Label Lingo & A Few Good Tips

Sep 3, 2023 | Health & Well-Being

Label Lingo & A Few Good Tips
When it comes to your health, yes, it pays to read the fine print. Just take a minute and look at what you are fueling your body with – because thankfully we have choices and more information. The Nutrition Facts Label located on every packed food you buy is there for you to examine so that you may determine its food value. With a big change to the industry in labeling several years ago, we now have more information than ever!
Here’s what to look for and simplify the process:

What’s in your food?

Ingredients are listed in order of their quantity- from highest to lowest amount.
Did you know? The first three ingredients make up the bulk of the food. Read this carefully.
A good rule of thumb is to scan the first three ingredients, as they make up the largest part of what you’re eating.
If the first ingredients include refined grains, a type of sugar, or hydrogenated oils, you can assume that the product is unhealthy. Instead, try choosing items that have whole foods listed as the first three ingredients.
In addition, an ingredients list that is longer than two to three lines suggests  the product is highly processed, so try and stay away!

Sugars– Sugar goes by various names — many of which you may not recognize. These include cane sugar, invert sugar, corn sweetener, dextran, molasses, malt syrup, maltose, and evaporated cane juice.
Many more names for sugar exist, but these are the most common.
If you see any of these in the top spots on the ingredients lists — or several kinds throughout the list — then the product is high in added sugar.

Realistic serving sizes- Serving sizes listed on packaging may be misleading and unrealistic. Manufacturers often list a much smaller amount than what most people consume in one setting.
Many people are unaware of this serving size scheme, assuming that the entire container is a single serving, when in truth it may consist of two, three, or more servings.
If you’re interested in knowing the nutritional value of what you’re eating, you need to multiply the serving given on the back by the number of servings you consumed. Make sure to check the service size amount on the label before thinking about the item/meal!


Serving Size– to figure out the calories and nutrient’s you’ll eat, you have to know what serving size the nutrition info is based on.
Sugar– It’s a good idea to also monitor total grams- it’s a sure bet for being in the know.
Keep your number below 8g. per serving of cereal, 16g. for flavored yogurt, and 10g, for packaged snacks.
Protein– your goal is to eat half your body weight in grams, ex, 75g. if you’re 150 lbs.
Fiber- High-fiber foods can take longer for your body to digest to help stave off hunger. When eating grain- based foods like pasta, look for at least 3g. per serving.
Calories- To stay a healthy weight, an idea of how many calories you’re eating matters.

Percent daily value of vitamins and minerals- with the exception of calcium, these typically don’t matter to healthy people.
Carbohydrates- mostly people with diabetes need to pay less attention to this number. Otherwise, you can focus on choosing better types of carbs rather than amounts.



*Portions of article sourced from: BH & G Magazine, August 2017

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