In a recent survey by the American Dietetic Association (eatright.org), about 61% of consumers look at the food label when they purchase foods. GOOD FOR YOU!!! However, the other 39%, why aren’t you looking at the label? It is reported that those who used the nutrition labels had lower calorie, fat, and sugar intake than those who didn’t read the label.
What I am going to assume is that the 39% who don’t read the labels fall into two categories:
Category A: You are unsure how to read the label (don’t worry it is a little confusing!)
Category B: You just don’t care.
Well, if you fall into Category A, please read on. If you are in Category B, you may go do something else.
Here are a few tips when reading the food label:
I like to start with the serving size. It is important, because you may think this food is a low calorie option, however you are eating 3 to 4 servings. If the serving size says 1/2 cup and you eat 2 cups, then you are eating 4 servings.
Next look at total calories and calories from fat. Stick to about 30% of the calories coming from fat. If you don’t have a scientific calculator with you at the supermarket to calculate this, eye
ball it. I always say, if it looks like about half the calories come from fat, ditch the product. There are exceptions…ie: olive oil, nut butters etc. Also, when trying to lose weight, it’s a smart choice to cut back on BOTH calories and fat.
% Daily Values can guide you in making healthy food decisions. Remember sodium, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol should be low – 5% or less of the DV. Vitamins, minerals, and fiber are where you want aim high in % DV. Something that is high in a certain nutrient should have 20% or more of your DV.
If you have more questions, post them! Remember look at the ingredients list too. The first 3 items listed are usually the 3 biggest ingredients. They are listed in descending order by weight.
Need a quick reference to keep around the house?
http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=206 <– go to this website and click on “Get Smart-Learn the Facts on Food Labels”