We all know that we should be looking at the labels on our food. But how versed are you at understanding the fine print on the food you buy? In this post, we will be learning label lingo. Keep reading!!
Learning Label Lingo
It really does pay to read the itty bitty print on the foods you buy and feed your family. By learning the label lingo, you can make sure that the so-called healthy option is truly good for you or if it’s a marketing myth. Here is what you want to be on the lookout for.
What is IN your food?
To find out for sure, check out the ingredients list. Ingredients are listed in order of the relative amount within the food, from highest to lowest.
Did you know that the first three ingredients make up the bulk of what you are consuming?
2018 Changes to Labeling
Two big changes happened to our labels in July of 2018.
Some foods have naturally occurring sugars. Think not only fruits but also milk and other dairy products. Any sugars added into the product are now listed on a separate line on the label.
Realistic Serving Sizes
Portion sizes are now what the average person will actually eat; not the “recommended serving”. I for one am ecstatic about this. I don’t know who in the world ever ate 1/2 cup of ice cream!?
What to Pay Attention To
This is vital to keep track of the proper ratio and how much nutrition you are actually consuming.
Your best bet to track your sugar intake is to just keep an eye on total grams. It’s nearly impossible to tell from the label what is natural sugar and what is added. Keep your sugar intake numbers to under 8 grams per serving of cereal, 16 grams for flavored yogurt, and 10 grams for any packaged snacks.
The daily goal is to eat half of your body weight in grams. So because I weigh 200 lbs., I need to eat at least 100 grams of protein daily. And remember, your body only absorbs 20 grams of protein at a time, so if you want a snack, try to choose one high in protein to help you get your daily recommended amount.
The more fiber in a food, the longer it takes your body to digest. This helps you to stay full for longer. (See if you can guess where the nutrition information in the label below came from. Now that you know that fiber is what keeps you full, do you see why you are hungry not long after you eat?)
Keeping within a recommended caloric intake number can help you stay at (or achieve) a healthy weight. Knowing what your personal caloric intake should be is vital if you are dieting. Eating too little is just as damaging as eating too many.
Keeping track of your sodium intake is also important. Especially in today’s culture when we know most people aren’t drinking enough water to properly flush the salt from our systems. Try to keep your daily intake under 2,300 mg.
What Isn’t As Important
Daily Values of Vitamins and Minerals
With the exception of calcium, these typically do not matter to healthy people. If you are concerned about your vitamin intake, a better option is to find a good multivitamin to supplement your dietary needs.
The total fat on the label includes the good fat that our bodies need. If you are worried about your fat intake, focus on the saturated fat content on the label. This is the number that you want to be the lowest. Attempt to keep your total daily saturated fat to less than 10% of your total daily calories.
If you are diabetic, then this is something that is important to you, as carbohydrates convert to sugars in our bodies for energy. For the typical healthy person, you can just try to focus on better types of carbs rather than amounts.
Whole Foods Always Win
When in doubt about reading labels, your best bet is to focus on purchasing foods that do not need labels on them. Keeping to fresh produce and unprocessed foods are always the best options in order to keep your diet healthy and happy.