How to Read Food Labels
by Amy Kessler, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Labels. No, not designer labels. We’re talking Food Labels and Nutrition Facts Labels.
The FDA has made it mandatory that all of our packaged food displays the Nutritional Facts Label. Some recent changes have made label reading easier, but if you are like most people, you may find yourself thinking “how do I read this” or “what information is most important?” Here are some tips to consider when you are deciding on which food items to purchase:
- Start by looking at serving size, especially how many servings there are in the food package. Ask yourself, “How many servings am I consuming?”
- Total calories are important to consider. Remember the number of servings you consume determines the total number of calories you actually eat, not just the number shown on the label.
- Sugar! The American Heart Association states that too much added sugar has led to an obesity epidemic in America. The average American has been known to have 25 teaspoons per day! We all know cookies, cakes and other baked goods are going to be high in sugar. However, take a look at your favorite yogurt, boxed cereal, or snack and see what it says. Keep in mind that the sugars listed on the Nutrition Facts Label include natural sugars as well as those added to food or drinks. If you are concerned with your sugar intake, make sure that added sugars are not listed as one of the first few ingredients.
What changes can you make this year? Why not swap out a food item in your pantry for a healthier option. Try shopping the perimeter of the grocery store for fresh produce and protein first to avoid purchasing “boxed” products. Making small changes to your lifestyle can add up and make a huge difference. Be aware of what you are eating. Make the better choice.
For more information about ways to stay healthy, schedule an appointment with our Registered Dietitian, Michelle Young, by calling (847) 535-7060 or contacting us.