As the weather turns warmer, our food tastes may start to change from hot soups to crisp spring salads. What a great time to talk about nutrition as the Dieticians of Canada promote Nutrition Month 2012.
Most people these days are aware of the importance of good nutrition, but many people are also frustrated with the volumes of sometimes confusing information out there in the news, commercials, internet, etc. The Nutrition Month website has a page on dispelling 39 Nutrition Myths. The Huffington Post also posted an article on 25 Common Food Myths Busted.
This March, try to make some healthy changes to your diet. Here are some simple suggestions:
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables – an easy way to get the right servings of fruits and veg without all the counting
- Have no more than one red meat day per week – opt for fish or poultry, or even better, try for one vegetarian day per week
- Avoid any food that has an ingredient you can’t picture in its whole/raw form – a simple way to eat healthy without needing to understand every ingredient on the box
- Reduce your sugar intake by reducing the amount of packaged foods you eat. You may be surprised how much sugar is hidden in most packaged foods. 4g of sugar is equivalent to 1 teaspoon. So, taking a quick look at any food label, you can divide the amount of sugar by 4 to see how many teaspoons of sugar are in your food.
Here’s an example to figure out how much sugar is in your food using a bottle of Coke:
The label shows 27g of sugar. But make sure to check the serving size, which is 240mL. This bottle is 590mL, which means you need to more than double the amount of sugar to find out how much you’d be taking in if you drank the whole bottle. Luckily, the bottle also shows the nutritional information for the whole bottle, which states 65g of sugar. To figure out how many teaspoons, we divide this by 4 and get 16.25. That means there are just over 16 teaspoons of sugar in one bottle of coke!
It’s always good to take a quick glance at labels to see what you’re actually consuming. Many people know there is a lot of sugar in pop and make what they think are healthier options, but that’s not always the case. Iced tea is a popular “healthier” choice, but the large can of Arizona Iced Tea has 72 g of sugar, which (divided by 4) is equivalent to 18 teaspoons of sugar, more than the bottle of Coke!
For more information on the sugars hiding in our food, there’s a great website called Sugar Stacks that asks “would you eat a stack of 16 sugar cubes?” which is what you are essentially doing when you drink a bottle of Coke!
Think about what you are putting into your body! Make your calories count with nutritious, whole foods instead of empty calories found in sugars, white breads, and animal fats.
Written by Clinic Director & Naturopathic Doctor Jaty Tam ND