Seeing different Nutrition Facts labels? Here’s why.

nutrition facts panel

By:  Rheanna Smith, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis

You might be familiar with the nutrition label on the back of all packaged food items, well, that age-old label is finally getting a makeover! On May 20, 2016 the FDA announced that there was going to be an update to the nutrition facts label based upon new scientific research. While the announcement was made quite a while ago, companies were not required to comply and update their packaging until July of 2018. Even so, there was quite a bit of push-back from companies and so the FDA decided to extend the compliance dates. Currently companies with less than $10 million in annual sales have until January 2021 to update their labels, but larger companies with over $10 million in annual sales must comply by January 2020. That being said there are a number of companies who have already made the switch so you might already be seeing the new label on your groceries!

The iconic look of the nutrition facts label still remains, however, the information on it has been updated in five major ways to reflect modern eating habits and dietary deficiencies in the United States. The first major change is that standard serving size has been updated to reflect the amount that people realistically eat. For example, chip bags that are not resealable must include the nutrition information for the entire package and not just a portion. Another example is that the standard serving size for ice cream has been increased from ½ cup to ¾ cup to more accurately represent the amount that is typically consumed in a sitting. This simple change will make it much easier for consumers to stay informed and keep track of serving sizes.

The second notable change is that any added sugar in a food product must now be listed. This change is huge because, up until now, food manufactures could use as much added sugar as they wanted- without having to list it on the nutrition facts label. Although added sugars and intrinsic sugars (sugars found naturally in food) are structurally the same and are treated the same by our bodies, recent research has correlated added sugar consumption with metabolic disease states, such as obesity and diabetes. The current dietary guidelines recommend to limit your added sugar consumption to less than 10% of your caloric intake per day. By listing the amount of added sugar on the new nutrient facts label it will be much easier to monitor added sugar intake.

The third major change is that the calories from fat section has been removed. The gram amount and percent daily value for fat are still required, but the specific amount of calories is no longer required. This is because recent research on fat has shown us that different types of fat effect the body differently and that not all fat is bad! The calories from fat were required to be listed because all fat was considered bad due to association with heart disease. We now know that it is only saturated fat that leads to heart disease and that mono and poly unsaturated fats, like olive and avocado oil, are actually heart healthy oils that are important to include in the diet. Due to this new concept of ‘good fats’ versus ‘bad fats’ the calorie amount has been removed because it matters much more which type of fat you are consuming rather than the sheer caloric amount.

The fourth big change seen on the new label is an update to the nutrients required to be listed. On the old label Vitamin C and Vitamin A were required, but they are no longer required on the new label! This is because deficiencies in these vitamins are very rare in the U.S., therefore the FDA deems it unnecessary to have them listed any longer. However, recent research has indicated that the average American doesn’t get enough Vitamin D or Potassium so those two nutrients are now required to be listed. The goal of this is to make it easier to monitor your daily intake of important nutrients.

The fifth and final change is an update of the daily values for a number of nutrients listed on the label. Daily values (DV) represent the percentage of a certain nutrient’s ‘daily requirement’ contained within the food product based on a 2000 calorie diet. This makes it helpful for consumers because sometimes the gram or microgram amount of a nutrient is not easy to interpret. If you read a DV of 25% calcium then you know that the food product contributes 25% of the necessary daily value for someone on a 2000 calorie diet. The DV’s for fiber, potassium, calcium, and fat have increased on the new label. The DV for fiber has increased from 25g per day to 28g per day, the DV for calcium has increased from 1000mg to 1300mg, the DV for potassium increased from 3500mg to 4700mg, and the DV for fat has increased from 65g to 78g. These changes all reflect recent research that has indicated that Americans are not getting enough of these nutrients, with the exception of fat. The DV for fat has increased not because Americans aren’t getting enough fat, but rather because research has shown that healthy fats such as unsaturated fats and omega fatty acids are essential and therefore should be incorporated daily. The increase in the DV for fat is aimed towards increasing these healthy fats, not necessarily all fat.

While there have been a lot of updates to keep track of, the major take-home message is that the nutrition facts label is a tool that is available as you decide which foods meet your goals! Reading nutrition labels is a great way to take control of your health. When you are more aware about a food you can make more thoughtful decisions on your own eating habits, and therefore optimize your health! Next time you’re out grocery shopping take some time to look at the nutrition facts label!


Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Labeling & Nutrition – Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,

“Nutrition.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Sept. 2016,

Do you have to sit a lot? Flexibility & Function


By: Reed Phinisey

The start of fall quarter brings a lot of different assignments and studying but more importantly it requires you to sit a bunch. Now I know you are thinking, “Oh gosh. One of these sitting is the new smoking guys”.

I’m not here to scare you but rather bring to light some of the harmful effects of sitting and give you some easy to implement strategies that can help in preventing the damage that sitting can wreak on our bodies.

Sitting can bring a multitude of changes. However, I’m going to focus on flexibility. Staying in a static position, such as sitting, results in changes to our length/tension relationship. Length refers to the muscles being shortened and tension refers to the muscles in opposition to the muscles being shortened.

EX: In a seated position the hip flexors are shortened and the result being the hamstring and glutes becoming outstretched.

This length/tension relationship results in the quads becoming dominant and the hamstrings/glutes becoming weak relative to the quads. A proper length/tension relationship is necessary for proper joint mechanics, injury prevention and daily movement. Sitting causes many such disturbances throughout the body. If ignored they can lead to injury of associated tissues and actual changes to our posture long-term. (Google Janda’s Upper/Lower Cross Syndrome)

Sadly modern life requires us to sit during some parts of our day but with some intention and effort we can reduce its long term effects on our flexibility.

Try these (4) Exercises 1-2x a day for 10-12 reps to break up those long study sessions:

  1. Glute Bridge –

glute bridge

  1. Lying Hip Flexion –

Lying hip

  1. Cat/Cow –

Cat cow

  1. Broomstick Rotations –


If you have any questions, visit the Fitness and Wellness Office in the Activities and Recreation Center.



Keto diet? Should I try it?


By Alana Olson, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

The ketogenic (“keto”) diet is an eating plan that is very low in carbohydrates. The goal is to push the body into using stored fat as its energy source. Most cells use glucose as their preferred fuel, but in its absence, they will start to break down fat—a process called ketosis.

Without carbohydrates, these diets are high in fat and protein, which can be an issue. Some individuals end up choosing foods that are high in saturated fats, sodium and cholesterol (think meats, butter, bacon, cheese) because many other foods are restricted due to carbohydrate content. We know that this is not good for long-term health.

The keto diet was originally developed as a method of treating symptoms associated with epilepsy but is now being used, by the general public, as a means of losing weight. Though some studies have indicated that the ketogenic diet may be an effective way to lose weight and possibly improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, its effects are generally pretty short-term. It is also very restrictive and tends to be hard to maintain over an extended period of time. Cutting out food groups can lead to nutrient deficiencies, especially for individuals without sufficient knowledge of nutrition.

Following a strict ketogenic diet can also result in a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis, in which the body stores too many ketones (acids produced as a byproduct of burning fat) and the blood becomes too acidic, causing damage to the liver, kidneys, and brain.

Weight loss and good health are most successfully attained when one follows a well-balanced and realistic lifestyle that can be followed over an extended period of time. It is also important to remember that since we are all different, what works for others may not work for us and vice versa. If you are considering going on a ketogenic diet, talk to your healthcare providers about the costs and benefits of doing so based on your own individual nutritional needs.

Source Consulted:

Campos, M., MD. (2018, July 06). Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you? Retrieved from

A new school year begins…


Welcome to academic 18-19!  As you dive into the hectic Fall quarter, keep in mind that taking time to care for yourself goes a long way towards emerging at the other end having accomplished your goals.  There are so many resources around you on campus and in the community to help in times of stress.

The Student Health and Counseling Center has your back for anything healthcare related as well as excellent advice on Self Care for the Busy College Student.  Check it out!

We are the Healthy Aggies, a group of students passionate about nutrition and living a healthy life. We emphasize striving for a balanced diet as a way to achieve wellness, and we promote health as a life time goal!  We host nutrition and food activities all around campus to advocate for health!

Where to find us:

UC Davis Farmers Market, Wednesdays, 11am – 1:30pm, Oct 3 through Nov 7.  We have some fresh local produce for you to sample.  Stop by and pick up a recipe and taste UC Davis’ own olive oil and vinegars.

Free Nutrition Drop-in services at the Aggie Compass, Memorial Union.

Mondays:  2 – 4pm with Rheanna

Tuesdays:  11am – 1pm with Zona

Wednesdays:  12 – 2pm with Joel

Thursdays:  1 – 3pm with Alana

Fridays:  11am – 1pm with Haley

We would love for you to stop by and share how you fit healthy eating into your busy schedule.  The peer counselors are graduating seniors in Nutrition studies and are ready to answer any questions you have or share how they make healthy eating happen!

Instagram  Watch for our contests!  Engage with our posts.

Facebook We look forward to seeing you there!

Sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss a thing!

Tips for Staying Cool this Summer


By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant

Summer is finally here! Whether you’re staying in Davis or traveling elsewhere, these tips on how to stay cool in the summer heat may come in handy over the next couple months, especially if you don’t have AC.  Here are seven quick tips to beat the heat and stay hydrated this summer.

1. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator to use as a quick refreshing spray after being outdoors.








2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these will promote dehydration

3. Instead of large, hot meals, try lighter, more frequent cold meals or snacks.  Choose salads, fresh raw food, vegetables and fruit.  Avoid eating meat and protein-heavy foods , which can increase metabolic heat production.  Large meals will also produce more heat for your body to process.  Here are a few cooling summer recipes to try out:

Easy three ingredient popsicles


Berry Watermelon Fruit Salad


Easy Gazpacho Recipe


4. Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day to keep hot air outside. Open windows at night to enjoy the cool evening air.

5. Rinse your wrists and/or feet with cold water before you go to sleep, which has a full-body cooling effect.

6. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.  Monitor your urine color to ensure that you’re staying hydrated.


7. Wear sunscreen when you’re exposed to the sun; SPF 15 at the minimum, but preferably SPF 30 or higher.

In addition to staying cool this summer, don’t forget to relax and de-stress from finals madness!  Have a great summer, Aggies!


Why should I eat locally?

By Jessica Bonilla, Dietitian Assistant

Have you ever wonder why we can eat certain fruits, such as bananas and pineapples, that don’t grow in the area naturally? Or how are we able to get certain vegetables all year round even when they’re not in season? Surprisingly, the food industry has been taking care of this issue for decades, and the seasons and distance are no longer an obstacle to get the food we want at any point of the year. However, not all of us are aware of the implications that these actions may have in the long run because we don’t see it directly.


Clearly, there are fruits and vegetables that are not produced in the US due to the environment and soil conditions (for example tropical fruits, such as mango and papaya) which only grow in very specific areas. This type of produce is usually imported from other countries, which implies huge expenses in transport, conservation techniques, and huge carbon monoxide emissions.

By consuming locally, we can avoid this mass production, which is not based in seasons, natural cycles and biodiversity and that encourages cultivating only a few types of fruits and vegetables. Here are five reasons why you should buy locally:

  • Fresh fruit and veggies

Seasonally fresh fruits are picked up when they are at their peak and therefore will have a more optimal flavor versus the fruits that have traveled thousands of miles and got harvested way before they were ripped.

A bag full of carrots on the soil in Dambulla

  • Reduces carbon footprint

Local produce doesn’t have to travel long distances, which will result in a reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gases. Also, it will be cheaper because transport charges are not added.



  • Support local businesses

Money invested locally will help farmers and the money will stay at our local community, which will benefit all of us directly.

Image result for handshake farmer

  • Increase your creativity

By having a wide variety fruits and veggies every season, you will be able to challenge yourself to cook differently and to use your creativity.


  • Increases education and makes you more aware about where your food comes from

We are usually disconnected from the food process. We don’t know how and where our food is produced, and this perception can affect the agricultural process and the way we consume foods.

Serving Sizes: a visual guide


By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant 

When’s the last time you measured out half a cup of ice cream, ate exactly 15 chips, or leveled out two tablespoons of peanut butter? You may be surprised about what a serving of these common foods actually looks like.  While using measuring utensils and counting calories isn’t necessary to maintain a healthy diet, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the recommended serving sizes for the foods you’re eating on a daily basis, particularly if they’re calorie dense.

Below are some visual representations to think about the next time you reach for a pint of ice cream, a bag of trail mix, or a jar of peanut butter.

Peanut Butter


Serving size = 2 Tablespoons



Serving size: ½ cup, or a tennis ball

Ice Cream


Serving size = ½ cup, or a tennis ball

*This means that there are 4 servings per pint!

Trail mix


Serving size: ¼ cup, or a golf ball, or a small handful



Servings size: 1 oz or 24 nuts

Potato Chips


Serving size: 1 oz or 15 chips



Serving size: ¼ cup or an egg



Serving size: 2 cookies

Salad dressing


Serving size: 2 Tablespoons

Did any of these surprise you? It’s unnecessary to obsess over exact measurements, but being mindful of your portions can help you reach your health goals. As you can see, many “healthy” foods are higher in calories, fat, and/or sugar than you may think. Furthermore, eating smaller portions leaves room for a larger variety of foods within your daily intake, which can help you reach your macro- and micro- nutrient requirements.