Deciphering Food Labels

Sitting here just contemplating life and labels. Weird combination right? Well I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much information can be found on a package’s nutritional label, but also how confusing it can be. There’s a lot of numbers and information, and if you’re not sure how to decider it, it can be easier to simply ignore. Instead of ignoring this valuable data, I’ve included a few tips to make it easier to navigate.

FDA_Nutrition_Facts_Label

  • Start by reading ingredients! If there are too many ingredients listed or ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t understand, you’re better off moving on to the next option. It can take a few tries with packaged or canned foods to find ones with minimal, understandable ingredients, but it’s always better to eat things we can pronounce
  • Check the serving size on the nutritional label. Brands tend to cut the serving size down on a label so they can appeal to a more desirable calorie count. A great example of this are items labelled as “low fat”. If you look at your serving size, the nutritional facts are usually for about half of the package. If you’re planning to eat the full pack (you’ll see this happen most with snack size chips, energy bars and even juices) just be aware of what you’re actually consuming serving size wise.
  • Check the sodium content. Your daily sodium intake should be roughly between 1500-2300 mg. This ties into the second point about the serving size listed on the nutritional label. If the serving size the label is speaking to only reflects the nutritional contents of half the package, and the sodium content is 1000 mg (for example), if you eat the whole package you’re at you sodium max for the day, without even realizing.
  • Check the sugar content. Your daily sugar intake is 6 tsp (25g) for women and 9 tsp (37.5g) for men. If the sugar content per serving exceeds your daily intake, it’s safe to say that you should probably pick up another option.

To be clear, these tips are not made to drive you nuts, just to create awareness. Enjoy your food! Just know what you’re actually eating

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