Along with getting in regular physical activity, nutrition plays a huge role in your overall health. Food is the main source of fuel for your body and you need to be mindful of what exactly you are consuming and what effects it can have on you. Once you figure out the right nutrition habits for your body, you can not only lose weight, but also live a longer, happier and healthier life.

This week, we asked the contestants of the United Way of Florence County’s Florence’s Biggest Loser to share what tips and information they have used to help improve their nutrition over the course of the competition.

Jolene Osorio >>> This competition has provided me with more than just a venue for my personal weight loss goals. What I’m learning about nutrition has opened my eyes to one of the reasons why I have had a weight problem to begin with. In the nutrition class on shopping for food, I came away surprised at what I learned about the importance of  reading food labels, about the accuracy of calorie counts displayed on labels and the shelf life of packaged foods. Probably the most important thing that I have come to grips with about my personal nutrition is that weight gain and weight loss is simple math and starts with calorie counting.  What goes in the mouth is either burned up as energy and lost or stored as weight gain, which is a very simple concept that we all disregard at the table and especially when dining with friends. I am looking at food differently now; more as a means of sustenance and fuel rather than entertainment and socialization. That attitude helps me stay on cue with my meal plans and weight management goals. 

Scott Baldwin >>> The nutrition tips that I can give that has worked for me especially are grilled food and vegetables.  My diet since the beginning has mainly consisted of grilled chicken, fish and vegetables.  I do follow the 90/10 rule that I learned during the competition, where 90% of my meals are healthy and 10% of the meals I eat per week is something I enjoy.  Just don’t overdo the cheat meal!!

Jennifer Ketchum-Smith >>> Limit your salt and sugar and drink lots of water. Don’t waste your available food calories on sugary drinks/sodas. Also, eat lots of veggies! Experiment with the different veggies out there and find your favorites, but try to eat them without altering them much. The more you add to them in your recipe, the less healthy they are. (Ex. Cheese, bacon, butter, Salt, etc.)

William Echandy >>> My nutrition tips/advise are: switch from white rice to brown rice, eliminate sodas and all kinds of sweets (cookies, cake, donuts, ice cream, etc.), drink plenty of water, always check the serving sizes and stick to them, eat veggies and fruits, and try not to eat anything after 6pm, but if you have to eat something, try a healthy snack. These are the adjustments I made when I started the competition and so far it is working for me.

Melinda Fuller >>> Keep a food diary because we really don’t realize how many calories we consume on a daily basis. Just writing it down makes you more aware of what you are eating so you start being more mindful of the nutritional value of what you put in your body. There are lots of apps that make this really easy.

Romtorail Spencer >>> My tips are to drink plenty of water and to do your best to leave all other drinks alone. Also eat lots of veggies and protein, baked or grilled salmon on a tossed salad is delicious! 

Khadija Williams >>> The nutrition tip that helped me the most was learning how to read the nutrition labels and also eating fresh foods. Eating fresh and making meals with fresh foods and not processed is always better.