I see them every time I open my pantry or the refrigerator, and always the freezer. I see them ALL.THE. TIME. I’m pretty sure they’re stalking me. Do you know what I’m talking about? Those numbers posted all over my food and my drinks! Okay, I guess they do have a formal name, Nutrition Facts apparently. Yeah, Nutrition Facts or the Nutrition Information Panel glares at me on a regular basis to inform me of how many calories and fat I’m constantly putting in my body. When I first noticed these labels on my favorite foods I didn’t know what they were and I especially didn’t know how important and informational they are. Well, they are pretty important, so important they are a permanent fixture on our food and drink packages.
After doing my research I found out just how important and informational these labels really are. I never knew that knowing how many calories or fat or carbohydrates I consumed affected the way I look and feel. I just thought that food got me from point A to point B then to point C and yes okay sometimes it got me to point X, Y, and Z. Back in 1990 these labels were put into place for a reason by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act per the recommendations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and took center stage in 1993. Yes, the law required food companies to add nutritional information labels on their food to inform consumers of nutrition information (think calories, fat & cholesterol amounts) for a serving of food. Over the years these labels have been revamped, renamed and redesigned. It’s becoming so popular now that fast food chains are listing the nutrition information directly on the food containers and restaurants are listing this information under each food item on their menus! Consumers can now go to the fast food or restaurant website to view all the nutrition information for their products! That’s pretty awesome and helpful for those of use trying to live a healthier lifestyle!
Since Nutrition Facts are here to stay it’s important as a consumer to understand what we are reading and what we are putting in our body. This label is making it easy for those of us wanting to watch our calorie or fat or cholesterol intake by putting it right in our face! Having this information readily available makes counting nutrition information successful for weight-loss, weight management or any other health-related circumstance one may be experiencing. If someone is diabetic, reading the amount of carbohydrates and sugar will help in their daily glucose intake and if someone has high cholesterol the fat and cholesterol information is right on hand.
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When reading nutrition labels, start at the top and work your way down. First, look at the Serving Per Container amount. This will let you know how many servings are in the entire food item. In this label, it shows there are 2 servings per container and a serving size is 1 Cup or 228 grams. If you eat only 1 serving, you will divide the calorie intake as well as all the other nutrients listed by half.
Next, look at the Amount Per Serving of Calories shown. If you’re going to consume 2,000 calories a day the number of calories will be deducted from your daily caloric intake. Next, look at the Fats (saturated and trans fat), Cholesterol, Sodium, Total Carbohydrates, Fiber, Sugars then Protein. If you are wanting to limit these nutrients it is important to look at each amount listed and the %DV (shown in to the right of each nutrient). To help prevent heart disease having a 5% or less DV is important and the vitamins and minerals listed at the very bottom should be 20% or higher.
If you’re wanting to live a healthy lifestyle, knowing how to read these labels will only help in your success. It’s second nature for me now when I’m grocery shopping, or eating out to pick up a package of food, turn it over and read the label so I know what I’m consuming and putting in my body! These labels aren’t just helpful for us adults, but they also help me in regulating what my child is eating and that I can be a better parent by either helping her chose a healthy snack or indulging in a treat by only eating the recommended serving size!
To help in an effective lifestyle change using the nutrition facts, especially know how much is in one serving will help you tremendously. So, take the time to educate yourself and your loved ones on what you’re putting in your body and how much you are really eating!
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