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I AM in Iowa Adolescents Making Choices to Control Their Future Teen:Health, Relationship, Body and Sexuality

Tag: nutrition

Nov 16

Expiration dates: Are they hard deadlines?

Posted By iamincontrol | November 16, 2017

Have you ever noticed a label or stamp on your food from the grocery store that says “best if used by” or “sell-by”? Many of us use these dates to judge when perishable foods, like eggs, yogurt, or poultry, will expire or go bad, but is that what those dates actually mean? Manufacturers of the food product apply dating to help consumers and retailers identify when the food is of best quality. This information on perishable food does not mean that the food will be inedible the following day, but it may not be at its peak freshness.

Federal Law does not require manufacturers to place dates on foods except for baby food and formula, so then why do they do it? Frequently, manufacturers place labels on their product so they can protect the reputation of that food. They don’t want a consumer to eat food that is way past its quality date and become upset with the manufacturer that their food is not up to par. Fortunately, two large food industry groups are hoping to develop a standard food quality phrase so that consumers cut back on food waste. Hopefully, you will be able to see these changes within the next few years!

Overall, expiration dates or “best by” dates on food should be used more as guidelines for quality, not for safety concerns. So when deciding whether something is edible or not, check the date, but look at and smell the food as well. Typically, a product should still be safe and wholesome if handled properly until spoilage is obvious:

  • showing mold,
  • producing an odor
  • having an unusual texture

If you are ever unsure about the quality, throw it away. If you have any more questions about food quality labeling check out the USDA website at

For more information about how food quality dates became popular and how it affects our lives, check out these videos:

Jul 19

What is Healthy?

Posted By iamincontrol | July 19, 2016

Every day we are faced with difficult choices in every aspect of life. One of the more difficult choices: food. We are constantly surrounded by advertisements on television and billboards and product endorsements from celebrities. Not only are people trying to sell us things but there is so much information on fad diets and products promising to help us shed weight quickly thrown at us all of the time. When results seem too good to be true, they probably are. Miracle diets and cleanses can not only be ineffective, but they can also be dangerous.

So what’s the real key to a healthy diet you ask? Variety. Eat different kinds of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and proteins, and lots of fiber and vitamins. Try to get a variety tFruits&Veggieshroughout your day and make sure that you’re not eating the same things day after day. A good way to monitor your variety is to try to eat the rainbow because color can be a good indicator of the nutritional value. This doesn’t mean a literal rainbow, but make sure not everything is on your plate/in your fridge is the same color. While fruit is healthy, only buying strawberries, raspberries, and watermelon isn’t going to provide a diverse set of vitamins and nutrients. On that note, dark, leafy greens tend to have the most nutrition packed in while white foods tend to have the least. Always monitor portion control as well. You can have too much of a good thing! Try to avoid processed foods, as well as, excessive fat, sugar and sodium.

For tips to help you cut down of processed foods visit:

Nov 18

Turnip for what??

Posted By iamincontrol | November 18, 2014

I made an important resolution this summer (only 6 months or so after the New Year—it’s never too late, right?): stop eating like a child.

Remember the movie Elf? My food pyramid has always looked something like Buddy the Elf’s– only replace ‘candy corn’ with ‘candy corn plus lots of those disgusting candy corn pumpkins that start going on sale around Halloween.’ I eat marshmallows for breakfast and am never very far from a bag of my special mix of Twizzlers, pretzels, popcorn, and whatever else I can find in the candy drawer of my kitchen.


But I exercise! I drink lots of water! I brush my teeth between snacks! So eating a loaf of bread and a sleeve of Oreos for lunch every day is okay, right?

No. It’s not. It’s so gross!

After a medical crisis in my family this summer, I decided I wanted to take care of my body better. It was finally time to grow up– and ‘turnip.’

The following tips have helped me keep my resolution this fall. Now that I’m making the effort, it’s so much easier than I thought. These small, simple changes have had so many benefits— I can run longer, have fewer headaches, and when that 2 PM lull rolls around, I no longer feel like a nap (well, most of the time).

  • Look at your preferences– and adjust. I started by thinking hard about why I like what I like. For example, is it really candy corn and pretzels that I crave—or is it the act of snacking itself? I realized that if I replaced candy with small fruits or veggies like grapes, blueberries, or baby carrots, I was just as happy to munch away.
  • The 50% Rule. Making sure half of your lunch or dinner is made up of vegetables is an easy way to get in recommended servings. If you’re like me and love carbs like rice, bread, and pasta, mixing in some extra vegetables can be so simple. Add some frozen peas and broccoli to fried rice, or squash to your noodles. Turn that bowl of beige food into something colorful and Instagram-worthy!
  • Come prepared. Sometimes hunger strikes out of the blue. Keeping a healthy snack in your bag—like almonds, a granola bar, or an apple—as a back-up option can help you resist the temptation to buy something close and convenient, like chips and candy or fast food.
  • Be a mindful eater. I noticed that a lot of my extra snacking happened when I was distracted—like while watching TV or out with friends. Simply keeping that in mind was helpful. Before reaching for those chips and salsa or another slice of pizza, I try to ask myself, ‘am I actually hungry or am I just eating because it’s there?’ 
Oct 21

Overcoming an Eating Disorder

Posted By iamincontrol | October 21, 2014

plate scale
By Ashley

I developed an eating disorder in high school. It didn’t happen right away, but gradually during my first semester. I had just transferred schools. I had always been pretty active, but I noticed myself working out a lot more than usual. I was so busy with homework, tests, and adjusting to my new school and life that I really didn’t think anything of it.

After being at school for a few weeks, my family started to notice me slimming down. They complimented me on my hard work and becoming more interested in my health. It wasn’t long before that planted a seed in my brain that if I was going to work on my health, I would need to start eating healthy foods too.

That’s when everything went downhill. I started keeping track of everything I ate. I was so obsessed that I used a calorie counter app on my phone so I could record my meals to know how many calories I was consuming. I gradually started cutting back on my meals to see how low I could get my calories to be that day. I would also record how much I would work out and be able to see how many calories I would burn. I never went in public to exercise.

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Sep 30

Overcoming an Eating Fear

Posted By iamincontrol | September 30, 2014

By Cambria

In 4th grade, my aunt told me a story about a relative who almost died choking on a food item. Not only was I terrified, but I started to think that I might die if I ate solid foods. From that day, I quit eating anything solid. I only ate ice cream, soup broth, milk, and water. During school, I would get my lunch tray filled with food, but pass the items to other students. At home, I wouldn’t eat and told my parents that I was not hungry.

One day at school they were serving one of my favorite desserts, a granola bar with chocolate frosting. I picked it apart to get smaller pieces. As I tried to eat, I spit the item back out and ran to the nurse’s office. I thought a piece of granola got caught in my throat. This probably only lasted 3-4 weeks, but it got so bad that my parents were going to take me to the hospital. When my mom told me that I would have to be stuck with needles and have tubes down my throat for me to get nutrition, I got more scared. As a kid, I was terrified of needles, and I was even more afraid of needles than I was of choking.

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Aug 19

Food is Fuel

Posted By iamincontrol | August 19, 2014

healthy food
By Clancy

My freshman year of high school I was involved in many sports, but it wasn’t until track season that I thought I needed to lose weight. The other girls on my relay team were not the same size as I was. I thought that because I was bigger than them, it was slowing me down. I began restricting what I would eat and when I would eat it. I wouldn’t eat lunch on race days because in my mind, there was a correlation between my weight and my race times.

I was frustrated when my times weren’t improving and thought the only explanation was because I needed to lose more weight. I had already lost around 15 pounds in 2 months, and my coaches began to notice my lack of energy. My race performance actually began to worsen.

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Jul 8

Don’t Forget the Sugary Cereal

Posted By iamincontrol | July 8, 2014

 Teen girl
By Laysa

When I was in 6th grade, I had my first and only boyfriend. We dated for like 8 days. It was very serious. A couple days after he broke up with me (in homeroom of all places!), we were at soccer practice, and some girls came up to me and said, “Joe broke up with you because you’re chubby.” I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. Later Joe came up to me and explained that he actually said he broke up with me because I was “pleasantly plump.” That wasn’t much better.

Either way, after that I was VERY aware of how I was bigger than the other girls. I also started to think twice when my stepdad told me not to eat my favorite sugary cereal because it was bad for me. But how could Cinnamon Toast Crunch be bad for me, when it made me feel so good? My mom, despite her good intentions, would try to get me to pick a bigger size in clothes. I never wanted that. I didn’t want to give up my favorite foods that all the other girls got to eat, and I didn’t want to wear an XL when all my friends wore smalls. How uncool would that have been?

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May 20

Conquering Over Exercising

Posted By iamincontrol | May 20, 2014

Girl on treadmill
By Savanna

At the end of my senior year, I was off to college. I was starting to feel overwhelmed and anxious.  Not only was I done with competitive sports, but I would be soon leaving all of my friends and family.  With all these new changes occurring in my life, I started to turn to the only things I felt I could control: my diet and exercise.

I started exercising two to three times a day for hours at a time while only consuming around 1,000 calories or less a day.  I soon became obsessed with my body image and couldn’t bear missing a day of working out. I limited my diet to only a few food groups.  With my obsession of exercising and my diet, I started to lose relationships with my sister and friends.  I had no energy to ever do anything and ended up becoming a very negative person.

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Apr 15

5 Things to Love about the Farmer’s Market

Posted By iamincontrol | April 15, 2014

By Addie

Now that it’s springtime, I officially have my countdown ready for the first farmer’s market of the season. And it’s right around the corner! Below are some reasons for you to check out a local farmer’s market in your area this summer.

  1. Fresh (and local) produce—Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, and there is no better place to search for those than a farmer’s market. On top of that, buying local is the new trend, and it’s a good one. Not only does it help the local economy by supporting small businesses, it can be cheaper than supermarkets if you buy produce that’s in season.
  2. Free samples—Who can say no to free food? If you walk around the farmer’s market, you will likely see a lot of free samples. Take this opportunity to try new foods; if you like what you taste, ask for recipes.
  3. Getting in your exercise—Being active and walking around to all of the vendors is an easy way to get in all your daily steps and you don’t even realize you are being active. If you have a dog, take him/her for a stroll as well as many of the farmer’s markets are dog friendly.
  4. A job—Many vendors look for extra help in the summer, especially since farmer’s markets tend to be in the evening or on the weekends. If you are a people person and love to be outside, this may be a great option for a part-time job. Contact a local business if you know they are involved to ask about a job, or ask face-to-face while visiting. You never know if they might be looking another hand.
  5. Socializing—Go with a group of friends and spend time together. This is a great way to hang out with your friends that doesn’t have to cost much. Want to go by yourself? There is always a good chance you will run into someone that you know. The people that are working are usually friendly and willing to talk to anyone. And even if you don’t see someone you know, what’s not to love about people watching?!

To see what produce is in season when, visit this website.

You are in control of eating healthy, local foods.

Mar 11

FITting In

Posted By iamincontrol | March 11, 2014

Teen male running
By Ryan

Being physically active is important to staying healthy, but for some people, exercise can take over their lives. The story I’m going to share with you is a true story, and I hope after reading my story you will see the difference between being healthy and being obsessed with exercise.

When I was a senior in high school, I became extremely interested in exercise and becoming physically fit. Exercise became my outlet and a place where I felt comfort. I was so interested in fitness that I decided to major in Exercise Science in college. As I began classes, I learned a lot about strength training and living a healthy lifestyle. I would spend 2 to 3 hours every day in the gym working out. I would lie to friends about what I was doing so they wouldn’t ask me to hang out, which would interrupt my exercise routine. I would become very upset and stressed if my schedule changed and I was unable to exercise at my normal time. There were times when my parents would be around the area and offer to take me out to eat, and I would make something up, like “I have class” or “I have work” in order to avoid messing up my schedule. If I missed a workout, my day was ruined and I would think about it constantly.

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