We know what a food label is, yet most don’t know how to read them. Learn why your health depends on it. Enjoy these 8 Tips to Understand Your Food Label!

Why Should I Pay Attention To Food Labels?

We all want to be making the right choices when it comes to buying our food, and staying healthy. The food labels don’t always make it easy for us to understand what is really on the inside, at least not without decoding the jargon. Buzzwords like “natural”, “fresh”, “real juice” are designed to make you feel more comfortable with buying the food without actually looking at what the ingredients are. Since these marketing terms are not regulated, it can be easy to think you’re getting something healthy, when in fact its just as bad as before. If you do understand what the labels are saying, you’ll be more likely to breeze through the health hurdles.

Where Do I Start?

You’ll want to zero in on the Nutrition Facts Panel and Ingredients Listing:

1. Calories

Our daily intake is based off the calorie count in food. You’ll want to make sure you are getting the right number of calories, but be careful not to go too far over the recommended intake for your body weight.

2. Serving Size and Number Of Servings Per Container

This is where things can get tricky if you don’t pay attention. Food manufacturers will make what looks like a single serving size, and instead call it two or more servings, in order to make it look as if the calorie, sugar and fat content are lower than they really are.

3. Dietary Fiber

This is important to look for because we require fiber for proper digestion, and bowl movements. Natural foods such as fruit, whole grains, and vegetables are full of fiber.

4. Fat

Look for unsaturated fat when you browse the label. Saturated fat is a no-no, and trans fat is just as bad. The reason you have to be careful of fat is because it contains more calories per gram than carbs or protein.

5. Sodium

Restricting sodium is especially difficult to do with so many processed food options at the grocery store. Eating too much can lead to high blood pressure.

6. Sugar

This is where the food manufacturers get crafty trying to hide what’s inside the box.  With dozens of creative names like “dextrose”, “high fructose corn syrup”, “maltose”, “barley malt”, “agave nectar”, and more, its no wonder people don’t even understand why the diabetes epidemic is so bad. Eat less than 5 grams per serving to control your intake.

7. Ingredient List

You can tell which ingredients make up most of the food by the order in which they appear on the ingredient list. The first few items to show are the ones that have the most weight in the food. The further down the list something appears, the less of it there is. So make sure your desired ingredient appears in the beginning of the list.

8. Food Lingo

There are some words used on food packaging that don’t necessarily mean what we think:

  • Sugar Free = less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving
  • Fat Free = less thjan 0.5 grams of fat per serving
  • Cholesterol Free = less than 2mg of cholesterol per serving
  • Calorie Free = fewer than 5 calories per serving
  • Reduced = must have 25% less fat, sugar, or sodium than its regular counterpart
  • Light = 50% less fat, or 1/3 less calories than the regular version

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