Knowing how to read a food label is of utmost importance when trying to lose weight. These labels may look confusing at first, but they're really simple to read. Follow these steps to decipher the labels:
- Look at the number of servings per container and how many calories each serving contains. This is very important because the nutritional value listed on the label is per serving, not per the whole container of food. For instance, if the calories per serving are 200 and there are 4 servings in a package, the whole package is 800 calories!!
- Look at the number of grams of protein, carbs, and fat the product contains and see how it might fit into your diet program. Choose products with a good balance of these ingredients whenever possible.
- See how much fiber is in the product. The higher the fiber, the longer the meal will take to digest and the longer you'll feel full and satisfied.
- Check the sodium content. Remember: the sodium is per serving, so while 400mg might not seem like a lot, if you're planning on eating the whole package and the package contains 3 servings, that's 1200mg of sodium- half of your daily maximum allowance!
- Look for the number of grams of sugar it contains. The higher the sugar content, the more refined the product and the less valuable it is as a food source.
- Check the amount of saturated or trans fats listed. Go for products with as few of these as possible, none if you can manage. Remember: these kinds of fats adversely affect your heart and body! Limit them whenever possible!!
- Review the ingredients list. Opt for products with the fewest chemicals and with as little added sugar as possible.
On your next visit to the grocery store, give yourself a little extra time. Read the labels on the products you want to buy carefully. Compare them and their ingredients with other similar products on the shelf and see which ones are best for you!