Understanding Nutrition Facts (Part 1) | Gaining Kitchen Confidence
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Hi, everyone! Welcome to Week 2 of
Gaining Kitchen Confidence, the first program in our 4-week Fast Track
series. My name is Dina D’Alessandro, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist,
Founder, and Chief Executive Life-changer at DishWithDina. I’ve helped hundreds
of patients and clients over the past few years meet their health and wellness
goals and I am so grateful that you’re here to join us on this journey. We hope
that you’ve been settling in with your Week 1 homework assignments so far. It’s totally okay if you haven’t gotten through everything just yet
or if you found that our fast track is a little too fast for you. Remember: no
stress, no worries, work at your own pace; but, if you’ve already wrapped up Week
1, give a like to this video and feel free to leave a comment below with your
progress so far. In this program, there are four objectives that we hope you
achieve at the end of the 28 days with us: the first is to become a savvier
supermarket shopper, the second is understanding how to read the Nutrition
Facts label on the back of food packages, the third is creating weekly meal plans
that work within your schedule and budget, and the fourth is engaging and
interacting with a community of like-minded people, like yourself, looking
to get back on track with eating well…which you can do here
in the comments below our videos or you can head over to our private
Facebook group, which is linked below. This week, we are going to introduce you
to some nutrition information that I think might be somewhat eye-opening. As
mentioned in Week 1’s video, we believe that good health starts in the kitchen, but it also starts in the supermarket or grocery store or the farmers market–wherever you purchase or obtain your food items. There’s so much information
packed into Week 2 that we actually decided to split this week’s video into
two parts. For this week, the materials you’ll need to download, or at least
refer to, are linked below: the first is the Nutrition Facts label and the second
is something called the MyPlate Daily Checklist. You already have your Activity
Log and Goal Agreement sheet from last week, so please keep those on hand as you’ll need to update them after watching this week’s video. Since this week’s focus is on nutrition education, I thought I’d take this
opportunity to mention that, while there might be many health and wellness
professionals out there who include nutrition education, nutrition counseling,
or health coaching in their services– and who all have the desire to help you
support your health–only Registered Dietitians are uniquely qualified in
providing patients or clients with what’s called Medical Nutrition Therapy,
especially when working with people in managing their chronic conditions. So
please be sure to ask for someone’s credential, experience, education, and
background whenever you begin a program with them. And you can learn more about
what I do on the DishWithDina channel trailer. For today, let’s start with the
Nutrition Facts label. You’ve seen this on the back of packaged goods, right? Especially in the United States–this is what we have here. The United States
Department of Agriculture (the USDA) and the Department of Health and Human
Services (or the HHS), they create Dietary Guidelines for Americans listed on the
Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods and also found online at choosemyplate.gov. These amounts are fairly arbitrary, though, and not to mention
often confusing. They do not take into account a person’s life stage, level of
physical activity, or existing chronic conditions, so understanding your own
habits will help you make the eating choices that are best for you…and what
better way to control and manage your health than knowing what you’re eating? S before I get into it I want to point out something: that the percentage is
given on these labels are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, which seems like it’s
been chosen as an average number. So, you look at the label and think this sort of
applies to you, but to put this into perspective let’s take a look at two
people at opposite ends of the calorie spectrum: the person on the left is born
male–and the reason I mentioned gender is because, in our profession, we account
for that in our calorie calculations along with the other factors you see
here: weight, height, age, and activity level. So, in this person’s case, just to
sustain his daily energy needs, he requires about 3,400 calories a day. The
person on the right is female and, as you can see, even though she’s the same age,
she’s much smaller in stature and much more active than her male counterpart. She requires about 1,500 calories a day to keep her body running efficiently. So
with those numbers in mind, every time the male buys a food item, he really should be buying two to satisfy his daily needs and every time the female opens up a package of food, she might only really need about
three-quarters of the amount that’s listed on the label. So I hope that this makes sense–and this is a very general overview that we will
revisit in a bit when we talk about portions later in this video and meal-planning next week…and hopefully go into more detail in some of the future videos
as well. We’re not going to go too far into the weeds here with all of the
macro and micronutrients that are listed on this label (I’ll save that for another
group of videos), but I will focus on some highlights, namely: servings per container, sodium, and sugar. However, first and foremost, I want to point out–and this
may be harsh–that in the case of packaged foods, the front of the package
is usually what I consider to be fiction and the back is fact. Keep in mind that
marketing to consumers is how manufacturers get you to buy their products. So, there
are boxed cereals with flavors like mixed berries, but when you read the
ingredients, there are no actual berries in there, or there are granola bars
boasting that they contain one serving of vegetables in them, but then the first
ingredients listed as sugar…same for fiber bars, protein bars, a lot of other
snack and food items, unfortunately. So, I want to clarify a couple things here
when I say that the front of package is fiction: I do mean that this is where
most food manufacturers market to consumers and some will use various
unsupported health claims. The exception to this are those stamps and symbols that
you’ll see that signify if something is kosher or contains allergens. These are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (or the FDA). These cannot
be put on packages unless they’re true, but I still stand by my claim: don’t
believe everything you read–whether it’s on food packaging or not. There is a lot
of misleading information out there solely meant to increase food product
sales. There’s no such thing as gluten-free water, there’s a lot of food
that just is not necessarily considered to be organic or GMO (modified), so just be
conscientious. Watch the language that is used on some of these food packages. Write your congressperson if you feel like getting up in arms about these
types of things as I do. I also want to point out the different names for
sugars. Check out the link below where you can scan through the over 50 names
for added sugar. Memorize them, bring the list with you to stores when you go,
check the ingredients whenever you go shopping, become a savvier supermarket
shopper. Now, as much as we’d love for you to eat a primarily whole food (meaning
minimally processed) diet, sometimes that’s just not realistic, and keep in
mind that there are things like rice and beans that are going to come in packages
with labels on them–they’re both healthy options! You just want to kind of teach
yourself how to be a food detective when you go shopping so you know what you’re
getting. For starters, we want you to check
servings per container. Is this item enough to feed just you, your whole
family, anyone else you’re preparing foods for? If not, then make adjustments
accordingly when you purchase these items. Next, please pay attention to the
amount of sodium in the item, especially if you have been diagnosed with high
blood pressure or cardiovascular disease or if you have a family medical history
that does include things like hypertension, stroke, and heart attack. Over 75% of sodium consumption in the United States comes from the added
amount of salt in processed foods and any packaged item is, at the very least,
considered minimally processed because it’s not in its whole form. So, a good
rule of thumb for this is that the number next to sodium should be no more
than 2 times the number next to calories. Yes, the units are different–one is in
milligrams and the other is in calories– but you’re just comparing the numbers, so
in this fictitious food item here, there are 250 calories. 250 x 2 is 500, and
the sodium is at 470 milligrams, which makes it less than 500. So that’s a
moderate amount of sodium in a food product, but it shouldn’t really be an
issue if the rest of your meal or your day is fairly lower in sodium. If you
find it to be higher and you’d prefer to have something lower in sodium, then by
all means look for a comparable product that is marked as “low-sodium”, but also
compare the other items and ingredients listed on the package because, when one
thing is removed from a food item, something else is usually added to it to
make up the flavor, which we will discuss in a little bit when
we get into the ingredients section. Check the sugars listed on the label:
sugars can be naturally occurring or added by the food manufacturer and they
are part of the carbohydrate family. So don’t worry too much about the total
carbs in a food at this point–again, unless you’re managing a chronic
condition, like diabetes, which I’ll teach you about in another video series–but
instead check to see that the sugars themselves fall no higher than, say, 7 to
12 grams per serving, especially if you are dealing with diabetes or have had
even high triglycerides come up in any of your more recent cholesterol blood
tests–the last time, say, you went for a physical exam–as we’re starting to see
that added sugars, and not just saturated fats, actually play a role in elevating
cholesterol levels as well, especially where triglycerides are concerned. In
your downloadable materials, the Nutrition Facts label document reflects
the new version that we’ll be seeing soon. I believe, effective 2020, all
manufacturers are going to start having to label their foods like this, but some
of them have already started putting that on their packages. This calculates
the total servings per container and it also separates out the added sugars per serving so you no longer have to be a food detective to
figure out what sugars are potentially occurring naturally and what have been
dumped in by the manufacturer. If you do end up purchasing a food with a higher
sugar content than what we recommend then you can do a few things: the first
is check the ingredients list for the word “sugar” or any other name used for
added sugar–and there are a lot of them as I mentioned before because,
ingredients are listed in order of weight, so, much like a recipe, if you’re
arranging it by, like, one cup, half a cup, a quarter of a cup, a teaspoon…so the
word “sugar” or whatever the word is used for it should appear, hopefully, as far
down the list as possible. However, in cases like ice cream, like, it is what it
is: it’s a sugary food. Make your decision to buy it, enjoy it, savor it. Don’t be
guilty about it. Do not get the sugar-free brand, if you can avoid it,
because, like the removal of sodium that I mentioned earlier, there will most
likely be the addition of another ingredient that may be difficult to
digest or somewhat unpalatable if, like me, you have issues with sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners and I’d rather you just eat
and enjoy the real stuff, except, as I mentioned, if you are managing diabetes
or you have a condition that requires you to consume low-sugar or sugar-free
items. You could also do it yourself, right? So, for example, flavored yogurt–the
types that have fruit on the bottom or come with those flip-top ingredients–they might have up to 29 grams of sugar, so by plain and add your own fruit or
honey or whatever to sweeten it up. You’re in control. The next thing you can do is split it. So, for example, sugary beverages–while
they’re not the healthiest thing in the world, people drink them. You can have
half of a cup now and half of a cup later, you can dilute it with seltzer and
drink half now and drink half later. If you are purchasing a sugary type of
cereal, you know, maybe do half and half with some other non-sugary cereal–again,
unless it’s dessert, then just eat it and enjoy it!
The issue here is just to be careful of how often you spike your blood sugar. You
don’t want to put yourself in that pre-diabetic state and suffer any
consequences later down the line, putting you at risk for certain conditions. We’re
going to stop here to let everyone catch their breath for a bit. This has been quite
a lot to take in and we will pick up again in Part 2 where we’ll venture into
teaching you about the MyPlate Daily Checklist, so please join us there.

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