We’re responsible for feeding ourselves and our families more often right now compared to our recent past. With restaurants closed down or following restricted service guidelines, you might be trying to figure out how to plan more meals at home than you ever have before. We thought we’d pull together a few tips on reading food labels to help out.
Not All Foods Have Labels
Indeed, some of the healthiest foods out there won’t have nutritional content on the packaging. You’re going to have to be willing to do a bit of outside research into your meat and produce.
Don’t Get Stressed
More than 80% of Americans feel they’ve been tricked by nutrition labels. Take your time and don’t always trust what’s advertised on the front of a box.
Read Beyond the Calories
Just because a food is lower in calories doesn’t mean it’s better for you by default. Get comfortable with reading the ingredients list as well.
Check the Serving Size
For some foods, you might just be used to eating much larger amounts and could use the reminder to cut back. Others, however, might just be straight-up ridiculous in their microscopic serving sizes just to keep certain nutritional numbers down.
Watch the Salt
Americans are especially bad about ingesting too much sodium. If you’re planning on eating multiple servings, remember to multiply the salt content as well.
Food labels are now adding information on added sugars. Make sure you keep an eye on those numbers to compare between snacks.
Types of Fat
If your doctor has advised you to stay away from specific types of fat, make sure you know the ingredients they commonly are listed under.
Search for Nutrient-Rich Foods
Reading food labels isn’t just about finding what to avoid. You also want to look for foods high in vital nutrients and minerals, like calcium, dietary fiber, iron, potassium, and several vitamins. Keep in mind that certain medical conditions may mean you need to limit one or more of these to stay healthy, so be careful.
Do the Math
Percent daily value is calculated based on eating 2,000 calories a day. If you’re eating less than that, you’ll need to keep it in mind.
Speaking of math, food manufacturing companies are allowed to round down to zero for things like trans fats. Check ingredients lists for “partially hydrogenated oil” instead.