Why I Don’t Have Nutrition Info for My Recipes
I often get requests for the nutrition information (calorie count, fat grams, etc.) for my recipes, but as you may have noticed, there are none.
Some diet plans encourage people to check for “how many calories” and “how much fat” before they try a recipe and to diligently read nutrition labels before buying a product. But have you ever noticed that healthy, nutritious, raw walnuts are way more “fattening” than gumdrops? In fact, based on the nutrition facts, you could eat the whole bag of sugary, chemical-laden gumdrops without a worry – as long as you stayed far away from the walnuts.
What’s in the Numbers?
Obviously, these numbers aren’t a reliable source for making good food choices.
One of the problems with depending on those numbers to help with food choices is not all carb grams, calories, or fat grams are created equal.
For example, let’s compare a couple of salad dressings – both with 100 calories per 2 tablespoons.
They both have the same number of calories, but the dressing on the right is made from whole, unprocessed ingredients. It offers you fiber and an abundance of other nutrients that are helpful for weight loss.
Conversely, the dressing on the left is loaded with processed ingredients, refined ingredients, chemicals, and other ingredients that not only offer nothing for your health, but also have been shown to contribute to weight gain.
Same calories? Yes. Same results? No.
According to the numbers, a medium orange has 13 grams of sugar – more sugar than the average chocolate chip cookie.
But the sugar in the orange is a natural sugar perfectly packaged with fiber, vitamin C, calcium, folate, phytochemicals, and many others super-nutrients. This flawless formula will not only aid in weight loss, but will help boost your immune system, strengthen your bones, prevent cancer, and more!
A cookie, on the other hand, usually contains refined sugars, refined flours, and refined oils – all ingredients for obesity and poor health. And some cookies also contain ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, polysorbate stuff, hydrogenated oil, artificial flavors, bleached flour, mono thisandthat, and yellow #6.
Less sugar? Yes. Better choice? No.
And another example:
Compare this recipe for homemade Cheesy Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Soup with another recipe for cheesy broccoli soup with a low-fat cheese or cream. The Cheesy Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Soup recipe has about 4 times as much fat as the low-fat recipe and more calories. If you only looked at the numbers, you may stop the comparison right there and declare the fat-free version the winner.
However – and this is a BIG however – the Cheesy Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Soup recipe is made with real, whole, unprocessed, plant-based ingredients that offer you fiber, folate, vitamin K, vitamin magnesium, manganese, and a plethora of other nutrients that have been shown to prevent heart disease, promote healing, maintain healthy brain function, prevent PMS, boost the immune system, prevent kidney stones, promote digestive health, and help with weight loss!
On the other hand, the other recipe with cheese or cream contains very few nutrients and is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. And commercially-made cheese soups usually are laced with high-fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, gums, preservatives, and other ingredients that couldn’t be considered “real foods” and many of which have been shown to be disastrous for a weight loss plan.
More fat? Yes. More fattening? No.
One-quarter cup of raw almonds has 11 grams of fat. And a serving of orange sherbet – zero. The sherbet is a better option because it has less fat, right?
Reading the ingredients shows a serving of sherbet gives you corn syrup, artificial colors, artificial flavors, gums, and sugar – more ingredients for obesity and poor health. The ingredients in raw almonds? Just almonds – a whole, unprocessed food that has been shown to help with weight loss and contribute to good health.
If you make your food choice based on the numbers, you may choose the sherbet. But if you look at the ingredients, you can know which is the better option.
What you do need to know
If you’re eating healthfully, referencing the numbers – calories, fat content, etc. – is, more often than not, a waste of time.
You don’t need the nutrition information to tell you apples and oatmeal are better options than Lucky Charms, and carrots are better than Cheetos.
You don’t need to know how many calories are in the oatmeal (or the apple or the carrots), or how much protein, how much fat, or any of that. Oatmeal is a whole, unprocessed, plant-based food. Same for the apple and the carrots. Both can be a valuable part of a healthy diet.
You can use the same thought process for recipes. Look at the ingredients.
Are the ingredients whole, unprocessed foods?
Are the ingredients from plants?
Does the recipe have any other ingredients that I don’t want to put in my body?
If it does have some refined (or processed foods) in it, how much does it have?
If a food is processed or if it’s made from refined ingredients (white flour, sugar, oils, etc.), chemicals, or too many animal products, it doesn’t matter a whole lot how many calories or fat it has, it isn’t the best choice and it may contribute to weight gain in the long run – even if it’s low in calories and/or fat.
What’s In It?
To eat healthfully, we don’t need to ask “What are the numbers?” but rather, “What’s in the food?”
When deciding whether or not to buy a product, eat a food, or try a recipe, forget the numbers and look at the ingredients. Make a choice to eat a wide variety of whole, unprocessed, plant-based foods and the numbers will take care of themselves.
Eat Well. Lose Weight.
Would you like to be able to eat delicious foods and lose weight – without counting calories or paying attention to portion sizes? Join my online weight loss plan today!
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Jennifer, recently I have gained a lot of weight. I know it’s because I’ve been eating out a lot and not sticking to what I know to be good food. I recently prayed that God would remind me about what I have to do to lose weight…..your article was an answer to that prayer. I need to eat the food our creator made! It’s that simple.
Thank you for motivating me to eat more healthy foods.
God’s blessings on you and your family!
Debbie, Thank you very much for your comment. I’m so thankful to know that this was helpful to you. What a blessing to be an answer to someone’s prayer! 🙂
Know that I will be praying for you!
Blessings to you too.
Thank you for important information. great comparisons.
You’re welcome, Lenny.
Great blog post, Jennifer. I’ve debated adding nutrition info to my recipes, but I agree with your assessment that the nutrition numbers often don’t tell the whole story and it’s too easy to get caught up in only defining foods by their numbers instead of the nutrients whole foods provide for us.
Thanks for the reminder that it’s more than just the calories, fat or sugars that matter when choosing healthy, nourishing foods.
I am loving this post. I use to work at a smoothie and burrito shop and some of the requests I would get from women (and men) would drive me up the wall. We had a protein shake called the “Chocolate Thunder” which was pretty much peanut butter and chocolate with a banana. It is pretty high calorie, but is pretty much a meal replacement. No one claimed otherwise. Women would always order it asking to take out the banana, which is fine except that there were more sugar added to the SOY milk base. I would tell people and they would just switch to almond milk still keeping the banana out, making the drink pretty bitter. Part of the reason why the banana is in the drink is for taste and because protein is absorbed better with fiber after a workout. *sigh* Of coarse no one cares when you tell them. They just care about the numbers.
Standing ovation!! Oh my gosh. This post made me so happy! I am a recently graduated nutrition and food science/dietetics student. There is SO much misinformation in the field… it’s very confusing. And sad. The commonly accepted knowledge is still that the numbers matter. Very much. Even if common sense is trying to tell you otherwise (are Sun Chips really a healthier snack choice than raw almonds??). I am so happy and grateful to find other like-minded individuals who also believe the way to a healthy body, appearance, and relationship with food is a diet of unprocessed/unrefined foods. You did a wonderful job with this post! Thank you for sharing such critical information and presenting it so visually and clearly. This is perfect for sharing with friends and family. I am new to your blog, and can’t wait to check out your other posts and recipes!
Thanks so much for your comment, Rebecca! I agree; there is so much misinformation. I hope to help make eating healthy not so confusing.
I really appreciate your encouraging words! 🙂 I hope you enjoy the recipes.
I love your recipes but could you compact them so they print on 1 page? Forks Over Knives has a great format.
Thank you for the suggestion. I’ll see what I can do, but I am limited by the software that displays my recipes. Forks Over Knives has a little bit more money and a few more resources to work with than I do 🙂