We are bombarded with health and nutrition information every single day. Some of it good information. Some of it bad. And many times it’s really difficult to decide which it is. It can be a lot to sort through. And, as parents, keeping our kids healthy is one of our most important goals. They depend on us to do what’s best for them and, just as importantly, to teach them how to make smart, informed decisions about their own health. Educating and empowering our kids to make smart choices is one of the greatest things we can do for them. But first we need to understand it ourselves!
So where does a person start when it comes to sorting through the ins and outs of proper nutrition for her and her family? Well we can start by focusing on the facts. Are you a label reader? There is a lot of really useful information right there on the labels of packaged foods that you buy. It’s a lot of information but once you understand what you’re looking at labels are a great way to give you some guidance about the nutrition in your food.
The first piece of information listed on every food label is serving size. The serving size listed may or may not be the same amount that you normally eat. It’s simply the quantity used to calculate the rest of the numbers in the nutrition facts table that follows. Checking that serving size is really important. Although similiar products may use the same serving size they don’t always.
These food labels are both taken from boxes of popular cereals. As you can see the serving size is not the same. By checking a product’s serving size, you can:
- understand how much of a nutrient you are eating
- compare calories and nutrients between 2 similar packaged food products
- compare it to the amount you actually eat
So if you eat 1 cup of cereal A (instead of the 3/4 serving size listed) you need to add 25% to the numbers in the nutrition facts table (just multiply the numbers by 1.25) to get the values for the serving size you are actually eating. If you have any questions about serving size you can do some more reading about it here.
% Daily Value
Percent daily value is on your food labels to show you if the serving size has a little of a lot of nutrients. When looking at the values keep in mind that 5% or less is a little and 15% or more is a lot. Keep in mind that the percent daily value is a useful tool in helping you determine the amount of nutrients in packaged foods but it’s not meant to track the total amount of nutrients you have in a day because much of the food we eat like fresh fruits and veggies, meat and fish (that are bought raw), many in store bakery items and salads don’t have labels with nutritional information.
The % DV for the following nutrients must be listed in the nutrition facts table:
- saturated and trans fats
- vitamin A
- vitamin C
You can use % DV to choose products that are higher in the nutrients you may want more of like – fibre, vitamin A, calcium and iron. You can also choose products that are lower in the nutrients you may want less of like – saturated and trans fats and sodium.
These labels are from two cans of soup. Because the serving size happens to be the same we can quickly compare the percent daily values. By comparing the labels we can easily determine that if eating less fat and sodium are part of your healthy lifestyle then the first soup is the better choice.
Putting it all together
1. START with Serving Size – Information in the Nutrition Facts table is based on this quantity of food.
2. USE % Daily ValueUse – The % Daily Value to see if the Serving Size has a little or a lot of a nutrient.
3. LOOK at a Nutrient – Choose packaged food that has more of the nutrients you want and less of the nutrients you don’t want.
MAKE an informed food choice
So do you have it all figured out now? How would you like to test your knowledge and enter to win a $300 grocery gift card? Until March 31 you can take a quick “Focus on the Facts” quiz and enter to win! If you want to brush up on your knowledge before the quiz or just want some more information to help you make good nutrition decisions you can find all kinds of great information at Canada.ca/NutritionFacts.
Another Chance to Win!
If you haven’t already go on over and take the Focus on Facts quiz for your change to win a $300 grocery gift card. And I’m also pleased to be able my readers the change to win a $100 grocery gift card right here on the blog! Just use the form below to enter. Good luck!
This post was a sponsored post. The opinions are completely my own