Nutrition Label Changes

As the writer of a health and wellness blog (that’s weird to say), I would be remiss if I didn’t so much as mention the nationwide food label makeover announced yesterday.

 

To recap before I give my two cents, the FDA proposed a series of changes to nutrition labels two years ago that the First Lady just announced will go into effect within the next couple of years. Most food companies have until July 2018 to comply.

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Here are a few highlights:

Serving Size

The Change: Under the new guidelines, the suggested serving size on food labels will more realistically reflect what someone actually eats. For example, a serving size of ice cream will increase from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup. Also changing is the number of servings contained in a “single serving” package of food that weighs up to — but not quite — twice the standard serving size. That means a 20-ounce bottle of soda will show one serving.

My Thoughts: I understand the concept behind the change: to help people understand the calorie content of what they are actually consuming. The problem is, I think many people, myself included, will end up eating more because of the larger serving size on some foods. I do try my best to adhere to the posted serving size for snacks regardless of calorie count; granted, the fewer calories something contains, the more likely I am to eat more than one serving. But now my single serving of some foods is just going to be bigger, in accordance with the listed serving size. I won’t intuitively think, oh, I used to only eat one handful of pretzels instead of the one and a half it says I can eat now, so let me go back to that. And for people who don’t regularly adhere to posted serving sizes, I don’t think they will be any more likely to do so now.

Sugars

The Change: The total sugar content will now be broken down to show how much of that sugar is added, as well as a daily value percentage for added sugars.

My Thoughts: Why didn’t food labels have this before? Great idea.

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Bell Pepper Nacho Boats

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Say hello to my new favorite recipe! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

  1. It’s delicious. Everything you love about nachos, minus the greasy chips and with turkey instead of beef.
  2. It’s healthy. This is another one I found searching for “low carb, high protein” on Pinterest.
  3. It’s adorable. They’re rainbow-colored boats… I mean COME ON! The recipe practically begs for an I’m on a Boat parody, but I’ve got nuthin.

New Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Mushroom Quiche

I am constantly looking up new recipes on Pinterest. Despite the fact that I own several cookbooks and sometimes even clip recipes from magazines and newspapers, 9 out of 10 times I get my meal inspiration from Pinterest. My latest search term was “low carb, high protein recipes,” which is how I found tonight’s dinner.

I had never made spaghetti squash before so I had no idea what to expect. That part was surprisingly simple, although you do have to bake it for about half an hour before you can even spaghettify it.

spaghetti squash

Photo: ifoodreal.com

Then you sauté the onions, garlic, kale and mushrooms, mix all that with the remaining ingredients, slop it into your spaghetti squash crust and bake for 50 minutes at 400 degrees. If it sounds time-consuming, it is. But I did 30 minutes of pilates while it was in the oven, so that’s gotta count for something.

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Here’s what it looked like straight out of the oven. Nice, right? The recipe says to wait 30 minutes before cutting into it, but I was a little over eager. Instead I waited 20 minutes after cutting into it, once I realized the slices lacked definition.

When I finally dug into my creation, I was surprised by how flavorful it was. So yummy! My only complaint is how moist it was. I wouldn’t call it pudding-like, but it certainly held onto the moisture from all those veggies. I wonder if there’s any way to minimize that for next time. Until then, I’m going to enjoy my leftovers, at just 170 calories a slice.

 

Hating to Sweat and Loving to Eat

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t thin. I’m not talking “eat a cheeseburger” thin* — I ate and continue to eat plenty of those — just normal person thin. That being said, sports weren’t my thing. At all. I quit rec soccer after second grade because I didn’t like getting sweaty. I much preferred the cool air condition of a dance studio. (Mind you, I wasn’t too good at that, either.) So here I am, a child with a naturally fast metabolism with no outlet through which to stay fit, but also no need to. Or so I thought.

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September 2010: Going to the gym was such a rarity I had to document it

This is not the part where I tell you I gained the Freshman 15 in college. On the contrary, a physical between freshman and sophomore years revealed I had lost a pound. All the more reason to think I could get by eating whatever I wanted for the rest of my life without going to the gym more than three times a semester.

I come from a food-loving family. I also come from a relatively sedentary family. A winning combination, right? I remember sharing with a friend in early high school my fear that one day it would all catch up to me. She, too, was thin, but also played sports. I don’t think it was that fear, though, that got me moving in my later college years. Or at least moving more.

I was most active the summer between junior and senior years. I had just been dumped, and I wanted a banging revenge body. I also found myself with a lot of time on my hands, having stayed in my college town to work part-time at a TV station, with not too many of my friends around. Because of my continued aversion to sweat, I would go to the gym and run a few miles on the treadmill about three times a week. It felt good, I looked good, and it only lasted the summer.

My first — and, until this week, only — foray into tracking what I ate came my last semester of college. I can’t remember why I decided to start a food and exercise log then, but I do remember how it affected my diet. Documenting every single thing I ate or drank made me think twice about eating a whole box of crackers in one sitting. (That happened once, and even though they were Special K crackers, I clearly haven’t let go of the guilt.) I kept no secrets from that carefully formatted Word document; if I scarfed down my entire stock of Valentine’s Day candy in one sitting, onto the spreadsheet it went. For that reason, I didn’t allow myself to binge like that… for the whole five weeks I logged.

The reason I feel marginally qualified to blog about my latest efforts to exercise and eat right is because I’ve been running somewhat regularly for a year now. A WHOLE YEAR. Why do I run? Mainly so that I can eat what I want and not get fat, to be honest. I’m not going to spew numbers at you, but everyone knows adults need to work out in some way, shape or form in order to stay healthy. I’ve picked my poison, and it’s running. I just can’t tell if the success I feel after I’ve finished a run is due to the fact that it cancels out the pizza I plan to devour later or because of the endorphins released. Is it a runner’s high or a glutton’s high?

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Across the Bay 10K, November 2015

It used to not matter to me. That is, until I started eating crap every weekend and justifying it by running. I know, this statement is confusing because I literally — and I do mean literally — just said a paragraph ago that my primary objective of running is “so that I can eat what I want and not get fat.”

What I want is to be healthy. Doesn’t everybody? I think my biggest obstacle is my appetite. Last summer I was headed to a bachelorette weekend where I knew most of the girls were involved in pageantry. I half-jokingly whined to my mom before I left, “What if they all eat like rabbits?! I ain’t no pageant girl; I need sustenance!” To which my brother replied, “But you eat like a rabbit, too.” Boy, was my mom quick to set him straight, declaring, “Emily has a very hearty appetite.” Thanks, Mommy. Guess who I get it from…

She is right, though. I feel like I’m either hungry or stuffed at all times, and it’s probably because of what I’m eating and when. I believe that everything — barring food allergies, which I am lucky enough not to have — is fine in moderation. It’s the moderation part I’m working on. That’s why it’s not just the food I eat that I’m keeping track of this time around, but also the nutritional makeup of that food.

my fitness palI’m using Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal app because I already used Under Armour’s MapMyRun, so my runs now automatically sync to my daily logs, or diaries, as the app calls them. When you set up your profile in MyFitnessPal, it asks how active you are and whether you’re trying to lose, maintain or gain weight. Based on that information, it assigns you a daily calorie goal. Mine is 1,200, which seemed very low to me but has been perfectly attainable so far. After all, every calorie you burn working out gets added to your calorie allotment for the day.

I’ve been really good at staying under my calorie limit. What I’m not good at is meeting the rest of my recommended nutrient goals, specifically protein and carbohydrates, but I’m working on it. I know that in order to keep up my strength for runs, I have to be well-nourished. Leading a healthy lifestyle is a lot more difficult then just exercising and limiting how many calories I eat. But if I could run 10 miles in the cold rain in Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, how hard can this be?

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Broad Street Run, May 2016

*I would NEVER say this to someone, and you shouldn’t, either.