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March is National Nutrition Month

Eat this, not that!
Get to know your good/bad carbs, sugars, and calories and learn tips for a healthier dining out experience.


So which is it? Are carbs good or bad? The short answer is that they are both. Fortunately, it’s easy separate the good from the bad.

We can reap the health benefits of good carbs by choosing carbohydrates full of fiber. These carbs that get absorbed slowly into our systems, avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels.

We can minimize the health risk of bad carbs by eating fewer refined and processed carbohydrates that strip away beneficial fiber. Most bad carbohydrate foods are usually very tasty and are packaged for easy handling. However, they are generally considered harmful to the body because they are not easily digested and they spike an individual’s blood glucose level.


Examples of good carbohydrate foods:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Whole grain breads and cereals

Examples of bad carbohydrate foods:

  • White bread
  • Candy
  • Baked goods with refined white flour
  • White pastas and rice
  • Soda

Just like with carbs, there are good sugars and bad sugars

Good sugars are derived from fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and are vastly different than concentrated sugars—Bad sugars (dextrose, sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup)—found in refined foods, soda and candy.

Examples of good sugar foods:

  • All Fruits!
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

Examples of bad sugar foods:

  • Soft drinks
  • Candy
  • Ice cream

Yes, calories are calories whether they come from carrots or cookies but that’s not the end of the story. Foods are diverse and offer more than just calories so to truly evaluate the quality of calories, consider their nutrient density.

Good calories are nutrient-dense, which means you get the most bang for your calorie buck. For example, compare 100 calories of soda to 100 calories of milk. Calories from soda provide sugar and that’s just about all. That same number of calories from milk provide protein, calcium and vitamins A and D—therefore, milk is a more nutrient-dense food. Examples of good calories are milk and vegetables.

Bad calories tend to score low in the nutrient department and eating too much of them can negatively affect health. Foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol can lead to heart disease and a diet overflowing with sugary foods isn’t good for your waistline. Examples of bad calories are chocolate cake, soda, and anything with tons of sugar.

Nutrient Density
Fill up on good calories for good health!
400 calories of oil
400 calories of chicken
400 calories of vegetables

Tips to a healthier dining out experience
Eating healthy when dining out is about choices. Saying YES to good choices and NO to bad choices will help you get healthy and stay healthy.

  • Say yes to healthier drinks such as water, 1% milk/skim milk, or 100% juice instead of soda.
  • For bread, choose a hard roll (preferably wheat) rather than garlic sticks or a croissant.
  • Read menu item nutritional information. If you can’t find the info posted, ask for it!
  • Have a baked potato rather than French fries.
  • Say NO to alcoholic beverages, which can add often overlooked extra calories!
  • Use mustard rather than ketchup.
  • Order grilled meats, not fried.
  • Have a spinach salad rather than a salad with iceberg lettuce.
  • Take home leftovers or split an entrée with a friend.
  • Choose low fat/low sugar snacks such as baked chips, fruits, frozen low fat yogurt, whole grain cereals between meals.

Click here to download a PDF of these Eat this, not that! tips.

Make nutritious eating fun! Download a free Eat this, not that! Word Search here!