Listen, I understand reading the back of a food label can seem tedious and overwhelming; but it is essential when it comes to your health. Why?
To keep it simple, there's a bunch of crap in food that can make you gain weight and cause health issues. It'll have you scratching your head thinking, why is it so hard for me to loose weight when I rarely eat anything bad. There are several factors, but a few in particular are the sugar, the calories, the sodium, and the fat that's in that tablespoon of dressing you drizzled on that salad.
Now don't freak out and think you can't have anything because you can; but I want to make you aware, knowledgeable, and confident when it comes to what's going in your body.
So let's start with the food label basics and understand what each part means.
*I recommend grabbing a packaged item or a can good for reference when reading this article.
Servings Per Container
Servings per container shows the total number of servings in the entire food package or container.
Serving size is based on the amount of food that is customarily eaten at one time.
Calories refers to the total number of calories, or “energy,” supplied from all sources (fat, carbohydrate, protein, and alcohol) in one serving of the food.
As a general rule:
100 calories per serving is moderate
400 calories per serving is high
Percent Daily Value
The percent Daily Value (%DV) shows how much a nutrient in one serving of the food contributes to a total daily diet. Use the %DV to determine if a serving of the food is high or low in an individual nutrient and to compare food products.
As a general rule:
5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is low
20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is high
Let's Put it Together
The example food label states:
Serving Size is a 1/4 cup
Serving Per Container is 8
1/4 a cup = 100 calories.
If you decided to do 1 cup of this item, you would consume 400 calories!
Hopefully you can see how something as small as a cup of something can add up so quickly and make it hard for you on your weight loss journey. Keep in mind, we haven't gotten into fat, sugar, and sodium yet (they get their own spotlight).
Nutrients to get less of:
saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and added sugars. Diets higher in these nutrients can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure and/or cardiovascular disease.
Nutrients to get more of:
dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium. Most Americans do not get the recommended amount of these nutrients, and diets higher in these nutrients can decrease the risk of developing diseases, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and anemia.
Sodium and salt — what’s the difference? Since most sodium in our foods comes from salt, people use the 2 words as if they’re the same thing. They’re actually a little different. Sodium is a mineral that’s in salt. Salt is also known as sodium chloride.
Adults & children 14 years and older should get less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day
American Heart ASSOCIATION RECOMMENDS limiting added sugar for women to 100 CALORIES per day (2 tablespoons) & men 150 CALORIES per day (3 tablespoons)