Tip of the Week
Take a trip to the grocery store and you’ll encounter miles of aisles stocked with thousands of food products. Every product has a story to tell or better yet, sell. Information printed on packages is helpful but it’s often confusing and even a bit misleading.
While lists of ingredients and the nutrition facts panel are there to help shoppers choose foods to fit their nutritional needs, it’s not always easy to interpret. Learning how to decode the jumble of numbers and percentages is the first step in shopping for healthier foods.
“The best guide for making decisions affecting your diet is the nutrition facts panel, which is regulated by the FDA and for meats and poultry by the USDA,” said Carolyn O’Neil, registered dietitian and nutrition adviser for BestFoodFacts.org. “The Nutrition Facts panel lists all of the important specs, such as calories, fats, sodium, fiber, sugar and several key vitamins and minerals.”
Here are some of O’Neil’s tips on understanding nutrition labels, so you can be a more informed consumer and make healthier decisions for your family.
* Always note serving sizes: While a food or beverage may seem like a good nutritional fit, the first thing to notice should always be the serving size. Watch out because if you read that a serving contains 100 calories, for instance, that may be for 8 ounces of a juice beverage and the container may hold 16 ounces.
* Be aware of unhealthy contents: If looking to limit fat, sodium and sugar, pay close attention to these call-outs on the label. Some foods might deliver more than your daily limit for sodium! Remember that trans fat should be avoided completely.
* Look for the good stuff: A healthy diet consists of vitamins and nutrients, which nutrition labels also spell out. Go for foods that are good sources of the good guys - dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and potassium.
* Don’t be fooled by healthy looks: While package design may illustrate people engaging in healthful activities, pretty farm scenes and adorned with “healthy” words, note that the FDA does not regulate the use of creative brand names. As always, it is the nutrition facts label where a consumer can see what’s really inside.
* Trust health claims: The FDA closely monitors the use of health claims on food packaging. So if you see wording such as “heart healthy,” you can be confident the company had to meet nutrition criteria set by the FDA.
- Family Features/Center for Food Integrity
Family Movie Night
Length: 105 minutes
Synopsis: A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.
Violence/scary rating: 4
Sexual-content rating: 2
Profanity rating: 2
Drugs/alcohol rating: 2
Family Time rating: 3. A decent PG-13 movie, but it is about gladiators and the end of a civilization, so it’s not for the little ones.
(Ratings are judged on a five-point scale, with 5 being “bad for kids” and 1 being “fine for kids.”)
“Journey,” by Aaron Becker
Synopsis: A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all. - Candlewick
Tanya Altmann, author of “Mommy Calls,” has some ideas for parents who have problems getting their toddler to take medicine: 1. Mix it with chocolate syrup. 2. Refrigerate the medicine - that also will help mask the taste.
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Family Time: Tips for interpreting nutrition facts labels
Tip of the Week