Am I Making Smart Food Choices? Ask A Nutritionist.

Categories: Ask a Nutritionist, Blog

True or False: Are you making the smartest food choices? Think over a few of these true or false questions to see if you are making healthy food choices for you and your family.

1. Canned foods are always a bad food choice.

2. Instead of bread for a sandwich, use a wrap instead to save calories.

3. Trail mixes and similar types of snack mixes are always great choices for a healthy snack.

4. Diet drinks are a good choice to help you lose weight.

5. Always choose low calorie yogurt instead of full fat yogurt.

6. Gluten-free baked products can help everyone lose weight.

7. Always pick reduced fat foods when trying to lose weight.

8. Protein bars are the best snacks – especially after exercising.

You may be surprised to learn that the answer to ALL of these questions is: False. Here’s why:

1. Many canned foods can be healthy, inexpensive, and a quick meal. Try canned beans, an excellent source of protein. Canned fruit packed in its own juice is a healthy snack or dessert. Canned tomatoes can be added to soups and stews. And canned salmon makes a great lunch sandwich or meal. Remember to look for  “low sodium” on the label of beans and tomatoes. Or rinse the beans before using to cut down on salt.

2. Wraps such as flour wraps can have almost the same amount of calories as 3 or 4 slices of bread.  Better to choose 2 slices of 100 per cent whole wheat bread.

3.  Some trail mixes can be filled with salty and sugary foods. Read the label carefully and limit your potion size to one serving. Or make your own using unsalted pretzels, unsalted nuts and dried fruit.

4.  Recent research has found that artificially sweetened drinks can increase cravings for other high sugar and calorie foods. Drink water flavored with lemon, lime or any other fresh fruit.

5.  Low calorie yogurt may have less fat and sugar, but added artificial sweeteners and thickeners. Try plain, full fat yogurt and add your own fresh fruit.

6.  Unless you suffer from celiac disease, there is no reason to choose gluten-free foods. Many gluten-free foods are higher in calories than the regular food with wheat.

7.  Reduced fat foods can be highly processed and sometimes higher in calories and sugar than the regular versions. Read labels carefully. An occasional (but not every day!) small portion of the regular food is a good alternative.

8.  Some protein bars can be mainly made up of sugar, fat and protein powder. After a workout, try a handful of nuts with some fresh fruit, a slice of turkey and cheese and whole wheat crackers or half a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread. Look for a peanut butter brand with no added sugar.

Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) in the Office of Communication and Public Liaison for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1997-2016.  Previously, Ms. Gallivan has served as project manager for NIDDK’s Weight-Control Information Network (WIN), a national source of information on weight control, obesity, and weight-related nutritional disorders for health professionals and the public; as Contract Manager for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program and Obesity Education Initiative, and as Director of the Prince George’s County Health Department Nutrition Division located in Maryland.

Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is a free clinic in Charleston, SC, that provides free medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist. The Free Clinic serves uninsured adults living at or below 299 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, James, & Wadmalaw Island or Folly Beach, or serve the Hospitality Industry of Downtown Charleston. You can sign up for our monthly e-news updates, or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.