A food label can be very confusing, and it’s designed to be that way! Did you ever stop to think that if you knew what was in that package of food you are about to put in your shopping cart, you would put it back on the shelf?
Today I want to give you a crash course on the basics of how to read a food label; so what does the writing on the package really tell us?
The first thing to remember is that the front of the package is advertising, and it is not regulated by the FDA. They do not have to put the truth on the front of the package!
When you see “zero sugar”, “no trans fats” on the front of the package, what does that mean, and what does it tell you about what’s inside that package?
The back of the package is where, by law, they have to tell the truth, but not really…
Federal regulations allow a food label to claim 0 g of trans fat as long as one serving of that food contains less than half a gram of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat. What if you eat more than one serving? For example, if one serving has almost .5 g of trans fat and you eat two servings of that food, you’ve just eaten almost a full gram of trans fat when you thought you were eating a food with no trans fat.
Federal regulations allow the same wiggle room for sugar! As long as there’s less than half a gram of sugar per serving, the package can claim the food contains zero sugar! If you eat more than one serving of the food supposedly containing zero sugar, you’re getting double the added sugar. Also, be careful of the serving sizes. Too often food manufacturers will list the serving size as ridiculously small so the numbers of salt, sugar, fat and calories look better to us consumers than they really are. They count on us not being aware or not taking the time to fact check what they list on the labels. What is supposed to be “the truth” on the back of the package can actually be very deceptive!
If you really want understand what’s in your food, you’ll want look at the list of ingredients. If the package says zero trans fat and you want to be sure that’s the truth, look at the ingredients to see if it lists hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, usually soy or canola oil. These oils are cheap, so they are used all the time. It’s in the best interest of your health to avoid them as they contribute to inflammation in our bodies which promotes chronic diseases like arthritis, diabetes, cancer, depression, obesity and so on.
Become a label reader; you’re body will thank you!
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness in Your Life!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
Cheryl A Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show, Thin Strong Healthy, airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog http://ThinStrongHealthy.com Cheryl offers ongoing information and personal health coaching to help you feel better and be healthier. Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CherylAMajor. She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience.
P.S. Check out all the free recipes for great tasting healthy eating in the Recipe Section at http://ThinStrongHealthy.com