Friday, June 20, 2008

Food Labels and Weight Loss - Friends or Foes?

Food labels are your friend in the game of weight loss. They can quickly reveal how useful something is to fuel your body. For weight loss to be successful, you still have to enjoy your food. Labels can help. Below is a highlight of some of the information available.

Serving Size
What you and I consider to be a serving is not same as the food processors. A box of cereal supposedly feeds 15 people. If you ever tried handing a box of cereal to 15 people and asked them share, how willing would they be? Serving sizes can leave you hungry, but it is an important number if you want to do accurate math with the rest of the information on the label.

Calories are the amount of energy that serving will provide. If you are keeping track of how many calories you want to eat during one meal or one day, this information is helpful. One drawback, however, is it wont tell you how you will feel after eating the food. If it is a high sugar food, you may not feel to good later on due to the sugar high and the sugar crash. More label reading is necessary.

There are numerous fat numbers on the label to help you discern what kind of fat the food contains. Some fats are healthier than others. The drawback here if it contains hydrogenated fats it can still be zero on the label.

Carbohydrates & Fiber
The amount of carbohydrate and fiber will help you decide if the food you are eating will stick to your ribs, reduce cravings, and help maintain a steady blood sugar level.

Protein is important for tissue repair and healing, especially for heavy exercises. Protein also satiates appetite and helps the brain realize you are not hungry so you dont overeat.

Vitamins & Minerals
This is a list of the basic vitamins and minerals that are in the food. Most products that have food labels are processed, however, and they may also be fortified with vitamins and minerals. Because they are fortified with synthetic nutrients, absorption and quality are questionable. It is recommended to balance out the diet with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well.

The last portion of the food label lists the ingredients which is very important if you want to know the sources of nutrition information. Anyone with allergies studies this list very well. Food reactions are different from person to person so knowing if you are sensitive to specific ingredients can be necessary. Trial and error is usually how someone figures this out. Mood swings are commonly seen with a high carbohydrate diet. High fat foods and diary are culprits in digestive distress. If you want to avoid artificial sweeteners or hydrogenated fats, they are listed here, also. Ingredient types may have multiple forms such as sugar which can be lactose, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, etc. Artificial sweeteners also, have many different names.

The only piece of information not listed on food labels is how tasty something is. Taste is an opinion that can lead to overeating if we are not careful about maintaining a balanced diet. While being able to enjoy your favorite foods is key to successful weight loss, Using food labels to help you decide what to eat and how much to eat can make the job easier.

Dr. Lisa Ann Homic, a chiropractor and wellness coach in Auburn, NY, also started the Numbers Don't Lie Diet Program. Visit


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