Odyssey in weight loss

This week has been a mediocre one. I didnt particularly do well, but I didnt particularly do bad. I ate OK, but things kept me from working out yet again. I seem to have so many excuses that keep me from going back to class, yet the main one is that I just dont want to. I know I need to, but wanting to and needing to are so very different. Yet, every day that I get up and I dont drink cokes and I still cook healthy and these are still accomplishments for me. I have hit a plateau of sorts, but every time I hit 20 pounds in weight loss, I plateau. This has been the case both times I have joined and subsequently quitWeight Watchers. For me, this is the hardest time. I know that if I just stick with it I will move past this in time, but the sticking with it while not seeing results is most definitely the hard part. This weeks main topic is one that we deal with each and every day of our lives, food labels. Food labels are every where, even on our water bottles to tell us that our water has NOTHING in it. I sat looking at my water bottle label a few days ago (actually I was peeling it off as I do) and realized that I really didnt know much of what the label meant. Yes, I can read and I know the basics but I realized that I really didnt know as much as an informed eater and consumer should know. This spurred an idea and what you are getting as a result is an easy guide to food labels. To begin, most foods must have a food label under regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Inspection Services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The newest laws set by the FDA and Department of Agriculture ensure that consumers will get nutrition information in distinctive, easy to read formats that enable consumers to more quickly find the information they need to make healthful food choices. This information includes amount per serving of fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber and other nutrients. Although all this required information is put into a nice little box, what exactly does it mean? To begin, all labels must print the serving size of the contents of the package. This is then the basis for reporting each foods nutrient content. Under FDA rules and regulations, the serving size must be declared in commonhousehold measurements such as cups, tablespoons, slices and fractions. The next thing on most labels is the amount per serving. This is simply a line telling at an easy glance how many calories are present in each serving of thefood. Consumers need to be aware that this number is per serving. A misguided dieter may look at a box of cookies and see 300 calories and eat the entire box.The calorie declaration is only for one serving. Another required part of the food label is the daily values. Most daily values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet and it must be written on the label if another diet system is used. The label will show how many grams are present of each of the following: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates including fiber and sugar and proteins. Next to those declarations the label will show what percent that food makes up of the daily percent needed or recommended. The daily value is illustrated as a percentage, yet that percentage usually tells a consumer very little. A general guideline for daily values are as follows for a 2,000-calorie diet.

Total fat, less than 65 grams Saturated fat, less than 20 grams Cholesterol, less than 300 grams Sodium, less than 2,400 grams Total carbohydrates, 300 grams Fiber, 25 grams

These numbers are what is recommended by the FDA for a healthy diet. One very tricky part of food labels that consumers must be aware of is wording.That give consumers the wrong impression about certain foods. Wording such as fat free and low fat must not be taken lightly and by reading the labelconsumers can often read right through those claims. For example, by law products can use the term calorie-free if the product has five or less calories perserving. Companies can use fat-free for a product that has less than .5 grams per serving. While these numbers are small, they can add up quickly causing havoc on a diet. Consumers should also be very aware of products that carry the claim of reduced fat or light. Often companies will raise other non-healthy ingredients in a food, so that they can lower the ones that the FDA monitors. By studying the labels of such foods, it becomes clear to an educated shopper, which of these labels are misleading.Even with numerous laws regulated the use of food labels; there are still many loopholes in which companies find ways to make unhealthy products look like celery. Our society has become a health-crazed society, and retailers feed on this trend. It is very important for consumers to be educated and aware of the products they are consuming. It may take just a few minutes longer in the grocery store to look at the back of a product, but the things you find may be mind-boggling.

Till next week: Just one pound at a time.

*All of this information was taken from a food label produced by Wal-Mart and the FDA website located athttp://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fdnewlab.html.

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