Boys & Girls Club

of Greater Kansas City Wellness Program

Welcome!

Here at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City our employees are as important to us as the youths that we inspire! That's why we would like to help our employees live their lives to the utmost potential! We would like to introduce you to our new Wellness Program! Our mission for this program is to improve the health and welfare of our employees by providing them with information and opportunities that will help them to live healthy and productive lives.
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A Guide to Nutrition Labels

Nutrition labels may seem simple to some people, but to many, they can be confusing and difficult to grasp what exactly is in the foods that they are buying and eating. This guide will attempt to clear up the confusion and help you to make smart, informed food choices!

Calories and Serving Size

Calories are likely the first thing that your eyes wander to when you look at a nutrition label. Calories are the most important factor to keep track of throughout the day in order to make sure you are consuming the correct amount of food for your individual dietary needs. However, without better understanding the size of servings, knowing how many calories there are in a serving isn't very helpful. One helpful trick is to use your hand to estimate the correct serving size. The size of your fist is about the size of one cup. The normal serving size of meat, about 3oz, is about the size of the palm of your hand. Your fingertip is about the size of one teaspoon. Your thumb from the middle knuckle to the tip is about the size of one tablespoon. Finally, a handful of your favorite snack tends to be between 1-2oz. When choosing portion sides during preparation and serving, you can quickly use these estimates for smart portioning.
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Fats

Fat is often misunderstood. Fat provides more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates, but is necessary for many of the body's functions. It is important to understand the difference between the good and bad fats. Unsaturated fats, according to the Dietitians Association of Australia, are the "healthy fats." They are normally liquids at room temperature like your ordinary cooking oils but they can also be found in nuts and avocados. Unsaturated fats reduce the risk of heart disease and can help lower cholesterol levels.


Saturated fats, one of the "bad" fats, are solids at room temperature. They are usually found in dairy products, meats, and lard. Palm oil is, unlike other cooking oils, is high in saturated fats as well. Finally, professed foods are generally very high in saturated fats. Saturated fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and can raise cholesterol levels. Saturated fats should be limited in the diet.


Trans Fats can be considered the "really bad" fats. Trans fats are often introduced to processed foods and are not normally found naturally. Foods that have been deep-fried can also be high in trans fats. Trans fats have been shown to raise cholesterol levels, as well as increase the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Trans fats should be limited or completely removed from the diet.

Sodium

The recommended daily allowance of sodium is about 2300 mg. Sodium is found mostly in salt but is also very high in processed and canned foods. A good way to lower sodium levels is to choose whole, unprocessed foods instead of processed foods as they contain little to no sodium. Most Americans consume more than the recommended amounts of sodium, leading to high blood pressure and raising the risk of heart disease.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates or carbs for short may be the most important nutrient in the diet. Carbs are burned in the body for energy and are necessary for any physical activity or normal function. Roughly 40-50% of the calories you consume each day should come from carbs. Each gram of carbs contains 4 calories. For a typical 2,000 calorie/day diet, an individual should consume between 200-250g of carbs each day. Typically when a person chooses to reduce the amount of calories they eat throughout the day in order to control weight, carbs should be reduced as the lower amounts of fats and proteins are essential to body function.

Fiber

Fiber is commonly disregarded in most people's diets. Dietary fiber is listed underneath "Total Carbohydrate" on a nutrition label. The recommended daily amount of fiber is between 20-35g. Fiber is most commonly found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils. Dietary fiber has many benefits on the digestive system and can prevent constipation, diverticular disease, hemorrhoids, and colon cancer.

Protein

Each individual has varying protein requirements. Protein can increase satiety, or the feeling of fullness you get from eating food. Protein helps to build and repair different tissues and proteins in the body, including muscle tissue. Typically in order to sustain lean body mass, individuals should aim for around 50-65g of protein each day. Children, growing adolescents, the elderly, and weight lifters may require more protein for their specific needs. Protein is most commonly found in meat, poultry, and fish, but can also be found in nuts and legumes.

Vitamins & Minerals

Finally, vitamins and minerals are extremely important to many body functions as well as the strengthening of the immune system. Typically, nutrition labels will provide a percentage of the recommended daily amounts of each vitamin and mineral for that food. It is important to obtain approximately the daily value of each vitamin and mineral, however, multivitamin supplements can be used to an extent to help obtain the recommended amounts.