Reading Food Labels
What should I eat?
This question has so many potential answers that it can be overwhelming to find the right one. Fortunately, there’s a tool that can help us make more informed eating decisions: the nutrition label.
Nutrition labels can tell us exactly what’s in our food before we eat it. If you know how to read nutrition labels, they can help you stick with a nutritious diet during your weight loss program and beyond.
Nutrition labels can make it easier to:
- Eat healthy portion sizes
- Cut calories, carbohydrates and unhealthy fats from your diet
- Eat more essential nutrients
Making Sense of the Nutrition Label
From top to bottom, here are the sections of the nutrition label and how to use them to your advantage:
Because it tells you how much you’ll need to eat to get the calories and nutrients listed below, the serving size is your guide to the rest of the label. Just be sure to check out both the serving size and the number of servings per container—you should never assume that a whole package is a single serving.
You can use the number of total calories to compare different foods and choose low-calorie options. In this section, you’ll also find information on calories from fat, which can help you quickly find foods that are lower in overall fat content.
The rest of the nutrition label is devoted to the many different nutrients each food contains, like fat, sodium, carbohydrates, protein and fiber. Each nutrient is listed by grams or milligrams, while some are also listed by percent daily value (sometimes abbreviated as % DV).
Percent daily value is a general recommendation for the amount of each nutrient in a 2,000-calorie diet. If the label says a food contains 20 percent vitamin C, this means that one serving will provide 20 percent of the vitamin C most people need in one day.
Percent daily value may not apply directly to your diet, especially during medical weight loss, but it can still tell you if a food is a good or poor source of certain nutrients.
- If a food has 20 percent or more of a nutrient, it’s high in that nutrient.
- If a food has five percent or less of a nutrient, it’s low in that nutrient.
By using percent daily value and comparing the nutritional value of different foods, you can find better options for your diet. In general, you should look for foods that are low in:
- Total fat
- Saturated fat
You should also try to find foods that are higher in:
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
Many people look right past nutrition labels, but paying more attention to them can help you keep your food choices as healthy as possible. With a better understanding of the information a nutrition label provides, you can maintain a balanced diet during your weight loss program and the rest of your life.
When we eat, it isn’t always because we’re hungry. Sometimes when we feel emotions like stress, anger, sadness or boredom, we turn to food for comfort, hoping that it will soothe some of the complex emotions we’re dealing with. Unfortunately, this often leaves us feeling worse.
Emotional eating happens when we eat because of emotions instead of hunger, and it’s a frequent cause of overeating. Everyone experiences emotional eating to some degree, but by learning how to anticipate and overcome it, you can help yourself achieve better health and lasting weight loss.
Eliminating Dieter’s Mentality
Many different diets can lead us to form rigid rules about what we should and should not eat. When we get stuck in a dieter’s mentality, we may deeply scrutinize our choices and feel angry or guilty when we eat something we believe to be bad.
Unfortunately, when we make eating choices based on inflexible rules and depriving ourselves of certain foods, it can make our desire to eat “bad” foods even stronger.
Carbohydrates and Weight Loss
Because carbohydrates can be used as a primary energy source by our bodies, they have an important role in our diets. However, many people eat carbs in excess, and this often contributes to weight gain. During your weight loss program, you’ll be reducing your carb intake, which will help you avoid the fat buildup caused by high carbohydrate consumption and take advantage of your body’s ability to burn fat.
Dining Out during Medical Weight Loss
Because preparing your own food at home will keep you in complete control of your diet, it’s the best way to ensure a healthy meal. You should try to keep eating out to a minimum during your medical weight loss program, which you can do by:
- Eating breakfast at home or bringing your own breakfast to work
- Bringing your lunch from home every day
- Cooking dinner at home at least five nights per week, and every night if possible
Low Calorie Diets
While some weight loss diets focus on eliminating one food group or reducing the amount of food eaten at certain times of the day, a medically monitored low calorie diet is one of the most effective methods for achieving long-term weight loss.
Calories and Weight Loss
A calorie is a unit of energy. Each of us uses a certain amount of calories daily to perform tasks, like sleeping, walking and talking.
Mindful Eating Strategies
During your medical weight loss program, it’s important to develop healthy eating habits. Mindful eating is a way of eating that involves complete awareness of your food and how you digest it. It can be a useful tool when it comes to digestion, portion control, losing weight and eliminating “mindless” eating. In fact, mindful eating can even enhance how enjoyable your meal is.
Dietary Fats and Medical Weight Loss in Scottsdale and Chandler
There are many types of fats, and most foods contain a variety of fats. Your body produces its own fat from excess calories while some fats are found in foods from plants and animals. These are known as dietary fats. Dietary fats, along with protein and carbohydrates, provide your body with energy. Although many people think of fat negatively, it is essential to your health because it supports a number of your body’s functions. Not all fats are bad. In fact, some even promote good health.
Glycemic Index and Weight Loss in Scottsdale and Chandler
The glycemic index (GI) is a measuring system that shows how foods containing carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels. GI uses a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose measured at a GI of 100. Foods with high GI are foods that are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low GI foods are slowly digested and absorbed; therefore they produce gradual rises in blood sugar levels and have proven health benefits and promote weight loss.
Healthy Eating for Weight Loss
The path to sustainable weight loss is paved with healthy eating habits that last a lifetime. This is especially true for anyone in a medical weight loss program. Developing healthy eating habits can help you lose weight and keep it off without feeling hungry.
Share a Meal
Avoid eating alone. Sharing healthy meals with others provides many social and emotional benefits – good company makes food taste better. Eating with others also provides subconscious clues about healthy choices, portion sizes, and a cue to stop eating. Dining alone, especially in front of the television or computer, leads to mindless overeating and habitual snacking.