We’ve all seen those funky black and white nutrition labels that are behind most products that we buy at our local grocery stores. We see numbers, percentages and think “Oh! I see numbers of calories, got it. I know 1 cup of lasagna is 280 calories”. Well… I hate to burst your bubble, but that’s not always the case, because that nutrition label may say it’s 280 calories, PER SERVING! That’s the hidden detail that most people miss, though it’s small it can cost you extra calories. Let me break it down for you, this is a sample nutrition label for a frozen lasagna (thank you, USDA).
1. Serving Size Vs. Portion Size
You want to pay attention to the serving size as well as servings per container, this tells you how many calories you’re eating! If I eat 2 cups of lasagna, then all the numbers on this label would be doubled, because I ate 2 servings of this lasagna.
2. Numbers To Watch For:
Additionally numbers to pay attention to are the Total Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium percentages, they should be 5% or below. Products with too much of these nutrients could lead to heart disease and other diet-related illnesses.
Dietary Fiber and Protein are healthy nutrients that our body needs. Anything above 15% is considered a good source of these nutrients. Incorporating more fiber in your body helps aide digestion.
Keep an eye out at total sugars and added sugars. Added sugar what the manufacturer added to the product and some products have natural occurring sugars. For example, if a product has 12g of total sugar, but 0g of added sugar, then the sugar in that product is natural occurring (usually from fruit).
4. Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron & Potassium
You may wonder why these nutrients are on the label, I did too before I learned that these nutrients were identified as the ones that Americans do not consume enough of, interesting huh?
Identify the portion size of the product and be mindful of your portions! Watch out for Total Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium (salt) as well as Added Sugars. Make sure you’re eating plenty of fiber and protein. Practicing this skill will slowly help you identify what items are better for you versus others. Thanks for coming to my TedTalk!