Articles

CFBAI Releases its Uniform Nutrition Standards

I think it’s a natural instinct to want to give your child a good start to life. In doing so, one tries to select and prepare healthy foods which will start the child on a path toward becoming a strong and healthy adult. However, the days of preparing foods from scratch are gone. Today’s parents are challenged to balance the benefits of convenience with those of nutrition and cost. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult to make an informed selection in a marketplace that is stocked with foods screaming healthy claims but are not really nutrient dense.

In this regard, the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) has made a first attempt to establish uniform standards for marketing and advertising to kids by member companies. Previously all member companies had their own standards so this move toward uniform standards will give parents some assurance that the food they choose is not packed with unnecessary excesses in sodium, sugar, saturated and trans- fats. The standards affect foods in the following categories: dairy; grains; fruits and vegetables; soups and meal sauces; seeds; nuts, nut butters and spreads; meat, fish and poultry; mixed dishes; and prepared main dishes and meals, such as macaroni and cheese, with each category having its own criteria. If approved, the new CFBAI standards, will affect at least 1/3 of the products now advertised as food for children requiring them to improve their nutrient profile.

Since taste sells, prepared foods have often increased their appeal at the expense of health. This has led to a backlash against prepared foods, which have been blamed for many of our societies’ ills. In fact, it is not the technology but the competitive need to attract the largest market that is the problem. By instituting the agreement, foods designed for children will be more like the food that we would have made if we had had the time and skill to prepare them. This agreement, although not as strict as those recommended by the Interagency Working Group earlier this year, can help children to appreciate the taste of nutrient dense foods so they can grow up to be adults who appreciate the taste of simple flavors and voluntarily limit excessive intake.

 

Take a look at these other articles on the recent news:

  • ABC News: Companies Propose Curbing Junk Food Ads for Kids
  • US News & World Report: Food Industry Sets Standards for Advertising to Kids
  •  LA Times: Consumer Confidential: New limit on food ads, ‘cramming’ is costly, Spotify arrives

ENC at Pri-Med

Last week I returned from exhibiting at the Pri-med Conference in New York City. This is not the first time I have exhibited at this conference and I’m always pleased with the result.

The attendees to this conference are health professionals from all realms of the medical field. Pri-Med delivers 3 days of medical updates at a remarkably low price which attracts many health professionals who work with low income patients in a community setting. It was very rewarding for us to bring the good news to all these health professionals that eggs are now 14% lower in dietary cholesterol.

In addition, current research shows that there are many health related benefits of consuming an egg; relating to its high quality protein yet low carbohydrate and calorie content, coupled with its 13 essential vitamins and minerals all for approximately 14 cents an egg.

Anna and I were very busy throughout the 3 days talking with physicians, nurses, dietitians and physician assistants about how they can now tell their patients to go back to eating an egg a day, as recommended by the US Dietary Guidelines. We were able to sign up nearly 250 health professionals who were interested in receiving the ENC newsletter, Nutrition CloseUp, as well as completing a survey which entered them into a contest to win a year’s worth of eggs for themselves and a donation to a local NYC food bank. Not surprisingly, most HPs enjoy eggs themselves and have been advising their patients that eggs are a healthful food all along.

 

Protein at Breakfast: The Most Important Part of the Most Important Meal

Breakfast Eggs

Hi Readers!  Today we have one of our Registered Dietitian Advisors, Keith Ayoob, blogging.  Enjoy!

~Marcia

You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It’s true for everyone, and especially for kids.  There’s also plenty of science to back it up.  Kids who eat breakfast do better in school.  They also miss fewer days from school and are more likely to have a normal body weight.

Many adults skip breakfast and even when they don’t, their breakfast tends to run more towards coffee and a roll and butter.  Not much protein at all and that’s how they’re starting their day, setting themselves up for a possible crash mid-morning and real hunger pangs by lunch, which may also be skipped.

Biggest complaint about not eating breakfast is a lack of time.  As a nutritionist working with families and kids, honestly, I have a rough time with this one.  Breakfast is just too important to dismiss casually like that.  Funny – parents cringe at the thought of their child going to bed without eating dinner but they often have no problem with a child who skips breakfast.

This needs to change, but so does the way we think of breakfast in general.  Research on adults has shown that people tend to eat about two-thirds of their protein at dinner and only about 10% of it at breakfast.  That’s a concern, because the first meal of the day should contain at least as much protein as the dinner meal.  Not to say that people should be eating more protein overall, just spreading it out more evenly.  A third of your day’s protein should come at breakfast.  There’s evidence showing that people will utilize protein more efficiently, that is, for muscle growth and repair, if protein is more evenly distributed.  About a third of a day’s supply at each meal would do it.

Protein: Nature’s Appetite Regulator

Protein tends to help you feel full and satisfied, less hungry.  It does this in two ways: by blunting the rise in blood sugar and by staying in your stomach for longer, because it takes the body longer to digest it.

I have a hectic life, too.  I don’t always know when I’m going to get to lunch but I’m sensitive to hunger pangs like anyone else.  As long as I get enough protein in the morning, the timing of my next meal can be a bit more flexible – as it may need to be.

Recommendations are for between 10-35% of your calories from protein, so it’s not likely you’ll get too much protein, especially if you think of just shifting some of your protein from dinner to breakfast.  Aim for leaner protein foods to keep calories reasonable.

My Favorites at Breakfast

Cereal is often a typical at breakfast food and you don’t have to give it up to get more protein.  Indeed, whole grain cereal is a good way to get fresh fruit and low-fat milk into your diet and you need these foods.  I think of this breakfast as only a start however.  That’s right.  Add at least an ounce of lean protein to kick this breakfast into full steam.  Here are some of my favorite protein-boosting breakfast foods:

  • Hard-cooked eggs.  A total go-to food.  They’re fast, easy, and give me great protein and nutrition in the morning.  I keep a bowl in the fridge at all times and it’s a top-notch grab-and-go protein boost.  Yes, they’re absolutely OK every day.
  • Non-fat Greek yogurt.  Another great lean protein food, just pricier.
  • Low-fat cottage cheese.  It’s not “girl food”.  Check the label.  It’s protein-loaded and ready when you are.
  • Leftover dinner.  Not a big meal, just add that leftover chicken drumstick or slice of roast beef.

If you add one of the above to your usual bowl of cereal/fruit/milk, you’ll not only stay full for longer, you’ll get protein when your body actually needs more of it – first thing in the morning.

– Keith

Change:It’s What You Make of It

 

Over the past three weeks I have gone through quite a few changes between starting a new job, having a longer commute, traveling for conferences and transitioning to past president of the Illinois Dietetic Association.  I embrace change and tend to jump right in and tackle my new adventure.  Change is how we thrive and progress, however for some it can be challenging.

I am reminded of the book “Who Moved My Cheese.  At our exhibits for health professionals, ENC has started using an online survey related to the perceptions of eggs and nutrition. I was just looking at data from our most recent show and noted the question “How many whole eggs do you recommend your healthy clients eat each week?”  We had almost equal responses of 1-3 or 3-5 eggs daily (total~72 %).  Only a total of 23% answered 5-7 or more than 7 and some answered none.  Although we have the research showing the wonderful benefits of eggs and know that an egg a day is good; we can see it is difficult for some people to shift their mindset and accept this change.

Interestingly enough, during the conversations at the AAPA conference, I picked up on the following trends, which I related to characters in the book:

Sniff

Who sniffs out change early

“I’ve always eaten eggs and knew they were good.”

Scurry

Who scurries into action

“I heard the new information and changed immediately.”

Hem

Who denies and resists change as he fears

it will lead to something worse

“I cannot tell clients to eat eggs daily because they are “bad”. It will only cause more problems.”

Haw

Who learns to adapt in time when he sees changing can lead to something better!

 “I’ve been watching the research and was cautious at first, but now I am suggesting it now because (reason)”.

 There was one comment that didn’t necessarily fit in a character in the book:

“I eat eggs every day, but don’t suggest it to my clients”. Hopefully they are just mirroring Haw and will soon let everyone know “It’s All In An Egg”!

We have to think about how to educate people from all levels, because change is internal and is different for everyone.  Not everyone is Scurry and I think realizing this can help us educate our health professionals and clients.

Taking Sodium with a Grain of Salt

~Marcia

Has sodium been getting a bad rap?  A new study would have you believe so. As a dietitian who has worked with hundreds of people who have diabetes and/or heart disease, I’ve probably talked myself blue about the importance of cutting back on sodium.  The reality is that it’s hard to eat less. Wouldn’t it be great if we could start shaking salt on our foods again or reach for a handful of potato chips without feeling twinges of guilt?

To be fair, sodium isn’t all that bad.  After all, it’s needed to help regulate fluid balance in the body.  And our kidneys do a great job of controlling how much sodium we keep in our bodies, excreting any in the urine.  But in the even that your kidneys aren’t working so well (maybe due to diabetes, for example), sodium tends to stick around, making it harder for your heart to pump and raising blood pressure.

salt

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans tell us that we’re supposed to reduce our sodium intake to less than 2300 milligrams (mg) per day – that’s about a teaspoon of salt. Most of us consume at least 3400 mg per day.  If you happen to be over the age of 51, and or African American or have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease (which is about half of the American population) your goal is no more than 1500 mg per day.  Most of our sodium comes from processed foods such as cold cuts, hot dogs, canned soup, cheese and pizza.  Even some cereals, salad dressings and desserts are surprisingly high in sodium.

A study published in the May 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association begs to differ with the whole notion that too much sodium can cause problems. The authors of this study followed almost 3,700 European men and women for eight years, measuring urine sodium excretion, blood pressure and cardiac events, such as heart attack, heart failure and stroke. The results? The people who excreted the lowest amount of sodium in their urine were 56% more likely to die from heart disease compared to those excreting higher amounts of sodium.  (Keep in mind that the more sodium you consume, the more you lose in your urine). And the amount of sodium excreted seemed to have little effect on blood pressure.

These findings go against the grain of what dietitians, physicians and other health professionals have been telling us for years: too much sodium may raise blood pressure, which in turn, may increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.  But, as with many studies, there were some weaknesses with the study, including a small sample size and the fact that other factors weren’t considered, such as physical activity and calorie intake.

What does this mean for you?  It’s hard to ignore the many other, well-designed studies linking a high sodium intake with high blood pressure.  And since one in three Americans has high blood pressure, it makes sense, at least at this time, to cut back on sodium, along with reaching a healthy weight and fitting in more physical activity. So, as tempting as it may be to reach for the salt, my advice is to keep the salt shaker in the cupboard and grab the pepper mill instead!