuts. Studies have shown the Omega’s to increase immunity and reduce inflammation.

I am going to end today with the fat to avoid. The biggest bad boy of them all, Trans fat (hydrogenated oils). Trans fats have been shown to cause the same negative affects as saturated fats and many would say worse, as trans fat is not in its natural state. It is an unsaturated fat that has been processed into a saturated fat. Manufacturers are required to list trans fats on the label, so read your food labels closely. Particularly labels on chips, bake goods and cookies. Trans fat is also found in french fries and other fried foods.

Up to 30% of your diet can be from fat, so enjoy the good fats!

Eating Right – You Can Eat Healthier – Macronutrients Part 1

I speak with people everyday who are considering or working on eating healthier. They are often confused by all the information out there on nutrition, healthy eating, diets, etc… It is my goal to simplify Nutrition and healthy eating for you.

Why do we eat? At Nutrition’s basic function, we eat to stay alive. We eat to fuel our bodies. What are we fueling our bodies with? Macronutrients and micronutrients. Today I will be starting with the macronutrients. Macronutrients supply us with nutrients for energy and growth. You may also know the macronutrients as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These macronutrients make up most of our diet.

Lets start with carbohydrates, my favorite macronutrient. I often find myself sticking up for wonderful carbohydrates, as the low carb diets have given them a bad name. If you are counting carbs, stop immediately. Start focusing on the right kind of carbs. There are two types of carbs:

1. Simple carbs – The best simple carbs have not been processed and are in their natural state. Fruits and some forms of dairy would fall in this category. Cookies and cakes are also simple carbs, but they have been processed, so limit these types of foods.

2. Complex carbs – The best complex carbs are in their natural form and have not been enriched with flour. Vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fibrous fruits are best. Enriched white breads, pasta’s and rice should be limited.

Proteins are also very important. They are the building blocks of muscles and bones. Low carb diets have caused people to consume protein in excess. Your body only needs a certain amount of protein. Excess protein can be stored as fat and lead to kidney problems. In most cases, 20% to 30% of protein in a  diet is enough. The best sources of protein are lean meats, chicken, sea food and legumes.

I have so much to share with you about Fat, that I am going to save it for tomorrows post.

You're Too Skinny – A Form of Sabotage?

I have had many clients become frustrated when a friend or a family member says, “You are getting too skinny”! Sometimes it is genuine concern, but usually it is a form of sabotage. I don’t think people do it on purpose or even realize they are jealous of your success. The best thing you can do is ignore it and not take it personally. That is if you are eating right, exercising and are a healthy weight. Also keep in mind that if people have only seen you overweight, you may look skinnier to them than you actually are. This subject came to mind when I heard reports that people are now saying Jennifer Hudson is too skinny. I for one think she looks amazing, but she became a celebrity while she had a weight problem, so some may have an honest perception she is too thin. In actuality she has announced she is a size 10, hardly too skinny compared with the size 0 of many other celebrities.

If you are not eating healthy, exercising and taking care of yourself, the too skinny comment could be an honest concern, so take some time to consider the comment and make some healthy lifestyle changes.

Did You Miss Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? Have You Signed The Petition?

I can’t believe it is already Wednesday; I wanted to connect sooner about last weeks two hours of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I kept a notebook by my side the entire time, as I knew some great things were about to unravel.

I have to say at first I was amazed at how unintelligent people were about their food choices and the damage they were doing to their bodies. I even said so on Facebook and later felt bad about it, as I hadn’t given the town a chance. I hadn’t learned more about the people their. We are all unintelligent in some area, so hopefully the experience will teach them and viewers the importance.

I also get why the town is a bit offended. They feel like, who is this guy coming into town and telling us what to do? But, I am so happy people are getting offended. If that is what it is going to take to get people eating right and moving in our Country, so be it.

I am sure if you are watching, you may be amazed at some of the things. Here’s a list of my most memorable moments from the show:

  • The 6 year old children could not name any of the vegetables, yet they had no problem pointing out chicken nuggets, burgers and pizza
  • Our USDA system is obviously more broken than most of us would have thought, come on French Fries are a vegetable and  so many breads have to be given regardless of nutrient density
  • The family that only ate beige and brown. They lived on hot dogs, frozen pizzas, etc… I have to say the Mom was great. She was obviously devastated once the realization hit that she was hurting her children.
  • I was probably most amazed to find out kids can watch something gross and once it is coated to look like a nugget the will eat it. Jamie grinded up bone and left over parts in a processor. The kids thought that was nasty; but once Jamie mixed some other stuff in and it looked like a nugget they ate it.

MY Favorite part was when the Dr. told the family, “It’s not going to take Justin to change himself, it will take the whole family”. The child won’t be able to lose weight and get healthier if the home environment stays the same.

Keep watching  Fridays on ABC at 8:00 PM, 7:00 CT and if you haven’t signed Jamie’s petition click here.

So Excited About Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

The information is out there, but I don’t think parents understand or want to face the consequences their children will be facing due to obesity. I really hope Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution will scare some parents into doing what is right to protect the health of their children.

While I do believe parents want the best for their children and need to be educated to realize what they have been doing wrong, I agree with Jamie. Children are often given the blame for being overweight. I like Jamie’s term,”That is Rubbish”.

The truth is children aren’t going to the store and purchasing the co co puffs and fatty foods, the parents are.

If you haven’t, go back to the link and watch the videos. Pay special attention to the 16 year old that was given 6 to 7 months to live, because what her lifestyle (the lifestyle her parents taught her) has done to her liver. There are many children out their that will be dieing way to young. This is not a legacy anyone of us should want to leave behind. Pass the link on to everyone you know, so they can share it with their friends.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution premiers Friday, March 26 at 8:00, 7:00 CT. Can’t wait to BLOG more about it.