How to Read a Food Label

Anyone Out There Confused About How to Read a Food Label?

How to Read a Food LabelThere’s so much confusion and misinformation about how to read a food label.  I wish I could say the confusion created by food companies is unintentional, but I don’t believe that.  For the processed food companies, profit is the name of the game…

The simple fact is that the front of a package is for advertising. It’s marketing pure and simple, and what most people don’t realize is that it doesn’t have to be specific or really even be the truth.  The front of the package or box can scream the buzz word of the day or the popular vitamin du jour.  Its purpose is to get you to reach for that particular box or bag, thinking you are making a healthy choice, and put it in your shopping cart.

The takeaway from this should be if a package screams some benefit on the front, check very carefully on the back of the package to see what’s really inside.  If something is screaming a currently popular benefit on the front, I always read the labels on the back of the package very carefully.  Often, I end up putting it back on the shelf.

When you turn over that bag or box, the label on the back is where you find the truth about what’s inside that package…or as close to the truth as you can get.  But how do you interpret that label; how do you know what you’re buying when often times, you can’t even pronounce the ingredients?

The first rule is the fewer ingredients the better.  Look for no more than 5 ingredients in any food product you buy.  This automatically puts you in a position to buy and consume less processed food, and that’s a good thing!

As far as sugar and trans fat being called out on the label, did you know that if there is less than .5 grams of either sugar or trans fat per serving, they are allowed to say zero sugar or zero trans fat even though it’s in there!?  This leads us to check out the serving size.  Too often the serving size will be some ridiculously small amount so that the less desirable ingredients will look more benign than they actually are.  If you will really eat 2 servings of a food claiming to contain zero sugar or trans fat, but it’s there in small quantity, you’re ingesting sugar and/or trans fat!  Buyer beware!!

Next, move on to the list of ingredients to check for sugar and trans fats. The trans fats are actually easier to spot than the sugar (which has over 50 different names!).  Look for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil of some sort…usually canola oil because it’s cheap.

This just scratches the surface of how to read a food label and what to watch out for, but it’s a good start.

Next time you’re in the grocery store, do yourself a huge favor… ignore the front of the package. Turn it over and read the label to find out what’s really inside the package you’re holding.

Helping you achieve Major Wellness in your life!


Cheryl A Major, CNWC

Cheryl A Major, CNWC


I’m Cheryl A Major, a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, and I’m dedicated to teaching others the way to better mental and physical health by learning a few simple principles of clean eating. Get started right away here at and you’ll be on your way to your own health revolution!

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