According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 30% of Americans qualify as obese; and even more are defined as overweight. Weight management is at the forefront of healthy living. Obesity and overweight conditions contribute to a vast array of maladies including heart disease, diabetes, and depression. With all the press about a healthy diet, why is weight management such a difficult element of our lifestyle? Are we simply lazy, or is there something else at work here? Hard was we try, we may be playing with a stacked deck. Many people find that their biggest challenge lies on the diet side of the equation. A good first step in conquering the battle of the belt line is checking food labels. When you do, here are three things to watch for on the government mandated nutritional information panel:
Sodium is an essential nutrient for life. The down side is that, taken in large amounts it can contribute to high blood pressure and weight gain; which in turn, can increase your chance of a stroke or heart disease. Key recommendations by the USDA’s new Dietary Guidelines suggest less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium; and, 1,500 mg if you are 51 or older. By way of comparison, adults between the ages of 19-59 consume an average of 3,400 mg per day.
The challenge lies in all the foods that contain large amounts of sodium such as breads, chicken, pasta, cold cuts, and condiments. In fact, just these five categories contain nearly one-third of the recommended daily allowance.
Fats and Added Sugar
A low-fat diet is not exactly a revolutionary idea, but what kind of fat is good or bad? Trans-fats and saturated fats are the culprits. Stay away from things like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and other solid fat additives.
The idea is to eat whole grains. If the nutritional panel states “enriched” or “bleached” skip it. Bread manufacturers also like to add sugar to their loaves. Skip the product that contains sugar as an ingredient higher than fifth in the list. Look for whole grains as the first ingredient including wheat, rye, and oat. Making the commitment to eat healthy is an important first step in maintaining your weight and your health. Watching nutritional labels can go a long way to helping in watching your waistline.