“Health Food vs. Healthy Food”


Jeff Novick was Director of Nutrition at Pritikin Center in Florida for almost a decade. Currently, he is Vice President of Health Promotion for Executive Health Exams International and lectures at the McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, CA. He holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana State University in Nutrition with minors in Exercise Science. 

Jeff has taught nutrition classes at Indiana State University, Indiana University Medical School, the University of Miami Medical School and for the Florida Academy of Family Physicians. Novick reported that healthy/low fat foods entered public consciousness in the late 70’s and early 80’s. However, since that time obesity has doubled in adults in the U.S. There are more overweight 6-11 year olds than ever before. He questions how this has happened with so many ‘health foods’ flooding the U.S.market. His answer – ‘There’s myth regarding health foods.’ Too many so called ‘health foods’ are just not healthy! Label reading is extremely important. Jeff is one of the top nutrition experts in the world. His lectures are insightful and presented in a humorous, easy to understand format. Read on AND read those labels while shopping! 

His Rules and Guidelines:

Never believe anything on the front of a package.
Always read nutrition facts on label and the ingredients list.
Check serving size.
Check amount of servings per box.
Check the calories per serving.
Check the calories from fat.

How to Determine Calories from Fat:
Manufacturers do not list the percentage of calories from fat (CFF). To determine the % you divide the CFF by the total number of calories listed.  Product should have 20% or less CFF. e.g. If serving has 150 CAL and 50 are from fat, you divide 150 into 50. Your product would have 33% of its calories from fat!!

Daily goal should be less than 1500 mg. A healthy person needs only 250 Mg/daily. 1 tsp salt = 2200 mg. Only 10% of salt comes from shaker. Most salt intake from processed and restaurant foods. Salt is hidden in food supply. In reading labels, the ratio of sodium to calories should be 1:1. If product has 50CAL, sodium should be 50 grams or less; more than 50, not good!

Check the type of fats listed. A healthy product has no saturated, hydrogenated or tropical oils. That includes lard, butter, coconut oil, coconut butter, palm oils, margarine, chocolate and whole and part skim dairy products.

  • Polyunsaturated fats include safflower, soybean, corn and sesame oils.
  • Monosaturated fats include olive and canola oils.
  • All oils, even the good ones, are dense with fat.

Limit the use of sugars. He recommends no more than 2 T daily. Sugar products include: corn syrup, rice and maple syrups, molasses, honey, malted barley, any term ending in ‘ol’ – such as sorbitol or maltitrol or ‘ose’ – dextrose, fructose. Important to read ingredients list. Ingredients on packaging are listed according to weight in descending order. So if a sugar is posted at list end, it has a lower content in product. He recommends that sugars should not be among the first three ingredients.

Refined Carbohydrates:
Stay away from refined carbs – the white flours and white rice. Enjoy the complex carbs - the brown rice and other grains which should be listed as whole' grains. He noted that a product might say ‘organic unbleached semolina’, and one would think, ‘That sounds healthy.’ However, in reality that’s white flour. So look for ‘whole’. Bread should have as its first ingredient ‘whole wheat’ or ‘stone ground whole wheat’.