What the heck is a calorie?

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We hear so much about calories when it comes to our body weight and how much food we should have. The importance of calories is underscored by the amount being prominently displayed just under the serving size at the top of the Nutrition Facts label on food packages.

Simply put, a calorie is a unit of measure of energy. Purely scientifically, a calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise one cubic centimeter (think of a little box with half-inch sides all around) of water one degree Celsius…

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Nutrition 101 for Life Series

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This series is created to help you understand the science behind food in a way that you can use. Hopefully, it will dispel some myths and take some of the guesswork out of making healthy choices, just like using Guiding Stars does! I’d like to start with describing calories. Then I’ll follow with the macronutrients that give us the calories that fuel our bodies…

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What you don’t know…

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Right now you are riding on the information superhighway, the Internet. Where we are supposed to have every tidbit of information that we could need or want virtually (and literally) at our fingertips. But, do we really have all the information that we need, whether from the Internet or other sources? And, how easy is that information to understand, digest and put to use in our everyday lives?

I ask you these questions because there has been a tidal wave across the globe of providing nutrition information on foods and beverages at point of purchase. Menu labeling in chain restaurants is now law in four states including Maine, California, Oregon and Massachusetts. Menu labeling legislation has also passed in multiple municipalities, most notably and the first to pass this type of law was New York City. This wave has to do with a consumer’s right to know and have easy access to information that has a direct effect on their health. How are you supposed to make an informed choice if the information you need to make that choice is not easily available when you need it?

Menu labeling legislation has reached national prominence and is a part of health reform – H.R. 3962 Affordable Health Care for America Act.

The rationale behind the Nutrition Facts label is to provide consumers with information to help them make informed food and beverage choices that contribute to a healthy diet. While you can trust the information on the Nutrition Facts label as being sound and accurate, it may not be easy for you to understand and use. This is where programs such as Guiding Stars can help you make informed and easy decisions about which foods and beverages to use. Guiding Stars is based on the information provided on the Nutrition Facts label. I work in public health and am passionate about people having easy access to healthy choices where they live, work and play.

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Resolutions for 2010

Well, it’s already January and I haven’t come up with my New Year’s resolutions for 2010. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I have plenty that I can work on: to be a better person, or to finally meet the high expectations that I’ve set for myself.

I feel as if I should have already gotten it right by now… Weren’t there a bunch of goals for 2010? Oh yeah –> Healthy People 2010.

Healthy People 2010

So, have we reached any of those health goals as a nation? According to the progress reported on nutrition and overweight, we are far from reaching our target goals. For example, overweight and obesity in children and adolescents is getting worse; there has been little or no progress in fruit, vegetable, or whole grain product consumption; little or no progress in sodium (part of salt) intake; and a glimmer with calcium (lots found in dairy foods) intake improving. The report shows that the weight status and diets of Americans continue to remain an important public health and economic concern.

…there has been little or no progress in fruit, vegetable, or whole grain product consumption; little or no progress in sodium intake; and only a glimmer of improvement in calcium intake.

Get involved

You might be asking, what can I do about this? Can I contribute to my own health and diet and help the nation reach its health goals at the same time? The answer is yes, of course you can. The real question is, will you? What will it take?

Maybe you are in a new phase of life as an empty nester? I am. My three lovely daughters have left the nest, one is a college graduate living and working in New York City. The other two are in college in Boston. While I am still a mom and a wife and work full time — it seems as if I have all kinds of time on my hands. What to do with that time? Shall I become a foodie or a weekend warrior athlete? And should I drag my husband along for the ride?

Make 2010 a year of healthier choices

When I googled New Year’s resolutions 2010, it came up with 17,300,000 sites. Apparently, there are plenty to choose from and everyone is doing it! Okay, here goes, yes, I can definitely lose weight and feel better. I will eat more fruits and vegetables every day by reaching for them instead of chocolate. I will be physically active at least 5 days a week and invite my husband to join me.

There, I feel better already. Have a wonderful new year that is healthy, happy and safe!

What will you do in 2010 to make healthier choices?

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Massive Food Hysteria

As a Registered Dietitian, it is difficult to read about, see, and hear all the misconceptions that are promoted in the media and on the Internet regarding nutrition and its relationship to health. I worry that people are spending a lot of time and money on quick fixes, supplements, books, or fad diets that won’t, in the end, deliver on their promises…

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These are a few of my favorite things…

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One of my favorite aspects of Guiding Stars is when I am standing in the grocery store aisle deciding what to buy; I can look at all the crackers, for example, and compare them all by star value, regardless of brand, manufacturer or price. The other day I wanted to choose more nutritious crackers to have in the pantry at home. I know that some crackers can be made from refined white flour…

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