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What’s In a Label?

Food labels have been increasingly confusing to decipher. Marketing companies focus their messaging on how to get people to buy their product, yet these messages can be deceiving when it comes to the contents of the product and the nutritional value of the ingredients. nutrition label

Nutritional health experts recommend that you keep your intake of saturated fat, trans fat, sugars, sodium and cholesterol as low as possible to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet. However, marketing labels are often misleading when it comes to what you are buying.

Reading ingredient labels can really help you understand what you are consuming. For example, you may think 100% whole wheat bread or flavored Greek yogurts are healthy choices. However, the food label may reveal it contains additives including high fructose corn syrup, guar gum, colored dyes or artificial sweeteners including aspartame, sucralose/sucrose or Splenda. And the yogurt often may have up to 24 grams of sugar, per serving.

A product’s ingredients are listed in descending order of weight (from the most to the least). Typically, the less ingredients in a product, the less manufactured it is, which means the healthier it is to eat. Ingredients that are processed or manufactured are often difficult for our bodies to digest and use as fuel, or burn off as energy.

Recommendation on what to try to avoid when possible:

  • High fructose corn syrup – a highly refined sweetener made from genetically modified corn
  • Artificial sweeteners (acesulfame-K, aspertame, Equal, NutraSweet, Saccharin, Sweet’n Low, Sucralose, Splenda & Sorbitol) – they are chemically derived
  • Hydrogenated oils (trans fat) – actually illegal in some countries
  • “Enriched” and “bleached flour” (ie. “enriched” whole wheat flour has removed all of the nutrients and your body will have difficulty processing food with this ingredient. Carbs and empty calories are what remain- 100% whole wheat flour is the best option – or sprouted bread)
  • Foods with 10 ingredients or more – typically, the more ingredients, the more a food is artificially manufactured
  • Artificial colorings/flavorings  – found in everything from soda to snack cakes, they are chemical compounds made from coal-tar derivatives to enhance color and flavor
  • Saturated fats – leading cause of high cholesterol
  • High sugars – refined white sugar has no nutrients and can cause premature aging, digestive problems and obesity
  • High sodium – can lead to high blood pressure and excessive bloating
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate) – an artificial flavor enhancer added to many foods
  • Sodium nitrate – chemicals used to preserve meat
  • BPA – a hormone mimicking chemical found in nearly all food packaging plastics – known to be harmful to your health
  • GMOs (explained below)

Whenever you purchase a food item, remember to look at the Nutrition Facts label to understand the serving size and nutrients in a product and the ingredient label to avoid foods that are manufactured and may be hazardous to your health.

A general rule is to keep your daily intake of fat to less than 65 grams, saturated fat to less than 20 grams, cholesterol to less than 300 mg, sodium to less than 2400 mg, total carbohydrate to 300g and dietary fiber to 25 g (these are maximum measurements). Also, take a look at the serving size – it’s often misleading how many servings are in a package. For example, a Snapple bottle actually contains 2 servings – so you have to double the food label contents and calories.

AND what is all the hype about GMO?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. The genetic material of food organisms have been altered using genetic engineering techniques, creating unstable genes that do not naturally occur.

In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food. Most of which, are unlabeled in America.

Why GMOs are deemed bad for your body & environment:

  • The health consequences of GMOs are unknown and potentially dangerous.
  • GMOs have been rendered toxic when ingested (studies still pending).
  • GMOs require massive amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides (poisons). But companies produce them, as they are focused on mass production and revenue.
  • Our bodies do not know how to digest GMOs.

Genetically modified organisms have not been proven to be safe in any way, and most of the studies are actually leaning in the other direction, which is why many of the world’s countries have banned these items.

The best way to avoid GMOs is to buy organic.

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The Health Revolution

The Health Revolution

On a daily basis, the question I am most commonly asked is: “that is so cool…what is that on your wrist?” And it’s not the rainbow bracelet my daughter made me. It is more like those bracelets you wear when you are under house arrest.

nikefuel

My device du jour is the Nike+ FuelBand. And I have not taken it off my wrist, except for when I literally broke it for over-use, since I first received it as a gift from my husband (which he soon regretted). If I was a workout fanatic before, this definitely took me to a whole ‘notha level.

Wrists everywhere have been flashing these devices as the must-have accessory that tracks everything from the number of steps taken in a day to the hours slept.

Welcome to the latest “health revolution.” The large influence of technology in our daily lives will continue to progress, with a key component involving health and fitness.

According to a recent Forbes article:

  • By 2017, at least 30% of American consumers will regularly wear a device to track sleep, food, exercise, heart rate, blood pressure and even glucose;  the global market for wearables in health and fitness alone could reach 170 million devices.

The exciting part is these devices are your motivational conscience.  In a study by researchers at Indiana University, people who wore a pedometer daily walked 16% more than before wearing one.

Seeing actual data on your daily activity helps you set goals and compete against yourself. There is truth in this. On a daily basis, I commit to reaching my goal of 5,000 fuel points, and then, try to beat my history above and beyond that number. It is motivational, inspiring and has become my personal trainer. My app lights up like a bling rainbow when I succeed and rewards me with “trophies” when I excel. It’s amazing.  I recently tweeted Nike when I hit that much sought-after 1.5MM goal, and they actually replied to my tweet challenging me to hit 2MM. Silly, silly Nike. Clearly they do not know me. Highlight of my year (and my Klout score ;-)).

Quick review on the most popular devices out there:

Nike+ FuelBand: for score keepers – it’s motivational to keep you on track of hitting a daily goal (gives fuel points earned, tells time, reports calories burned and steps taken): https://secure-nikeplus.nike.com/plus/

Jawbone: for fitness fashion gurus (more subtle and streamlined, tracks how you sleep, eat and move): https://jawbone.com/up

FitBit: Original, non-bracelet, clip-on device connects to your clothing, jacket or shoe (tracks your steps, distance and calories burned) – most recent release is a bracelet option that also tracks your sleep: www.Fitbit.com

These are just a select few of the many available on the market. The above devices connect to apps on your smartphone to track your successes.

In additional to the individual motivational benefits, the thought is that before long, these devices will be able to send real-time data to doctors, nutritionists and trainers – backed by real personal health statistics.

The New Year is the perfect time to start tracking your daily performance and being accountable for your activity level. These apps and devices can also help build a social community by connecting to others using the same programs, creating a sense of competition, goal setting and accountability.

So if you are looking for something to replace all those Christmas returns, for a mere $100-150 you too can be in house arrest and start your new year on track.

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And so we begin.

A blog is a blog is a blog.

Well, not all blogs are created equal. This blog is meant to make you think, to create conversation and to educate on the latest health and nutrition news. And to have fun with the knowledge you will gain. It’s empowering to know you can control your body… And your mind.
8womendream_women-quote21

Let that sink in for a minute.

You. Are. In. Control. And that’s awesome. Gives all us control freaks an outlet and a pathway to success.

As this blog progresses we will share the latest health news, new foods, nutritional information, effects of the things you put into your body, motivational suggestions, an occasional recipe, reviews of fitness methodologies and just plain advice based on going through the learning experience for you. We would love to be a part of your daily routine and welcome conversation and contributions. We hope to inspire you, make you laugh and create a bond of health and wellness.

And, added bonus, as a subscriber of our blog, you become a VIP member and receive discounts to favorite local stores. Once you subscribe, we send you a savings pass that can be used over and over at participating businesses for that month.

Work hard, play hard. Repeat.

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