Sugar Math Misconceptions

Recently, a dietitian reader reached out to us with some old information about people’s recommended intake of added sugars. This interaction made me realize how much misinformation is still out there about sugar, so I want to set the record straight right now.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people “Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.”

That recommendation can be hard for people to apply in their daily lives if they struggle with calculating their total calorie intake and then what 10% of that number would be, so my team and I did a little math to  make the guidelines’ recommendation clearer to consumers.

Here’s what we did…

  • We found that the average daily calorie intake for most Americans is roughly 2,000 calories per day.
  • We calculated how many calories make up 10% of that daily intake.
  • We converted the number of calories to grams of added sugars so that people could easily calculate how much a food would impact this upper limit by using the Nutrition Facts label.
  • Just for fun, we also converted that amount to teaspoons of sugar. That way, people would have one more strategy for applying these numbers to their own lives.

All that math revealed that people should get no more than 200 calories per day from added sugars. That’s only 50 grams of added sugars per day! Since there are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon, that comes out to only 12.5 daily teaspoons.

We put all that information into our eye-catching Sugar Math poster and a tearpad to match. Take a look!

The information on which we based all these calculations has been supported by MyPlate, which is a publication of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, also known as the USDA.

And of course, the fun doesn’t stop there!

We then delved into the sources of added sugars in the American diet, figuring that knowing the top sources of hidden sugars in an eating pattern would be useful for consumers who are looking to follow the new sugar limits. We poured a lot of that knowledge into the Sugar Math poster and tearpad, along with the Are You Drinking Candy? poster and handout set. The lollipops in the latter really highlight how many added sugars are in a variety of common drinks. See for yourself!

Anyway, I just wanted to shine a light on some of the latest information about added sugars and empty calories. Misconceptions can lurk where you least expect them, but they sure are great teaching opportunities!

Oh, and here is a closer look at some sugar resources that my team and I have made…

Make Your Salad a Rainbow!

Did you know that four final rules for implementing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) were just announced?

In a nutshell, the USDA finalized its rules for nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, including breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

According to a press release sent out by the USDA, “As a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation, the rules will ensure that children have access to healthy snacks and that nutrition standards for the foods marketed and served in schools are consistent. The rules will also promote integrity across the school meals programs.”

Want to help communicate the key nutrition lessons that are central to these new rules?

Check out this fantastic new salad bar sign!

After all, making healthful food available is only half the battle. We need to make it appealing to kids too.

 

This new salad bar sign is a better design and at a lower price than the previous version, and the video above offers some great inspiration on how to use it.

And that’s just the beginning. Here are some other “eat from the rainbow” resources that can help make healthful foods appealing to kids of all ages…

And here’s a free printable handout about eating a variety of healthful foods…

Rainbow Salad Handout

Confessions of a Juice Drinker

RIMG6810You would have thought I had committed a heinous crime when I admitted to a group of women that I frequently drink orange juice in the morning.  I know that eating whole fruit is a better choice, but I like juice.

Their astonished comments were accompanied by what they thought was a known fact that there was lots of sugar in juice. OK I admit this. One eight-ounce glass of juice contains 21 grams of sugar. However, if you drink only pure 100% juice, then that sugar is all from the fruit itself, not added sugar.

After their admonishments, I’m still trying to convince myself that drinking juice is acceptable. One of my rationalizations is that I make an effort to seek out juice that has added calcium and vitamin D. At least I’m getting those extra nutrients.

I also admit that I like lots of pulp. The pulp in orange juice is real orange pulp, but it doesn’t amount to any significant fiber. That said, I still like it. The majority of orange juice sold is pulp free, so the pulp is actually removed at the beginning of the process and then added back into juices that have pulp.

It takes about three oranges to make a cup of juice. Juice allows for a lot of calories to be consumed quickly. There are 71 calories in one orange, yet 8 ounces of orange juice provides 112 calories. If I ate three oranges instead of drinking the juice, I certainly would feel a lot fuller! Part of that is due to the three grams of dietary fiber in each orange.RIMG6848

It seems I’m not the only person who likes juice. According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 1/3 of all fruit consumption in America is in the form of juice. The most commonly consumed fruit juices are orange, apple, and grape.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we “shift to mostly whole fruits, in nutrient-dense forms.” The guidelines also say that “although fruit juice can be part of a healthy eating pattern, it is lower than whole fruit in dietary fiber and when consumed in excess can contribute extra calories. Therefore, at least half of the recommended amount of fruit eaten daily should come from whole fruits.” They also go on to say that when juices are consumed, they should be 100% juice, without added sugar.

Here’s a tip when it comes to children and juice: the amount of fruit juice allowed in the USDA Food Patterns for young children aligns with the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Young children should consume no more than 4 to 6 ounces of 100% fruit juice per day.

RIMG6844Let’s end with a comparison:

Whole fruit: offers fewer calories for the satiety it provides, features more dietary fiber, takes longer to eat and therefore provides more eating satisfaction

Juice: offers a quick and easy way to reach daily fruit servings and could be enriched with needed nutrients

Here are the take home messages:

  • Seek moderation in all things.
  • Watch the amount of juice consumed.
  • Make that “shift” to whole fruit whenever possible.

Some habits are hard to break.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

PS Here’s a printable handout that features the highlights of today’s post.

Juice

Make a Healthy Plate!

MyPlate Plate for KidsMyPlate Plate

I’ve just launched a few new MyPlate plates, and I couldn’t wait another moment for you to see them!

These MyPlate plates have been favorites of health and nutrition educators since I first came up with the idea a few years ago. After all, who wouldn’t want an actual plate to use while learning and teaching the key lessons of MyPlate?

These new designs for portion control and kids highlight the importance of balancing eating patterns with physical activity, and there are great options for both adults and kids. In addition to being wonderful teaching tools, these plates are also perfect for prizes, cooking demonstrations, displays, presentations, and much more!

As a treat today, I’d like to share a MyPlate activity that you could do with any of these plates or even a paper plate. Are you ready?

MyPlate Activity: Fill the Plate

What you’ll need:

  • Physical MyPlate Plates
  • Magazines
  • Scissors

What you’ll do:

Assemble your group, pass out the plates, and make sure everyone has access to the scissors and magazines. Explain that they are going to cut out pictures of food and then sort them into the appropriate areas of MyPlate.

Offer your participants some time to cut out their selections, then explain the next part of the activity.

Pick a food group and call it out. The participants must find a food that fits into that group (from their collection of magazine images) and place it on the correct section of the plate, holding up both the picture and the plate so that you can see it. Award points for speed and accuracy, correcting any misconceptions that may crop up.

After the game is over, you discuss the results and let the class go or add a twist. For the latter, see who can find the healthiest food to fit in a food group the fastest. Discuss. What makes each food a good fit for its food group? What nutrients does it contain? How much saturated fat, added sugars, or sodium is in the food?

I hope you liked this glimpse of the MyPlate activity that can go with the new MyPlate plates. Don’t miss some of the other wonderful MyPlate resources that are available now in the Nutrition Education Store

Nutrition Poster Guide

Today I want to try something a little different.

I’d like to offer a tour of a few lessons from some of the top posters in the Nutrition Education Store.

You see, 3 different posters have been extremely popular amongst health and nutrition educators recently, and now I want to draw them to your attention. After all, my job is to help you look your very best right now. So let’s take a look at the 3 top posters in the Nutrition Education Store.

Are you ready for this?

Sugar Math PosterPoster #1 is the new Sugar Math Poster. Its key lesson is to limit added sugars. 

How does it teach this lesson?

Through math problems!

You see, sometimes communicating important nutrition messages is a matter of breaking them down into manageable sections, making the information both accessible and memorable.

This poster manages that with varied representations of just how much added sugar people should limit themselves to each day.

Remember, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise people to “Shift to reduce added sugars consumption to less than 10 percent of calories per day.” That 10% is roughly 200 calories for the average person. That’s equal to 50 grams, which in turn is equal to about 12 teaspoons. The Sugar Math Poster features images of each of these amounts in an approach that’s bound to appeal to a wide range of learning styles.

The poster also highlights key sources of added sugars and spells out how to figure out how much added sugar is in a variety of packaged foods. No wonder it’s one of the most popular posters in the store!

Now let’s move on to the next poster.

Eating Patterns PosterPoster #2 is the Eating Patterns Poster from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans series. Its key lesson is to shift into a healthier eating pattern.

As you can see, this poster focuses on what is and is not included in a healthy eating pattern. With beautiful photos placed in a uniquely eye-catching arrangement, this post rocketed to the top of our list practically as soon as it was released.

So why represent healthy foods visually?

The photos demonstrate that healthy eating doesn’t have to be plain and boring. By making the foods that people need to consume look their very best, the photos in this poster add appeal to the eating pattern they’re illustrating. Plus, they provide a pop of color that would be welcome in any office, cafeteria, or display.

How would you use this poster in your life?

MyPlate PosterFinally, poster #3 is a classic — our very first MyPlate Poster. It teaches a fun way to balance your plate at each meal.

Ever since the USDA released MyPlate in 2011, it has been a popular tool to help educators teach their audiences about proper portions and proportions. As you know, My Plate offers a way to visualize a healthy and balanced plate at each meal, with half the plate filled with fruits and vegetables, grains taking up another quarter, and the remaining quarter of the plate filled with protein foods. A side of dairy rounds out the plate and completes the look.

Each food group has its own lessons and tips, and they all come together to create a healthy eating experience. This poster highlights the most important aspects of MyPlate, illustrating each food group and drawing attention to the key lessons associated with each section of the plate. Its as memorable as it is engaging, and the My Plate poster has been getting rave reviews since we first brought it to the store.

As an added bonus, I’d like to offer you an exclusive look at the handout that accompanies this MyPlate poster. Normally you could only get it if you bought the poster, but I want to make an exception today, so get your free copy of this handout now!

MyPlate Poster Handout

And finally, here are some more of the materials that are at the top of the Nutrition Education Store right now!

12 Lessons of Diabetes Kit

My Plate Handout Tearpad

Cooking Demonstration Kit: Set of 10 Cooking Demo Tools

 

Where Does the Information Come From?

How does Food and Health get the information it offers?

I’ve been asked that question a lot lately, and since I’m so proud of the answer, I want to share it with you. After all, it’s important to get your information from sources that are trustworthy and accurate. How else are you going to have confidence in what you offer your clients?

Dietry Guidelines for Americans

So, let’s start with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The Dietary Guidelines are our gold standard and the base for many of our materials and articles. To make the guidelines, a committee of university professors go through the latest peer-reviewed journals and distill the most important information into a document for the public. These guidelines are updated every five years, and a new update is just around the corner!

MyPlate is also a key player on our stage. Put forward by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), MyPlate is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and offers a guide to what people should eat each day, along with descriptions of the health impact of various foods. MyPlate is key to the health and nutrition policies of many government agencies and public schools.

MyPlate in Schools

Of course, we don’t stop there! We constantly monitor government agencies and associations for news updates and scientific information. Here are the heavy hitters…

Checking in with the American Heart Association

Now let’s talk about our team. After all, what we do with the information is almost as important as where we get it, right?

Our professionally-accredited editors and advisory board members evaluate the data, looking for practical information, updates, and opinions from private and public practices. Then they put everything into plain language that highlights the key points.

 

After that, we arrange everything into aesthetically-pleasing and engaging handouts and blog posts with the help of our artists and web team. Our chef often creates related materials to help make sticking to these health recommendations easier. After all, it’s more fun to eat healthfully when the food also looks delicious and tastes good, right?

But the bottom line is that we stick to peer-reviewed science that you can trust.

Discussing New Findings

In fact, we don’t accept any industry advertising whatsoever. That way, we never feel compelled to protect our sponsors or present any information in a different light that might be less harmful to foods that aren’t good for our health. Since we don’t receive advertising dollars, we don’t have to appease our advertisers. Instead, we can focus on you.

So there you have it. A closer look at our information, how we present it and where we get it. I hope you enjoyed it!

Want to see how we put that information to good use? Here are some of our favorite heath and nutrition educational materials…

Dietary Guidelines for Americans Poster Set

6 Lessons of Heart Health PowerPoint and Handout Set

Premium Diabetes Education Kit

Oh, and as a special bonus, I’ve included a copy of the handout that comes with the Freedom from Chronic Disease poster. Want a PDF version that’s all your own? Get your copy right here!Freedom from Chronic Disease

Internal Cooking Temperatures: Simply Confusing

It seems so simple.

Food TemperatureThere are four basic steps to food safety: wash, separate, cook, and refrigerate. Today I’m focusing on cook.

This recommendation seems simple to me: “cook food to a proper internal temperature and use a food thermometer.” So, why is it so hard?

Let’s take a minute to explore what preparing food safely actually entails. A couple of months ago, Judy Doherty, founder of Food and Health Communications, asked me to help her develop a food safety temperature poster.  She was looking to do something specifically about food temperatures. We started at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (freezer temperature) and went all the way up to 240 degrees (pressure canning). Although it may seem predictable, filling the space in between wasn’t so easy.

I teach a lot of restaurant food safety, so the first reference I want to was the Food and Drug Association’s (FDA) Food Code. In it, they list the recommended minimum internal cooking temperatures for food service. So far so good. But then I looked at the United States Department of Agriculture and found a different chart for minimum internal temperatures. This one was designed for consumers. All the recommended temperatures were the same or higher than the food code temperatures. That’s a little confusing. If there really is one “proper internal temperature,” then how can these differ?

I talked with a consumer adviser from the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline and asked about this difference. The response was that their information was designed for consumers who cook at home. This makes the authors of the chart more conservative than they are with food code guidelines. I can understand this, since restaurant and food service folks have standard operating procedures for food safety that are not found in most homes.

After my call, I went to the National Turkey Federation to confirm the recommended internal temperatures for poultry. In checking several recipes, I found at least three different temperatures for roasted turkey. On their website, the National Turkey Federation does a nice job explaining the rationale for these differing temperatures, saying:

“The FDA recommendations are for safety-temperatures at a sufficient level to kill bacteria that may be present. Our own recommended temperatures are somewhat higher in many cases. We have chosen these temperatures because we believe they will enable you to achieve optimum quality. In addition, turkey will be easier to carve or slice when heated/cooked to these temperatures.”

OK. This makes sense. When in doubt, use the higher temperature. Here is the USDA information:

Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart

Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential in preventing foodborne illness. You can’t see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. In every step of food preparation, follow the four guidelines to keep food safe:

  • Clean—Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate—Separate raw meat from other foods.
  • Cook—Cook to the right temperature.
  • Chill—Refrigerate food promptly.

Cook all food to these minimum internal temperatures as measured with a food thermometer before removing food from the heat source. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook food to higher temperatures.

Product Minimum Internal Temperature & Rest Time
Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb
Steaks, chops, roasts
145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Ground meats 160 °F (71.1 °C)
Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked) 145 °F (60 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Fully Cooked Ham
(to reheat)
Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F (60 °C) and all others to 165 °F (73.9 °C).

 

Product Minimum Internal Temperature
All Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings, ground poultry, and stuffing) 165 °F (73.9 °C)
Eggs 160 °F (71.1 °C)
Fish & Shellfish 145 °F (62.8 °C)
Leftovers 165 °F (73.9 °C)
Casseroles 165 °F (73.9 °C)

My concern is not to haggle over a few degrees here or there. My goal as a teacher and writer is to encourage people to use that thermometer. USDA studies show that 65% of consumers use food thermometers on Thanksgiving, but only 3% use them when cooking everyday foods like burgers. Why skip the thermometer?

“Cook” is one of the key steps to food safety. Cooking food so that it reaches a safe internal temperature is crucial to keeping food safe. Using thermometer is the only way to tell for sure whether food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy harmful bacteria.

The bottom line is simple: are your clients using a food thermometer? Do they know the temperature of the food they’re eating and serving?

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Here is the new food safety temperature chart poster based on USDA temperature guides:

And one on food safety:

4 Steps of Food Safety Poster

4 Steps of Food Safety Poster

And more great resources!

Cooking Demo Package

Cooking Demo Display Kit

Free Handout: Back to Basics with MyPlate

It’s time to get back to basics with MyPlate. Let’s take a break from the latest updates and in-depth explorations of nutrition science and take a good look at the building blocks of health and balanced eating. Sometimes, a moment back to the basics is all you need, and this MyPlate resource is perfect for your clients. You definitely don’t want to miss this free handout.

MyPlate Basics

The free nutrition handout is the MyPlate Strategy Guide. It’s two pages long and covers all the basics of the USDA plate. We call it a strategy guide because it offers simple ways to incorporate the lessons of MyPlate into everyday life. So download it today and share it with your clients! It’s perfect for an email blast, bulletin board display, or simple handout.

(You know what goes well with this handout? MyPlate posters! And, if you’re looking for another way to approach the lessons of MyPlate, then be sure to check out the MyPlate for Kids section of the Nutrition Education Store).

MyPlate Poster

MyPlate for Kids Bulletin Board Kit

MyPlate Set of Paper Plates