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Nutritionist offers food for thought on what we eat

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Raley's corporate dietitian Earline Bennett, left, talks about nutrition while Boy Scouts Jesse Knight, 9, from right, Kyle Mason, 7, and Girl Scout Sara Knight, 6, listen at Raley's on Saturday.
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Time for a quiz.

How much do you know about the things you put in your mouth?

More than a dozen girl scouts had a rude awakening Saturday afternoon, realizing how little they knew about the foods they eat.

The girls are working toward their Silver Award, and to earn a patch for nutrition they took a tour of Raley’s Supermarket in Carson City with corporate dietitian, Earline Bennett. Members of Girl Scout troops 240, 396, 464 and 276 took part in the tour.

During the course of an hour, Bennett told them how much sodium is the right amount, why colors are important when selecting what to eat and the unique math used by manufacturers.

It began in the fresh-produce aisle, where Bennett told the girls about the 50 essential nutrients their bodies need every day, pointing out that the girls should be eating two cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables every day. Bennett said to get a variety of nutrients just remember the colors: Red, blue/purple, orange/yellow, green and white.

“You want to have at least one of every color group a day to get all the nutrients you need,” Bennett said.

For the orange/yellow category think oranges or squash. For blue/purple, think blueberries or eggplant. For green, try spinach or celery. Red includes tomatoes and red cabbage. Finally white could be garlic, onions, mushrooms or even apples because their flesh is white.

Over in the dairy section, Bennett told the girls about the importance of reading labels and making sure to check for the important things like calories, sodium, sugars and fats.

“You only want about a 1,000 milligrams of sodium per meal or 3,000 per day. Natural sugars are wonderful because they are in balance with the other essential nutrients,” Bennett said. “Manufacturers are the only group of people I know that can round down. If there is less than half a gram of fat they can say it has zero fat.”

Bennett also cautioned the girls to check ingredients for high fructose corn syrup because it adds only empty calories and more sugar.

“If it’s got high fructose corn syrup as one of the first three ingredients put it back on the shelf,” Bennett said.

Yet it was some of Bennett’s other tidbits that were the most memorable to the girls.

“It was surprising when she talked about how the servings are different to see how much is really in there,” Megan, 13, said.

Thirteen-year-old Halee agreed.

“It was interesting how the labels can be deceiving and they can change things,” Halee said.

Bennett also talked about a new addition to labels. Trans fats, which are now included on labels, are worse for the body than even saturated fats. Bennett said there is a push to remove trans fats from products. Everything from margarine to the cookies the girls will begin selling Jan. 21.

Bennett said she hoped the information would help the girls understand that what they eat affects who they are and who they could become.

“The number one thing I try to get across to these girls is the amount of added sugar in things and that it has an effect on your body. I also try to get across to them they need to be looking at serving sizes and to know what’s in what they are putting in their mouths,” Bennett said.

n Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.