• Eryn

Reading food labels

Do you ever read the nutrition labels on the food you buy? If you have, were you able to understand it? If not, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Let me break it down for you.

There might be many reasons why you might want to understand the food labels. One of them is to avoid being “tricked” by some manufacturers and so you can make the right decision for you.

1) Serving information: This is servings per container vs. Serving size (1 portion). According to the FDA, serving sizes have been standarized so they are easier to compare. You need to know that sometimes, the serving size will be smaller than what you may be used to consume in one sitting. For example, half a cookie or a quarter of the soda can, etc. This make it seem that the food in question has less calories, fat, sugar, etc. If you are interested in learning the value of the item, you might need to multiply according to your actual serving. Also, consider using the serving size as suggestions and portion out the food instead of eating from the bag, box, container, etc.

2) Calories: This tells you how much energy a “serving” provides. Again, you might need to do the math according to your actual serving size. Remember that you need to balance the amount of calories you eat with the amount of energy your body uses. If you want to see how many calories you might need based on your age, sex, height, weight, etc, you can visit this website: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/resources/MyPlatePlan

3) Nutrients: Like you can read in Pritikin, the nutrition facts and ingredient lists are very important. For example, you can see “0” in “trans fats” but on the ingredient list you can find fats that may be just as clogging as the trans fats that they were replacing. Paying attention to the different vitamins and minerals in your foods but also the amount of sodium is very important. Sodium can creep up on us quite quickly especially with processed or packaged foods.

4) Percent Daily Value: (%DV) is the percentage of the Daily Value for each nutrient in a serving of the food. It shows how much a nutrient in a serving of a food contributes to a total daily diet. A good rule is like the FDA states:

More often, choose foods that are:

Higher in %DV for Dietary Fiber, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Potassium Lower in %DV for Saturated Fat, Sodium, and Added Sugars

Another important tip is to learn about the different fats and sugars and to avoid being “tricked” by common claims that some companies make. But, overall, you need to keep in mind what are your goals and that you need a healthy lifestyle – which includes JOY, and if a food brings you JOY you might not want to cut it back entirely, just be moderate about it. Life is all about BALANCE.

If you would like to learn more, here are 3 sources with useful information:

FDA Healthline Pritikin

Will you start reading the food labels? Or will you stop buying processed foods altogether? Will you just go with “intuitive eating”? Let me know in the comments!

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