It’s recently been brought to my attention that people still pay attention to calories. I chuckled a little bit when I realized this. It’s been so far off of my radar, I kind of forgot about it. Every so often I get this urge to write a post about nutrition. I mean, I’m a CNP and all that but my focus has been elsewhere these days. Nonetheless, this is a question that is often overlooked. What’s the deal with food labels?
Okay, well let’s start with the obvious. What is a calorie? It is the energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water through 1 degree Celsius.
Did anyone else just have a WTF run through their head? Even as a nutritionist, reading this definition just boggles my mind. We’re so focused on the word “calorie” when it comes to weight loss and weight gain. What bears more importance on food labels are the macronutrients: fat, carbs and protein. If it was all about calories, you could eat a specific amount of ice cream or cookies, and still lose weight (sadly, there are people that have made money off of this idea).
Does your cereal have 14+ grams of sugar in it? You’re basically eating candy for breakfast. Does your total protein intake average of 30+ grams of protein? Your body is going to have a tough time digesting that. Sorry, how many grams of hydrogenated fat are in your food court lunch? Jeeze louise, that’s a little worrisome. Some labels try to justify these ridiculous numbers with the micronutrients, “Contains 50% of the daily recommended vitamin B6…”. That’s great, but what form are these vitamins and minerals in? Foods that have been “fortified” don’t count (sorry, Wonderbread) since your body can’t recognize and absorb them.
Also check out the serving size. If the serving size is ridiculous compared to the other numbers (for example, if there are 34 grams of sugar in each cookie you have at Starbucks, that is WAY too much for just one cookie!).
Above and beyond the numbers of your meal, what are the ingredients? This is what you should be looking at. Food labels are listed with the most amount of ingredients to the least. If the first ingredient is sugar… well, that means that there is more sugar than anything else in your food. And even if the last ingredient is FD&C Blue Nos. 1, it still means there is food dye that has been linked to ADHD and other “diseases” in your meal. A food with high fat content from coconut or avocado is WAY healthier and an encouraged choice, whereas if it is from a vegetable oil source, you should steer clear.
If you can understand the ingredients, you’re off to a great start. If you still need some help, hit me up, email@example.com