Updated: Jun 28, 2022
Reading and understanding nutritional labels is scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Learning how to properly choose the healthiest foods is one of the key determinants of health. We now know that genetics play a minimal role in one’s health destiny, with 80% of disease incidence depending on lifestyle choices, mainly the foods you’re putting in your mouth.
Think about it, the foods you consume are by far the most important chemical interaction between your body and the outside environment, and is the most likely factor to determine how well you age over time. Let’s break down the nutrition label into bite size pieces and then we’ll take a look at how to properly decipher an ingredients list, in order to make more healthy and informed choices when feeding our families. The most important takeaway from this whole article is: « the healthier foods often have the shortest ingredients list, and the healthiest don’t have any at all ».
The Serving Size
This represents the manufacturer’s suggested serving size. Be careful here, since what they suggest to be a serving is often much smaller than what people are actually consuming, and companies can strategically plan their serving size to make the other nutrients or calories appear more attractive or enticing to the consumer. If you buy a bag of chips that says 200 calories per serving, careful calculations might reveal that there are 2-3 servings per bag, meaning that eating the whole thing will set you back 500-600 calories. Nice try marketing committee, nice try. Also, recognize that some companies, by making their servings sizes unusually small, are no longer obliged to report some nutrients that are below certain thresholds. Companies have used this tactic in the past to avoid reporting the trans fats they contained. Governing bodies have picked up on this and are making moves to outlaw these clever marketing loop holes. Take a look at latest updates of the nutritional label.