Governorâ€™s Wellness Initiative
Nutrition Special Edition 2019 Inside this issueâ€Ś Packing healthy lunches Choosing better snacks Nutrition myths Reading food labels
Packing a punch in your lunch The foods you choose throughout your workday greatly affect your mood, energy levels, and how well your body functions. Instead of grabbing what is convenient or living with what is available in the vending machine, plan ahead and bring healthy foods to eat to keep your body performing at its best throughout the day.
What makes a healthy, filling lunch? Choose at least three food groups To make it a meal you want to have a good blend of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Together these nutrients will make you feel full and work together to provide your body with several long lasting sources of energy. Choose fiber foods and complex carbohydrates This includes fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Fiber and complex carbohydrates take time to break down so they will leave you feeling full and provide sustained energy. Fresh fruit and vegetables, cooked whole beans, or whole grain crackers, pastas and cereals make a good basis for a filling meal. Choose lean protein Your body takes a lot of energy to digest high fat proteins like hamburgers, salami or fried chicken strips. These foods may cause you to feel sluggish or tired after eating them. Lean proteins include grilled or roasted meats, eggs, lower sodium lunch meats, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Choose healthy fats Include small amounts of healthy fats to feel fuller, longer. Fats from whole food sources are best. Choose olive and canola oil salad dressings, dairy products, cheese, avocados, or nuts and nut butters at your meals.
Sugary foods and caffeine are only a temporary solution to low energy levels. Try to refuel your body every 3-4 hours with nutrient rich foods and practice eating light so you donâ€™t feel sluggish after a meal.
Light and healthy lunch entree options Sandwich 2 slices of whole grain bread or large lettuce leafs, topped with veggies like cucumber, tomato, spinach, avocado and any veggies you like to eat raw. Add in 2 ounces of low sodium lunch meat and mustard. Pasta salad Take ½ cup of cooked whole grain pasta, add in ½ cup canned white beans and your favorite raw or cooked vegetables. Toss with and olive oil and Italian seasoning and eat hot or cold. Lettuce salad Take ½ cup of cooked brown rice or quinoa and add to the top of crisp lettuce. Chop tomatoes and cucumber, add in feta cheese and toss with olive oil and lemon juice. Top with 2 ounces of cooked chicken if desired. Baked potato A roasted medium sized baked potato with skin, topped with ½ cup of cooked fresh or frozen chopped vegetables, ½ cup canned kidney beans, and ¼ cup shredded cheese. Pizza Toast 1 whole grain English muffin, then top each half with a tablespoon of tomato sauce on each side, 4 slices of turkey pepperoni and 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Taco 1 whole-wheat tortilla filled with ½ cup black beans, defrosted frozen corn, 2 tablespoons of salsa and ¼ cup of shredded cheese. Add in 2 ounces of lean ground meat or chicken. Serve hot or cold. On-the-go box lunch 6 whole grain crackers, 1 ounce of cheese, 2 ounces of roasted or grilled chicken pieces, 1 ounce of nuts, a whole apple and raw veggie sticks with hummus.
Light and healthy lunch side options • ½ cup cottage cheese with ½ cup canned fruit • Whole apple or banana with 1 tablespoon peanut butter • ½ cup frozen berries, ¼ cup vanilla Greek yogurt and a handful of nuts • ½ cup leftover cooked whole grains like rice or quinoa and ¼ cup dried fruit
• ½ cup pre-cooked canned black beans mixed with diced veggies and salsa • 1 ounce nuts with string cheese • 1 hard-boiled egg with 6 whole grain crackers • V egetables like cucumber, celery or carrot sticks, grape tomatoes, and your choice of dip like hummus or salad dressing
Successful snacking Snacking is a great way to supplement your meals and stay ahead of cravings and hunger. Listen to your body and think about the time(s) of day that you are consistently hungry. This is the time to build a snack into your day. Planning ahead for a snack will help keep your calories balanced throughout the day and make sure you maximize nutrition when snacking, instead of eating empty calories. There are no special times for snacking. It does not matter if it is 8 a.m. or 8 p.m. Make sure you are actually hungry and not eating for other reasons.
What makes a healthy, filling snack? Choose more than one food group Try combining carbohydrate and fat, like cheese and crackers, or carbohydrate and protein with 1/2 a sandwich. Carbohydrate foods include whole fruits, beans and grains. Fats are found in cheese and nuts, while protein includes eggs, meat, yogurt and cottage cheese. Choose fiber foods This includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fiber takes time to digest and will make your snack stay with you longer. Sugary foods digest very quickly and can leave you hungry after a short time, no matter how many calories you may have just ate. Choose low calorie snacks Plan a snack that is 100-200 calories and remember to balance your total intake over the day. If you eat a large meal, you may not need a snack later on. If you are not going to have time to eat, plan to have several snacks throughout the day so you can keep your body fueled.
Pack your snack Make your own snack packs by combining two options from the list below. Use snack size plastic bags to keep portion size in check and save money by skipping preportioned packs from the store. • 2 cups of blueberries or raspberries • 15 strawberries • 28 grapes • ¼ medium cantaloupe • 1 whole banana, apple or orange • 1 cup of cut up vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumber, broccoli or cauliflower • 29 pistachios • 21 almonds • 1 ounce of peanuts • 1 tablespoon of nut butter • 6 whole grain crackers • 60 whole grain Goldfish crackers • 1 mini-bag of popcorn • 12 Quaker rice snacks • 4 0 pretzel sticks • 1 string cheese stick • 6 oz reduced sugar or unsweetened yogurt • ½ cup cottage cheese • 1 cup milk • 1 hard-boiled egg • 1 ounce lower sodium jerky • 1 ounce lower sodium lunch meat • 1 ounce roasted chickpeas
Nutrition myths There is so much information in the world of nutrition. Just search the words health, diet or nutrition and you will be bombarded with websites and articles. While it is great that there is so much information available, not all of this information is accurate. Let’s take a look at two common nutrition myths and find out if they are true or false.
Myth #1: Late night snacking will make me gain weight When it comes to late night snacking, it is important to understand why you are doing it. Are you eating out of boredom? This type of snacking can potentially lead to weight gain. Boredom snacking usually means those ‘not so healthy choices’ (i.e. potato chips, candy, buttery popcorn) are being consumed. These types of choices tend to be high in calories, but low in nutritional value. Consuming these calorie dense choices over time will often lead to weight gain. If you’re bored and want to get your mind off of food, try calling a friend to chat, going for a walk, or doing some organizing/decluttering. Are you truly hungry? This means you feel hunger pangs or your stomach is growling. It is okay to snack late at night if you are hungry. Going to bed hungry can negatively affect sleep quality. However, keep in mind that eating a large meal right before going to bed isn’t ideal either. The body will work hard to digest it, which can also negatively affect how well you sleep. If you’re hungry before bed, try having a smaller meal or snack that will not affect sleep and can stabilize blood sugars overnight. This could be a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, or some crackers and a cheese stick. At the end of the day, snacking late at night can lead to weight gain if it is done often and if the foods being eaten are low in nutritional value and high in calories. Next time you want to snack at night, take a second to stop and ask yourself—Am I truly hungry or am I just bored? Continued on back page.
Deciphering the nutrition facts label Have you ever stood in the grocery store aisle comparing nutrition facts labels for products and felt completely frustrated? Let me tell you, we understand your frustration. The nutrition facts label is a great tool, but can also be overwhelming when you aren’t quite sure what to look for. We’re here to help.
SERVING SIZE & SERVINGS PER CONTAINER: This is your first stop when looking at labels. Some products have only one serving per container while others contain multiple servings per container. This is important because if a product contains two servings per container, the nutrition information on the label needs to be multiplied by two if you consume the entire package in one sitting. Always take a quick look at the suggested serving size and the number of servings in the container before looking at the rest of the nutrition label.
PROTEIN & FIBER: When it comes to fiber and protein, in general, the more the better. Both fiber and protein help keep us full to prevent unneeded snacking or overeating. Protein is also essential for many functions in the body and can be a nutrient that people struggle to get enough of if they are breakfast-skippers or do not like animal-based products. Fiber is also something that most Americans fall short on consuming.
SUGAR: The less sugar the better. Sugar adds calories, but does not add any nutritional value to food products. It’s usually just added to make things taste better. You cannot cut sugar completely, but what you can do is compare sugar content in different products and choose options with less sugar. The label included here reflects the updated nutrition facts label that some manufactures have already started using. The updated label includes a new and very important line, “Includes __ of Added Sugars” to help consumers identify products that contain sugar from natural sources (like milk) versus products that had sugar added during processing (like candy or pop).
FAT: Rather than worrying too much about how much fat is in a product, instead look at what types of fat the product contains. Mono and polyunsaturated fats are considered the healthier fats and should be consumed more than saturated fats. The sample label includes a good example of how the different types of fat are listed. You can see there is a separate line for saturated and polyunsaturated fat. If this product contain monounsaturated fat, there would be a line for that as well.
SODIUM: The amount of sodium in products can vary widely and is meaningful in different ways for different people. If you are someone who eats out often and consumes many packaged or shelf-stable food products, it is important for you to look for a lower sodium options. On the other hand, people who do more of their own cooking at home do not need to watch sodium intake as carefully because they control how much they add to recipes. Additionally, those with certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, may need to watch sodium intake more carefully. Lastly, it is important to remember that our bodies actually need sodium, so cutting it out completely isnâ€™t necessary or possible.
EVERYTHING ELSE: The areas of the nutrition label that have not been mentioned yet include cholesterol, total carbohydrate, and vitamins and minerals. While they may hold significance for certain people, they may not be important for everyone to focus on. The nutrition label gets very overwhelming when we try to focus on every single line, rather than just a few areas that are most important to our health.
Nutrition myths (cont.) Myth #2: All sugars are bad, even those found in fruit or dairy Sugar might be one of the most controversial topics in nutrition these days, and for good reason. Sugar is confusing. Does added sugar in the diet include the sugar in fruit? Should I cut fruit and dairy out of my diet to limit my sugar? What is the difference between natural versus added sugar? Let’s take a look. Added sugar - Sugar that is not naturally present in a food and has been added during processing. This includes sugar added to granola bars, candy bars, desserts, soda, juice and packaged foods. Natural sugar - Sugar that is present in foods naturally and has not been added during processing. This includes the sugar in whole or dried fruit, 100% fruit juice (not sweetened or juice concentrate), and lactose found in milk and yogurt. The difference between natural and added sugar comes into play when considering what else comes with that sugar. When consuming added sugar in sweets and processed foods (i.e. pop or candy) you are getting only sugar. There’s usually not much for nutritional value with these types of choices. On the other hand, when consuming sugar in fruit or dairy products, you’re getting other things with that sugar that are beneficial. A whole piece of fruit contains fiber to keep you full, along with vitamins and minerals that your body uses to stay healthy. Dairy products contain protein as well as vitamin D and calcium. Here’s a more detailed example:
12 oz. Coke
Calories: 140 ADDED sugar: 39 g Daily needs: 0% vitamin D 0% iron | 0% calcium 0% potassium
1 large orange
Calories: 86 NATURAL sugar: 17 g Extra Benefits: 4 g fiber Daily needs: 163% vitamin C 8% vitamin A | 9% potassium | 7% calcium
oz. glass 8 1% white milk
Calories: 102 NATURAL sugar: 13 g Extra Benefits: 8 g protein Daily needs: 29% calcium | 10% vitamin A
Do you see the difference? Cutting fruit out of your diet to reduce your consumption of sugar means that you’re cutting beneficial fiber and nutrients out of your diet, too. Whereas cutting back on soda only involves reducing calories and added sugar, but does not reduce intake of any major vitamins or minerals.
How do I differentiate between natural and added sugar on the nutrition label? Well, lucky for us, the updated nutrition label includes a line specifically for added sugars to help consumers easily pick them out. Some products already have the updated label and remaining manufacturers will be required to use the updated label by January 2021. In the meantime, an easy way to reduce added sugar consumption is to take a peek at the ingredients list on food products. The following are common ways that added sugar can be listed: sugar,
cane sugar, invert sugar, malt sugar, malt syrup, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, and high fructose corn syrup. While you won’t be able to completely cut out natural or added sugar in your diet, it is important to pay attention to where and how much of each kind you are consuming. Take a look at the nutrition label and ingredients lists on items you commonly eat to see how much added or natural sugar they contain. You might be surprised with what you find.