3/16/09

National Nutrition Month

From http://www.eatright.org (American Dietetic Association website)
National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the American Dietetic Association. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Registered Dietitian Day, also celebrated in March, increases awareness of registered dietitians as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services and recognizes RDs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.

I'm honored to be so close to being apart of this great organization. Everyday I learn more and more about nutrition I get more and more excited to obtain my RD credential and get more involved with dietetics.
My passion will always lie with sports nutrition. I live and breathe sports nutrition and I love helping people with sports nutrition. I love reading research, studying and comparing products and helping athletes with their own daily and training nutrition plans. Perhaps one day I will be able to work with elite and pro athletes on a national or world-wide level, but for now I enjoy working with age-groups and primarily, newbies.

My goal for the next week is to teach everyone more about nutrition. Perhaps you will learn something new and maybe you will hear familiar facts that are well-worth hearing again. However, I've got a few dietitians lined up with some great information for everyone! I encourage everyone to read my blog for the next week where I will be posting information from other dietetic professions in this field. Because many people who read my blog focus on a healthy and active life, the next few days are focused on topics that are worth discussing. Please pass around the word to other blog-readers to stop by my blog and contribute to a good discussion on these topics. If you want to comment, ask questions or leave any type of nice remark, please do so!
I would also like everyone to email me (mrakes1@hotmail.com) a question regarding sports nutrition or general nutrition. Next week I will focus my blog on answering your questions. I'd be happy to re-make recipes that you'd like to make healthier, answer questions regarding supplements, talk about general fueling plans or any other concerns you have regarding nutrition. Because I enjoy all levels of athletes and all types of people, being a triathlete, runner or cyclist is not a pre-req to emailing me a question. I won't include names with my answers so when you email me I will be sure to discuss the topic in a way that relates to all individuals. Don't worry if you think your question is weird. Coming from an exercise physiology background, I love the human body and I'm not embarrassed when it comes to the body and nutrition.
Don't forget to email me your questions to mrakes1@hotmail.com and PLEASE contribute to the blog for the next few days. I appreciate your feedback!

To start off this week of nutrition blogs I'd like to talk about misleading products. Never blame yourself when you can't lose weight, even though you feel you are doing everything to eat healthier foods. If you are choosing foods from the perimeter of the grocery store, you will be more successful in losing weight than shopping in the middle aisles where there are more boxed and packaged foods, as oppose to nutrient dense wholesome foods.
The other day I picked up a box of Special K cinnamon and pecan cereal. I eat oatmeal for breakfast almost everyday but I like to use cereal as a topping. I generally mix together 3-4 boxes of cereal in a large Tupperware container. The cereals include a puff cereal (50-60 calories per cup), a bran cereal (fiber one, raisin bran), a whole grain cereal (ex. cheerios) and a free-be. The free-be can be any type of cereal such as granola, special K special brand (ex. pecan, chocolate, vanilla), frosted flakes, Kashi, lucky charms, etc. I like to fill half of the container with the puff cereal to take up more space. Then I add the bran and whole grain cereal and top off the container (about the top 1/4th) with the free-be cereal. I give it a good shake and then I get a little of everything when I want to have some cereal.
I usually eat cereal w/ yogurt, ice cream (on the weekends), as a topping on my oatmeal, with fruit or in my smoothie (I love a crunch in my protein smoothie). Who doesn't love a crunch? I just find that eating a bowl of cereal is not filling in the morning as a bowl of oatmeal.
Now, as a consumer who may read the outside of cereal boxes and look for the healthiest cereals, it isn't uncommon that you will look at calories and possibly, serving size, when choosing your cereal.
When I had the Special K cinnamon and pecan cereal with my yogurt the other day I was instantly reminded of my high school swimming days of eating 1/2 box of cinnamon toast crunch after swimming on sat morning. Oh how I loved that cereal and back then, well, I could get away with eating half a box. Now, not so much!
After I enjoyed my snack of yogurt and cereal, I jumped on the computer to compare products. This is what I found and you might be surprised of the similar ingredients and similar nutritional breakdowns of calories, carbs, sugars, fats, etc....
Cinnamon Toast Crunch


Ingredients
Whole grain wheat, sugar, rice flour, canola and/or rice brain oil, fructose, maltodextrin, dextrose, salt, cinnamon, soy, lecithin, trisodium phosphate, color added. BHT added to preserve freshness.
Vitamins and minerals: calcium carbonate, zinc and iron, vitamin C(sodium Ascorbate), B vitamin, Vitamon b5, vitamin b2, vitamin b1, vitamin 1, folic acid, vitamin b12, vitamin d3.
Special K cinnamon and pecan



Ingredients
RICE, WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT, SUGAR, PECANS (PECANS, CORN OIL, BHT AS PRESERVATIVE), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SALT, MALT FLAVOR, CINNAMON, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), REDUCED IRON, NIACINAMIDE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), VITAMIN A PALMITATE, BHT (PRESERVATIVE), FOLIC ACID, VITAMIN B12, VITAMIN D.

Can you believe the similarities? Now, as far as I know, I haven't seen any commercials of people losing weight on a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch but I've sure seen a lot of promotional materials on Special K cereal and weight loss. Not to mention the protein waters, bars and various products by Special K. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with Special K and having it in your house (even with the high fructose corn syrup), but isn't it odd that you are inclined to buy Special K in order to lose weight, yet Cinnamon Toast Crunch is just as "nutritious" (using the word loosly).
It would take consumers way too much time and energy to read every single food label and compare products in grocery stores and online. Sure, I love doing it but that is my job. As a future dietitian, I am here to educate people on ways to choose the best products for a healthy and well-balanced diet to support health and physical activity.
If you want to lose weight, eat a little of everything. You won't gain weight with eating ice cream, packaged foods, cheese, bagels, etc. every now and then. It is only when nutrient dense foods comprise the majority of your diet and fruits and veggies and lean protein are merely side dishes to your high-calorie meal. I encourage everyone to start eating right by enjoying wholesome foods. Fill up your fruit and veggie drawers in the fridge and minimize the foods you stick in the pantry. Look for different types of protein such as soy milk when you buy skim milk, veggie burgers when you buy lean meat, chickpeas when you buy beans, egg whites when you buy eggs (use 1 whole egg for every 3 whites that you eat) and tofu when you buy...well, try to add tofu to your meals ;)
Eating healthy can be fun and wow does it make you feel great inside! More so, you feel good about waking up everyday and you never feel guilty about what you put in your mouth. And guess what, eating healthy includes all those little treats that you give yourself every now and then. Starting today, go grab a fruit for a snack and try to find alternatives to your "unhealthy" food choices. Start reading food labels and never feel like the more expensive, organic product is the healthier product. The healthiest product is the one that has very few ingredients. Have you ever read the ingredients for an apple, strawberry, romaine lettuce or cucumber??? :) Stop reading those labels on trans-fat free product such as wheat thins, chips ahoy, triscuits and cookies...trans-fat free doesn't mean calorie-free, sugar-free, fat-free. More so, when products take something out to promote being healthier, something non-nutritional (such as additives, perservatives, sweetners, gums/pastes, dyes, etc.) are added to promote sweetness and satiety.
Start buying foods which contribute to longevity, an improvement in energy/performance and health!