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How to Read a Food Label, and Why it Matters.


Over the past few years we have seen some changes to the food labeling requirements for food. Additionally we now can see exactly what we are eating in the major franchise restaurants. I suppose the idea was that if people really knew what they were eating, they would make wiser choices. To be honest, I believe that people will do as they please in spite of the glaring TRUTH. It's human nature, think about cigarettes, alcohol and other such things...lots of warnings, to no avail! I could write a whole blog about this, not today. I want to point out the most important things to look for on a grocery label, in the hope it will help you to make better choices. Let's get started!


Never believe the claims on the front of the box.


What many think are health claims are actually just marketing pitches and advertisements. And government approved claims, like “low-fat” and “light,” often don’t tell you the whole story. These products may be high in fat as well as sugar, salt, and/or calories.


Check the serving size.

Decades ago, many products were in fact single servings. A bottle of cola was one serving. One small candy bar was one serving. Today, many products are “super sized” and contain multiple servings. A 20-ounce bottle of soda contains 2.5 servings, at 110 calories each. Now, in the real world, who’s going to drink just one serving of that bottle? Is it any surprise that many of us are super-sized ourselves?


Check the calories per serving.

All too many people think the “110 calories” posted on that 20-ounce bottle of cola means they’re drinking 110 calories. Hardly. You’ve got to multiply the 110 calories by the total number of servings, 2.5, to realize that you’re actually downing a whopping 275 calories.


Check the calories from fat.

It’s on the Nutrition Facts label. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you “percent of calories from fat,” which is how all health guidelines direct us to limit fat. You’ve got to do a little math. Divide the number of calories from fat by the total calories. (If the serving’s 150 calories, 50 of which are fat, your product is 33% calories from fat.).


Check the types of fat.

Make sure there are no saturated fats, partially hydrogenated fats, or tropical oils in the ingredient list, including lard, butter, coconut, cocoa butter, palm oils, shortening, margarine, chocolate, and whole and part-skim dairy products. They’re all damaging to your arteries and heart.


Check the sugar.

Limit caloric sweeteners. Watch out for sugars and other caloric sweeteners that don’t say “sugar” but in fact are, such as corn syrup, rice and maple syrup, molasses, honey, malted barley, barley malt, or any term that ends in “ol,” such as sorbitol or maltitol, or “ose,” such as dextrose or fructose.


Other Stuff...


  • Many bread and pasta products claim to be whole wheat, but the first ingredient in the ingredient list is often wheat flour, which sounds healthy, but it’s really refined flour. Further down the list will be whole-wheat flour or bran. Scout out products that contain only whole grains. And look for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, which often ensures the product is mostly, if not all, whole grain.

  • Check the sodium, your goal should be less than 1500mg per day total or less!

  • Decades ago, many products were in fact single servings. A bottle of cola was one serving. One small candy bar was one serving. Today, many products are “super sized” and contain multiple servings. A 20-ounce bottle of soda contains 2.5 servings, at 110 calories each. Now, in the real world, who’s going to drink just one serving of that bottle? Is it any surprise that many of us are super-sized ourselves?

Like all things in life, this is a habit. Reading labels is the start to becoming aware of what you are putting in your body. Remember the saying; Your body is your temple, do your body good and your body will do you good! Cheers, and happy hump day! See you Friday for something new and exciting!

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