HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO READ FOOD LABELS?
According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), reading label skills are important because to read food labels effectively helps everyone choose the best foods for a healthy diet.
Look for these:
-Serving information such as serving size
-%DV (the percent daily value
-Nutrition facts label variations
First, take a look at the number of servings on the package.
Second, its important to understand that all nutrient amounts shown on the label, including calories, refer to the size of the serving. Calories listed on the label provide a measure of how much energy you get from a serving. Pay a high amount of attention to the nutrient list. Look for saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar amounts. Take into consideration that added sugars are not the same as sugars that are naturally present in many foods, such as sugar in
milk and the fructose in fresh fruit. Keep in mind that there is usually no daily reference value
for total sugars. Generally the sugar percent amount only
accounts for added sugars.
Added sugars may be listed as:
-Sucrose or Dextrose
-Foods packaged as sweetners (such as table sugar)
-Sugar from syrup and honey
-Sugar from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices
Please note that the word “includes” before added sugars on the label, indicates that added sugars are included in the number of grams under total sugars.
Example: Total sugars 15g
Includes 7g added sugars 14%
This means that the product has 7 grams of added sugars and 8 grams of naturally occurring sugars— for a total of 15 grams of sugar.
Dietary fiber such as: Vitamin D, Calcium, iron and potassium are nutrients. Eating a diet high in dietary fiber can increase the frequency of bowel movements, lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels, and reduce calorie intake.
The % Daily Value (%DV), is the percentage of the daily value for each nutrient in a serving of food, contributes to a total daily diet. The %DV tells you if a serving of food is high or low in nutrient in a serving of food.
It’s important to choose foods that are high in %DV for dietary value, such as Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron & potassium. However, you want to foods lower in %DV such as saturated fats, sodium and added sugars.
What is most important about food labels is that we all read them and upon reading them, we must choose the food we eat wisely.
So always think 5 when reading labels:
1) Start with serving size
2) Check out the total calories
3) Let the %DV be a guide
4) Check out the nutrition terms (such as product ingredients that are listed by quantity from highest to lowest amount. This means that the first ingredients is what the manufacturer used the most of. Scan the first three ingredients, as they make up the largest part of what you will be eating.)
Always try to eat more whole foods and leafy green vegetables. If you must, learn how to prepare from scratch, simple nutritious dishes.
HOW SWEET IS TOO SWEET? THE DOWNSIDE OF REFINED SUGAR
According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of added sugars anyone should eat in a day are:
Men—150 calories (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons)
Women— 100 calories (25 grams or 6 teaspoons)
However, in actuality, the average daily intake for an adult is 76.7 grams per day, which equals 19 teaspoons or 306 calories.
Excess sugar consumption has been associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain can-
cers, tooth decay and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
One level teaspoon of refined sugar (4 grams) provides 4 calories per gram or 16 calories. It’s importantto note that sugar on its own, has no other nutrients. There is no fiber or starch in granulated sugar. Once ingested, most carbohydrates and complex sugars are broken down into simple sugar glucose and released into the blood stream.
Which foods have carbs?
Diary, milk, yogurt & ice cream
Fruit, whole fruit & fruit juice
Grains, bread, rice, crackers & cereal
Legumes, beans & other plant based proteins
Starchy vegetables, potatoes & corn
Sugary sweets such as candy, soda & other desserts
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates can be defined as neutral compounds of carbon, hydrogen & oxygen and they come in simple forms such as sugars and in complex forms such as starches and fiber. For example, pasta is a complex sugar. The body breaks down most sugars and starches into glucose, a simple sugar that the
body can use to feed its cells.
What is glucose?
Glucose is a simple sugar.
Let’s put this in plain English: One 12 oz. can of Coke contains140 calories from sugar, while a regular sized snicker candy bar, contains 120 calories of sugar. In both instances, they are almost or over the recommended daily intake amount for both men & women.
US dietary guidelines advise people to limit their sugar intake to less than 10% of their daily calorie intake. For example: A person eating 2,000 calories per day, lowering your sugar intake 10% would mean, only consuming 50 grams of sugar or 12.5 teaspoons of sugar a day.
Remember, no more than 150 calories of sugar each day should be the norm for a man or woman in a healthy nutritious diet. So, in reality for our health, we should all consider sugar as a “villain” of “empty calories” that could very well cause a number of diseases. Instead, we should make a lifestyle change and read labels, especially with processed foods and choose brands that have the least amount of sugar. When you crave sweets, choose fresh fruits, because you get sugar in the form of fructose but, you also get lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fiber is important because it slows down the absorption of the fruits natural sugar.
5 Foods that are said to lower blood sugar
2) Fiber (Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, berries & bran)
3) Green Tea (six or more cups daily)
4) Chocolate (Cacao, or dark chocolate, according to an article by AffectHealth.com, improves insulin sensitivity. Dark chocolate produced a significant drop in blood pressure, reduced bad cholesterol and improved blood vessel function. )
A decent source of fiber, quercetin and polyphenols, which have shown blood sugar regulating properties.
In summation, diet plays an important role in managing blood sugar levels. 2.5 hours of physical exercise each week is said to lower your blood sugar also. Eating more leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, fish and low—fat dairy can also make a big difference in lowering blood sugar.
Therefore, adapting a healthy diet is one of the most important steps someone can take to improve their overall health. High blood sugar occurs when your body can’t effectively transport sugar from blood into cells which can lead to diabetes.
HOW MUCH SALT, IS TOO MUCH?
The average adult consumes 3,400 mg of sodium each day, which puts you at risk for developing serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease
More than 70% of sodium in our daily diets are found in processed foods and restaurant meals. Even meats, grains and baked goods contain unknown amounts of sodium if eaten often enough, they too contribute to one’s daily intake of sodium, making your high blood pressure soar. Other foods such as canned soups, canned goods in general, poultry and sandwiches, all contain sodium in the meats, condiments, and the bread used to make them.
That includes hamburgers. Depending on how you prepare the sandwich, how the ingredients are cooked if it’s a meat, are added sauces, mayonnaise, mustard, these all contain salt. No one ever really thinks about the salt content for each individual item in the sandwich!
According to the U.S. government 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
-One slice of bread can contain anywhere from 80 to 230 mg of sodium
-Some breakfast cereals contain 150 to 300 mg of sodium before milk is added
This is all to say, sodium intake adds up quickly. Did you know, if you consume 3 meals each day starting with:
-Breakfast—a bowl of cereal with skim milk contains 250 mg of sodium
-Lunch—a cup of soup and a turkey sandwich has about 2,200 mg of sodium
-Dinner—a slice of pizza & salad with light dressing contains 710 mg of sodium
Conclusion: In one day, the three meals add up to 3,160 mg of sodium.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day for an adult and they advise that to get to an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.
Here’s what to look for on food labels. Always check processed meat and poultry labels because these food items in a grocery store, are often “enhanced” with salt water and saline. While reading labels, it is important to take note how much is a “serving” size. Which means, if the portion you are eating equals two servings of the product. You are actually eating DOUBLE the sodium listed on the label.
In order to take a small step to cut back your daily intake of sodium, cut back by about 1,000 mg a day and this can improve blood pressure and heart health. The American Heart association has a form that will assist in recording your daily intake of sodium.
THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO SAY SODIUM:
Sodium nitrate, sodium citrate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium benzoate, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), disodium phosphate, & sodium alginate
Definitions of what you might find on food labels & what they mean:
Less than 5mg per serving and contain no sodium chloride (table salt)
Very low sodium—140 mg or less per serving
Reduced (or less) sodium—25% less sodium per serving
Light (sodium or reduced products) – “low calorie” & “low fat” should mean sodium is reduced by at
least 50% per serving
The Salty Six Foods to avoid
1. Breads & rolls
4. Cold cuts & cured meats
5. Canned Soup
6. Burritos & Tacos
* 1 piece of bread can contain as much as 230mg
* Don’t forget that sandwiches, includes burgers
* One 2 oz. serving of 6 thin slices of cold cuts can contain as much as 1,400 mg of sodium
*One cup of canned soup can range from 100 to 940 mg of sodium
Why should you care about how much sodium you consume?
About one in three of every American has high blood pressure (hypertension), and a high sodium diet may be the reason.
Sodium also increases blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body, creating an added burden on your heart.
Too much sodium also increases your risk for stroke, heart failure. Osteoporosis, stomach cancer & kidney disease.
You may not even have symptoms of high blood pressure, that is why high blood pressure is called the “silent killer”. When high blood pressure goes untreated, the condition damages arteries and other vital organs throughout the body.
Here’s a fact for you.
The body needs only a small amount of sodium to function properly and that is less than 1/4 teaspoon.
A single teaspoon of table salt has a total of 2,325 mg (milligrams) of sodium. Table salt is a combination of sodium and chloride.
Take the Salt shaker off the table, you don’t need it! It can be the cause of great harm.
YOUR HEART AS AN ORGAN: HOW IMPORTANT ARE LOVE, DIET, AND EXERCISE?
If you love your heart and treat this very important organ right, it will do the same for you. What I‘m trying to say is, your heart will treat you right in return only if you respect and love it in return.
We all know the heart is a complicated organ that is vital for survival, but what we may not take into much consideration is how much you eat is just as important as what you eat.
It’s often tough to change your eating habits. Even if you have years of unhealthy eating habits, it is possible to take baby steps toward a healthy—heart diet.
So I ask, what will make the biggest impact with the least amount of effort for us to start on a healthier lifestyle? First let me say again, it’s not easy to change eating habits, but healthy eating is do-able and can be rewarding when you eat with your heart in mind. Let’s start with these simple steps:
1). If you smoke, do what you must to kick the habit.
Men who smoke had an 86% higher risk of heart failure and women have a 100% higher risk of heart failure according to Jennifer Warner of Web MD
2). Know these facts:
Do you have high blood pressure or diabetes? Why do I ask, well these two diseases increase the risk of heart failure.
3). Do you exercise regularly, even moderately?
Web MD study shows that men who regularly engage in moderate physical activity, like walking, had a 21% lower risk of heart failure. Women who also walked had a 13% lower risk of heart failure. The article concluded stating that even higher levels of exercise and physical activity reduced this risk of heart failure even more. 33% in men & 36% in women.
4). What you eat and how much you eat are really, really important.
Cut down on sugar and all of those sweets that seem to be everywhere. Keep away from fried, processed or canned foods. Lower your daily intake of sodium. Ideally a body needs less than 500mg of sodium per day to function properly, that is less than 1/4 teaspoon per day which is what an adult should consume each day and no more according to the American Heart Association. Sodium contributes to high blood
pressure, which puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease. Eating fresh foods and cooking from scratch by making your own soups and stews can reduce the amount of salt you consume. In fact, there really isn’t a need to add additional salt when you cook at all if you use fresh herbs and spices for flavor. Try not to depend on canned goods and/or packaged processed foods because these items have so much sodium in them. I know this is particularly almost impossible for those that frequent and depend on food pantries. However, canned goods can be diluted if you add more water and use less cans. I realize this is not always easy.
5). If you are overweight, use a small plate or bowl to help control your portions and don’t do seconds.
Instead increase your mealtimes to four times a day , starting with a small breakfast, lunch, late afternoon meal and an early dinner. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Use olive oil or canola oil. Add unsalted nuts, avocados, peas and lentils to your diet.
6). Your body needs fluids such as water. Yes, the recommended 8 (eight) glasses each day.
Try adding other liquids like green tea and pomegranate juice as additional possibilities. Try adding natural grated ginger in your tea and use honey instead of sugar for flavoring.
Remember to take baby steps, start with one of the steps mentioned here, because even practicing just one healthy lifestyle change, is enough to lower the risk of heart failure by up to 47% in women and 31% in men. This is only the second month into 2020, there is still time to start on helping yourself do better with your heart. Don’t let your heart fail. So all three: love, diet and exercis are equally important.
THE THREE R'S OF RESOLUTION
Let us take time to reflect on the last 12 months and accept what you may have not done as well as you could, accept things that can’t be changed and “chalk it up” to the past. Applaud those things you achieved and excelled at.
Resolve to do better in one area for the coming 12 months and stay focused on that area to improve on what must be improved.
Resolve to set a goal and to follow through with that goal.
Reward yourself daily, weekly, even monthly on the small baby steps that show improvement with some reward like a bar of dark chocolate, a pat on
your own back goes a long way, dinner out at your favorite restaurant, a glass of wine, take time out for a hot soak in a bubble bath. Whatever reward you choose, big or small, let yourself enjoy your achievement. The same day, not tomorrow or next week.
CHRISTMAS COMES BUT ONE TIME A YEAR
It’s the time of year when everyone seems to overspend or spend what they don’t have. You can feel both the magic of the season and the stress in the air.
Over the years, I have developed a method that keeps the stress at bay and my pocketbook on budget. My method involves conscientiously returning to a simple old fashion Christmas. For years now, I have returned to my belief in the true meaning of the Christmas holidays that depict the birth of a baby born in a manger.
The simple gift of a new life, born in humble beginnings and the miracle of faith.
So, I bake my gifts to all family and friends. Yes, home made by me.
A simple recipe of butter shortbread cookies that I package in simple small carryout containers that I find in the craft section of a local big box store.
I splurge on a nice quality ribbon to wrap the boxes, not using any other ornamentation. The name tags, I buy cheaply at Everything $1.00.
For my home decorations, I very rarely use lights unless they are inside on the mantle but, I stop at a local big box hardware store and ask for an armful of free freshly cut tree evergreen trimmings, with which I make a really fragrant evergreen arrangement for my door.
The most I spend on everything is time, love and maybe all of $30 to $40 and that includes all of the ingredients for the cookies.
I do a variety of things for a Christmas tree but, I try not to buy a live tree unless I can replant it after the holiday celebration is over. So, even if the tree is small, I put multiple trees in containers to keep the watered in the heat of the house.
Be creative, it’s the only time we wish each other joy and enjoy the season of giving. Remember it’s not just what you do or how much you spend but, who we love. Our friends and family. Merry Christmas & hug those you care about. Enjoy your holidays!
It’s the Holiday Season and for many it’s an additional time for stress and extra expense that isn’t in the budget. How do you cook a healthy holiday meal for your family and friends when you depend on a food pantry for the majority of your food needs? Well, it takes a lot of faith and a little more preparation than our everyday food concerns call for. But, it is possible.
I purchase a turkey just before Thanksgiving when the local grocery store have them for sale at over half off the normal price. Since I buy a frozen turkey, it goes into the freezer right away. I take it out depending how many lbs. it weighs (anywhere from 7 to 5 days ahead), place it in a large pan, put it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and let it thaw. Depending on how I am going to cook it. I may put the entire turkey in a brine solution about 2 days before I prepare it for the oven. Now that I have my bird, when I next go to the food pantry, I collect can goods such as green beans, stock if I can find it, a bag of onions, a bag of baking potatoes or anything else that will assist in my holiday meal preparation. Sometimes the food pantry might offer a hen. I use this for making my own stock that I use to base the turkey as it cooks. I also go through my kitchen pantry and take inventory of what I have that can be used in preparing the meal. Once I get my Snap benefits, I use this source for everything that I don’t have just before I begin to cook my meal. Whether it’s fresh vegetables, butter or black pepper kernels. I also ask anyone invited to come over, to bring something. Maybe a particular dish like sweet potato casserole, bread rolls or drinks. Of course, there is usually something I can’t afford to do. So, I try to plan ahead which is easier said than done. Whatever you do, try not to get overwhelmed and remember what’s most important about the holiday. To be thankful and to speak your thanks to family and friends.
SOUL. FULL SOUTHERN
It’s a fact that millions of Americans struggle with food insecurity and here in my hometown of East Tennessee, I know that thousands struggle with putting food on their table.
I’m one of them. Disabled, over 60 years of age and living on an extremely limited monthly income. Thankfully, there are food pantries that have taken up the mission of feeding those in need and are standing strong to answer local community needs to feed those that struggle with food insecurity.
I started to frequent a local food pantry twice a week since the late spring of 2017, when I found that I was in my 60’s with zero income, no job and recovering from three major surgeries (all within a twelve month period).
Now, in 2019, 98% of my monthly food needs are supplemented by a food pantry, together with my monthly SNAP benefits of $40. No, there’s no shame. I actually consider myself blessed to have both resources. I have always considered myself a fortunate person because I have always been an optimistic soul.
Several of my past career endeavors involved work in the food industry and I profess to have dabbled in culinary training, owned a small café briefly and I have a keen interest in eating healthy with lots of fruits and vegetables always included in my diet. I read labels when I go shopping, try to include as few as possible processed items in what I consume and cook from scratch with no additional sodium added.
Don’t make a face, it really isn’t bad. I use fresh dry herbs that I dry myself & yes, the fresh 1 lb. herbs I get from the food pantry. I also use extra virgin olive oil, real butter and black pepper in most everything I cook. I steam almost all of my veggies and I have filet mignon only when I find it at the food pantry. It’s rare but, believe it or not it’s made available. I know, that’s amazing! Filet mignon at a food pantry, but its true (although I try to be as close to the front of the line as possible every day of the week it opens, which means getting there early). I have a great recipe for filet mignon that only takes about 5 minutes to prepare.
However, what about those who have not been aware of nutritional information such as the simple fact of consuming fiber, or eating 3 to 5 fruits and vegetables daily? How do you know you are getting enough nutrients in your daily diet? Suppose many of those in the food pantry line has no idea how to prepare simple nutritious meals every day of the week. Maybe they can’t because of health or mental problems. Maybe their kitchens don’t have sufficient pots, pans, dishes, or utensils.
What about the simple enough fact of not consuming enough “water” every day? Which I’m guilty of and must constantly make myself drink water.
Who advocates for the right that this specific demographic of those that frequent food pantries out of necessity, those that struggle with food insecurity. Who helps them or more like gives them a gentle nudge to make healthier choices in what they select as food choices and provide simple nutritional literacy that isn’t overwhelming.
That’s what Soul. Full Southern Nutritional Reads.org Is all about.
SFS Nutritional Reads.org is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit that advocates for the right to be informed, the need for nutritional literacy and we also support organizations that feed those who struggle with food insecurity.
Our mission is to create, publish and distribute as a community outreach program – cookbooks, pamphlets, brochures and other educationally nutritional resources (free of charge), to those that frequent Food Pantries.
Our purpose places special importance on nutritional literacy concerning lowering an individual’s everyday intake of both sugar and sodium, the inherent substances attributed to diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
In late spring 2020, SFS Nutritional Reads.org, will publish our 1st cookbook entitled “From Food Pantry to Table – Soul. Full Southern” distribution will initiate as early as May 2020.
Our hopes are to distribute 800 copies to 15 different Food Pantry locations throughout Knoxville – Knox County. We will attempt to distribute an additional 800 copies to another 15 Food Pantries in 2021.