As a working mom, I will be the first to admit that feeding a family of four on a budget and on a tight schedule is no simple task. Yes, I love to cook and I take pride in the fact that I make almost all our meals from scratch. (notice I said ALMOST) But let's be honest, feeding a busy family a balanced and nutritious meal isn't always easy.
Sometimes you just gotta grab that frozen meal from the store just to make it through a Wednesday night, and that's OK. But did you know every can, box, and package in your grocery store has a handy label to help you make better choices when it comes to feeding your family? Yup, there's an entire chart with loads of useful nutritional information on just about everything.
So if you thought reading those nutrition labels was out of your league or that they were written in some alien language, I figured I would share a couple simple steps on how to read them and use them to make healthier choices for you and your family.
3 Simple Steps to Reading Nutrition Facts Tables
- Serving Size - start here when check out those labels. You' ll find this number right under the Nutrition Facts header. Essentially this means that all the information on the Nutrition Label is based on that serving size. So pay close attention to what is considered a serving, especially when comparing similar products. One may look like a better, healthier option, but it may have a totally different serving size than the other and it may not turn out to the better option.
- % Daily Value - on the right side of the Nutrition Facts table you will see % Daily Value for each of the nutrients listed. This shows you how much of each nutrient you would get from that serving size we just talked about. Here's a good rule of thumb when trying to figure out if a food is a good source of a certain nutrient: 5% of Daily Value or less = a little bit ; 15% of Daily Value or more = a lot
- Nutrients- the next thing to consider, now that you have mastered the serving size and % daily value, is the nutrients in the food. In simple terms, choose foods that have more of the nutrients you want and less of the nutrients you don't want. Nutrients that you want a lot of are things like Calcium, Fibre, Vitamin A and Iron. And the nutrients that you don't want very much of are things like Sodium, Saturated Fats and Trans Fats.
And there you go... the simple way to read a Nutrition Facts Table! But that's just the beginning. Those tables can give you a wealth of information when it comes to selecting foods and making informed choices. By keeping those bad fats in check and maximizing your fibre and nutrient intake, you'll help keep your family happy and healthy.
Want to know more? Click here for more great information on how to interpret those labels, compare products and make food choices that you can feel good about. So don't be frightened of those labels, with just a few simple clicks and a little research you too can become a Nutrition Fact Finder!
Want to test out your Nutrition Fact Finding skills? How about a sweet giveaway for some free groceries? Enter below for your chance to win a $100 Grocery Gift Card! Woohoo! Contest is open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec.
Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post as a joint effort by the Food &Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC), Health Canada, Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG), the Nutrition Facts Education Campaign (NFEC). As always, the opinions expressed are my own.