Today I’m going to explain how to read the Nutrition Information Sheet so you can better understand what you’re eating and how you can use these Information Sheets to help you make better eating decisions.
At Trisha's Healthy Table and personally, as a Nutritionist, my number one priority is helping you eat more fruits, veggies and whole-grains (in a way that tastes great and is filling too).
Why? Because Americans are deficient in these foods.
Americans are in a whole-plant food deficiency (not a protein deficiency!). In order for us to enjoy eating fruits, veggies and whole-grains all day, everyday, and get the health benefits that comes with them, the food has to taste freakin’ awesome.
That's why my husband and I, Chef Erik Hoffman, started Trisha's Healthy Table and our prepared, plant-based dinners to-go service -- we want to help people love the taste of healthy vegan meals so you can enjoy the health benefits that goes along with them.
Over the last few months, our team with the help of an awesome student at the University of South Carolina, have invested a huge amount of time figuring out the nutrition information for all of our dinners.
Even if you'll never eat any of Trisha's Healthy Table dinners to-go, you can still learn from the "whys" behind the nutrition information we give with all our dinners.
Our Nutrition Information Sheets share more than just the calories, protein and carbs most of the meal kit delivery services, like Blue Apron, do. We want you to learn even more from our Nutrition Information Sheets so you can make better food and healthy decisions on your own.
Here's everything Trisha's Healthy Table includes in our Nutrition Information Sheets for our dinners...
- Servings of veggies, whole-grains and fruit
- Fiber (g)
- Minerals (mg): calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and sodium
- Macronutrients (g): carbohydrates, fat and protein
- Non-essential fats (g): Cholesterol, trans fat and saturated fat
Why do we include the servings of fruits, veggies and whole-grains with our vegan dinners to-go?
In South Carolina, 91% of us don’t meet the fruit and vegetable intake recommendations (1). When it comes to the entire country, not one state in the entire USA meets the daily fruit and veggie recommendations (2).
How about whole-grains?
Unfortunately, American’s whole-grain consumption has remained stagnant from 2001-2010. Less than one-third of all Americans meets the whole-grain recommendations (3).
Because we’re awfully deficient in fruits, veggies and whole-grains, it makes complete sense that we’re nowhere close to meeting the fiber recommendations either (fiber is only found in whole, plant foods). All age groups in the U.S. ate less than 50% of the recommended amount of fiber from 2001-2010 (3).
Now that we know how much fruits, veggies and whole-grains Americans are eating (or really, aren’t eating), we need to know how much we should be eating.
How many servings of fruits, veggies and whole-grains should you be eating everyday?
According to the USDA, women ages 19-50 years old should eat 2 ½ cups of veggies and women 51+ years should eat at least 2 cups of veggies a day. Women ages 31 and over should eat at least 1.5 cups of fruit a day.
This is one reason why Trisha’s Healthy Table shares the number of servings of fruits, veggies and whole-grains in our dinners (and it's why we only cook with whole, plant foods!).
For example, in our Roasted Sweet Potato Bowl, the entire bowl is veggies (including filling veggies like sweet potatoes and chickpeas) with a seed-based dressing to top.
So, in just one serving of this THT dinner, you’re getting 4.25 servings of veggies. That’s more veggies in one dinner than most Americans eat in one day! Check it out....
Roasted Sweet Potato Bowl
Another reason we focus on servings of certain foods (and why we include an ingredient list), is because food is SO much more than calories. In fact, I really didn't want to even include calories on our Nutrition Information because I teach people to eat, lose-weight and improve health without counting calories and without portion restriction.
That's why the calories are listed on the bottom of our Nutrition Information Sheets -- if you're eating whole food, plant-based and in the correct ratios, you don't need to worry about calories. My fear of someone focusing solely on calories is that you could still be eating disease- and weight-promoting foods even if it's lower in calories.
Bottom line, the ingredients of what you're eating are more important than just the calories.
However, we've structured our Nutrition Information Sheets in a way that you can see what part of the dinner is driving the fat or calorie content up. For example, our Roasted Sweet Potato Bowl contains a sweet potato and veggie mixture, seasoned chickpeas and a maple-tahini sauce to top. We've divided the Nutrition Information up for each part of the meal AND the total. Take a look...
You can see that the tahini sauce (a high-fat food) is what drove up the fat content of the meal, driving up the calorie-content. If you really needed to watch your fat (if you had advanced heart disease or type II diabetes for example), you could leave the tahini sauce off.
I also want you to learn that calcium and other vitamins and minerals come from plants too! Actually, that's where the cow's get their calcium from :)
If there was broccoli in this bowl, there'd be even more calcium in it!
Take Control Now Question
What do you wish was listed on Trisha's Healthy Table Nutrition Info Sheets OR nutrition labels on food packages? What is most challenging about nutrition labels for you?
Answer by scrolling down and clicking 'comment' below.
1. DHEC, 2011. South Carolina Obesity Burden Report, CDC. Accessed online, May 2016 at: https://www.scdhec.gov/Health/docs/Obesity%20Burden%20Report%202011.pdf
2. CDC Indicator report, 2013. Accessed online May 2016 at: http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/downloads/national-action-guide2013.pdf
3. McGill, CR., Fulgoni, VL. and Devareddy, L. 2015. Ten-Year Trends in Fiber and Whole Grain Intakes and Food Sources for the United States Population: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001–2010. Nutrients, Feb; 7(2): 1119–1130.
4. USDA fruit and vegetable recommendations. Accessed online, May 2016 at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruit