Food Labels- What are they really saying?


Food-LabelMeasuring everything you eat can be a drag… There is a better way to keep track of what you are eating is both simple and effective.  Reading food labels seem to be the most effective way of determining the right kind of food to be bought in the supermarket. It lets you make sensible food selections. Through the “Nutrition Facts” section in a particular item in the grocery, you can identify the amount of serving sizes provided in that product.

With food labels, you can clearly understand the amount and kinds of nutrients that are provided in the item. Usually, it contains the information on saturated fat, sodium, total fat, fiber, and cholesterol amount “per serving.”

However, understanding and reading these food labels can be very perplexing. A typical consumer would definitely ask what those numbers mean and how it will affect her diet intake if ever she will religiously follow the serving guide as stipulated on the food label.

To start with, always read everything on the label. Do not just look at the fat content then only skim down at the rest. Look at the sugar content and compare it to the overall carbohydrate content to see how much of the carbohydrates are actually sugar.

Always compare the calories from fat to the total calories. Fat should not be higher than 30% of the total calories at the absolute most.

Look at the protein content and try to make sure there is at least a decent amount of it in the item. Protein rich foods like granola make good, healthy snacks.

Also important is to look for the fiber content of certain foods. When you buy breakfast cereal for example, make sure it has at least 5 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Also try to buy whole grain items like whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta as these also provide decent amounts of fiber.

To further have a clear and more comprehensive understanding of the items stated in the food label, here is a list of things that you need to know:

1. Serving size- This is the primary item you will see in a food label. The amount of servings stated in the food label refers to the quantity of food people usually consume. However, this does not necessarily mean that it reflects your very own amount of food intake.

Moreover, serving size determines the amount of nutrients that enters the body. This means that if you will follow strictly what the serving size is, you will obtain the same amount of nutrients according to the serving size that was given in the label.

For instance, if the serving size says one serving size is equal to 54 grams, that would mean you have to measure 54 grams and eat that and you have just eaten one serving. So to speak, the amount of nutrients stated in the food label is the same amount that has entered your body considering the fact that you have just eaten 54 grams.

However, if you have eaten everything, and the food label says that each pack is equivalent to 4 servings, you have to calculate the amount of nutrients that have entered your body. This means that if the food label says 250 calories per serving that means you have to multiply it to four to get the total amount of calories you have taken.

2. Nutrients- This refers to the list of available nutrients in a particular item. It is also where the nutritional claims of the product based on the recommended daily dietary allowance are stated. Usually, the nutritional amounts are based on both the 2,500-calorie diets and the 2,000 recommended dietary allowances.

3. Ingredients- This refers to the list of the ingredients that were used to manufacture the product. The listing is usually arranged from the main ingredients that have the greater amount by weight up to the smallest quantity. This simply means that the actual quantity of the food includes the biggest quantity of the main ingredient or the first item and the minimum amount of the very last ingredient.

4. Label claim- This refers to the kinds of nutritional claims of a particular food item. For instance, if an item says it is sodium-free, it has less than 5 milligrams per serving or a low fat item actually contains 3 grams of fat or less.

Indeed, reading food labels can be very tedious and confusing. Nevertheless, once you get the hang of it, it would be easier for you to watch your diet because you can already control the amount of food that you take.

One thing that gets hidden in the list of ingredients that you really need to be aware of is the trans fats. These trans fats are cleverly disguised with the words “hydrogenated vegetable oil”. These are oils that the manufacturer adds hydrogen to in order to transform them from their liquid form to a solid form. These fats are more dangerous by far than saturated fats and you know how bad saturated fats are. If you see the key word “hydrogenated” anywhere in the ingredients, put it down, back away slowly, then turn, run, and don’t look back!

Always remember to read everything on both the nutrition label and the list of ingredients before buying an item. Never let yourself be fooled into thinking an item won’t make you gain weight by the words “fat-free” so boldly displayed on the front of the package. It is this kind of deception that has been the cause of unwanted weight gain throughout the nation. Remember, the FDA requires all food manufactures to disclose everything in their products to you, but it is ultimately up to you to read far enough to find it all.

The next time you go food shopping, take these tips with you and ensure yourself that you are making the right choices for you and your family.  The key to good health is information. The more you know, the easier it is to be healthy and fit. Learn about your favorite foods so that you can make good food choices that will enhance your overall health.

For more help in eating healthy, feel free to contact me today and we can chat about what food issues you are suffering from and together we can conquer your food challenges forever!