Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reading My Food

Do you look at nutrition labels while shopping or before eating? It’s something that I do pretty consistently, because I like to know what I am putting into my body. It’s also something that it seems many people do not know how to do, or rather do not think to do.

A good resource to help you learn to read nutritional labels is on the FDA website but here are a few tips to get you started.

Serving Size:
Pay close attention to the serving size and the number of servings within the food product. All of the other information on the nutrition label will be in reference to the serving size. This is where food companies often try to outsmart consumers. The packaging may state that the food is low calorie/low fat/etc, but the serving size may be minute.

Calories and Calories from Fat:
This part is simpler. Calories provide a measure of the energy you get from a serving. Too many calories in a day can cause a person to be come overweight or obese (your doctor, nutritionist, or personal trainer can help pinpoint an ideal number of calories for daily consumption). Also, it is important to make sure that within those calories, you are getting the proper nutrients.

Which Nutrients Are Proper?
Further down the label, you will see fat (+trans fat, & saturated fat), cholesterol, and sodium. These are nutrients that you want to limit and be conscientious of due to their negative health effects. 

Nutrients such as dietary fiber, iron, and vitamins are also listed. When reviewing a nutritional label, be sure you are getting enough of these nutrients. Many of these have positive health effects and can help prevent illness and keep your body in ideal condition.

Ashlee and Carrie have previously discussed a couple of these in the past: trans fat and fiber. If you are unfamiliar with the consequences and benefits of either of those, it would be worthwhile to check out those posts.

Percent of Daily Values: 
When reading over the various nutrients on a label, note the percent of daily value section on the right side. This will help you pinpoint which nutrients will help you reach a well-rounded diet each day.
I’m not saying you have to read nutritional labels all the time, or that it needs to take over your life. It is just important to know how to read a nutritional label and when trying a new product, give it a quick glance.

Links to Health (I’ve tossed in a few extra because I forgot to include any last week):

1 comment:

  1. I'm at my parents' house and as I've stood at the counter, rummaging through the trail mix for all the m&m's I read the box of the Frosted Flakes in the cabinet. They try to sell themselves as a healthy cereal telling kids to eat this, then go work out & they can be like Tony. Then I looked at the ingredients and it goes "corn, sugar, malt flavoring, high fructose corn syrup, salt," as the first 5 ingredients. sure, i might be the pot calling the kettle black, but i hardly EVER eat trail mix, especially m&m's but i can tell you i dont even begin to understand the fascination with frosted flakes.