Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nutrition Labels Go BOLD

We've had nutrition labels for quite some time. So. What's the big deal about the FDA's newly proposed labels? It's all about change.
Our current nutrition labels leave the typical consumer confused. Manufacturers have been messing with us. They've twisted serving sizes to fit their own needs. Small bottles of soda list 2 ½ servings per container. One packaged muffin, 3 servings. Huh? Who shares? With smaller serving sizes, the manufacturer is able to declare lower calories, grams of trans fat, sodium....or whatever is deemed "evil." Lower in "bad things" should mean better sales. Only dedicated label readers with good eyesight can see what's really going on.
The new FDA system requires that the calories per serving be clearly displayed in bold font, thus discouraging caloric denial. Not that any one of us could be guilty of that. And, serving sizes will be updated to be closer to what people actually eat instead of what they should consume. One muffin instead of ⅓ of it.
A package that could be eaten in one sitting will be asked  to list nutritional info per serving and per package. But... Emotional overeaters and binge eaters may need the nutritional info on all size bags. I mean, really. Who's to say what size package could be eaten in one sitting?
And finally, added sugars and naturally occurring sugars will be clearly distinguished on labels. Definitely a positive change to help us lower our intake of processed foods with added sugars. I'm all for this one.
But the big question: will the new labels work? The big, bold calories will definitely be noticed and heeded by many, much as the calories on restaurant menus have. As for the rest of the changes, it's all about education. We are what we eat, so we'd better start examining those nutrition labels to see what indeed we are really made of!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Filling Easter Baskets or Your Tummy?

They're everywhere. Cadbury Eggs. Hershey chocolate eggs wrapped in foil. Malted milk eggs. Jelly beans. And, the big, solid chocolate bunnies that hop into your grocery cart, all by themselves, when you're not even looking...(I know they do that.)
Instead of making your Easter Baskets overflow with candy, perhaps it's time to think of a few alternatives. Recently, JAMA reported a major study telling us that obesity in 2-5 year olds has declined 40 percent over 8 years in most states---fantastic news! Let's keep going with this positive trend;  it isn't a good reason to deliver a mother-lode of candy. Especially, if you're the one who ends up eating most of the candy and re-buying it a number of times before Easter.
I'm not suggesting a candy-free basket. Can we just go for less? Start by filling each basket with fun, age-appropriate, non-edible toys that may even promote a bit of movement: balls (tennis, golf, basketball, stress ball, colorful play ball,) Frisbees, yo-yo's, kites, bubble stuff,  iTunes gift cards, books, magazines, stuffed animals, or games.  At this point, you can add your well chosen candy, nuts, dried fruits, granola bars, popcorn, coffee, tea, or gum.
Great idea from Denise F. who plans to fill mini-cellophane bags with dried fruits and nuts for her husband's and mom in law''s baskets. They still get the one designer chocolate egg, but the rest of the baskets are going healthier this year. Gotta love it!
Peter Rabbit needs to be upping the carrots and watching his chocolate intake too, or he just may turn into a chocolate rabbit himself!