THERE IS MORE TO NUTRITION THAN READING THE LABELS

It seems more and more people are flipping to the back of their food packages these days before making their decision to buy the product. There is definitely a greater awareness than years ago and I think this is a good thing for consumers. When I was growing up, I didn’t know what a serving size or gram of sugar was.

First Lady Michelle Obama made news recently expressing her enthusiasm over the FDA modernizing the nutritional facts for packaged foods. It makes sense to me, after all knowledge is power. The more informed and aware we are as to what we are eating; the better choices we will make… or at least that is the goal.

The main updates include highlighting the “calories” and “servings”. I do find myself lately being more aware of just how many servings are in that packaged muffin. For many of those muffins, a serving size is half. Now, the requirements for serving sizes will reflect a more accurate example of what people usually eat as a serving. The fact is, by law, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act requires serving sizes should be based on what people actually eat.

Sophie Uliano, is an author and Certified Holistic Nutritionist. Her site, www.sophieuliano.com, teaches people about healthy living and nutrition. She says to get the full picture, you need to look beyond the labels, “The nutritional label is just part of a much bigger story about the food. You also need to look for additives, preservatives, food dyes, etc.”

Keep in mind that the source of an ingredients listed on a package can vary. Where do they get their ingredient and what is the quality? These are all things that consumers should give some thought to. In Uliano’s book, Gorgeous For Good, an entire section is dedicated on the “How To” for reading labels, both on the front and back of food packages. “My main concern is that you eat minimally-processed, additive-free foods.”

Another change to the FDA nutritional label has to do with one popular ingredient: added sugars. Grams and a percent daily value will let consumer know just how much sugar has been added to the product. And remember, every 4 grams of sugar equals a teaspoon. I try to visualize how many teaspoons I will be taking in and this helps to keep high sugar foods at bay.

There will be dual column labels to show both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and other nutritional information for certain products which can be eaten in a single or multiple setting.

Included in the actual gram count will be Vitamin D and also potassium. The reason? These are two nutrients some folks aren’t getting enough of. Vitamin A and C will no longer be required to be listed mainly because deficiencies of these two vitamins are not common.

Since research has shown that the type of fat is more important than the amount of fat, “Calories From Fat” will be removed. “Saturated Fat”, “Trans Fat” and “Total Fat” will all still be required on the packaging.

But it may be several years before you see these changes. Most manufacturers are not required to use the new label until 2018. And if the company does less than $10 million in yearly food sales, an extra year to transfer over will be allowed. Nutritional labels can offer a wealth of information to help consumers make the right choice for themselves.

Source: Market Watch