Good morning!  It’s a beautiful, sunshine-y day outside.


Ahhhh.  James is like an old man who wants to sit outside and feel the warm sun on his skin all day.  🙂


Last night, I made up some Pumpkin Yogurt and put it in the fridge to chill out.  I really wanted to try my hand at overnight oatmeal.


As you all know, I’m obsessed with granola and yogurt.  I know my granola of choice isn’t that healthy, and I’ve kind of always avoided looking at the ingredient and nutritional information too closely because I don’t want to be disappointed when I realize I’m basically eating a candy bar in granola form. 🙂


My favorite granola, Heartland Granola Cereal, has a short ingredient list, whole grains, 4 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein (yay!).  However, the ingredients are:  whole grain rolled oats, evaporated cane juice, expeller pressed canola oil, defatted wheat germ, oat flour, brown rice syrup, molasses, salt, natural flavor, and soy lecithin.  There’s a whopping 13 grams of sugar in 1/2 cup!


I think overnight oatmeal might be there perfect way to fulfill my yogurt and granola craving without all the extra sugar!


To make Overnight Pumpkin Yogurt Oatmeal, last night I combined the following ingredients in a bowl and put in the fridge:


  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • Cinnamon
  • Squirt of agave nectar


This morning, I added flax, almonds, 1/2 a banana, and blackberries to the mix.


I really enjoyed the mix!  It was very similar in taste to my regular Pumpkin Yogurt and granola, but it just tasted… better.  Healthier!


Con cafe:


I’m off!  I am simultaneously preparing two freelance articles (AKA I’m swamped), and I’m meeting Ryan for a lovely lunch.  Then, it’s time to hit the gym.  If my tricep feels fine and the weather holds, I’m going to swim and then bike, but if not, I’ll just run again.


The triathlon is almost here! I dreamed about it last night! (It’s on March 14.)


When buying food, what part of the nutritional facts and ingredient list do you look at?  I always read the ingredient list and check for trans fat and high fructose corn syrup. I also check for any meat ingredients in stuff like soup.  I don’t typically care about added sugar, but maybe I should.



  • Jessica @ How Sweet March 3, 2010, 8:33 am

    I really wish there was some sunshine here in Pittsburgh! I usually don’t buy too many processed things, except granola and cereal. I tend to look at sugar, fiber, and ingredients lists first.

    As for junk food, I’d rather make that my self! 🙂

  • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete March 3, 2010, 8:35 am

    I try to eat things with a short ingredient list like you do and try to avoid trans fats or HFCS or artificial sweeteners. Lately, I’ve been getting really angry at all the crap that manufacturers have to add to food! B/c of that, I try to stay away from most processed foods! Good luck with your workout today!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs March 3, 2010, 8:35 am

    You’re so lucky you got some sunshine, it’s FREEZING here!
    I always look at protein and fibre contents first, and ingredients wise, I try and avoid stuff that isn’t natural-ish – if I can’t say it or I don’t know what it is, I assume it’s bad and try and avoid it 🙂 I avoid artifical stuff as much as possible basically!!
    Though I still have the odd ‘bad’ thing occasionally…I’m only human 😛

  • Nicole (the other one) March 3, 2010, 8:36 am

    Make your own granola! Smitten Kitchen has a great recipe for the pumpkin obessed:
    You could probably cut bake on the brown sugar a bit

  • Laura Georgina March 3, 2010, 8:38 am

    If I can’t pronounce the third ingredient (or buy it for myself as a real food), the product stays at the supermarket!

    Loving the look of the overnight oats–I’d love to try them but can’t do dairy, sigh. Have you ever come across vegan overnight oats, or would they be ok with just pumpkin and soy or rice milk? I don’t know what the texture is supposed to be like…

    • caitlin March 3, 2010, 8:42 am

      could you use soy yogurt?

      • Morgan March 3, 2010, 11:59 am

        There is also coconut milk yogurt

    • Shellybean March 3, 2010, 9:55 am

      Laura, I make overnight oats with milk and chia seeds- nut milk (my favorites are hazelnut and almond milk) works just fine. I use:
      1 T chia seeds
      1/3 cup dry oats
      1/2 cup milk (or nut milk)
      a drizzle of agave
      cinnamon and vanilla to taste

      I top mine with some thawed frozen fruit (usually blackberries or cherries) and a little almond butter before I eat it in the morning.
      With this recipe, the texture is a lot like rice pudding (thanks, I’m sure, to the gelatinous nature of chia seeds) which is good because I love rice pudding but rarely eat it b/c of all the sugar.

      • Laura Georgina March 3, 2010, 12:22 pm

        Thank you so much, y’all!! I’ll continue the hunt for soy yogurt (the Caribbean is NOT a yogurt-eating kinda place) and will try Shellybean’s chia seed suggestion.

  • Emily @ The Southern Belle Blogs March 3, 2010, 8:40 am

    I only occasionally look at the labels, even then, it’s just to see how many calories are in a serving size. I’m not so worried about everything else that’s in those boxes yet, I haven’t gotten that far.

  • Nicole@ making good choices March 3, 2010, 8:41 am

    Yum I love anything with pumpkin, oatmeal and greek yogurt combined have you tried making your own granola so you can control the sugar? I tried once or twice and it wasn’t as good but still good!

  • Joanne March 3, 2010, 8:43 am

    I look at calories first, fat second, and carbs third. I then go to the ingredients (espec. if I see sugar or high carbs) and like you, check for, not trans fat because I don’t pick up anything that would have it in, but I do check for high fructose corn syrup. That stuff is almost everywhere. Amazing!

    Start getting a mental image of yourself completing that Triathlon. Mentally picture yourself swimming, and cycling, and running…you’re going to do a terrific job!

  • Stacey March 3, 2010, 8:45 am

    Well, I’m in school to be a dietician so I have to look at EVERYTHING. The two things I look at first are serving sizes and calories. Then ingredients. It drives my boyfriend nuts sometimes because I will sit there and compare and compare and compare..but I just want to make the smartest decision 😉

    So excited for your Triathlon 😀 You are gonna do great!

  • Jenn @ Livewellfit March 3, 2010, 8:46 am

    I actually jump straight to the ingredient list because ultimately what I care about is what is in this food, not necessarily the cal/fat/carb content. If I honestly cannot pronounce or understand what it is in there for- I don’t get it. This has taken almost 2 years of work to actually be able to walk away from a food if the ingredient list isn’t worthy. 🙂 Otherwise, I will watch for cane juice because it sneaks up on you so I just try to be aware of it.

    I need to come steal James for a day! He and I could have a great time being old folks sitting in the sun!

    • Katie @ Health for the Whole Self March 3, 2010, 8:53 am

      I also look right at the ingredients list. I also check the serving size, because sometimes those can be so misleading. I still struggle with walking away from non-worthy ingredients lists, but hopefully I can keep getting better! I really struggle with it when it comes to granola bars or other nutritional bars – I know that some of them really are just candy bars, or have all kinds of weird processed stuff in them, but sometimes I still like them!

      • Jenn @ Livewellfit March 3, 2010, 9:45 am

        Oh Katie, sometimes I simply cannot walk away from the Snickers bar!!! 🙂 But, if you feel that overall you are making better choices, your body will feel better, respond better and look better.

        • caitlin March 3, 2010, 9:46 am

          Yea – i agree with Jenn. Eat well 80% of the time and eat snickers the rest of the time 🙂

  • Madeline - Greens and Jeans March 3, 2010, 8:47 am

    I usually look at the ingredient list first then calories and serving size. Unless it’s the greatest ice cream on the planet I don’t want to be eating 300 calories for a tiny scoop!

  • Suzanne March 3, 2010, 8:50 am

    I’ve never really been able to get into the overnight oats trend that the blog world is obsessed with. This combo sounds like something I’d like, though. I do love yogurt and granola! I might give it a try!

  • Ashley @ Good Taste. Healthy Me March 3, 2010, 8:50 am

    Those oats look scrumptious!

    I definitely look for trans fats, high sodium levels and high fructose corn syrup (as well as other forms of corn). It’s insane how our ingredient lists are full of things we can’t pronounce, let alone know what they are! I can’t wait for warmer weather to come so I can buy local grown produce and feel more in control of what I’m putting in my body!

  • Carrie C. in VA March 3, 2010, 8:51 am

    I look at the ingredients first. I know that if I am eating “Real food” then I will be full and satisfied before I need to worry about the calorie count. My husband likes to look at protein and fiber grams, though, so sometimes that’s a factor in which brand of something we choose (processed things like cereal or bread that I am just NOT going to make myself at home!)

  • megan March 3, 2010, 8:51 am

    I normally look at fiber and protein. I’m just starting to look at sugar as well. Do you know how much sugar we’re supposed to get in a day? and does it matter if it comes from fruit or not? That’s always confused me. so I look at sugar on the box, but then don’t know what it means 🙂

    • caitlin March 3, 2010, 8:56 am

      no idea, it confuses me too!

      any RDs out there?

      • Jane March 3, 2010, 9:07 am

        I also get confused about grams and teaspoons of sugar. Most recommendations I see are in teaspoons, but nutrition information is in grams.

      • Heather @ Side of Sneakers March 3, 2010, 9:23 am

        There are ~4g in 1 tsp sugar. Your body can’t tell the difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar- the biggest difference is the “package” the sugar comes in. Sugar in fruit comes with fiber- b/c of the fiber, the sugar is absorbed more slowly, which helps prevent a spike in blood sugar. The current dietary guidelines say “limit sugar” (oh so very clear 😉 )

    • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday March 3, 2010, 9:03 am

      I think it’s less than 25g of added sugars per day for women. You can assume all added sugar for processed foods but you don’t have to count sugar in things like fruit or milk.

      • megan March 3, 2010, 9:09 am

        25 grams seems like such a small amount! 🙁

    • Lisa March 3, 2010, 10:03 am

      Your sugar intake depends on your Caloric intake.
      If you intake 2000 calories a day you should have 32 grams of sugar. 1 teaspoon = 4 grams.
      Read your labels because this isn’t very much at all. Too much sugar is one of the leading causes of that extra belly weight!

  • jen trinque March 3, 2010, 8:52 am

    I usually look at the ingredient list unless it’s more of a treat food. Even then, though, if the ingredient list is too long I won’t usually get it, have you ever seen the list of ingredients on a piece of cake or a brownie from a regular grocery store bakery?? In general I try to eat things that are whole foods, and recently I stopped drinking Silk Soy Milk because it has Carageenan in it, which isn’t supposed to be that great for you. WestSoy has a kind with just soybeans and filtered water in it. Anyways, I always stay away from things with partially hydrogenated oils and HFCS. Also, I’ve heard if sugar or a form of sugar is in the first three or five ingredients, it’s got too much!

  • Madelin @ What is for Breakfast? March 3, 2010, 8:54 am

    I always look at the ingredient list and nutritional stats. Your overnight oats look great and I’ve got all the ingredients… maybe I should go make them!

  • Matt March 3, 2010, 8:54 am

    The first thing I look at is the ingredients. You would be surprised at what kind of crap is hiding in our food.

  • caronae March 3, 2010, 8:55 am

    I feel like the weirdo blogger but I don’t like overnight oats! I check the ingredient and nutrition facts panels. I usually look for mostly whole, short, ingredient lists, although I did buy some raisin bran crunch the other day!

  • Morgan @ Healthy Happy Place March 3, 2010, 8:55 am

    I always look at the ingredient list. If I can’t pronounce it, or if it contains HFCS I don’t buy it. I also look at the calorie/fat content. Not so much the fiber/protein content, but maybe I should start paying more attention to that part!

  • Rachel (Suburban Yogini) March 3, 2010, 8:56 am

    High Fructose Corn Syrup is banned in the UK (one thing that we have got right) and I’m hoping trans fat will go the same way too soon (as it is in several EU countries). Quite a lot of shops and products no longer use trans fat anyway.

    I always look out for Hydrogenated Fat. That sneaky thing turns up in the most unlikely places….

  • Leah @ L4L March 3, 2010, 9:00 am

    I avoid all artificial sweeteners, HFCS, and a couple other random things. If I am comparing two options, I usually elect for the one that has more fiber/lower sugar.

  • Lisa March 3, 2010, 9:00 am

    I have this thing about sodium so I will check that, as well as the fat content. I’ll only get serious about the ingredient list if I have a real dilemma between 2 items.

    I am the laziest person in the world when it comes to my kitchen but for the past 3 years, I’ve been making my own granola consistently. Yoghurt and granola is my breakfast 6-days a week. It’s the easiest thing to do and the few times that I haven’t been able to get to it, I’m sorry the entire week! 6 ingredients (550gm oats, 2-3 tblsp sunflower seeds, cup or so of almonds, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 canola oil, 2 tblsp cinnamon), mix together, bake for 45 minutes (stir 2x) and I’m done. Oh yeah, once it’s out of the oven, I stir in a cup of raisins as well, so 7 ingredients. I’ve never had any store-bought granola that comes close.

  • Cassie @ A Very Busy Mind March 3, 2010, 9:02 am

    I just wrote out the things I check on nutrition labels, then erased it because I realized it’s pretty much everything BUT sugar. Woops.

  • whit @ whitinspired March 3, 2010, 9:02 am

    I don’t look at the nutritional label, but at the ingredients listing. I try to live by Michael Pollan’s school of thought.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday March 3, 2010, 9:03 am

    Have you tried making your own granola? You can make a lot and it lasts a long time. Plus you’ll know exactly what’s in it.

  • Allison (Eat Clean Live Green) March 3, 2010, 9:04 am

    I always check for hydrogenated oils (trans fats).

    I don’t really care about high fructose corn syrup, as research has found its really no worse than sugar, it’s just in everything. I also usually find that if something has HFCS, it also has something else I don’t want, so I won’t buy that product.

    But if there are two identical products, one with sugar, one with HFCS, and the sugar one costs more, I’ll still buy the HFCS item.

  • Christine March 3, 2010, 9:07 am

    I watch for the biggies HFCS/trans fats etc and then look for something that has the fewest ingredients possible, the most whole food ingredients etc. When I can’t pronounce half the ingredients I just don’t buy it. And when sugar is one of the first things I don’t buy it either.

  • Amy @ Second City Randomness March 3, 2010, 9:10 am

    Ever since I read an article about how much sugar is snuck into food, I usually make sure to check that out at least. And they’re not kidding- I was shocked, especially when it came to picking out granola bars!

  • Christine March 3, 2010, 9:10 am

    …oh yes and wanted to add after reading about pumpkin/yogurt here I’m finally having it for my snack for the first time today. I mixed plain yogurt, pumpkin, nutmeg, toasted almond seeds and ground flax…hope it’s good!

  • Miriam March 3, 2010, 9:13 am

    I usually look up for the calories, because it tells you everything : if there is a lot of calories but no fat, then there must be a lot of sugar. It is the first thing I always look, then I look at the ingredients list.

  • Lauren @ Eater not a runner March 3, 2010, 9:15 am

    That looks delicious! I look for what kinds of sugars and how many different kinds of sugar there are. I also try to stay away from anything “hydrogenated” 😉

  • Cait March 3, 2010, 9:15 am

    I totally agree with Lisa. I held off on making my own granola because it sounded like so much work, but once I tried it once I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long! After about 5 minutes of prep, just stick it in the oven for 15-30 minutes and I have much cheaper, much healthier granola for a week! Just google “healthy homemade granola” and I usually read a few of them and then create my own based on how I feel that day. Seriously try it, I swear you’ll never go back!

  • Lily @ Lily's Health Pad March 3, 2010, 9:16 am

    I simply look at the ingredient list. I like to be aware of added stuff. I usually look at grams of sugar too. Seeing lots of sugar never deters me from a purchase though!

  • Ellen March 3, 2010, 9:18 am

    I look at the calories first, but then sugar, fiber and sodium. I usually don’t eat oatmeal or cereal with more than 6g of sugar and less than 4g of fiber. I’m not super-strict about checking every last ingredient, but at least my method makes me somewhat aware of what I’m putting into my body. I ate Lean Cuisine meals for years before I look at the sodium content–holy saltiness!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing March 3, 2010, 9:20 am

    Yum yum.. overnight oats are the bomb. And SO filling from the protein in the Greek yogurt!!

    Such a pretty day! I wish I lived in FL when I see days like that on your blog… i’d KILL for some sundress weather right now.

    I look at calories, sat and trans fat, fiber, and protein. And hfcs (HARD to avoid).

  • Danielle (Coffee Run) March 3, 2010, 9:21 am

    I always look at the allergens first (i.e. to see if it’s vegan or not) and the proceed to look at the ingredients. The actual nutrition is probably the last thing I look at!

    I’m addicted to granola too…but I try to make it more of a dessert than a regular thing 🙂

  • Jenny March 3, 2010, 9:22 am

    I look at the ingredients, then protein and sugar grams usually. But depending on the product, those things really don’t matter…like if I’m buying yogurt or veggie burgers I prefer that there be a sufficient amount of protein and very little sugar, but when it comes to crackers or cereal, I don’t worry so much about protein because I know I’ll be pairing it with something else.

  • Lauren March 3, 2010, 9:23 am

    I always look at the amount of sugar and sodium in a product. I never realized how much sodium I was eating until I started looking, my doctor said that high blood pressure is what leads to so many health problems.

  • Heather March 3, 2010, 9:24 am

    aw sweet puppy is so cute!
    good luck on the workout and the articles!

  • Jess @ Truly.Into.Fitness March 3, 2010, 9:27 am

    I had the same thing yesterday morning:)
    So good! but I’m partial to warm oats in the morning:)

    What I always look at is the lenght of the ingredient list. If there’s more than ten ingredients, I normally bad away. Also if I can’t pronounce the ingredients…it’s not going to eat it.

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers March 3, 2010, 9:27 am

    Granola is so sneaky 😉 You could make your own to control the amount of sugar. It depends what kind of food I’m looking at, but in general I check fiber first, then look at the ingredient list for scary imposters and things like trans fats, etc.

  • Mara @ What's For Dinner? March 3, 2010, 9:29 am

    James looks so much like our dog in that picture! She’s a larger Rottweiler mix, but she gets that same blissed-out look on her face when she’s outside!

  • Meg @ Be Fit Be Full March 3, 2010, 9:32 am

    Don’t forget that March 14th is Daylight Savings! Don’t want you to be late for your race 🙂 I always look at the sugar, protein and fiber on the nutrition facts, and I also check for HFCS and partially hydrogentated oils.

    • caitlin March 3, 2010, 9:33 am

      heheh thank you! a reminder was on the race entry info, too! can you imagine how many people are going to be late?

  • Emmanuelle March 3, 2010, 9:34 am

    Wow pumpkin yogourt overnight oats, yummy! Here in Europe, or at least on the continent, canned pumpkin is not easy to find unfortunately 🙁

    I look at the ingredient list first. If I don’t know what the hell it is I’m reading, I don’t buy it, or maybe the exceptional “bad” thing, in the end it all comes down to balance.
    I tend to avoid trans fat and high fructose corn syrup too or “sugar”, here in Europe it usually means plain white refined sugar and I don’t care about that much.
    Then I’ll check the nutrition facts, but not really calories.

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! March 3, 2010, 9:35 am

    I ALWAYS look at the ingredients list and nutritional information for any “new” item I am buying! Espically, bread as I always want to make sure the words Whole Wheat are in there and not Enriched. I also look for foods lower in sugar/bad fats/sodium too. I find that most of the population never looks at these items and believes what the item advertises on the box which is not always true!

  • skinnyrunner March 3, 2010, 9:38 am

    i always look for high fructose corn syrup. isn’t it crazy how its in so much peanut butter??

  • Andrea ( March 3, 2010, 9:39 am

    I check the same thing- the ingredient list first. Then the serving size. Such surprising info sometimes! Your breakfast looks so filling and delicious! And that pic of James made my day…such a happy old man!

  • Wendy March 3, 2010, 9:40 am

    You could make your own granola. It’s cheaper and you decide what goes in it. And it’s easy! 🙂

    The only thing I really try to avoid is anything with artificial sweeteners, mostly because I hate the taste. I also make sure to always buy 100% whole wheat bread.

  • Carolina John March 3, 2010, 9:43 am

    i don’t let any of the added sugar stuff bother me either. but the trans fats and ingredients that i can’t pronounce are a deal breaker.

  • Paige (Running Around Normal) March 3, 2010, 9:45 am

    What a beautiful Florida morning. Wee bit jealous over here 😉
    I do check for sugar, just because I hate having sugar crashes. I try to buy things with sweeteners such as brown rice syrup, raw agave, or maple syrup in them so they don’t affect my blood sugar like regular cane sugar does.
    That over night oats concoction looks awesome!

  • Christie @ Honoring Health March 3, 2010, 9:50 am

    I read ingredient labels like a hawk. I have so many food intolerances that I have to be really careful. I also don’t eat anything with added sweeteners (including ketchup!!)

  • Daniel March 3, 2010, 9:57 am

    I always chck for any trace of hydrogenated oils or anything that would add trans fat – that’s my biggest concern. Then I worry about the added sugars, preservatives and additives, and unhealthier oils (like palm oil and the like). It makes some shopping rather difficult but things that you make homemade (e.g. ketchup) usually taste better anyways.

    And if your granola has 13g sugar, at least 1g (I think) is from the oats themselves, and if your diet is mostly healthy throughout the day I’m sure you’re not eating a bunch of added sugars anyways.

    It’s better to have added sugar in healthy foods (oats, milks, etc.) than to have foods with tons of added sugar and minimal nutritional value anyways. ^_^

  • Tonyne @ Unlikely Success Story March 3, 2010, 9:57 am

    I love James face in that picture. It’s like the definition of contentment. 🙂

  • Christy March 3, 2010, 9:57 am

    I always look at the label to get a big picture of the overall quality of the product. I look at protein, fiber, calories, fat, sugar, sodium and ingredients.

    I just started eating greek yogurt and granola as a snack, but was worried about the sugar content in the granola. When I went to my health food store, I looked at all the options in the bulk bin and was pleased to find 4 choices that had 4-5 grams of sugar instead of 14!

  • Shellybean March 3, 2010, 9:57 am

    I look at fiber and protein first, then sodium- then serving size and calories, then ingredient list.

  • katherine March 3, 2010, 10:02 am

    I’m always on the lookout for HFCS, but I also check protein content. If I’m buying something that’s packaged, it’s usually to have a quick meal, or meal add-in, and I’m always looking for ways of upping my protein.

  • Alicia March 3, 2010, 10:09 am

    always calories. recently protein. also length of ingredient list.

  • Caitlin @ Right Foot Forward March 3, 2010, 10:15 am

    There is an elderly man that lives at a nursing home at the end of my block who sits outside in the morning on sunny days. I say hi to him every morning. Your comment about James reminded me of him!

    • caitlin March 3, 2010, 10:16 am

      my grandpa does it too. 🙂

      • Laura March 3, 2010, 10:42 am

        Mine too, on a bench in his garden overlooking the hills… good memories, thank you! In the Mediterranean the older men sit outside their houses in the sun and watch the world go buy, what a retirement!

        • caitlin March 3, 2010, 10:43 am

          i want to do that!!!!!!

  • Grapeful March 3, 2010, 10:28 am

    HFC is one of those ingredients that have become a negative buzz word and unfairly so. HFC is no worse for you than other types of sugars. It’s simply sugar. Avoiding sugar in general or high doses of sugar is probably what shoppers should be looking for instead. I think Jenna has a pretty good explanation about this in her FAQs section.

    • caitlin March 3, 2010, 10:30 am

      i’ve heard this explanation too, but i just don’t agree with it. it’s still a processed product (like white sugar) and something i try to avoid. i don’t think we should eat it regularly at all, no matter what the corn industry says.

      just my opinion!

      • Laura March 3, 2010, 10:53 am

        I agree with you too, and my lecturer who is on the U.K. nutrition advisory panel… he taught us that fructose ( in HFCS, agave nectar, fruit juices etc) enters your metabolism at a different stage to glucose (from table sugar-sucrose), and tends to shift metabolism towards triglyceride (fat) synthesis rather than glycogen synthesis (good for runners!) and energy release. Also, it can’t be metabolised by any bodily cells apart from those in the liver, and once the liver has increased its production of fatty acids, released them into the bloodstream, the nearest tissues take these up- around your middle, hence the HFCS and central obesity/type II diabetes link?! I’d never really thought about it before my course, so it was a bit of a reality check!- Of course this is only with excessive amounts of fructose, so like you said, all in moderation, and Science is never totally certain… btw did you know snicker bars used to be called marathons in the 1970s in the U.K? A good reason to have one I think! Sorry if this is really long and too boring-sciency- I just thought on the off chance anyone might be interested (?!!)

        • caitlin March 3, 2010, 10:58 am

          im interested 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    • Carrie H March 3, 2010, 1:37 pm

      You know, I used to be on the “HFCS is pretty much the same as sugar” train, but then I learned that it is more likely that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from corn products are used in HFCS than sugar. And, yeah, I know that we don’t know the real effects of GMOs yet, but they still freak me out anyway. Just something else to think about.

  • Robyn March 3, 2010, 10:28 am

    I’m definitely going to try this although I couldn’t find pumpkin in the grocery store last week!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) March 3, 2010, 10:30 am

    i actually always look at the calories/fat/fiber/sugar first, then make sure i can pronounce and know what each ingredient is. if i don’t know how to say something, i’ll likely not buy it!

  • Angharad March 3, 2010, 10:30 am

    Ugh. Don’t you hate finding out stuff like that about foods you love?! Making your own granola is super easy though and honestly tastes amazing! I look out for HFCS on labels here, as well as multiple instances of soy products. Trans fat is something I would rather have less of in my life and depending on what kind of purpose it’s going to serve (i.e breakfast) I look for fibre and protein.

  • Laurie March 3, 2010, 10:32 am

    I always make sure that I can pronounce the ingredients and it doesn’t sound like a chemistry experiment. Anything that sounds like it can’t grow naturally from the ground turns me off from a product. I also look at sugar and protein content– I never knew until recently how much sugar goes into some “healthy” cereals! Sodium is also a deciding factor, too. I can’t believe it when a soup packs in 80 percent of your daily sodium intake.

  • Kellie March 3, 2010, 10:33 am

    I look for short ingredient lists. I also look at fat, sugar, calories and fiber content. I also look to make sure there is not any meat in items I buy. I just found out that “natural flavor” in Rosarita fat free refried beans is animal product. Now I try to stick to things that specifically say vegetarian.

  • Erin March 3, 2010, 10:33 am

    As for great tasting granola with less sugar, I suggest you try Bear Naked Fit Granola. It only has 4g of sugar and no unpronounceable ingredients.

    I always look for sugar substitutes and try to avoid them. Unfortunately, my favorite English muffins have sucralose in them. Thankfully it’s the second to last ingredient so I don’t mind quite as much.

    • Traci March 3, 2010, 11:05 am

      My husband and I both love Bear Naked Fit – especially the vanilla almond. He eats it with Greek Yogurt which is shocking to me as he’s very much a meat and potatoes kinda guy.

  • Taysa (Water, Butter and Wine) March 3, 2010, 10:37 am

    I look for all the same things. Now when I’m looking at the ingredient list I’m also looking for hidden gluten. It’s everywhere! From Odwalla juices to teas to soups. I have to be really careful, but I’ve found this habit of checking the ingredients has been one of the biggest helps in keeping me eating healthy.

  • Jennifer March 3, 2010, 10:43 am

    Udi’s granola is a great brand that has all natural ingredients, and the ingredient list is fairly short. I add it to yogurt with blueberries! 🙂

    • Jennifer March 3, 2010, 10:45 am

      Forgot to say…you don’t have to order it online…I get mine from Sprout’s, but if you don’t have one near you, Whole Foods (or other natural food store) probably carries it, too.

    • jessica March 3, 2010, 4:59 pm

      I am obsessed with Udi’s granola. It is hands down the best granola I have ever had – even better than homemade granola. The ingredients list is oats, honey, canola oil, fruit and nuts. I have tried to recreate it at home with the same ingredients but I just can’t get it to come out the same!

  • Kristilyn (My 29th Year) March 3, 2010, 10:46 am

    I’m so sad … I look at the serving size and the calories first, and then I look at the ingredients. If there’s a ton of sugar and ingredients I can’t name then I try not to get it. Anything I get that has weird ingredients, I eat very little of (even though it’s so hard to do that sometimes!).

    Your overnight pumpkin oats looks really good – everyone seems to be making them nowadays. I think I should join in!


  • Kara (@ Kara's Marathon) March 3, 2010, 10:46 am

    99% of the time, if I can read and understand all the ingredients on a food label, I’ll buy it. If I see any “frankenfood” ingredients, HFCS or anything like that, it’s a no-go.

    I got some homemade granola from Rachel Hearts Food in the blogger bake sale for Haiti and it was AMAZING — maybe making your own granola is the best way to go?

  • Julie March 3, 2010, 10:48 am

    It can be hard for me b/c I am intolerant to gluten, soy, and lactose so I obviously have to watch out for all of that. I mostly buy the same foods, which makes it easier, and 85% of what I eat is usually unprocessed foods (lots of fruit, veggies, quinoa, fish, meat, etc). When I look for more snacky foods, I look at the ingredient list first to see if I can pronounce the words, then calories, sugar, and fat. I used to only be concerned with fat but I’ve learned over the years that fat is not always the enemy and it really depends what kind of fat. I’ve also learned to limit sugar, sodium, HFCS…

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg March 3, 2010, 10:56 am

    Have you ever made your own granola, Caitlin? It’s a great way to control the sugar.

    I did a sugar challenge last month, and it made me really aware of how much sugar is in EVERYTHING…pretty scary stuff! Now I always check the sugar amount, along with the regular cals, fat, protein, etc.

  • Katie@ Two Lives, One Lifestyle March 3, 2010, 10:56 am

    I usually check for hydrogenated oils or HFCS in the ingredients, or to see where sugar sources are listed in the ingredients- if it’s something like bread and sugar is the third ingredient, I’m not impressed. Even if it’s natural, it’s still sugar! I also check out the grams of sugar and the sodium content.

  • Amanda March 3, 2010, 11:00 am

    Really, the only thing I look for is meat ingredients. And I’ll check calorie and fat counts, but I really don’t pay much attention to them unless they are ridiculously high. I eat mostly fruits and veg though, so I’m not too concerned about those things.

  • Kiersten March 3, 2010, 11:01 am

    I wouldn’t worry about the granola. As long as you aren’t eating bags of it at a time, a serving won’t hurt you. I have to read nutrition labels of everything to see if it’s vegan. I also look at the calorie, fat, and sugar content to make sure they aren’t really high. (I’m amazed at the sugar content in some processed things, like cereals)

    • caitlin March 3, 2010, 11:12 am

      oh i but i DO eat it all the time LOL

  • Erin March 3, 2010, 11:16 am

    I look for HFCS and meat products (as I recently became pescetarian…maybe one day I’ll give up fish, but I’m not sure yet). I also look for added sugars (besides HFCS) if the product shouldn’t technically have added sugars. I also check calories, sodium and fat (for trans fat) to make sure it’s not terrible.

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) March 3, 2010, 11:20 am

    I look for HFCS, stuff I can’t pronounce and trans fats. I recently started looking at sugar too. It makes me sad because a lot of my favorite things have boatloads of sugar in them! 🙁

    My favorite granola is Nature’s Path- Pumpkin granola. I buy it at Costco and I am obsessed.

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing March 3, 2010, 11:21 am

    I always read the ingredient list to make sure nothing sneaky/artificial is in there. It is hard to eat “real” food all the time but I really try my best!

  • Evan Thomas March 3, 2010, 11:27 am

    I go straight for the ingredients. If they aren’t all natural, I know then just to put it down. Beyond that, I’m not picky, so long as sugar isn’t the number 1 ingredient(it surprisingly is in some Nature’s Path organic kids granola bars!)

  • Bethany (Not Unless I'm Being Chased) March 3, 2010, 11:37 am

    I usually try and avoid the typical “nasties”: HFCS and trans fat, extra sugar and salt…that sort of thing.
    But this month, I challenged myself on the blog to stick to whole foods and natural ingredients…eliminating the preservatives and chemicals and unknowns.
    It is a little tougher than you might think…but a good thing to think about when you’re shoveling the food in :)! So I was excited to see your post today!

  • Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly March 3, 2010, 11:44 am

    A SHORT ingredient list is a must. I also like to see the sugar and the sodium content!

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople March 3, 2010, 11:45 am

    I look first at the ingredients list to see how many items I don’t recognize. I don’t like to buy food with ingredients that I don’t even know what they are.

    Then I look for ingredients that I know my body can’t tolerate, like anything with any forms of “whey”, “whey protein”, or “whey protein isolate” as I don’t enjoy gastrointestinal distress!

    And then I look at the calories per serving size. I determine if the serving size is ridiculous and if the calories are worth it to me.

    • Amber K @ sparkpeople March 3, 2010, 11:46 am

      I just realized that this sounds like a LONG process, but I do it all in about 20 seconds. =)

      • Ashley March 3, 2010, 12:25 pm

        I’m the same way! My list of “no’s” is LONG..but I’m really quick about it in the store!

  • Bronwyn March 3, 2010, 11:47 am

    I usually check the first three ingredients, and make sure they’re REAL food and aren’t synonymes for sugar.

    Also I do check the nutrition label with calories/fat/etc.

  • Sammi March 3, 2010, 11:53 am

    I grocery shop alone and it is because I drive everyone nuts with how long I take. I swear I read ever label.. it is actually fun for me?

    I first check the ingredient list to see if there is hydrogenated oils or hfcs. Then I see if there is added sugar and how far down it is on the list. Then I check nutrition facts for serving size, sugar, protein, and saturated fat.

    I am quite thorough…I don’t like being tricked by companies.

    But on another note.. I see overnight oats being made all the time.. but I don’t get how it compares to granola for you. Do the oats get crispy overnight? I am intrigued!

    • caitlin March 3, 2010, 4:15 pm

      nope, they become kind of mushy and soggy (it a good way)

  • Sarah @ Long Legs Healthy Life March 3, 2010, 11:53 am

    I always check the ingredient list, and the order of ingredients, and then take a look at the portion size vs. nutritional % list.
    Question about overnight oats: do you ever heat them up in the morning? I’ve never had cold oatmeal, it seems like the texture would be icky.

    • caitlin March 3, 2010, 4:15 pm

      nope – it has yogurt it in. it’s suppose to be eaten cold! it’s good 🙂

  • steph March 3, 2010, 11:56 am

    I check out the serving size and consider the calories. Then I look at protein and fiber. And no sugar alcohols..they are evil.

  • Julie March 3, 2010, 12:02 pm

    I do the same as you. I also check how much sodium there is and serving size. I never really look at sugar…how much are we supposed to get per day? I feel like I eat a lot, but what is it really doing to me?

  • Anne P March 3, 2010, 12:10 pm

    You should try making your own granola?? That would be healthier! 🙂

    I always look at the ingredients list – making sure there are no fake sweeteners, weird preservatives, or things I don’t understand! I also look at sodium if it’s soup or something like that.

  • Ashley March 3, 2010, 12:23 pm

    I am an ingredient list inspector!! haha In no particular order: HFCS, processed corn, soy [any type..I try and keep it’s almost always GMO when added to foods, plus has a high detection of mercury now too…sweet], no fake sweeteners, added sugar [i look to see what kind is used] The list goes on from here…I don’t take forever in the grocery store. I’ve learned really quickly what makes or doesn’t make my list. I do make exceptions too..but especially don’t like to with soy. I am careful of the “fake meat” products too because they are usually LOADED with a crazy long ingredient list. I like to keep it “real” hahaa

  • Tracey @ TropicalHappiness March 3, 2010, 12:25 pm

    That picture of James is adorable. He is such a cute puppy and looks like he’s living the life with the warm sun on his face!
    I try to do a once over- ingredients, calories, fat, sugar, fiber, sat fat, sodium, vitamins, etc.

  • Ruth, Diet Procrastinator March 3, 2010, 12:27 pm

    As a vegetarian, I check for animal products first, then sugar content. I follow that up with serving size (I appreciate it when products are honest with me about that and don’t try to tell me that a serving size is 1/4 of a can of soup or something), calories per serving size (trying to lose some weight, you known) and fiber.

  • Kim March 3, 2010, 12:51 pm

    Oh man, I used to analyze nutrition facts obsessively. I looked at everything, from calories to fat to sugar to protein to sodium. These days, I’m more interested to see that there are simple ingredients. I try to avoid long lists, with lots of artificial crap. I don’t really care too much about calories or fat or sugar. I just don’t have brain space to obsess over that stuff anymore. Ha. I know I eat healthy and I feel good, so I go with that 🙂

  • Kate March 3, 2010, 12:58 pm

    Awww, James is so cute. Last summer my dog discovered the wonders of sun beams and now whenever my husband and I turn on our fireplace we dub it the “electronic sunbeam.” Within 30 seconds Norman is stretched in font asleep.

    Right now I’m double checking HFCS and trans-fats. I’m constantly surprised where HFCS pops up in–two weeks ago I bought Athenos hummus and it had HFCS in the ingredients list! I’m debating about throwing it out, but I don’t want to waste what I bought. Eventually I’ll stop buying foods with really long ingredients lists, but right now just finding HFCS is daunting enough.

  • kalli@fitandfortysomething March 3, 2010, 1:00 pm

    Your overnight oats look delicious! I have yet to try to make them…..This recipe makes me want to try.
    I got a laugh over your avoidance of the nutritional facts because I tend to avoid certain ones too. Don’t need the reality check!
    When I look, i tend to look for anything fake like trans fats, splenda, high fructose corn syrup…….
    Have a great day!

  • Kelli March 3, 2010, 1:14 pm

    We need some sunshine here in New England!! Ahh! When looking at nutritional facts I tend to first look at the ingredients. If the list is too long or I cant pronounce something I usually put it back. If it passes the ingredient test I look for trans/saturated fat and then sodium. It seems to be working pretty well so far!

  • Kelly March 3, 2010, 1:16 pm

    I look at the whole label…ingredients first to make sure the product is vegan, then all of the nutrient values in relation to what a serving size is….if it has HFCS it goes back on the shelf…I also look at sodium. I’ve stopped buying a lot of canned or processed foods. My husband loves processed foods but is now looking at how much sodium is in the foods he likes. I find I can make it healthier and tastier on my own. That goes for granola too. I make my own every couple weeks and use it as just regular cereal with almond milk or put it in my yogurt and even on top of my smoothies.

  • Andrea of Care to Eat March 3, 2010, 1:40 pm

    Another vote for making your own granola – super easy, cheap, you can control what goes in (i.e. no funkiness), and lasts forever in the fridge. Or even easier and healthier, is get Ryan to make you some raw granola in her dehydrator! I’m making some of my own tonight – raw granola alone was worth the cost of the dehydrator.

  • Lori (Finding Radiance) March 3, 2010, 1:47 pm

    I love granola and yogurt – and granola is so easy to make!

    I usually check protein content first, then fiber content. HFCS is also a no-no for me.

  • Diana (Mymarblerye) March 3, 2010, 1:51 pm

    Mmm…yummy pumpkin breakfast. BTW I need to start looking at INGREDIENTS when I look at the label..I just look at the nutrition facts!

  • Nicole, RD March 3, 2010, 2:11 pm

    James is so cute! I also look at serving size, calories, saturated fat, sodium, and fiber. And then in the ingredients I look for HFCS and MSG, along with any other 18-syllable words 🙂

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit March 3, 2010, 2:36 pm

    I have a can of pumpkin that’s been sitting around since the holidays, and I want to use it up before it gets warm out and I won’t want to eat it anymore- I think I’ll make a similar bowl of O.O’s for tomorrow morning.
    I look at calories, saturated fat, and fiber first. I also check out the protein and sometimes the sugar and sodium content.

  • Kristi March 3, 2010, 2:49 pm


    Do you find that adding pumpkin to your meals in the morning help satisfy your hunger throughout the morning? I am asking because I used to add pumpkin to everything and it seemed to help-especially when I start work at 6:30a and my lunch isn’t until 11:30 or noon.


    • caitlin March 3, 2010, 4:12 pm

      hmm not really because it doesnt add too many calories. i think it does help because it adds more volume so it keeps my mouth happy 🙂

  • Catherine March 3, 2010, 3:02 pm

    I generally look at ingredients first and make sure if there is sugar, etc in there that it’s towards the end of the list. As long as the ingredients look good I’ll generally go ahead and get it since I know even if it’s something kind of fatty, I could just have a small portion of it – although I must say, looking at serving size has helped me out too. When I’m looking at two bags of crackers with similar ingredients, 5 crackers vs. 15 crackers per serving is a big difference!

  • Laura Smith March 3, 2010, 3:24 pm

    have you tried Ezekiel granola? Everything is pronounceable in the ingredient list and tastes yummy 🙂

  • Chelsea March 3, 2010, 3:42 pm

    Hi Caitlin! I have been reading your blog since you still had See Bride Run and I still love it so much. I have been meaning to post for a long time too. I first found your blog very inspirational because I was struggling with my recovery from my eating disorder and it was so great to see what real healthy people were eating and that they eat real food and real portions and enjoy it so much. I then thought it was so great that you started Operation Beautiful. My campus set up a few events for NEDA week and I actually encouraged them to do a day devoted to posting Operation Beautiful notes. My first one was a little scary and then I ran out of post its!! I was so pleased to still see the notes around campus the next day (I was so afraid the janitors were going to rip them down). Keep doing amazing things because you truly are a role model. I also have a blog and I just moved over to

    • caitlin March 3, 2010, 4:13 pm

      aww seebriderun! thank you for commenting 🙂 and for reading! and for operation beautifuling 🙂 I appreciate it.

  • Carrie H March 3, 2010, 3:58 pm

    As I said above, I try to avoid HFCS because of GMOs, but products made from GMOs (including simple-seeming items like fruit and veggies) do NOT have to be labeled … this bugs me and grosses me out. I was looking around online, and if what I found can be believed, even though produce with GMOs aren’t obviously labeled, we can still tell the difference.

    “So using this numbering system, a conventionally grown banana would be 4011, an organic banana would be 94011, and a genetically engineered banana would be 84011.” Source:

  • Cara March 3, 2010, 4:01 pm

    I generally look at the fiber content, then protein content then calories. I don’t usually go too into detail about the other ingredients, although I know I should.

  • jessica March 3, 2010, 5:03 pm

    Hi Caitlin – I’m sorry if this was mentioned before but why can’t you make your own granola? It’s super easy and takes really great. I usually start with oats, honey or maple syrup, and canola oil and then add in any type of dried fruit or nuts and cook it for a while in the oven on a low temp. like 200-250. Kath also has really great granola recipes.

    • jessica March 3, 2010, 5:04 pm

      *and tastes really great!

      • caitlin March 3, 2010, 5:05 pm

        sooo many people pointed this out so i think im going to try it soon! i have made homemade granola in the past and need to do it again!

  • Amanda March 3, 2010, 5:17 pm

    I check the ingredients for any animal-derived ingredients, and high fructose corn syrup.

  • Jasmine (Sweet and Fit) March 3, 2010, 6:18 pm

    I love those overnight oatmeal/yogurt combinations – they keep me full for hours!!

    that pictures of James to soo cute, love the squinty eyes =)

  • Danielle March 3, 2010, 6:58 pm

    HAHA! James totally reminds me of Yoda in that picture for some reason. Such a cutie!

    I look at the ingredients to see what is in it (and if I know what everything is or is used for) and then at the nutrition information. I will usually go for something that is more natural and higher in fat/calories because I know it’s better for my body and probably easier to process.

  • Jolene ( March 3, 2010, 7:04 pm

    I check for calories, sugar, fat, and sodium. I read the ingredient list and make sure it is as short as possible with whole/ natural foods.

  • Tracy March 3, 2010, 7:09 pm

    I have a great recipe for homemade granola – it is so much cheaper (after the initial cost to buy the ingredients, but I bet you have most of them) and healthier! Here is the post:

  • John March 3, 2010, 7:34 pm

    I’m buying very little processes foods now. When I do I look at the sodium and sugar and calorie/serving facts. If those don’t look too bad then I look at the ingredient list.

    Following you it seems you eat very well so if your “one” bad thing is granola I don’t think it’s too bad if you continue with it.

  • Alyson @ Nourished Fitness March 4, 2010, 12:50 am

    ‘Obsessed’ would work to describe my feelings towards Granola & Yogurt too. In fact I think Yogurt Parfaits might be my very favorite meal. Overnight oats are a great sub, and those look delicious!

  • Olivia March 19, 2010, 1:31 pm

    Caitlin, I loved your idea of the canned pumpkin, but when I went to the store in pursuit all I could find was pumpkin pie filling (and that was the 3rd store I tried!). The sugar content in this stuff is super high (I think it was 17g a serving). Is this what you use? If not, where do you stock up and what brand? Thanks!

    • caitlin March 19, 2010, 4:46 pm

      just the regular libby’s brand. you have to hunt for it out of season!

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