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Is It Good for You? Labels Say It All

Less than two weeks left before the big race, are you sure you are eating well to prepare?

Last week, I wrote about the importance of . I have another “client/trainer” conversation to begin this week’s column.

CLIENT: I am really being good. For our long car ride, I am bringing carrots, celery and these “natural crackers” that I love. That’s good, right?

ME: What is the nutritional information on the crackers?

CLIENT: I don’t know.

The point of relaying this brief conversation is the importance of reading nutritional labels. I have mentioned before that I am not a nutritionist. I am, however, well read in the area of nutrition and understand the importance of knowing what I am putting in my body and my children’s bodies.

Food does not get put into my cart at the store without my reading the label. Now, don’t get me wrong, that does not mean you will not find cookies, ice cream, chips, etc. in my house. You will. What you will not find, though, are ingredients such as the following: hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup. Nor will you find white bread, cereals with over 10 grams of sugar per serving or foods with ingredient lists as long as the package they come in.

I was brought up learning that you are what you eat. I have two mottos when it comes to food choices: “the more natural, the better” and “everything in moderation.” 

Providing nutrition labels on packaged foods became the law in the United States in 1994. They were put there to help us understand what we are putting into our bodies. How many calories? How much fat? How much sodium? Sugar? These details are important to our weight and more importantly, our overall health.

How can you know that you are eating the right foods without understanding what the foods you are eating contain? Here is a great website: www.mypyramid.gov. Developed by the USDA, on it you can learn about the nutritional values of food, create food plans, and track what you eat, just to name a few resources.

Another great resource on that site is the ability to track your activity. For instance, you could track your performance at the upcoming 2-mile fun run/fitness walk, Running 4 Answers, on Saturday, April 2. Doing the 4-mile race that day would only increase the number of calories burned!

There are less than two weeks left before the second annual Running 4 Answers. Benefitting Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (www.curealzfund.org), it is a great way to help raise awareness of this horrible disease and spend a morning with your family.

Please check out our website, sign up to run or walk, make a donation or spread the word. Details at www.running4answers.org.

Kathy Warwick March 24, 2011 at 10:16 PM
As a marathon runner and registered dietitian, I agree that we should all carefully read food labels and practice balance and moderation for a healthy lifestyle. One common misconception is that high fructose corn syrup is a food ingredient that is unsafe or not "natural." The truth is that high fructose corn syrup is a natural sugar made from corn with no artificial chemicals. Both the American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association have declared corn sugar to be nutritionally equivalent to cane sugar, beet sugar, fruit juice concentrates, honey and the sugar in fresh fruits. These sugars are metabolized in the same way and have the same number of calories. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend reducing the total amount of sugars and solid fats in the diet while increasing daily physical activity for better calorie balance and weight control. No one food ingredient is responsible for obesity or other health issues. Kathy Warwick, member RD advisory panel for the Corn Refiners Association
Paul Mastrangelo March 25, 2011 at 03:15 AM
I fully agree it is key to read food labels to educate yourself on 1) the amount and type of sugar in some very unexpected food products 2) to see some of the other additives and chemicals that are often part of the food products on supermarket shelves. Bottom line is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is highly processed, and if you find it on the ingredients list - there are probably better choices.
Windy Daley May 04, 2011 at 01:40 AM
Dear Kathy Warwick: High fructose corn syrup must be synthesized because it is not found in nature. High fructose corn syrup is not a natural sugar, and is not bonded the same. Also, the American Dietetic Association is backed by cold drink and snack corporations, and therefore not a dependable organization to quote. Any reader can check here to see their corporate sponsors: http://www.eatright.org/corporatesponsors/ Many doctors of the AMA are asking for more research and many more are advising not to consume high fructose corn syrup. However, doctors and pharmaceuticals profit from sickness and disease caused from consuming too much sugar--especially corn sugar. And Kathy, how much of that artificial red drink from (those corny commercials) do you consume or give to your children each day? Through the corn refiners (and their commercials), you are recommending that drink to the mothers of America--so please let us know how much you drink. Also, let us know the amount you, the ADA, and the corn refiners consider as "in moderation." How much high fructose corn syrup should an adult and child consume for it to be over "in moderation?" Kathy, thanks, but no thanks to HFCS, that artificial red drink, and the "corn sugary" American Dietetic Association. HFCS is not a healthy choice.

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