How many of us know how to read a food label correctly? Reading nutrition labels is the first step towards healthy living.
Nutrition labels are small printed tabular charts seen on every packaged food that gives detailed information on nutrients contained in that particular food.
SERVING UNITS AND SERVING SIZES ON LABELS
Different nutrients have different serving sizes weighted in grams (g), milligrams (mg) and micrograms. Some nutrients like Vitamins are mentioned in percentages (%) indicating the”%” of nutrient present per 100g of the food product.
Serving size mentioned in the label is the amount of food that should be consumed ideally at one time.
Between sugar and fiber
Sugar is a source of empty calories and hence one must purchase foods with low sugar and high fiber content. Dietary fiber on the other hand helps improve digestion.
Good vs Bad fat
Parents must teach children understand different types of fats by reading out aloud terms like saturated fats, trans fats and total fats from fatty foods. MUFA, PUFA are good fats and saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fats are bad fats.
Check for veg and non-veg ingredients with the green and red mark respectively. Also look for mention of allergens like soy, tree nuts, corn syrup, milk, egg etc that can cause common food allergies.
Compare values of calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber from foods purchased, with the amount suggested as per recommended dietary allowances or percent daily values.
Look for claims
Check for mention of highly recommended functional foods on packets.
Pick low salt foods
Learn and teach children pick foods with low sodium and help them avoid picking salted pretzels and chips at snack time and on their way back home.
Go protein friendly
Learn to understand foods with high and low protein content and teach children, the importance of high proteins in diet.
Learn to read one or two aspects of the label at a time for better understanding.
Engage in fun activities with your children while shopping, cooking and sharing nutritional information about foods.
A daily activity of reading food labels can help you and your child develop a conscious habit of choosing healthy over junk.