Friday, January 15, 2021

How To Properly Read Nutritional Labels


It is time for us to get healthy. One important way to fulfill that commitment to ourselves is to read the nutrition labels on each food package. Serving size, cholesterol, calories, fat—all of these are important and vital to how your body functions. More importantly, such things as sugar sodium are items your body can do without each day. Reading each label could literally save your life.

The first part of the label you want to read is the calories. Many people do not realize that calories are an energy source for the body. The lower amount of calories, then the more likely you are to manage your weight. Many dieters find it useful to measure out their food with a kitchen scale. When a pasta box says one serving, for instance, dump one serving of macaroni into the scale. Otherwise, you are sure to go over in calories. According to the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), 40 calories is low, 100 calories is moderate and 400 calories or more is high.

Next, look at the serving size. This is going to play a big role in how you choose foods and eat your meals. Serving sizes are often listed in cups or pieces. It is easy to dump a cup of macaroni into a kitchen scale. Most of the time, this serving size is easy to figure out. Beware, however, of consuming two or more portions. Each time you do this, you have to count the calories and all the other ingredients on the label per serving. If you are counting daily calories, this could add up really quick!

Now, consider the part of the nutritional label you want to cut out of your diet. These are items such as fat, cholesterol and sodium. Also, consider limiting your sugar intake. Too much of these ingredients may increase your chances of heart disease, stroke or diabetes. It may also increase your chances of incurring cancers or high blood pressure. None of these illnesses sounds too fun to me, so I think I will keep eating healthy.

On the flip side, the FDA wants you to get enough fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and iron. Vitamin A is fantastic for your vision and immune system. You can most likely find this in fruits and vegetables, which will keep you on track to living healthy. Likewise, vitamin C is richly found in produce such as strawberries and oranges. A good old glass of orange juice will fit the bill, too. We all know that calcium benefits our skeleton, but it also benefits your heart, muscles and nervous system. Additionally, iron fights against anemia and chronic diseases. You need all these to have a body that functions well and you will feel on top of your game.

Finally, many will notice daily values (%DV) on the nutrition label. These are important to understand because they tell you how much you be ingesting each day. For instance, if a food product has 12g fat, this may be 18% of the fat you are allowed per day. Each nutritional label is different. Many food labels follow a 2,000 daily calorie count, however, so try to keep track of that. This may change once you factor in your daily exercise, of course.

Reading a nutritional label can be confusing. It is often difficult to tell if a certain ingredient is too high or too low. A good guideline is to consider 5g of fat low for a 2,000 calorie diet. You want to aim high (20% or higher) in vitamins, minerals and fiber. These are what your body needs to keep going at a healthy pace. In retrospect, aim low in fats, cholesterol, sodium and sugar. These items are going to drag your body down, make you more fatigue and increase your chances of obesity. Do not get too overwhelmed. Start by looking at the ingredients that are most relevant to your diet lifestyle, and the rest will fall into place. Best of luck!


  1. wendy

    If a box says “99% fat free” you would expect it to be 1% fat, right? You would be wrong. What if I told you that in most cases not only are they telling you a lie – they are hurting you, in some cases the fat is well over 50%.

  2. Jeanne

    it’s so important to understand what it is that we are actually eating so we can make sure we give our body the right nutrients — and just as important — avoid what we don’t want in our body

  3. Youngmi

    Hi Hilde, Sure, some people caonnt do vigorous exercise due to their health. When I was healing my adrenals, I could hardly exercise. 15 mins of gentle aerobics was my limit. I would also walk, hike and do gentle yoga or pilates. As my health was restoring, I was able to start doing more and eventually get a level where daily vigorous exercise is something that I do 5-6 days a week. What is important is to start doing what you can and then gradually start increasing the level of activity, if your health allows you to. If not, then focusing on maintaining what you can do. Fruitful wishes,Yulia.

Jennifer Olson
A mother of three, lover of children and keeping them (and us adults!) as healthy as can be. I have worked as a midwife and nurse for 12 years. Email:

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