Nutrition Facts for Parents – a Guest Post by Alex White
Alex provides running classes and private run coaching for adults and kids, USATF Level 1 certified.
She is a Lululemon Run Ambassador, Cross Country coach, Lacrosse coach, Personal Trainer and Pilates instructor
Many recent studies show that fat is not making our society obese and diabetic, it is SUGAR. When your blood sugar spikes, the body releases extra insulin to bring down your blood sugar. If your body is asked to release extra insulin on a regular basis, it begins to lead to insulin resistance for many people and diabetes — especially if diabetes is in your family.
The “white category” of foods is the worst sugar offender (high glycemic index, a high glycemic load and low fiber content).
- White bread, white pasta, white potatoes, pizza dough, waffles/pancakes, bagels, short-grain white rice, mac’n cheese, pretzels, any crackers or baked goods not made from whole grains, corn flakes, puffed rice, and of course all sugary cookies/treats.
- So many so-called “healthy foods” are still very high in hidden sugar—ingredients that turn into sugar in our blood streams and cause an insulin spike.
Actually NOT healthy foods (hidden sugars):
- Whole wheat bread, corn tortillas, whole wheat crackers, whole wheat bagels, instant oatmeal, many bran flakes, Grapenuts cereal, puffed wheat cereal, apple juice, cranberry juice, corn on the cob, rice cakes, raisins, fruit rollups, tomato sauce, salad dressings and whole meal spaghetti.
- Sports drinks, like Gatorade, are meant for adults doing more than 90 mins of cardiovascular exercise at one time. Coconut water and regular water are more than enough hydration for most active kids (unless battling diarrhea).
- Even non-fat yogurt is loaded with sugar; a ONE cup container of Organic Stonyfield Farms non-fat yogurt contains 27g of sugar! (That is more than the general recommendation for an adult female for the entire day, which is about 24g.)
- Wheat (including wheat flour used in whole wheat bread/pasta/crackers) has been so over-processed and stripped of all nutrients, that it has become a form of preservative in foods. That is why your crackers and bread can remain on the shelf for weeks and weeks!
- Energy bars and meal supplement bars are often loaded with unhealthy ingredients. The majority are high in chemicals, sugars, and nutritionally void ingredients.
You can’t go by the nutrition label alone. Kraft Mac n Cheese only has about 6g of added sugar listed on the label. BUT its’ glycemic load is through the roof at 32 (over 20 is considered high). It turns quickly to sugar in your system and causes a spike and then a crash in your system. Understand your ingredient list. The fewer ingredients, the better. Lots of FIBER is key. Fiber = full longer.
Try to buy non-GMO (genetically modified) corn and FERMENTED soy that is labeled as such. 90% of our corn and soy products in the USA have been genetically modified. Unfermented soy (like soy milk) has been linked to many health issues in particular.
The AHA’s suggested added sugar threshold is no more than 100 calories per day (6 tsp or about 24 grams of sugar) for most women and no more than 150 calories per day (9 tsp or about 36 grams of sugar) for most men. Children ages 4-8 should consume no more than 130 calories, or about 12 grams a day (activity level can vary the sugar tolerance). Added sugar does not include sugars that naturally occur in fruits and vegetables.
What are the hidden names of sugar to look out for?
Food and beverage manufacturers must list a product’s total amount of sugar per serving on the Nutrition Facts Panel. But they are not required to list how much of that sugar is added sugar. That’s why you’ll need to scan the ingredients list of a food or drink to find the added sugar.
- Potato starch, Agave nectar, Brown sugar, Cane crystals, Cane sugar, Corn sweetener, Corn syrup, Crystalline fructose, Dextrose, Evaporated cane juice, Fructose, Fruit juice concentrates, Glucose, High-fructose corn syrup, Honey, Invert sugar, Lactose, Maltose, Malt syrup, Molasses, Raw sugar, Sucrose, maltodextrin, tapioca, dextrose, turbinado sugar
What are good alternative ingredients/foods?
- Brown rice pasta, spelt pasta, quinoa pasta, buckwheat pasta, flax crackers, millet, quinoa, brown rice (not brown rice flour), jasmine rice, basmati rice, amaranth, chia seeds, buckwheat, sprouted grain breads (spelt, oat or quinoa bread without cane syrup or cane juice), breads that are “Made with Whole Grains”, fermented soy products, coconut water instead of Gatorade, chocolate flavored with coconut crystals or coconut palm sugar, dried seaweed crisps, dried veggie crisps, sunflower seed butter (tastes just like peanut butter), spelt pretzels, any fruits and veggies (organic preferable), Grass-Fed Organic Meats, organic plain yogurt, organic eggs, raw nuts and seeds
- Healthy brand names to look out for (often sold at Whole Foods, Fairway, Trader Joes or health food stores like Healthway in Tenafly or Organica in Northvale)
- Mary’s Gone Crackers
- Food’s Alive
- Calbee (veggie crisps)
- Ezekiel (breads and cereal)
- Just Pure Foods (veggie chips)
- Garden of Eatin’
- The Good Bean (chick pea snacks)
- Dale’s bars (one of the only recommended “bars” that are actually healthy – can be purchased at Healthway in Tenafly or online)