Our eating habits are directly related to our health. Good eating habits don't start at the dinner table, but much sooner. Being a smart shopper and selecting foods that are healthy begins with reading food labels. The food label was designed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to guide Americans to make healthful choices. By reading food labels we are able to compare and contrast nutrient content of similar items and make a decision on how the food best fits into our diet.
The first place to start when looking at the Nutrition Facts on a label is the Serving Size. How many servings come in a container? Remember, if there are two, and you eat the whole thing, you are consuming double the amount of calories listed. Next move down to the Amount Per Serving. This section gives you a breakdown of calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, and protein. Make sure to note that these amounts are per serving, not per container. Try to decrease saturated fat, and eliminate trans fats from your diet, as well as keeping sodium and sugars to a minimum. Below this is listed the Vitamins and Minerals. Food manufacturers are required to list the amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and iron in each product.
The last section of a food label includes the Percent Daily Values. This list gives percentages based on recommended daily allowances based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. However, not everyone should be on a 2,000 calorie per day diet! It is important to understand what your caloric and dietary needs are to help you “Feel Better and Live Longer”. For more information on food labeling and dietary guidelines, visit www.dietaryguidelines.gov
Take time to read nutrition labels. Understanding the label can make it easier for you to know what you are eating and how it will affect your health.
Jody Anderson, RN, CHC
Succeed Health, LLC- Algoma