A recent Washington Post op-ed, FDA Should Revamp Nutrition Labels, by Michael Jacobson, PhD, and executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, got me thinking about what I would add or ax from the next generation Nutrition Facts label. Yes, rumor has it we may eventually see a next generation Nutrition Facts label. Jacobson’s op-ed indicated sometime in 2013 as did a well written HuffPost Food blog, but I’m not holding my breath!
It does looks like we will soon, (ah, a relative term when speaking about government regulations), see more Nutrition Facts for standard menu items in restaurants and retail food establishments, thanks due to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Any additional Nutrition Facts are welcomed!
Our current Nutrition Facts label came into being due to the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act and began appearing on packaged foods around 1994.
With all the chatter about New Year’s Resolutions which for the most part fail to result in REAL CHANGE for most people, why not try a different approach in 2013? Consider these 5 key principles to a healthier lifestyle I recently offered at an American Association of University Women meeting after a showing of Food, Inc.
About Food Inc. I absolutely agree that our food supply and eating habits have gone thru an unfortunate evolution in the last 30 plus years. I also agree we have to slowly and steadily do the hard work to reset our food environment to 'make the healthier choice the easier choice.' Today, it certainly isn’t! While I’m totally supportive of people eating organically grown foods, locally grown foods, growing their own foods and am supportive of many sustainable agriculture initiatives around the globe, I’m a pragmatist and realist at heart. I believe that for the majority of Americans we’ve got to keep in our mind’s eye the reality of our current eating habits. With these realities in mind we need to set realistic goals for ourselves, our population.
I’ve just returned from a delightful, relaxing two week road trip, a.k.a. vacation…ahhh!
We traveled the highways and byways of upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Boston, Western Mass, and Pennsylvania Dutch country. We ate B&B breakfasts, standard fare breakfasts at anywhere America hotels; lunches and dinners at cutsy bistros, American style restaurants and as much ethnic fare as we could find…and a scattering of yummy desserts. I'm pleased to say we ate at NO fast food restaurants and just about zilch chains…yeh!
You hear nutrition experts, or those who tout their nutrition bonafides, set forth a wide range of rules on THE WAY to succeed at weight loss. You’ll hear: eat no more than 40% of calories as carbohydrate, eat plenty of protein or get at least 50% of your calories as carbohydrate and limit fat to under 25% of calories, etc., or should I say ad nauseam.
Research and reality show there’s no ONE RIGHT formula for EVERYONE. Plus, in reality, the debate about the ideal mix of macronutrients (that’s carbohydrate, protein and fat) to eat comes down to a debate about where should 5 to 10% of your calories come from – carbohydrate, protein or fat?
I’m just back from the American Diabetes Association’s 72nd Annual Scientific Sessions and I'm even more concerned about our diabetes epidemic. Prior to 10 year ago you never heard about type 2 diabetes in children or prediabetes. Not so today! Stats show 1 in 3 children born in 2000 or beyond will develop type 2 diabetes. Today nearly 80 million Americans (that’s over a quarter of our population!!) have prediabetes. The TODAY multicenter NIH trial, recently in the news and headliner at ADA, is downright scary! It showed that type 2 diabetes in youngsters progresses more quickly requiring more rapid progression through oral blood glucose lowering medications and on to insulin. A major concern with type 2 in youth is that with rapid disease progression and less than ideal control, these people may develop heart, kidney and eye disease just a couple of decades later. That's the prime of these childrens' lives.
A take away message from the 2012 ADA meeting is we’ve got to continue to beat the drum about preventing overweight BEFORE type 2 diabetes. The most cost effective approach is to encourage healthy eating from the start. I believe it’s absolutely critical for parents to take a seat AS the head of the table and serve up tough love when it comes to healthy eating.
We’re being urged via health messages and big marketing campaigns to eat more dietary fiber and simultaneously to chow down on more whole grains. Beyond the messages to achieve these goals ringing in our ears, a plethora of new foods greet us in the supermarket aisles. They tout, for example “5 grams of whole grains per serving,” “47% of dietary fiber per serving” or proudly focus your attention on the Whole Grains Stamp.
Recently I vacationed in Morocco. Ah!!!
We’ve got friends living in a smallish town about an hour south of Casablanca. One of them is an engineer with a U.S. based company assisting the Moroccans to build another phosphate processing plant. Yes, phosphate used to make fertilizer and more, is a large natural resource in Morocco.
Gaining a bit of knowledge about how phosphate is mined, processed and shipped throughout the world as well as smelling, tasting and seeing the foods and dishes of this culture were just a few of the treats of travel in Morocco.
What I love about travel is the opportunity to see, observe, learn…oh yes, and eat. And eat our way through Morocco we did. From Marrakesh to Essaroura to El Jidata and beyond.
Here’s a few snapshots of the sites, tastes and aromas of Morocco:
On June 2, 2011 the food pyramid was put to rest and the simple, straightforward plate was introduced as the new icon for healthy eating. While I'm pleased with this new colorful, simplified food icon, I by no means think it will put a halt to nutrition debates, including these two questions:
- What percent of calories from carbohydrate, protein and/or fat should we eat?
- Is it healthier or better for managing blood glucose or fat levels to eat more or less: carbohydrate, protein or fat?
These questions, in my humble opinion, have and continue to receive too many research dollars and too much media (and thus, consumer) attention.
Please hear me out...
We seem fixated on the quantity questions regarding our, so-called macronutrients – our main sources of calories (that’s carbohydrate, protein and fat). Yet the research to date as well as the recommendations from respected bodies, such as Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee Report, proves out a few stark realities. I’ll delve into these here and detail why our focus should be squarely on the quality of carbohydrate, protein and fat we eat, not the quantity.
This guest blog was written on request for appforhealth.com in response to Julie's blog A Week to Beat Your Cravings for Sweets. I want to thank Julie for being open to dialoging about key nutrition topics:
Can people be “sugar addicted”? Not likely! But are we slurping, sipping and chewing too much sugar? Absolutely!
American Heart Association research shows that as of 2009 Americans down, on average, 22 teaspoons of sugar per day (Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health. (Not surprising when one 20 ounce soft drink contains 15 teaspoons!)
Do you eat enough fibers (yes fibers) each and every day? If you’re not eating those five (or more) servings of fruits and vegetables, making at least half your servings of grains whole (grain and wheat) and sneaking in servings of legumes, then it’s doubtful you’re getting your fill of fibers.