Reading the Food Labels for the Holidays – Part 1

Nutrition Facts

When going food shopping for the holidays it is so important to read the food labels.  Can you find the facts on a food label?  Whether you are counting carbohydrates or finding fats, the Nutrition Facts panel helps you know just what you’re eating.  Take a look at the label shown here and find the key facts.

Serving Size

The first thing to check on a label is the serving size.  All of the nutrition facts listed on the label, such as the calories, fat, and carbohydrates, relate to this serving size.  The serving size listed may not match the serving size you usually eat.  But look carefully!  The serving size listed may not match the serving size you usually eat.  So, for example, if the serving size for pasta is 1/2 cup – and you are about to put 1 1/2 cups on your plate – you’ll need to triple the nutrition facts to match your serving size.

Total Fat

It is recommended that less than 30% of your total calories for the day come from fat.  When you look at the total fat listed on a food label, compare this to your fat limit for the day.  Look at labels of similar foods to find the lowest fat choice.  Foods labeled “low fat” have 3 grams or less of fat per serving.

What are the Common Terms When Used on a Food Label?

A “Light” food has 1/3 the calories or 1/2 the fat of the food to which it is being compared.  For example, 1 tablespoons of light mayo has 50 calories and 5 grams of fat, while 1 tablespoon of the real thing has 100 calories and 11 grams of fat.

There still might be some calories in a serving of a “Low Calorie” food, but by law it has to be 40 calories or less.

If something is labeled “Sugar Free” it is only a half gram (0.5) of sugaror less per serving.  Keep in mind, “sugar free” foods are not always low carbohydrate or lowfat foods.  Read the label carefully.

Next week,  is the continuation of reading the food labels this holidays.

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