Over the last few days, I had the pleasure of traveling to Washington D.C. to participate in nutrition policy work. Nutrition policy can be quite daunting. It is hard enough for us to know how to figure out the food rules that dictate our daily lives (“Eat this, don’t eat that”). One item governed by nutrition policy that may be present in your life, many times a day, is the food label. The label can be helpful in meeting your goals, whether you are aiming to increase, decrease, or just be aware of your intake of a number of nutrients.
Share with us!
Do you use the food label to help you decide what to eat?
a. Yes, I don’t eat anything until I have analyzed it!
b. Sometimes, it depends how I am feeling that day.
c. No, I don’t want to know!
d. No, there’s a label on foods?
Tell us, what is the first thing you look for on the label?
Is there anything you find confusing about the label and if so, what is it?
For those of you who answered EVERYTHING, here’s a few tips on reading the Nutrition Facts Label:
- Notice how many calories are in the product you are choosing. Use a food tracker, such as the SuperTracker (https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/foodtracker.aspx) to compare what you are eating to recommendations personalized for you.
- Compare labels to choose foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and higher in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.
- Take a look at the ingredients, which have to be listed in descending order. If you see sugar (or syrup) listed first, you know that the product has more sugar than any other ingredient.
- When buying cereals, crackers, pastas, and other carbohydrate rich foods, look for items that have whole grains (whole grain wheat flour, whole grain oats, etc.) as the first ingredient and more grams of fiber.
- Choose items lower in trans fats. Even if the label says 0 g of trans fat, look for partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list to see if there are hidden trans fats.
Enjoy your day!