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Function and Fitness Blog
Function and Fitness Blog
Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Reading Food Labels: The Ingredients List

You’re trying hard to “clean” up your eating game, but when it comes to those labels, where do you start? This week we’re continuing our series on how to read food labels. Today I’m whittling down ingredients - as in - the ingredients list.

When it comes to food labels, marketers know how to complicate things, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret - a kind “go to” when it comes to deciding what you throw in your cart.

Number One Rule: If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. That means if you’re seeing a lot of sucroslaxatosiniumblahblahblah it’s probably not something you should be eating.

Highest to Lowest

Product ingredients are listed from highest to lowest amount. That means the “most used” ingredient is listed first. For example, if you are buying peanut butter, ideally peanuts are the first (and only) ingredient. Take a look at the first three ingredients - those are probably the largest parts of what you are eating - then refer back to the number one rule: can you pronounce them?

How Many Ingredients?

Another way to make sure you’re not eating a lot of junk is to look at how long the list of ingredients is. Longer than 2 to 3 lines? Chances are it’s highly processed junk.

Do Your Research

If you run across something you’ve never seen before - such as acacia gum or xanthan gum or even what “refined” versus “unrefined” is - I suggest you pull out your phone and look it up. Knowing exactly what ingredients actually are can help you decide what you want to put in your body. When it comes to the list of ingredients, knowledge really is power.

So here’s a quick checklist when you’re standing in that grocery aisle:
  • What are the first three ingredients?
  • Can I pronounce them?
  • Are there any odd things I should look up?
  • Is the list 2-3 lines or 23 lines?

Hope that helps you whittle down while you’re trying to “whittle” down your maybe not-so-clean eating habits.


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Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Reading Food Labels: Sugar

You’re trying hard to “clean” up your eating game, but when it comes to those labels, where do you start? This week we’re starting a series on how to read food labels. Today I’m going to sweet talk you - with the 411 on Sugar.

It’s no wonder that food-makers create confusing labels - if our customers are confused they’ll just give up and buy our product. But there are ways we can outsmart these witty marketers - you just have to know the tricks they use.

Why is Sugar so Bad?

Let’s talk about why you need to be on the lookout. Sugar has been linked to diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and breast, endometrial, and colon cancers. And that’s just to name a few things. If you want to read a little more on exactly HOW sugar is processed by your body, take a look at this article from Women’s Health

As Robert Lustig, M.D., professor of pediatrics in the division of endocrinology at the University of California – San Francisco, explains, "You could make dog poop taste good with enough sugar, and the food industry does.” The truth is food-makers add a ton of sugar to things - even when we don’t need them to! That translates to you getting way more sugar than your body actually needs.

How Much is Too Much?

According to the World Health Organization, sugar should be 5% of your diet - that equates to 6 teaspoons per day. Yup! That isn’t a lot!

All the Different Names for Sugar

Before we eliminate all the unnecessary sugar in our diets, we’re going to need to know what to look for. Here are just a few of sugar’s “altar egos” you’ll want to look for when you’re perusing those labels:
  • Agave Nectar
  • Buttered Syrup
  • Blackstrap Molasses
  • Dextran
  • Dextrose
  • Diastase
  • Diastatic Malt
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Invert Sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Muscovado
  • Rice Syrup
  • Sorghum Syrup
  • Sucrose
Now that you know what you’re looking for you can tackle the sugar part of reading your labels!

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Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Can A Cheat Meal Ruin It All?

You’ve been eating clean and balanced all week - protein, fat, carbs at every meal - their correct proportions - and without dipping into the pantry for a late night snack. Then the weekend arrives and it’s three pieces of pizza, some wine, but just a small, okay maybe not really small at all, dessert. So the question is - can a cheat meal ruin all that good work you’ve put in?

Sadly, the answer is “yes.”

And it’s “yes” for a lot of reasons.

Number one: If that “cheat” means eating a day’s worth of calories in one sitting, guess what? You’ve just turned your 7 days of eating into 8 days of eating. And no, there are NOT 8 days in a week.

Number two: That one “cheat” often turns into two cheats, three cheats, four cheats, blown week. If that cheat meal is going to turn you to the dark side for the rest of the weekend and/or week, then it’s for sure going to ruin that past week of good work.

Number two point five: Just a caveat to the above note - turning on all the “bad cravings” can only trigger more. For example, a lot of people will say that once they stop eating sugar they don’t crave it, but even just one Cadbury Caramel Egg can turn on those cravings. While some lucky people out there are able to have one doughnut and then call it quits, the majority of us are apt to dive into the whole box - so just don’t start in the first place.

Number three: You’re most likely to “cheat” because you’re out with friends at a restaurant. The problem there? All the hidden things that are being put in your food. When you cook at home you know what ingredients you’re using. And if you’re a label checker, you know what’s really in those ingredients. At a restaurant, unless you’re besties with the chef, you can never be 100% of what’s going in your food or how it’s being prepared. What that translates to is a lot of hidden junk that you weren’t even calculating into your cheat meal dreams.

Now I’m not saying never cheat - that’s almost 1 million percent impossible! But if you’re going to cheat, try to be mindful about it. Is there a reason you feel compelled to have a cheat meal? Maybe a long week at work or you want to fit in with the rest of the people sitting around the table. Know the WHY behind that piece of pizza. Then put a limit on that cheat. A realistic limit. You can also make it a “not-so-cheat” meal - add a salad before that slice or two of pizza. Or have a glass of fizzy flavored water for every glass of wine. And lastly, finish off the “cheat” with a healthy treat as a way of resetting your mind and reminding it to return to the good stuff. An apple or a handful of vegetables after the pizza/pasta/deliciousness can often be a good way to “re-trigger” the clean eater in you.

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Coach Jess
5:00 AM

TRX Newbie

Before I started at FUNction and FITness my only knowledge of TRX was “those strap things that you can do a ton of exercises on.” I had never touched the straps, had no idea what exercises could be done with them, and definitely didn’t have a clue as to how to adjust them. In every sense of the word, I was a “newbie.”

And to be honest, despite the fact that I work with them every single day, I still kind of consider myself a newbie - but at least one that knows how to get into the foot cradles… kinda.

As explained on the TRX website, the TRX Suspension Trainer is “a highly portable performance training tool that leverages gravity and the user’s body weight to complete hundreds of exercises.” It’s those hundreds of exercises that make me feel like “newbie,” and why I continue to be impressed by what the TRX straps can do for both my training and your training.

We can talk at length about bodyweight training (and I’m sure we will in a later blog post), but the TRX straps are one of the most effective tools out there when it comes to this form of training. You can literally set it up anywhere (just check out Coach Ara training in the park), and you can also train every part of your body on it - from arms, to legs, to core, and everything in between - including all those joints in between. From TRX Chest Presses to TRX Oblique Crunches, you can get a full body workout with one tool. Let’s not lie, that’s kind of awesome.

So if you’re still on the fence about “those straps,” or if you still don’t know how to get in “those straps,” let any of us know. As always, we’re here to help!

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