Kitchen math that is worth the effort

fridayAt this time of year, I know that many people (myself included) are trying to make amends for indulgent food choices we made during the holidays.

Although this writer’s approach to healthy eating requires math, I think it’s an interesting approach since it helps people to evaluate not just the calories of a food but the potential nutrient value, too.

Here’s an excerpt from her article that summarizes how to evaluate foods to determine whether they are good nutrient choices:

First, find the “Percent Daily Values (% DV)” on the right side of the label. These are the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendations for how much fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you need each day if you’re eating a 2,000-calorie diet.

• If the DV is 5 percent or less, it’s considered “low” for the nutrients. A 20 percent DV or more is “high.”
• So for fat, sodium and cholesterol, a Percent Daily Value of 5 or lower is good; a DV of 20 or higher is bad.
• For total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, a DV of 5 or lower is bad; a DV of 20 or higher is good.

How do you decide what to eat? Is it all about fat and calories for you or do you count carbs? Or, do you think about other nutrients, too?


13 Responses to Kitchen math that is worth the effort

  1. I try to eat fresh foods as often as possible, so I keep reading packages to a minimum. With items like pre-packaged cereal, I look for high fibre and protein combined with a lower carb. I also read the ingredient list since it’s shocking how much added sugar goes into some items.

    I’m more into reading the ingredients lists since I’m more into avoiding bad items. I figure there are enough good ones in my diet already. But cooking as much as I can from scratch makes the difference here.

  2. Rosa says:

    I make sure everything is ok, but I don’t count the calories…



  3. Elra says:

    Same like Rosa here, I don’t count my calories and make sure that I have lots of nutritious food for my family. And, as long as I make sure that I exercise, then I feel okay. How about you Dana? Do you count?

  4. Diva says:

    I don’t count calories or fat grams, but I do avoid trans-fats. Mostly I make sure to have my reading glasses with me when I shop, so I can check the ingredients. I don’t buy things that are high in sugar or contain HFCS. I do check the fiber and carb contents of the food I buy – but if they are good carbs, I don’t worry much about it. I shop the way Charmaine has described, and in general, I try to eat fresh, not packaged things.

  5. Cheryl says:

    I rarely look at calories but more often look at sugar grams, fiber grams, and the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat. If it’s got any transfats, I don’t buy it. HFCS, don’t buy it. Like Charmian and Diva, this is getting easier and easier as my diet includes more whole foods than ever before.

  6. […] Kitchen math that is worth the effort « Dana McCauley’s food blog […]

  7. mudag says:

    it is really true???

  8. Sue says:

    Hi Dana!
    I’ve been thinking about this. I’m a pretty disciplined gym user. When I started down that road I was a religious calorie counter too. I lost a lot of weight with that combo. Once I got down to the desired weight I wasn’t so careful and some of the pounds have returned in the past few months. Now that both of my adult children are back at college I need to return to the discipline of counting calories. I think this would be a good concept for me to use for maintenance.

  9. Wow – thanks for sharing this – I NEVER look at that – lol.

  10. Jude says:

    Nice info.. I was half-expecting a writeup on using Excel spreadsheets in the kitchen. Thanks for the info on DV.. That stuff never really made much sense to me.

  11. danamccauley says:

    You are most welcome, Jude! When I read your comment I almost laughed out loud! If you could see how limited my excel skills are you’d know why!

    Elra, I don’t usually do a lot of calorie counting which is why at least once a year or so, I need to lose a few pounds! I don’t eat may convenience foods – like others who commented – I’m more or less a whole foods kind of person.

    I do like this formula though for highlighting that not all calories deliver equal nutritive value.

  12. Heather says:

    I was taught that rather than focusing on counting calories an easy way to eat pretty blanaced meals is to divide your plate into quaters, then fill 2 quarters with veggies, 1 quarter protien, and 1 quarter carbs, a tiny amount of fat rounds it out nicely. I find this concept easier to follow than any other “diets” out there. I also look at the labels when buying foods, as I like to understand what I’m buying. Thanks for the added info, it will make reading those labels a bit easier.

  13. danamccauley says:

    I’ve always found that idea super smart, too Heather! I think it really makes sense.

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