When you’re eating healthily and are concerned about what you are putting in your body, you need to be able to read food labels. Every girl needs to know the basics of reading food labels.
Trouble is, they can appear like an encyclopedia written in a foreign language to the untrained eye. They do as much to confuse us as they attempt to clarify. Don’t let it put you off. Understand the basics and from there, your knowledge will grow, and you’ll soon be able to skim read to pick out the pertinent information that will inform your buying decision. Here are the basics of reading food labels.
1. Serving Size
One of the basics of reading food labels is figuring out serving size. Just because it comes in one package, it doesn’t mean it’s a single serving. The label will always tell you how many ideal servings there are in a box or can, and the nutrition columns will also be split into both individual servings and full pack, so make sure you read the correct numbers!
The calorie count number at the top of the label will tell you how many total calories there are in the product, and then how many calories come from just fat. But remember to confirm if the calorie count is a serving or the full contents.
There are different types of fats listed on a food label, and the ones that you have to pay the most attention to are trans fats and saturated fats. These are the most unhealthy forms that you should not be consuming in high quantities.
Cholesterol is another type of fat found in food, and while it is found naturally in your body, you should be trying not to consume large quantities from food. Cholesterol levels on labels will be presented in the form of a percentage.
The sodium level relates to how much salt is in the product. Pre-packaged food is notorious for containing super high levels of sodium, so once again take note of the percentage value.
Protein is an important nutrient to have in your body, as it is needed to make many of our normal bodily functions run effectively, as well as building and repairing muscle tissue. If you are buying the item as a source of protein, check it is delivering enough.
7. Minerals and Vitamins
Things like vitamin A, C, calcium, and iron will always be listed on a food label, and the good news is they are all very good for you! Basically, the higher the numbers are for these minerals and vitamins, the better.
There are two carb subcategories on food labels - fibre and sugar. The higher the fibre level, the better, but that opposite goes for the sugar level because, as we all know, too much sugar isn’t good for you!
9. Percentage Daily Value
It’s important to note that the percentages we’ve been talking about relate to a portion of the daily recommended calorie intake for a human being. That means that if you are on a calorie-restricted diet, you need to a little extra math in your head to work out your own personal percentage.
The whole point is, if you look at a label as something that is out to make your life harder, they’ll continue to be difficult to read. Read them, understand how they are laid out (they’re all very similar) and know which bits to focus on. Once you’re familiar with the basics you can then start to work on other important issues like finding hidden sugars and what the additives are.