Florence Biggest Loser contestants tested on knowledge of nutrition and financial health

January 30, 2019
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Registered nutritionist and dietitian Lindsay Fraser talks with a group of Florence’s Biggest Loser about their nutrition progress in the competition so far.

FLORENCE, S.C. — With two weeks of the competition already in the books, contestants with the 2019 Florence’s Biggest Loser gathered at the Leatherman Senior Center on Tuesday night to attend their second nutrition class of the competition.

The class, led by registered dietitian and nutritionist Lindsay Fraser, focused on issues that the contestants might be facing as they progress in their healthy journey; such as how to make healthier choices when eating out and reducing their sodium intake.

To see how familiar the contestants already were with these topics, each contestant was first given a handout that tested knowledge on the level of sodium in 10 popular food and snack options. Working together with the contestants in their training group, each team had to list the ten items from least amount of sodium to greatest. Once the contestants learned the correct order for the items, many were surprised to learn that the items they thought would not have much sodium actually were some of the items with the highest sodium count on the sheet.

“I knew the sodium sheet was going to be tricky, but I was still surprised to see how each item ended up ranking with their amount of sodium,” said contestant Alex McGill. “When I started this competition I started paying more attention to the nutrition labels on the foods I was eating and it is crazy how much sodium some products can have. Just because something looks healthy or says it’s low-fat or natural doesn’t mean it really is because they may be adding more sodium to make up for what is being taken out.”

Some of the rankings that the other contestants were surprised or tricked by included a serving size of potato chips (170 mg) and salted mini pretzels (250 mg) being two of the items with the lowest sodium of the items and chicken noodle soup with 25 percent less sodium (660 mg) and a Lean Cuisine Pepperoni Pizza (870 mg) being two of the items with some of the highest sodium.

The second nutrition handout gave each team two examples of common meals (a chicken sandwich with a side and drink and a salad with a side and drink) found on a restaurant menu and asked each group to provide three ways the two meals could be made healthier. Some of the healthy suggestions the contestants came up with for the meals included grilling the chicken in the salad, asking for a non-creamy dressing for the salad, drinking water for their beverage, and asking for fruit or vegetables for the side.

Along with working on their nutritional health, the contestants were also given a chance to work on their financial health. Each contestant was provided with a workbook courtesy of sponsor Health Facilities Federal Credit Union that provided eight measures for the contestants to use to assess the health of their finances. Health Facilities Federal Credit Union CEO Robert Harris said many people do not think about finances when they think about health, but as the recent government shutdown has shown in a powerful way, people need to have reserves to go to if they miss a paycheck.

“It is our hope that as the contestants get their bodies and health in shape in order to have a long life, that they also prepare for that life by starting to plan for ‘rainy days’ and a comfortable retirement,” said Harris. “It is estimated that over 80 percent of the furloughed government workers were living paycheck to paycheck with little to no emergency services and a situation like that can have negative impacts on your health through stress. Like losing weight, you can start saving a little at a time by taking a few dollars from each paycheck to help build your savings and help reduce your stress about finances.”

At the end of the event, contestants Jennifer Brault, Donna Dunham, Crystal Grant, Ron Roberts, and Connie Rodgers ended up answering the most questions on the handouts correctly and won a free meal provided by McAlister’s Deli in Florence.

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