How to Read a Nutrition Facts Label
People look at food labels for different reasons. But whatever the reason, many families would like to know how to use this information more effectively and easily. The below information is intended to help you make informed food choices that contribute to a healthy diet.
- Serving sizes are standardized to make it easier to compare similar foods. They are provided in familiar units, such as cups or pieces, followed by the metric amount such as grams. Pay attention to the serving size, especially how many servings there are in the food package. Then ask yourself, “How many servings am I consuming?”
2. Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from one serving of this food. Eating too many calories per day is linked to overweight and obersity. Keep in mind the number of servings you consume determines the actual amount of calories you are consuming. The below guide to calories provides a general reference based on a 2000 calorie diet:
- 40 Calories is low
- 100 Calories is moderate
- 400 Calories or more is high
3 & 4. Look at the top of the nutrient section in the sample label. It shows you some key nutrients that impact on your health and separates them into two main groups:
- Limit These Nutrients: eating too many of these nutrients increase the risk of certain chronic diseases like heart disease, some cancers, or high blood pressure.
- Get Enough of These: eating enough of these nutrients can improve health and help reduce the risk of some diseases and conditions.
5. Note the * used after the heading “%Daily Value” on the Nutrition Facts label. It refers to the Footnote in the lower part of the nutrition label, which tells you “%DVs are based on a 2,000 calorie diet“. This statement must be on all food labels.
The Daily Values (DV) for each nutrient listed are based on public health experts’ advice on recommended levels of intakes. DVs in the footnote are based on a 2,000 or 2,500 calorie diet. Note how the DVs for some nutrients change, while others (for cholesterol and sodium) remain the same for both calorie amounts.
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Planning for Weeknight Dinners
Life can be tough on family dinner time. In addition to work and school schedules, there are sports practices and games, lessons, homework and friends. With all the rushing around, it’s easy to slip into the fast food lane or microwave habit, with everyone eating at different times and places. Bring balance back into busy evening with these easy tips:
Have a Week’s Worth of Menus in Mind
Keep at least need five to seven kid-tested, parent-approved main dishes. Pick options that are easy and popular with everyone. Once you have an entrée just add in the vegetable, fruit and perhaps a whole grain roll to complete the meal.
Stock Your Kitchen with Quick-to-Fix Foods
Stock you cupboards with staples such as rice, pasta, beans as well as frozen and canned fruits /vegetables with little or no added salt or sugars. These items compliment entrees easily. Add fresh produce items when in season.
Prepare Multiple Batches of Main Ingredients
If you’re cooking ground beef, cook a double or triple batch. Freeze extra servings to reheat for tacos or casseroles. Try slicing, marinating and freezing extra beef, pork, chicken or fish. These can then be easily thawed and thrown in a wok, skillet or on the grill for a busy night supper.
Get the Whole Family Involved
The evening meal doesn’t have to be one person’s responsibility. Give children age appropriate tasks in the planning and preparing of the meal. Jobs like choosing the fruit for dessert, mixing pre-cut vegetables into a salad, setting the table or clearing the dishes are all ways to get the family involved.