What About Those Other Foods?


Many of us are good at reading the nutritional labels on the foods we buy, but what about the other labels that some foods carry. What about labels such as “fat-free,” “reduced calorie,” or “light.”

Here are some definitions from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health that might be helpful:

Calorie terms:

  • Low-calorie – 40 calories or less per serving
  • Reduced-calorie – at least 25 percent fewer calories per serving when compared with a similar food
  • Light or lite – one-third fewer calories; if more than half the calories are from fat, fat content must be reduced by 50 percent or more

Sugar terms:

  • Sugar-free – less than 1/2 gram sugar per serving
  • Reduced sugar – at least 25 percent less sugar per serving when compared with a similar food

Fat terms:

  • Fat-free or 100 percent fat free – less than 1/2 gram fat per serving
  • Low-fat – 3 grams or less per serving
  • Reduced-fat – at least 25 percent less fat when compared with a similar food

Remember that fat-free doesn’t mean calorie free. People tend to think they can eat as much as they want of fat-free foods. Even if you cut fat from your diet but consume more calories than you use, you will gain weight.

Also, fat-free or low-fat foods may contain high amounts of added sugars or sodium to make up for the loss of flavor when fat is removed. You need to check the food labels carefully. For example, a fat-free muffin may be just as high in calories as a regular muffin. So, remember, it is important to read your food labels and compare products.

Finding the nutrient content of foods that don’t have food labels:

When you get a pound of salmon in the meat department of your grocery store, it doesn’t come with a Nutrition Facts label. The same goes for the fresh apples or eggplants that you get in the produce department.

How do you find out the nutrient content of these foods that don’t have food labels?

You can use the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database. This is a bit harder than using the Nutrition Facts label. But by comparing different foods you can get an idea if a food is high or low in saturated fat, sodium, and other nutrients. To compare lots of different foods at one time, check out the USDA’s Nutrient Lists.

Eat Out: Eat Right

eat outMost Americans love to eat out! Many of us eat out, often at fast food establishments, a few times a week.

The American Dietetic Association (eatright.org) is a good source of information on how to eat healthy when you eat out. Here are a few of their suggestions:

  • If you are going to begin the day by eating out, build a better breakfast sandwich by replacing sausage or bacon with Canadian ham or regular ham and have it on whole grain toast, or bagel or English Muffin.
  • If you are going to eat out at a sandwich shop, choose lean beef, ham, turkey or chicken on whole grain bread. Use mustard, ketchup, salsa or low fat spreads. in place of fries or chips, choose a side salad or fruit, or if you must have fries, share with someone else.
  • If you are at a salad bar, pile on the leafy greens, then choose carrots, peppers and other fresh veggies. Go lightly on choosing mayonnaise-based salads and high-fat toppings.
  • Eating in a restaurant? Eat your low calorie food first, filling up on salad and soup followed by a light main course. Have all sauces and dressing on the side, for dipping, not pouring. Order one dessert and forks  for sharing with companions.
  • Avoid all you can eat buffet and unlimited salad bars if you know you tend eat too much at these venues.
  • Take size into consideration when ordering muffins, bagels, croissants and biscuits. Jumbo sizes mean jumbo calories and lots more fat.
  • Does your eat out mean grabbing dinner at the hot table in the supermarket or the deli section? If so, choose rotisserie chicken, salad in a bag and fresh bread. Another good choice-lean roast beef, onion rolls potato salad and fresh fruit.

If your eat out means eating at your desk at work, keep single serving packages of crackers, fruit, peanut butter, soup, or tuna in your desk.



It’s Time to get Physical…Outdoors!

timeIt’s time to put the shovels away. It’s time to check and see if you light-weight clothes still fit, and what clothes need to be replaced.

Finally, after a long, hard winter, it is time to get outside and get physical !

Whatever you are planning to do, be it running, walking, playing tennis, biking, gardening or home repairs you’ll need some fuel to keep you going!

Take the time to review some great snacks suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control, CDC:

  • Fresh veggies like carrots and celery sticks
  • Snack-sized boxes of raisins
  • Pretzels
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Crackers — try graham crackers, animal crackers, or saltines
  • Bagels
  • Fig bars
  • Fruit juice boxes (make sure you choose 100% pure fruit juice, or for an added boost, try orange juice with added calcium)
  • Small packages of trail mix
  • Fresh fruits such as bananas, oranges, grapes (try freezing your grapes for a new taste sensation!), and berries

No matter what type of physical activity you do, you should always be sure to drink plenty of water — before you start, during the activity, and after you’re done, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

What you are eating and drinking will be a great example for your children. When it is time for them to grab a snack, they will be less likely to want sugary drinks, candy and cookies as snacks following a physical activity.




How Much is Enough Food for a 4-8 Year Old?

With all the concerns about children’s food consumption, and gaining unhealthy amounts of weight, the following guidelines, on what to feed children 4-8 years old, may prove helpful.

The guidelines are from WebMD (fit.webmd.com).


Total Servings a Day: 4

Look for reduced-fat, low-fat, or skim.

1 Serving Size


1/2 to 3/4 cup


Choose 1:

• 2 to 3 dice-sized cheese cubes

• 1/2 to 1 slice packaged cheese


1/2 cup to 3/4 cup (4 to 6 oz)


Total Servings a Day: 2

Make most meat choices lean or low-fat.

1 Serving Size

Meat, Fish, Poultry, or Meat Substitute

1 oz (about the 1/3 to 1/2 the size of an adult’s palm)

Tofu or Tempeh

1/2 cup


1 egg

4 Tbsp (about the size of your child’s fist)

Beans or Peas

Nuts (includes peanut butter)

2 Tbsp


Total Servings a Day: 4 to 8

Serve mostly green or brightly colored veggies.
Limit starchy veggies like potatoes.

1 Serving Size

3 to 4 Tbsp

Starchy Vegetables (like white potatoes)

Limit to 1 to 2 servings a day.


Total Servings a Day: 2

Raw fruit is best.

1 Serving Size

Choose 1:

• 1/2 to 1 small raw fruit

• Canned 4 to 6 Tbsp

Opt for fruit packed in water, juice, or light syrup
instead of heavy syrup.

4 to 6 oz total per day

Fruit Juice


Total Servings a Day: 4

Choose whole-grain options when possible.

1 Serving Size

Choose 1:

• 1 slice of bread

• 1/2 English muffin

• 1/2 Bagel

• 1/2 to 1 Tortilla

Cooked cereal

1/2 cup

Cold, Dry cereal

1 cup

Pasta, noodles, rice or grains

1/2 cup


Pediatric Nutrition Handbook 6th edition, American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. 2009.

American Cancer Society: “Controlling Portion Sizes.”

Let’s Move: “Healthy Families.”

A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Obesity, American Academy of Pediatrics. 2006.

© 2011 WebMD


After School Food Safety

after school snacksThe kitchen, for food, is often the first place children go when they get home from school, but it’s not always the safest place. Millions of children become ill from the food they eat.

Here are some food safety recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to share with children to help keep them safe after school. When coming home after school, kids can help prevent illnesses by following these recommendations:

  1. Place books, bags, and sporting equipment on the floor, not on eating counters or the kitchen table where germs could be transferred.
  2. Clean out lunch boxes and throw away perishable sandwiches or other “refrigerator type” foods, such as yogurt tubes or cheese sticks, left over from lunch.
  3. Wash your hands before you make or eat a snack. Hands carry lots of germs, and not washing hands is a top cause of foodborne illness.
  4. Always use clean spoons, forks, and plates.
  5. Wash fruits and vegetables with running tap water before you eat them.
  6. Do not eat bread, cheese, or soft fruits or vegetables that are bruised or have spots of mold.
  7. Do not eat unbaked cookie dough because it may contain raw eggs that can have Salmonella bacteria.
  8. Do not leave cold items, like milk, lunchmeat, hard cooked eggs, or yogurt, out on the counter at room temperature. Put these foods back in the refrigerator as soon as you’ve fixed your snack.
  9. Don’t eat any perishable food left out of the refrigerator, such as pizza — even if it isn’t topped with meat. Food should not be left in the temperature “Danger Zone” of 40 to 140 °F for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is 90 °F or higher).

Heating or cooking foods in microwave ovens can present food safety and personal safety challenges. Some foods do not heat evenly to destroy all bacteria that could be present. Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Read package directions carefully. An adult needs to tell children whether to use the minimum or maximum cooking time on food package directions.
  2. Use only microwave-safe cookware. Don’t put metal or foil-wrapped foods in the microwave. Never microwave food in cold storage containers, such as margarine tubs, cottage cheese cartons, or bowls from frozen whipped topping. The containers can melt and transfer harmful chemicals into the food.
  3. For more even cooking and to better destroy bacteria, cover a dish of food with a lid, plastic wrap, or wax paper. Turn up one corner to let excess steam escape while food is microwaving.
  4. Halfway through cooking, rotate food packages and dishes or stir food during microwaving — even if the oven has a turntable. This helps the food cook more evenly and safely.