Nutrition: How Much do You Know?

nutrition is a science

Every March we celebrate National Nutrition Month and registered dietitian nutritionists (RD/RDNs) come out like wildfire spreading the good word of nutrition. This year’s theme is Put Your Best Fork Forward. A great theme for certain.

My intent wasn’t to do the same ole same ole but provide education. With so much misinformation on the internet I wonder how much people know. Being an adjunct professor teaching the principles of nutrition for almost 20 years I’ve kept up with basic nutrition knowledge and often scratch my head at what I see, read, and hear.

Consumers are confused. How can they put their best fork forward if there is not a solid foundation of basic nutrition concepts?

I made a commitment to post a daily video starting with a quiz March 1. Here are the first eight videos and their summaries.

Test your nutrition knowledge

These four questions have true/false answers:

  1. Vitamins give us energy.
  2. As a percentage of calories, we should eat more carbs than other nutrients.
  3. Protein, carbs, fats, and vitamins are organic nutrients. Water and minerals are not.
  4. Four of the top 10 leading causes of death are nutrition-related.

What is nutrition?

As my colleague registered dietitian nutritionist, Sally Hara, said years ago, nutrition is a science, not an opinion. Have you ever considered how the foods you eat break down into nutrients your body can use? Nutrition is built on the foundation of many sciences including anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biology, and biochemistry! Pretty cool stuff. To a nutrition nerd like me anyway.

The 6 classes of nutrients

In this video, I discuss the 6 classes of nutrients and give you some brief info about each. I’ll go deeper into each as the month proceeds.

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Protein
  3. Fats/lipids
  4. Vitamins
  5. Minerals
  6. Water

The 6 classes of nutrients—continuing the conversation

Continuing the discussion of the 6 classes of nutrients.

  • In the world of nutrition what does it mean to be organic and inorganic and which nutrients are?
  • Which of the 6 are the macronutrients and why? The macronutrients contain calories which give us energy. How many calories do carbohydrates, proteins, and fats provide?
  • If you had a meal of 50 grams of carbohydrate, 30 grams of protein, and 20 grams of fat, how many total calories would you be eating? Watch the video and find out!

Discussion of nonnutrients

There is one other item containing calories but it doesn’t fall into the 6 classes of nutrients. It’s considered a nonnutrient because it adds no value to the growth, repair, or maintenance of the body tissues—however, it does provide calories. Alcohol (commonly abbreviated ETOH).

There are other nonnutrients—additives and preservatives. You might think they’re all ‘bad’ but many serve an important purpose! I know there is a trend to ‘eat clean’—personally verbiage that annoys me. It has no definition. I think what people are trying to do is eat more simply and eat more wholesome foods.

The whole idea of not eating processed food is not realistic. For example, some foods I eat and drink (you might as well) include: Greek yogurt, whole grain cereal, milk (the real stuff), cottage cheese and cheese, etc. They’re all processed, yet they’re wholesome nutritious foods.

Almond milk is highly processed really if you think about it. Without the additives lecithin and gums it would be extremely challenging for the product to be on store shelves. Emulsifiers and gums help stabilize and add texture improving the consistency and therefore making your drinking experience more enjoyable.

There are also antimicrobials to prevent food from spoiling. Antioxidants help prevent damage to foods caused by oxygen, plus by law there are some nutrients that must be added to certain foods. In the next topic/video I address this last point more thoroughly discussing refined and whole grains. And finally, yes there are also color and flavor enhancers.

Don’t judge

One last thing. Whether or not you choose to eat these foods is your choice. However, please,  don’t judge. If someone eats differently than you, accept their choices.

What’s a whole grain? 

What is a whole grain? What’s the difference between whole grain and whole wheat? What is a refined or enriched grain?

A whole grain has three parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm. Where is so much of the nutrition? What is stripped away when a grain is refined? Those questions answered and more!

Nutrition pop quiz: What have you learned so far?

  1. Gram for gram carbs have more energy than other nutrients. (T/F)
  2. A 12-grain bread and multi-grain bread have the same nutritional value as whole grain. (T/F)
  3. By law some nutrients are added to certain grains. What nutrients are added? (Hint: Four are B vitamins.)
  4. Why are the macronutrients called macronutrients?
  5. What has a better nutrition profile without additives—almond milk or potato chips?

Registered dietitian nutritionist day

As a registered dietitian nutritionist I have the fortunate opportunity to mentor many dietetic interns over the course of the year. Coincidentally this year on National Registered Dietitian Day I had a delightful intern from Texas A&M, Stephanie Rackley.

There you have the first eight videos—the next set focuses on carbohydrates. There is so much misinformation about them. Stay tuned!

Photo credit: Neily on Nutrition and

Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach



  1. Jane HM

    Fantastic! This should be a requirement in school, at least an option for HS. Too bad HomeEc isn’t more focused on today like it was in the past. No wonder school lunches look so bad and the dinner table isn’t the family gathering place anymore.

    • Neily

      Thanks for your comment Jane – hope you continue to read and watch all! Take care! -Neily

  2. Laura johnson

    BRILLIANT work !!! I love this very knowledgeable ??


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