On Saturday, our nutritionist, Elizabeth Fassberg, came to our house to meet with us in person. She arrived while the kids were eating breakfast. Because of the challenge, I had melon, bananas, and grapes on the table for the kids to eat. (Points for mom!) But there was more than just healthy fruit on the table.
Michael, my son, decided to make a classic New Jersey breakfast sandwich: Taylor ham, eggs and cheese on a roll. Taylor ham is one of those regional foods that most people in north and central Jersey grew up eating, but few people outside of the area have ever even heard of, let alone tried. (Just like Philadelphia’s Scrapple or that Southern favorite: cheesy grits.)
Two things can be said for most regional favorite foods: 1) They are usually not the healthiest food choice to any nutritionist, and 2) If you grew up eating them, you can’t understand why it is not available everywhere, but most people, who never had them, can’t imagine why you eat them.
Elizabeth had never heard of Taylor ham, and it prompted her interest in the nutrition label.
- The serving size, according to the package, is 1 slice. But on a typical NJ breakfast sandwich, we would include 2 – 4 slices.
- One slice has about 70 calories; unfortunately, 54 calories are from fat and 3 g (or 15% of the recommended daily value – %DV) is from saturated fat/slice. And since there are only 3g of protein, 82% of the calories come from fat!
- It also has approximately 220 mg of sodium/ slice. So if we average 3 slices/ sandwich, the Talyor ham alone accounts for 660 mg salt (27% DV), 24 g fat (45% DV sat fat, and 27% DV total fat), and 9 g of protein.
It was time for change—in the form of compromises we could try to live with. I told Elizabeth that we were taking baby steps. Normally, he would have had the sandwich on a large toasted bagel or Kaiser roll. It was a step in the right direction to have a 100-calorie whole grain English muffin and a side of fruit instead of hash browns. We will try to limit the Taylor ham to two slices/sandwich.
Then came another eye-opening event. As the cabinet opened, Elizabeth saw our large bottle of brand name syrup, which we buy at the local warehouse store. I never thought of pancake syrup as a “healthy choice,” but I never stopped to read the ingredients label either. Most brand name syrups are simply dyed corn syrup and/or high fructose corn syrup! I never thought syrup was good for you, but I also never realized there was no maple syrup in my syrup!
I guess I need to begin to read nutrition labels. I know now from Elizabeth that if corn syrup is one of the top ingredients, consider an alternative. If there are ingredients I have trouble pronouncing, consider an alternative.
Pick one product to look at the nutrition label of today. Then post a comment and tell me about it!