So you want to lose weight? What to know how much sodium you’re really consuming in a day? Are you concerned you’re not taking in enough fiber? How would you go about achieving each of these goals? All of these questions can be incredibly tricky to answer without knowing the nutrition information for recipes you eat. Most individuals eat things other than what comes prepared from a box or package that leaves some questions as to how much of and which nutrients they’re truly eating.
While nutrition labels can be invaluable in helping guide consumers in their food and product selections, people eat food items that are mixed, baked, or prepared with other ingredients before consumption. If you make a homemade lasagna, there very well may be dozens of ingredients and the task of calculating the nutrition composition of all that’s in lasagna, much less a single portion, can seem daunting.
When I meet with people who are journaling or recording their intake, either by hand or using a website or online database, I find more errors than facts. Simply put, not all foods are made equally. Your mom’s lasagna is likely much different than my mom’s lasagna, and when I make lasagna I cut back on the cheese and use whole wheat pasta and reduced fat and low-fat ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. All of these differences between recipes account for huge discrepancies in nutritional content and should be analyzed to reveal their true nutritional content.
I believe the success of my personal healthy food and cooking blog, Prevention RD, can be accredited to the fact that I do the leg work in calculating the nutrition information for each of the recipes I post. Does this take time? Absolutely. But it’s also worth the effort….and it gets easier over time. With the right tools, recipe analysis can be the key to long-term success in maintaining healthy dietary changes. Eating prepared and packaged foods for the ease of nutrition labels is simply no recipe for success. Let’s be honest, there is something appealing and comforting about a good home cooked meal. Besides, home cooking is making a huge comeback as more and more people are recognizing the link between home cooking and lower obesity rates and the ability to adjust recipes to their liking.
Having the resources and skill set to analyze recipes for nutrition content is an under-recognized piece of living well. I challenge each and every one of you to analyze the nutritional content of the next recipe you whip up in your kitchen! Life’s too short to not enjoy the foods you love while maintaining the lifestyle you enjoy!
Nicole Morrissey, RD works as the Director of Nutrition Services at a local hospital in Southwest Michigan and holds a master’s degree in Nutrition and Wellness. Her diverse work experience includes over 2 years of leading meetings for Weight Watchers as well as past experience with diabetes, renal disease, bariatrics, food service and education. For more information, visit her on her blog PreventionRD.com or follow her on twitter @PreventionRD.