Reading Nutrition Labels 101
Nutrition labels can be very informative or very misleading. It is important to know what you are looking at, and what to look for. Just because something is relatively low in fat, calories, or carbohydrates does not mean that it’s good for you. In a glance you can tell if something is going to benefit your health and weight loss, or if it is better left on the shelf at the grocery store..
Look at the calories per serving. Typically if it is a snack try not to have it be more than a couple hundred, and if it is a meal try to keep it around 400 – 500. This recommendation is relative depending on your size, how many meals you eat a day, etc. Calculate your basal metabolic rate to find out how many daily calories you need, then add extra for your amount physical activity, and that is a good number to aim for. As a general rule of thumb you what to try to eat 4-6 times a day without consuming an excess of calories.
Pay attention to the ingredients list. If one or more of the leading ingredients are flour, sugar (real or artificial), partially hydrogenated oil, or high fructose corn syrup it is not a healthy food.
“Bad” things on the label: sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat, sugar. The closer these are to ZERO the better!
Calories and carbohydrates are not necessarily bad, but keeping them relatively low is a good idea when it comes to weight loss. More importantly, consume them from healthy, fresh foods! The quality is just as important as the quantity.
Remember that some of the healthiest foods do not even have nutrition labels. By sticking to fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, etc. you don’t have to worry about reading labels. Eating well does not have to be as confusing as the fad diets and food companies has made you believe.
Total Mommy Fitness provides grocery shopping educational trips in Austin. Email to schedule your trip!
For moms outside of the Austin area you can become an online member of Total Mommy Fitness and receive nutritional counseling as part of your holistic fitness program.