February 1, 2011

Getting to Know the NFP

NFP stands for Nutirtion Facts Panel. For those of us who truly want to change our way of life forever, understanding how to read and apply the information on the NFP is super important.

For a long time I would just look up the foods I wanted to eat in a little guide that was provided for me. It was really helpful because I could choose the foods that were deemed "healthy" and I knew that I was making a good choice without having to do much thinking. These types of resources can be very helpful in the intial stages of weight loss, as nutrition can be a very overwhelming science to tackle.

However, without understanding the reasoning behind my healthy choices, I was doing myself no favors. It's kind of like a phenomenon I have discovered with my children. If I just tell them to do something without any explanation as to why, they have a hard time being motivated to do it. But when I explain the WHY (And yes, I am fully aware that I am not obligated to explain the why to my kids! Lol!) behind what I am asking them to do, they are usually much more willing to cooperate.


Education=>Understanding=>Empowerment.

Becoming educated on the "why" of the foods we should be consuming is not only our responsibility, but it puts us in a position of control rather than one of just following rules because some book "says so." There is a certain freedom in that.

Okay, enough teacher/preacher talk. Grab something with a NFP on it (so you can follow along)and settle in. Here are some practical and easy-to-understand tips for making the most of the NFP :



Ingredients
  • Look for items with fewest ingredients and ingredients you can pronounce!
  • Look for key words: whole-wheat flour, soy and oats, oil, canola, peanut oil
  • Avoid key word: Hydrogenated
Serving Size
  • Be aware of the number of servings in a particular food. Sometimes foods come two servings to a single package. Pop Tarts and Little Debbie snacks are examples of this--just avoid those all together though. Cans of tuna and canned fruit are a couple of examples that may trick you.
Calories
  • Divide the "Calories from Fat" by the total "Calories" and multiply that number by 100. This is the Percentage of Calories from Fat. For the most part you will want this number to be 35% or less. For the most part.
  • Compare the calories per serving to the nutrients they offer. Choose the most nutrient-dense foods you can.
Percentage Daily Value (%DV)
  • Remember two important percentages: 5% and 20%. 5% is considered low and 20% is considered high.
  • For the "good" nutrients (fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron) you want to see the number be 20% or higher.
  • For the "not so good" nutrients (fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium) you want to see the number be 5% or lower.
Total Fat
  • There are up to 4 subcategories under "Total Fat"
  • 20% to 35% of your diet should come from healthy fats (mono-, polyunsaturated)
  • Just because a food is labeled "low-fat", "reduced-fat", or "light" does not automatically make it healthy. Check the over-all nutrition of the item by analyzing the NFP. Sugar and calories are often higher in such products.
  • Saturated fats are one of the "not so good" nutrients you want to be 5% DV or less in a product. Saturated fat is one of the worst things for your health and it adds up fast. Be AWARE.
  • Trans Fat: "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" are RED ALERT words. Do not consume.
Cholesterol
  • Our body makes enough cholesterol on its own; you don't need more than 300 mg per day.
  • Cholesterol is found in organs (which are low-fat, incidentally), meats, poultry, dairy, shellfish, egg yolks
  • Foods of Plant origin (read: VEGETABLES!!) contain no cholesterol. Eat in abundance.

Sodium

  • High sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure and hypertension
  • Look for key words: "low sodium" or "sodium free"
  • Another nutrient to look for 5%DV or less

Fiber

  • Fiber lowers cholesterol, keeps your gut happy and fills you up!
  • Daily goal fiber intake is 21g to 38g
  • Whole grains are an awesome choice for fiber.
  • Fruits and vegetables also provide a great source of fiber. If you are cutting back on your grains, make sure to up your fruits and/or veggies!
Sugar
  • Added sugars (brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, maltose, sucrose, sugar, or syrup...to name a few) = EMPTY CALORIES. Avoid these.
Vitamins and Minerals
  • Goal is to consume 100% of each of the vitamin and mineral nutrients daily
  • By selecting a variety of nutrient-dense foods, you can achieve the proper intake of most vitamins and minerals without needing supplements
If you are still reading--good for you! This is not rocket science. A little overwhelming, yes, but with some practice and study we can all be well-educated and in complete control of the foods we are consuming. Taking ownership and responsibility for our health is a huge step toward a life-long change. Take the step!
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12 comments:

Kate said...

I just say, "HFCS is the devil." It helps me stay away. But darned if I can find a good salad dressing without it. Now, I just make my own so I don't spend hours in the grocery store.

foodiegettinfit said...

The advice to eat things with just a few pronounceable ingredients is the best of all in my book. Also to stay away from? MSG and its cousins: yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract, and even simple artificial flavors.

Tammy said...

Great information and always helpful to have a refresher. The more times I read a guide like this, the more sinks in. Thanks for sharing Keelie.

Patrick said...

Yes, ownership is the key lesson here as I read it... Knowing the facts panel is one thing & as you say not rocket science; but using it to our advantage is all up to us, up to us to practice ownership!

Raegun said...

Great tips, Keelie! Thanks for sharing this. I always look at the nutrition labels, but tend to only focus on calories and fat.

Melissa said...

This is an awesome post, Keelie! Thank you!! I love learning about nutrition, i find it interesting!! I am going to tell my readers about this post!:)

Keelie said...

Great, Melissa! Glad you enjoyed it:)

Lesley @ racingitoff.com said...

I've been reading for awhile, but rarely comment... this is a fantastic post, and I will be linking to it in the very near future.

Maria said...

This is great! Thanks for the refresher! You look amazing!

Lesley @ racingitoff.com said...

Linked... http://racingitoff.blogspot.com/2011/02/links-of-awesomeness.html

Marla said...

Thank you! I printed out a copy to keep on my desk.

Supplements Canada said...

Nutrition facts are very important. We should always look at them first before taking the product. Thanks for the valuable information.