Maximize your Nutrition Choices…

by Krista Leck Merner

My last post encouraged you to eat REAL food! Food you can recognize (and pronounce) the ingredients of and so on. Today’s post is about how to maximize your nutrition choices…when you’re selecting packaged items!

As much as it would be great, if we all cooked from scratch, it’s basically not happening in today’s society. (If you are one of the few, congratulations!) The good news for the rest of us, food manufacturers are listening! They are starting to produce healthier options, which are still ready in a convenience based option! Healthy food…fast. (Kind of.)

Nutrition Tip #2: Read Labels!

Step One:
Calories! I don’t necessarily recommend counting calories; however, they are a good indicator of if that food is a “lot or a little” towards your day.

i.e.) A bag of microwave popcorn supplying 440cal/bag is a big contribution towards a 1500cal or even 1800cal daily intake. Whereas, a snack pack providing 100cal/bag is a great option for a high fibre, low calorie snack!

Step Two:

Fat! Limit your intake of saturated and trans fat! Trans fat should always be zero! Instead, choose products higher in healthy fats—mono & polyunsaturated fats!

Step Three:
Sodium! This is a biggie. On average, Canadians get ALL kinds of sodium in their daily diets. From a heart health perspective, aiming for about 1500mg daily is ideal; however, upwards of 2300mg daily is acceptable. It’s not hard to exceed these numbers!

i.e.) If you are a salt shaker user—1tsp of table salt = 2325mg sodium!!!  One package of Mr. Noodles= ~1900mg sodium

Step Four:
Maximize your carbohydrate intake by choosing high fibre, low sugar options! Look for <10g sugar and at least 4g fibre per serving of cereal, granola bars, etc.

Step Five:
Ingredient lists! Check the ingredient list for the first couple of ingredients, at least. The ingredient list goes by weight, so the first ingredient listed is the main component of the product you are about to eat. General rule of thumb, keep words like “Sugar, Salt, Fat” out of the first three ingredients!

Remember, there are no “perfect” products. Reading the label will help you make better choices; however, it’s still a balance within your day. Breakfast might be high in fibre and low sodium, so at lunch your frozen dinner may be OK with a little more sodium. Food manufacturers want food to have a long shelf life and still taste good! Fat tastes good! So if it’s “low fat,” chances are they have added in extra salt/sugar to keep the flavour and help maintain its shelf life.

For weight loss, it is a calorie in vs. calories out; however, that doesn’t mean you can ignore your nutritional intake by choosing a 1500cal Big Mac Combo meal with Regular Pop and be “healthy.” For those same 1500cal, you can eat three meals and 2 snacks….pick your battles…but stay tuned for more nutrition tips with easy, every day applications are coming your way. Too impatient? Contact me, Krista, at Bent Fork Nutrition to get started on your path to healthy eating today!
(902) 495-6747

Filed under: Healthy Living, Nutrition

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