NuVal: A New Program to Help You Choose Healthier Foods

How can we improve the quality of food without increasing the cost? On a surface level, this seems very tricky and complicated.
06/07/2012 11:06 am ET Updated Aug 07, 2012

The Food for Your Whole Life Health Symposium in New York City took place this week. It included a fantastic lineup of health professionals including Dr. Oz; Dr. Roizen; Keri Gans, RD; Dr. Walter Willet; Dr. Victoria Maizes; Dr. Wendy Brazillian; Dr. David Katz, and more. From start to finish, the scientifically grounded presentations were a solid reminder of a fact that can't be emphasized enough -- what we eat matters to our health and general well-being.

Dr. Katz, of the Yale-Griffin Prevention-Research Center, gave a lecture entitled "Food As Medicine." He explored the topic that many people ask their health care professional -- which diet is the best? What is going to really work to make me healthier and manage my weight?"

Dr. Katz had good news. Based on the research, most eating plans (the Twinkie diet excluded!), have some value to offer. Low fat, vegan, low glycemic index, DASH, Paleo, etc. approaches all have a grain of wisdom to add to our overall thinking. it is not about dieting. In fact, it's more about improving the quality of your food to be able to reduce the quantity. It also comes down to what works for you -- which healthy foods you enjoy and can learn how to eat mindfully.

How can we improve the quality of food without increasing the cost? On a surface level, this seems very tricky and complicated. However, Dr. Katz said this is not so. He discussed a program called NuVal, which is a nutritional scoring system at supermarkets across the country. (They have it at King Soopers, for example, in Colorado, Utah and Nevada). This program, he indicates, makes it easier to shop like an expert. It's worth investigating and doing more research to see if it could be helpful to you. He described it as a system to help you "trade up" foods. This simple 1-100 score is an easy-to-understand score system that gives the real scoop on what is healthy instead of trying to decode tricky marketing and packaging. He indicated that people often buy expensive foods that appear to provide health benefits, but may not be any healthier in reality. The consumer zooms in on health buzzwords like "low-fat" and "antioxidants" on the front of the package. They are willing to pay more because they think it is healthy.

Instead, Dr. Katz indicated that we can fuel up on whole foods with fewer calories that actually taste good. Walnuts are a great example of a satiating food -- healthy, tasty and satisfying. A handful of walnuts keeps you feeling a lot fuller longer than chips or a cookie. (Check out these walnut recipes.)

Dr. Katz had many other fantastic words of wisdom (including the idea that dark chocolate is a "health food!"). To read more, see his HuffPost blog here.

For freebies to look into his other programs: Nutrition Detectives to teach kids about healthy eating, and the Turn the Tide Foundation, a free CE program for health care professionals.

Twitter: eatingmindfully



See Dr. Susan Albers' new book, But I Deserve This Chocolate: The 50 Most Common Diet-Derailing and How to Outwit Them. She is a psychologist for the Cleveland Clinic and author of five books on mindful eating including 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and Eating Mindfully 2nd edition (order now!). Her books have been noted in O, the Oprah magazine, Shape, Prevention, Health etc. and seen on The Dr. Oz Show on TV.

For more by Dr. Susan Albers, click here.

For more healthy living health news, click here.