• Lonneke Boel

HOW TO BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR FOOD LABELS

Knowing what you put in your mouth and thus what you buy is an important part in getting healthier and fitter. Here are 5 tips on how to understand food labels so you can make more conscious and healthier food choices


Tip 1. Read the Nutritional Facts and Ingredient list.

This gives you the real summary of what is in the product. Never believe the claims on the front of the box).

Never evaluate a product based on any one item, such as its fat, cholesterol, sugar, carbohydrate, or salt content. Attempting to cash in on the latest diet or nutrition craze, many companies promote their products based on a single item despite other unhealthy aspects. (Remember “fat-free” foods that were full of sugar and calories?) To be truly healthy, a product must pass several criteria.


Tip 2. 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.


Tip 3. Check the calories from fat.

Use this easy rule. If a product has 2 grams of fat or less per 100 calories, its fat content is fine.


Tip 4. 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.

Try to limit all these added, refined, concentrated sugars to no more than 5% of total calories (essentially, no more than 2 tablespoons daily for most folks).


Tip 5. Make sure that every grain is WHOLE grain

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.