It’s no secret that Americans are struggling with their health. Obesity rates and diseases like heart disease and diabetes remain high throughout the US. One of the main reasons for this is that nutrition labels can be misleading and many people don’t know how to read these labels accurately even when they are trying to be health conscious when choosing the foods they buy. Below, we will discuss how to accurately read nutrition labels and how to check if the food you’re buying is high or low in the nutrients you need or in the saturated fats you don’t, and how to balance your diet wisely based on the relative percentage of nutritional ingredients present within each meal you eat.
First, it is important to remember to compare the serving size noted on the label against your realistic portion sizes and to compare the total calories in each serving consumed to what you actually need on a daily basis. For example, if you are an athletic 40 year woman who needs around 2000 calories a day, then you may want to look for foods that have a lower calorie count per serving size so that you can eat more often and still stay within your recommended guidelines for calorie intake. Or you may want to use up your calories with just a few larger meals each day but either way, it is essential that you see the reality of how many calories you are consuming and this should inform your overall fitness and nutrition regimen continuously.
Second, macronutrients like fat, protein and carbohydrates are essential to our diets but we need to make sure we are getting the right types of each. For instance, we need healthy fats like Omega-36 and Omega-38 but too much saturated fat can lead to health problems like heart disease. The easiest way to check if a food is high or low in the nutrients you need is by looking at the “% Daily Value” (%DV) on the nutrition label. Try to stay within the limits of the daily total of 100% and you are on your way to a balanced diet.
Third, it’s important to look at what type of ingredients are present in the food you’re buying. For example, if you see “enriched flour” or “high fructose corn syrup” listed as ingredients, then the food is likely not very healthy for you. However, if you see “whole wheat flour” or “honey” listed as ingredients, then the food may be healthier for you. It is important to look at all the ingredients present in each item and consider whether you are adding to your health or detracting from it by eating certain foods with too many fats and sugars in them.
Reading nutrition labels can be tricky but it’s not impossible and it is important to be aware of what you’re eating at all times and how it will affect your health both in the short term and long term. Always remember to compare the serving size against your portion size, compare the total calories to your individual daily needs, check if the food is high or low in nutrients or saturated fats and choose wisely based on the combination of nutritional ingredients in each food item you buy. It may take some time and effort but your body and soul will thank you.