Lets discuss how to read a nutrition food label, especially the new food label (right) that has been introduced and will be implemented on all labels July 2018! I am sure you have a million and one questions about how to exactly analyze a food label, so lets answer some of those FAQ.
1. What are the percentages under the Daily Value column? Each food label is based off a 2000 calorie diet, the daily value percentages will tell you how much of that serving you are consuming for each macro- or micronutrient. For example, the food label on the right states if you eat 1 serving of this food item you will have consumed 13% of your daily carbohydrates. If you subtract 13% from 100% you will see that you can consume up to, but not exceed 87% more CHO throughout the day. DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind, most people don't need to eat a 2000 calorie diet! TIP: Over 20% DV of one serving is considered a great amount of macro/micro x, and less than 5% of DV is considered a small amount of your daily total for that specific macro/micro.
2. Is the food label changing? Yes, by July of 2018 all food labels will look like the food label on the right.
a. Serving Sizes/Dual Columns: The new label will have a serving size accurate of the American diet. For example, ice cream will increase to 2/3 cup and a soda will now have a serving size of 12 oz. On top of the increase in serving sizes for specific items, there will also be a dual food label column for food items that can be consumed in one sitting, such as a pint of ice cream or a 24 oz. bottle of soda. DISCLAIMER: Just because you see a dual label, does not mean you should consume the entire food item!
b. Added Sugar: Added sugar is going to be added below the sugar content column. For many people, sugar on a food label is confusing, are they eating natural sugar or added sugar? This will help give you a visual of how much added sugar is in the food item. FACT: The more added sugar on a food label, the less natural and more processed the item. The FDA recommends that if you are to consume processed foods to consume less than or equal to 10% of added sugar daily.
c. Vitamins and Minerals: The vitamins and minerals are going to change from Vitamin A, C, Iron and Calcium to Vitamin D, Potassium, Calcium and Iron. More Americans are having problems with bone health, high blood pressure and chronic diseases in relation to lack of vitamin D and Potassium consumption.
4. Calories From Fat: This section will be removed from the food label due to research proving that the type of fat being consumed is more important than calories from fat.
3. What am I supposed to be looking at specifically? This is s a tricky question, because there are multiple things you should be looking at. You will definitely want to make sure you do not exceed your daily intake for each macronutrient (CHO, PRO, FAT), watch your added sugar intake, as well as your sodium intake, because sodium retains water and can add on the pounds from fluid weight, make you bloat and swell.
4. If I can't understand what half of the words on the ingredients list means, how am I supposed to know what's good for me? If you cannot pronounce or understand a word on the ingredients list, it is likely that food is processed and contains additives, food colorings, etc. The best way to avoid these harmful substances are to eat natural, fresh foods and stay away from packaged, bagged, canned or frozen meals.
Hidden sugar ingredient names:
The average healthy person should be consuming 45-65% of their daily calories from carbohydrates (vegetables, starches, and/or starchy vegetables); 10-35% protein (meat, eggs, beans, dairy products); 25-35% fat (walnuts, oils, avocados, fatty fish).
Another way to know is to take your weight and divide it by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms (kg), then multiply your kg by .8. Example: 150/2.2 = 68 x .8 =54.4 grams per day
Stress and Cortisol Levels
Stress is a natural reaction that occurs when the body floods with hormones that elevate the heart rate, blood pressure, and energy levels to help prepare for the "fight-or-flight" response. During the fight-or-flight response, a chemical (ACTH) is released to trigger the adrenal glands, which then releases cortisol and adrenaline. Released cortisol results in a burst of new energy and strength that causes you to fight or flight. Cortisol also suppresses the growth process, digestive system, reproductive system, and the response of the immune system, which is why too much cortisol release can become dangerous.
Tips to living a stress free/corticol-balanced lifestyle:
1. Make time for enjoyable activities
2. Identify the stressor: monitor your state of mind throughout the day, and write down when you're feeling stressed along with your thoughts and mood. From here develop a "way out," or a plan to prevent this from occurring often.
3. Build strong relationships: research shows that negative, hostile relations with your spouse, friends or family can cause immediate changes in stress-hormones. However, relationships can also act as stress-buffers.
4. Walk away when you're angry: re-group and count to 10, then reconsider how you are going to respond. Walking boosts Endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters, so when they say "walk away" it really is to calm you down! Try to commit to 30 minutes of daily exercise (walking, running, weight-bearing, yoga, Zumba, etc.)!
5. Rest your mind: stress keeps more than 40% of adults lying awake at night. To ensure 7-8 hours of sleep per day cut back on caffeine, remove distractions such as television and cell phones from your bedroom and go to bed around the same time each night. Yoga exercises also help reduce stress and boost immune functioning.
6. Get help: if you are too overwhelmed consult with a psychologist to help you manage your stress levels effectively.