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BIGGEST LOSER: Contestants share nutrition knowledge

FLORENCE, S.C. – Although several factors play a part in living an overall healthier life, nutrition can easily be considered one of the most important.

What you eat and drink throughout the day not only can affect your weight, but it also can affect your energy, your sleep and your health.

As part of the Florence’s Biggest Loser program, the contestants are provided with counseling and classes on how to start addressing their nutrition habits and improving them for the better. Now that this year’s contestants have made it through six weeks of nutrition help, we have asked them to share the most important and beneficial nutrition information that they have learned.

>> Valda Brown-Graham: “For me, the most important thing has been portion size. Items that you know are healthy, like your fruits and vegetables, still have to be eaten in moderation and portioned. I have also started to learn that just because a product says it is healthy for you does not mean that it really is. You have to think about all the added sugar that could be in it or other things you don’t want to eat. When I would get a craving for sweets, I would reach for some type of ‘health’ bar instead of a dessert. Even though it would have the protein that I wanted, some of them have more sugar than you would think. Or on some products you have to really pay attention to the sodium. One product may have fewer calories than another, but then it has a lot of sodium. I was a lover of turkey, and it used to be the meat I would buy when I went shopping, but I just recently started to look at how much sodium it can have. Overall, I am just looking at nutrition labels a whole lot closer than I use to.”

>> Brian Kress: “I learned just how much sugar there was in all types of drinks, from sports drinks to sweet tea. A simple change to only drinking water and drinking enough each day makes a big difference.”

>> Cindi Laws: “The most important thing I've learned is portion size and eating the things I love in moderation!”

>> Rick Melton: “The most helpful thing I have learned is paying attention to my portion size and reading the serving size off of food labels. I have also benefitted from the tip of using a smaller plate and then dividing that plate in quarters that consist of one-half vegetables, one-fourth carbohydrates and one-fourth protein. There is a sign at the McLeod Health & Fitness Center that brings it all home: ‘100 calories of JUNK is still JUNK!’”

>> Kim Pate: “I’ve learned that it's just as cheap to eat fruits for a snack instead of junk food. Also, just because the package says it's healthy for you does not mean you can eat all you want. Make sure to always read the label for serving size and what's in it before buying.”

>> Aaron Robinson: “It is a lot easier to start a bad habit (like over eating and eating junk food) than it is to stop it.”

>> Pamela Miles: “I have learned that you really don’t have to give up everything you like to eat, you just have to learn how to practice eating it in moderation. I also learned that if there is something unhealthy you would like to exclude from your diet, you can usually find a healthier substitute for it.”

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