Deciphering Food Labels

With some of my readers are looking to make some changes in their diet; I’ve had a few requests to explain how to read a nutritional label.  Let’s be honest, when we look at a label it’s like reading a different language.  So here is my best try at guiding you through this informational maze (I could talk for hours about this topic, but I will stick to the basics).  First, the most important thing you need to know is that the actual label is the only part of the packaging the FDA regulates.  What does that mean for you?  This is where the rubber meets the road.  All ingredients must be included on the nutritional label.  Second, ingredients are listed by the amount from highest content to the lowest content. This means the more of an ingredient that is in the container the higher they are on the list.  Third, if something has less than a half a gram of an ingredient per serving the manufacturer can claim that their product is free from that ingredient.  A good example of this is Trans Fats.  A company can claim “No Trans Fat,” and still have Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Trans Fats) in the ingredients list.  You should be looking for all types of Partially Hydrogenated Oils and staying away from them (your body doesn’t know how to process them).

Here is a sample of a nutritional label from a container of yogurt (good choice right?)  Let’s take a deeper look. First, we see 240 calories and 25 of those come from fat.  Not too bad, but a little high in calories.  Next we see sodium 140 mg were still ok.  As we continue to read on we come to SUGAR, hit the brakes, 44 grams of sugar in every container?  Putting this in perspective, every four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon of sugar. So in this example there are 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving!  We’ve seen different recommendations on the maximum added sugar daily intake range from 40 to 60 grams.  You would be surprised how quickly you can each those numbers.  I personally enjoy Chobani plain, Greek yogurt, and then add my own fruit and cinnamon.  This way I am in control of what kind and how much sugar goes in.  One last tip on labels is to watch the number of servings per container.  Many products have more than one serving.  This means you have to multiply the nutritional label by the number of the servings in the container.  Be careful, the numbers add up quickly!

I hope this helps and that it didn’t confuse you more.  Keep the questions coming and I’ll help where I can.  If you would like more in depth information, I do offer grocery store tours, just contact me and we can schedule one.

Yours in health,

Colleen Riddle

P.S.

If you’d like me to send you a link to the Grocery Store Tour I did for a Cox TV, just shoot me an email at Colleen@NewMommyMakeover.com and I’ll send it over to you!

 

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