Reading a food label can be extremely easy, if you know what your looking for. A food label can easily be broken down into 7 categories.
3-THINGS TO LIMIT👎
4-THINGS YOU WANT👍
1-SERVING SIZE: This is what the whole label is based off of. This will help you gauge what portion size you should consume at 1 sitting.
***TIP- portion size is key when learning to eat healthy, eating too much of a healthy food is still going to give you excess calories. Try serving food portions with measuring cups rather than serving spoons, this will help you visually see the amount you should be eating.
2- CALORIES: This tells you the amount of calories PER SERVING. As a general rule, look for foods that contain LESS than 20% of its "calories from fat".
3- LIMIT THESE: The next thing to focus on, is the cholesterol, sodium, fat and sugars. These are categories that we want to avoid in high amounts. These guys can lead to: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and fat gain. (general rule of thumb, aim for 5% or less in these groups)
4- THINGS YOU WANT: Our next area of focus is the good stuff, things that are good for our bodies. Vitamins and Micronutrients (minerals) are an important part of your diet to aid in growth, reproduction and overall health. It is extremely rare to get too much vitamins or minerals in food form, when taking supplements it is possible to over consume and reach toxic levels. SO THE HIGHER THE BETTER, ON YOUR FOOD LABEL!
5- DAILY VALUES: This shows the daily value PER SERVING of your daily calorie intake. 5% or less is considered low (aim for this % or lower in cholesterol, sodium, sugar and fat content) 20% or more is considered high (aim for this % or higher in fiber and other desired nutrients)
6- FOOTNOTES: Breaks down the components based on a 2000 calorie diet. If your recommended intake is lower or higher, these numbers will vary. FIND YOUR RECOMMEND CALORIE INTAKE HERE
7- INGREDIENT LIST: Sometimes the ingredient list appears to be in a foreign language, if you don't have time to research each ingredient here are 2 general key factors to look at. First, how many ingredients are there? Generally speaking, the fewer ingredients the better. With a smaller list, there are usually less added sugars and unhealthy chemicals. Second, notice what ingredients are listed first. Ingredients are listed in the amount present going from most to least. If you have a label that lists all the sugars first, and healthier ingredients at the end, you might want to rethink your choice.
RECAP- Pay attention to portion size, aim for 5% or less in Cholesterol, Sodium and Sugar and 20% or more in fiber. Strive for few ingredients and avoid foods with unhealthy ingredients listed 1st.
I hope these simple break downs have helped you to better understand how to read and understand a food label and will help you make better nutritional choices on your future shopping trips.☺
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