For my first post in the nutrition series, I am going to go over how to read a nutrition label. This can be confusing for people, and can lead to diet failure. One of the most common mistakes people make when choosing food is that they assume sweets are worse for you than say, a baked potato, or pasta. A carb is a carb (refined white carbs, especially). They all break down the same in your bloodstream, turning to sugar. How fast these break down will depend on the glycemic index of your food, but that we will go over next week. First, we are going to go back to basics.
This is the most comprehensive weight management calculator I have found on the interwebs. For me, I want to consume 1800 calories per day (the minimum recommended while breastfeeding). This breaks down to 199 carbs per day... this is a fair amount... something I can live with. Essentially, this is 3 meals of 50 carbs, and two 25 carb snacks. I can break it up into smaller meals if I wish, which I usually do for breakfast. An example of this for lunch is a sandwich with two slices of wheat bread, and no cheese. Maybe a side salad with hard boiled egg, and vinaigrette dressing. Oh, and did I mention water, water, and more water? Once you figure this for yourself, your life becomes easier. Angels sing, and unicorns will cross your path regularly.
Okay, the last part isn't entirely true, but you catch my drift. What is helpful after doing this is keeping a log of everything you eat. This not only helps you to see what you are taking in, but also helps keep you accountable.. you have to write down EVERYTHING you eat. Just a bite of a cookie? Write it down. Just a few spoonfuls of your kids mac and cheese that they didn't finish (I *know* I'm not alone on this), write it down. Got it? Good.
What is equally as important as not taking in too many carbs, is taking in enough. So often I see people who starve and deprive themselves. This won't work, because you aren't making a lifestyle change. If you are craving a piece of chocolate, eat it! But I guarantee that if you make better choices and cut out the refined sugars, you will have less of these cravings.
Okay, now the fun part that I find a lot of people don't pay much mind to. See that fiber count? If it is higher than 5, you can subtract that from your carb count. For example, if you have 30 carbs, and 7 grams of fiber, your net carbs are only 23. I like to make a game of this, finding items that have as much fiber as possible, so I can eat more without taking in as many carbs. Awesome, right?
Protein? Well, protein is awesome because it slows down the breakdown of carbs in your system, making your energy last longer. Protein is great... that might be the title of my next nutrition blog :)
Thats all for today... I know it's a lot to digest (pun intended), but this is the first step to realizing your potential and living a healthier lifestyle. If you have any feedback for me, or any specific questions I can help with, please let me know. I want to make this a comprehensive and fun blog :)