Food Labels: Read Between The Lines
For those of us who are health- and nutrition-conscious, shopping for provisions is a cause of concern and uncertainty.
This is further compounded by the fact that most supermarkets and malls stock over 10,000 such products. A confusing maze!
Not to worry. You sure can reduce your anxiety!
Shop by all means, and buy the products you need, including cereals, bread and grains. Once you are through, go for canned foods and/or those inevitable crunchy delights you and your kids find irresistible — but, just to the minimum extent possible.
Now, remember to read their nutrition labels. Look into the nutrition facts section and note the number of calories in a given product. But, bear in mind that the information out there does not provide an accurate figure of the nutritional value of the food product in question.
To cut a long story short, read the label from the top. Look clearly at the serving size and the number of servings in the package.
Things To Do
In the event you are going to eat or serve more than one serving at breakfast or lunch, you’d do well to adjust the number of calories accordingly. If the product, for example, details 3 servings at 150 calories each, remember that you’ll be consuming 450 calories when you eat the whole thing at one go!
You’d, of course, do well not to increase the serving size, the calorie count, calories from fat and proportion of daily intake. When you play with portion size you will only be inviting weight gain, not loss.
Also, make sure that you understand your ingredients list.
- Read with caution the expression “partially hydrogenated oils.” These are actually trans-fats waiting to “explode” within the food, or product, in question!
- Your eyes should also examine the many forms of refined sugar. This holds greater significance in people who are on a special, or restricted, diet. Relate yourself with the sodium part with anything that reads “ium,” and sugar with “ose.” Example: sucrose, lactose, fructose etc.,
- Also notice when you read a nutrition label at the base of the nutrition facts section. This often catalogues the limits for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium in a healthy calorie diet [<2,000].
If you are eating a normal, healthy diet, your one meal should not exceed 600 calories. This does not, of course, include people who are on a diet plan to shed excess weight.
You need to also bear in mind that moderation holds the key in any food plan you follow. This includes foods that are healthy too. Because, when you take something that is good in something twice over, they do not reduce your caloric intake — rather, they will only add to it. These calories count — you cannot discount them, even if you want to!
In the event you feel that you are compromising your healthy diet and nutrient intake, or indulging in fast- or junk-food, it would make sense for you to go in for supplements to bring the required balance — in consultation with a trained dietician/nutritionist.