You may think that you’re eating healthy, but without knowing exactly what’s going into your body, you’ll never really know. That’s why learning how to read nutrition labels is so important to a healthy lifestyle. Here I translate a macaroni and cheese box label.
This is the first place where confusion can set in. Look carefully at how they are defining a serving size and determine how much you actually plan on consuming. On this macaroni and cheese box label, it says that the serving size is about 1 cup and that there are 3 servings per container. If you plan on eating the entire box (or even half the box), you will have to triple the information (or increase it 50%). For simplicity, let’s assume we are eating the recommended serving size of 1 cup.
Calories are how much energy you get from consuming food. The recommended daily caloric intake they use as a basis for all the percentages shown is 2,000. Your personal target may vary greatly from this due to factors like age, gender and activity level. Keep this in mind when reading the label.
Nutrients to Limit
Trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium are all nutrients that you should try to limit. Each of these items is called out on the label. You can see how many grams are found in a serving, but the more important number is the percentage of daily value (based on 2,000 calorie needs). Just one serving contains 30% of the daily value.
Nutrients NOT to Limit
Calcium, iron and vitamins are great to include in your daily diet. Make sure you are getting enough by checking out the percentages (based on 2,000 calorie needs). As a basic guideline, under 5% is considered a low amount while over 20% is a high amount of a nutrient.