Nutrition Counseling: A Lesson on Food Labels and Fats

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | nutrition

Dec 20

Hey there and Happy Friday!  I am finally on VACATION and I couldn’t be happier!  I was able to finish up a majority of my Christmas shopping today, and hope that everyone loves what Santa Janelle got them this year!

On Wednesday I had my last nutrition counseling session of the year.  You can read about visit 1, visit 2, visit 3, visit 4, and visit 5 by checking out the links.

The good news is that my weight remains to be stable.  I am still hovering around my goal of 130 pounds and that makes me VERY happy.  Prior to seeing the dietitian, I was creeping up towards 140.  So I would definitely say that changing my nutrition made a huge difference!

The food logging is always a struggle, but overall Danielle thinks I’m doing a pretty good job. I am keeping aware of the food groups I consume through the day and definitely getting plenty of protein sources, so I’m happy.  I had one luncheon and 2 retirement parties to attend this week, so I knew there would be carbs galore!  But I mostly behaved myself…except for those two slices of cake, oops!

Learning about food labels and fats! #nutrition Share on X

Learn what you need to know about reading food labels and what different fats actually mean!

Food Labels and Daily Values

We discussed food labels in detail.  I thought I had a pretty good handle on them; serving sizes, calories, you know the deal.  But there is a lot that I didn’t know!

Credit to

When it comes to % Daily Values,

  • 5% or less of a nutrient is “low source”
  • 10%-19% is a “good source”
  • 20% or more of a nutrient is a “high source”

Who knew?! Luckily, the percentages on food labels work pretty well for me because I’m on a 1900 calorie diet plan.  I will use these numbers as a guide moving forward.

What really blew my mind was learning about label claims.  I had no idea that these claims have actual definitions that are regulated by the government.  For example:

    • Fat Free/Sugar Free:  Less than 0.5 grams of fat/sugar
    • Low Fat:  3 grams of fat or less
    • Reduced Fat/Sugar:  At least 25% less fat/sugar than the regular version
    • Cholesterol Free:  Less than 2 mg cholesterol and less than 2 grams of saturated fat
    • Calorie Free:  Less than 5 calories
    • Low calorie:  40 calories or less
    • Light/lite:  1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat
    • Sodium Free:  Less than 5 mg sodium per serving
    • Low sodium:  140 mg or less of sodium per serving
    • Reduced/less sodium:  at least 25% less sodium than the regular version
    • Light in sodium:  50% less sodium than the regular version

So if you see a product in the stores claiming to be “low calorie” and it doesn’t fit the definition….beware!  This was actually a pretty scary discovery to me.  I thought by buying “light” or “reduced” products that I was doing the right thing, but that may not necessarily be true.  Needless to say, I will be shopping much more carefully in the future!

You may also like:  Food Shopping Fun

Definition of Fats

We also discussed fats.  Most of us probably know that saturated fats are “bad” and unsaturated fats are “good”, and LDL cholesterol is “bad” and HDL cholesterol is “good”. But we went a little deeper than that.

Saturated fats are found in animal sources such as beef and eggs and is solid at room temperature.  It raises cholesterol levels and is associated with heart disease.

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temp and found in most vegetable oils.  Of the unsaturated fats, you have:

      • Monounsaturated fats: found in canola, olive, safflower and peanut oil.  Lowers LDL cholesterol and maintains HDL cholesterol.
      • Polyunsaturated fats:  found in corn, soybean, and sunflower oils, omega 3’s, nuts, seeds, and avocado. Lowers both LDL and HDL cholesterol.

The other fat I had no clue about, and those are Trans Fats.  They are typically found in margarine or shortening and are similar in stability to saturated fats.  According to my dietitian, trans fats may be worse than saturated fat as it lowers HDL (good) cholesterol and may increase insulin resistance.  Yikes!

In Summary

So some takeaways that I had from this session:

      • Watch out for those 20% daily values
      • Just because it’s “reduced”, doesn’t mean it’s healthy
      • Say NO to Trans Fats!
      • If there are “hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients, stay away!
      • As always, try to maintain a balance throughout the day

I’ll be spending time with my family pretty soon for the holidays, and I’m so looking forward to it.  I think I’ve got about 2 more posts to make before the end of 2013!  What a year!


Monday 12/16:  Ran 2.38 miles on the treadmill, followed by hip strengthening exercises.

Tuesday 12/17:  Boot Camp Class.  Tons of squats and reverse lunges as always, also did kick outs, 3 sets of 20 pushups, and the usual core stuff.  By the end of the day, my left knee was feeling awful even after icing.

Wednesday 12/18:  Rest.  The knee was really killing me.  I was seriously worried.

Thursday 12/19:  Short 1.10 miles on the treadmill, followed by Boot Camp Class.  We did these really tough sets with dumbbells going from pushup, squat, Arnolds, and back to pushups all over again.  My knee felt much better, but I’m keeping an eye on it.

How do you handle reading food labels?  And are you picky when it comes to consuming fats?  How do you keep it all in control?

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