Calories Per Serving or the Whole Package? Many Food Labels Now Tell Both

Calories Per Serving or the Whole Package? Many Food Labels Now Tell Both

For decades, consumers have often been puzzled by what a “serving” means on Nutrition Facts labels on foods.

Well, things might have just gotten a bit clearer. New labeling regulations went into effect in January, and on many products, you’ll now see the total amount of calories (and various nutrients) per serving, as well as for the whole package.

“With the introduction of the new Nutrition Facts label, a variation that consumers are seeing is the dual column label for some foods that can reasonably be consumed in one meal or snack,” said Claudine Kavanaugh, director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The new label has “two columns, one for listing the nutritional facts related to a single serving and one listing the nutritional facts for the contents of the entire package,” Kavanaugh explained in an FDA news release.

“We know that Americans are eating differently, and the amount of calories and nutrients on the label is required to reflect what people actually eat and drink,” she said.

Not every food manufacturer has to adopt the new labels right away, but many of the products consumers buy will be affected, since the January deadline applied to all manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with sales below that amount have an extra year to adopt the new labeling. The changes to the Nutrition Facts label were first finalized in mid-2016.

Nutritionist Audrey Koltun applauded the changes, saying they’ll “make the nutrition information much clearer to consumers.”

“Some small packages of chips, pretzels, cookies, crackers, etc., look like one serving but the label may say it has 2 to 3 servings per package. Many eat the whole thing assuming it is an individual serving package,” Koltun explained. She’s a registered dietitian in the division of pediatric endocrinology at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

And Koltun noted that the Nutrition Facts panel has changed in other constructive ways.

“The serving sizes listed on the old Nutrition Facts labels can be confusing. Sometimes the serving size was listed in grams or ounces. Also, the print can be so small, one cannot read it,” she said. “The new Nutrition Facts label shows the serving size (and for some foods, the serving size has been changed to reflect what consumers are really eating), and the calories in larger, darker font, which is helpful and it stands out more.”

And there’s one more important addition for folks watching their waistlines and their health.

“Another feature of the new label that I like is the addition of ‘grams of added sugar,’ which means how much sugar is added during processing versus the natural sugar already found in the foods, such as milk and fruit,” Koltun said.

But she stressed that all this new information is helpful “only if one is interested and actually looks at the label.”

If millions more Americans did so, however, it might “really allow them to see how much they are actually eating and make educated decisions about what and how much they desire to eat,” Koltun said.

Contributor: E.J.

Five ways to improve your mental health in 2020

5 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health in 2020

It’s a difficult birth for this new decade. The year 2020 kicks off under the shadow of divisive politics, international security threats, a spate of hate crimes, and a planet in environmental peril, plus all the reasons we’re stressed individually: work, health problems, life changes and more.

No wonder so many of us are anxious or depressed.
But you can take scientifically validated steps to improve your mental outlook, and — because the mind and body are entwined — these behaviors also will improve your overall health.

1. Practice optimism
The studies are positive: Looking on the bright side of life really is good for you. Optimists have a 35% less chance of dying from heart attack or stroke; are more likely to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly’ have stronger immune systems; and even live longer. In fact, a 2019 study found people with the most positive outlook had the greatest odds of living to 85 or beyond.

Now, let’s get real: Being an optimist doesn’t mean you ignore the stress of daily life. Who can do that? It simply means that when
crummy things happen, you don’t blame yourself unnecessarily. If you face a challenge or obstacle, you’re more likely to see it as temporary or even positive, allowing you to learn and grow.

Optimists also believe they have control over their fate and can create opportunities for good things to happen.

Not a natural optimist? No worries. Science has shown you can train your brain to be more positive. Only about 25% of optimism is programmed by our genes anyway.
“There is research which indicates that optimism can actually be enhanced or nurtured through certain kinds of training,” neuroscientist Richard Davidson said. Davidson is the founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds and has done groundbreaking work on the link between mental attitudes and physical health.

“When these kinds of mental exercises are taught to people, it actually changes the function and the structure of their brain in ways that we think support these kinds of positive qualities,” Davidson said. “And that may be key in producing the downstream impact on the body.”
According to a meta-analysis of existing studies, using the “Best Possible Self” technique is one of the most effective ways to increase your optimism. It’s based on exercises that ask you to imagine yourself with all of your problems solved in a future where all of your life’s goals were achieved.

In one study, people who did this for only 15 minutes a week over an eight-week period became more positive and remained that way for nearly six months. What do you have to lose?

2. Start volunteering
A prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi tell us, “It is in giving that we receive.”
Turns out he was scientifically right. Studies have shown that putting the well-being of others before our own without expecting anything in return, or what is called being altruistic, stimulates the reward centers of the brain. Those feel-good chemicals flood our system, producing a sort of “helper’s high.”

There are physical benefits, too: Studies show volunteering minimizes stress and improves depression. It can reduce the risk for cognitive impairment. It can even help us live longer.
Even if you have little time to offer, just the act of giving has been shown to improve our health, possibly by temporarily reducing our sense of pain.
A new study found that people who said they would donate money to help orphans were less sensitive to an electric shock than those who declined to give. In addition, the more helpful people thought their donation would be, the less pain they felt.
Looking for ideas? CNN has a country-by-country list of aid organizations around the world.

3. Be grateful
We heard a lot about the benefits of thankfulness in the last decade, and that is backed by science: Counting our blessings protects us against anxiety and depression and boosts optimism. Need more proof? Middle-schoolers who practiced gratitude exercises had less problem behavior. (Did you read that, parents of adolescents?)
One of the best ways to make thankfulness a part of your life, say experts, is to keep a daily journal. Before you go to bed, jot down any positive experience you had that day, no matter how small.

But you can also do this via the practice of mindfulness, or a purposeful self-regulation of attention to stay in the moment. One of Davidson’s favorite mindfulness exercises cultivates gratefulness.

“Simply to bring to mind people that are in our lives from whom we have received some kind of help,” Davidson told CNN. “Bring them to mind and appreciate the care and support or whatever it might be that these individuals have provided.”
If you do that for one minute each morning and evening, he added, that sense of appreciation can broaden to others in your life and bolster optimism and better mental health.

4. Bolster your social connections
“People who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected,” said Harvard psychiatrist Robert Waldinger in his popular TEDx talk.
The proof for this comes from the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which tracked 724 Boston men for more than 75 years and then began following more than 2,000 of their offspring and wives.

“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period,” Waldinger said.
And you don’t have to be in a committed relationship or have scores of pals to get this benefit. Instead, it’s the quality of the relationship that matters, he said.
“High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced,” Waldinger said. “And living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective.”

5. Find your purpose
Finding a sense of purpose contributes greatly to well-being and a longer, happier life, experts tell CNN.
University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman, who co-founded the field of positive psychology, says a sense of purpose will come from being part of something bigger than ourselves. He points to religion, family, and social causes as ways to increase meaning in our lives. (See No. 2 on volunteering.)

It doesn’t have to be a traditional religion to be effective, according to Lord Richard Layard, one of Britain’s most prominent economists and the author of several books on happiness.
In his landmark book, “Happiness: Lessons From a New Science,” he says spiritual practices can range from meditation to positive psychology to cognitive therapy.

“If your sole duty is to achieve the best for yourself, life becomes just too stressful, too lonely — you are set up to fail. Instead, you need to feel you exist for something larger, and that very thought takes off some of the pressure.”

Contributor: Sandee LaMotte, CNN

Elle Sez: Walking the Walk Series-Thailand 2019

Elle Sez: Walk the Walk Series-Thailand 2019!
So, our Fall trip this year was to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. We had an extra special treat by being able to go into Myanmar because they weren’t fighting at this point in time. It was an 18-day journey with our usual Gate1 host that never failed to amaze us with their knowledge of the country. So, let me take you on a little overview of the delights that we experienced.

Top 10 Health Questions America Asked Dr. Google in 2019

Top 10 Health Questions America Asked Dr. Google in 2019

Google users in the United States had a lot of questions about blood pressure, the keto diet and hiccups in 2019.

Those topics were among the 10 most-searched health-related questions on the search engine this year, according to new data from Google.
The list was based on search terms collected between January and early December.

Last year, the top health-related questions Googled by people in the US included what is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, what is endometriosis and how long does weed stay in your urine.
In 2017, what is lupus, how long does the flu last and what causes hiccups were some of the health-related questions that had internet surfers turning to Google.

For 2019, here are the top 10 health-related questions people Googled — along with the answers.

1. How to lower blood pressure
About 1 in 3 US adults — or some 75 million people — have high blood pressure and only 54% have it under control, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that “how to lower blood pressure” topped the list of most-searched health-related questions on Google in 2019.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is generally diagnosed when a person has a blood pressure reading higher than 130/80. It’s recorded as two numbers with the top number referred to as systolic blood pressure and the bottom number as diastolic blood pressure.

Eating a healthy diet with less sodium and more potassium, losing weight, getting more exercise and relieving stress can all help lower blood pressure, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The health benefits of controlling blood pressure include reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and even dementia.

2. What is keto?
When searching for information on the ketogenic diet, most people just use the word “keto,” for short.
The keto diet was the top health-related search term on last year’s list and ranked second this year.

The diet is high in fats, moderate in proteins and very low in carbs, and forces the body into a state known as ketosis. Ketosis causes the body to break down ingested and stored body fat into molecules called ketones, which are then used as energy. “Ketones circulate in the blood and become the main source of energy for many cells in the body,” according to the National Cancer Institute.

The keto diet has grown in popularity, and many people tout its effectiveness in weight loss, but last year, US News and World Report ranked it last on its list of best diets.

Health experts were concerned about the diet’s high fat content — about 70% of daily caloric intake — and its low carbohydrate requirement of around 15 to 20 net carbs a day.

The government’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends people receive up to 65% of daily caloric intake from carbs and less than 10% from saturated fats.

“When you are on the keto diet, you drastically cut your carbs to only 20 per day. That’s less than one apple!” said nutritionist Lisa Drayer, a CNN contributor.

For some, “the keto diet is just not sustainable over the long term. It doesn’t teach you how to acquire healthy eating habits,” Drayer said. “It’s good for a quick fix, but most people I know can hardly give up pasta and bread, let alone beans and fruit.”

3. How to get rid of hiccups
A question about what causes hiccups topped Google’s list of trending health-related questions in 2017 — and now, in 2019, how to get rid of hiccups ranked third.
Hiccups seem to start and stop for no obvious reason, but the US National Library of Medicine notes that hiccups often happen when something irritates your diaphragm, such as eating too quickly, drinking alcohol, feeling nervous or excited or taking certain medicines.
Most cases of hiccups usually go away on their own after a few minutes.
For chronic hiccups — hiccups that last more than a few days or keep coming back — a person should contact a health care provider to discuss any underlying causes and treatment options.

The 10 most-searched questions on health

There were more questions that had people Googling in 2019.
The full list of the most-searched health questions in the United States this year also included questions about the flu, kidney stones and human papillomavirus or HPV:

  1. How to lower blood pressure
  2. What is keto?
  3. How to get rid of hiccups
  4. How long does the flu last?
  5. What causes hiccups?
  6. What causes kidney stones?
  7. What is HPV?
  8. How to lower cholesterol
  9. How many calories should I eat a day?
  10. How long does alcohol stay in your system?

Contributor: CNN Health