Today I have an awesome guest post for you on How To Read The New Nutrition Facts Label by Kelli from Hungry Hobby so listen up and give her some love friends!
Hello! I’m Kelli Shallal an Arizona based Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer and blogger behind Hungry Hobby, a healthy living blog featuring healthy recipes, quick workouts and a ton of sweaty photos of me and my energetic Rhodesian Ridgeback, Nala.
I discovered Skinny Fitalicious a few months ago and I was immediately hooked on Megan’s delicious recipes, amazing story, and enthusiasm for nutrition and health. As another Arizona based blogger it’s been fun getting to know her and having a blogger friend in the same state! I’m super excited Megan asked me to be here today and share a few nutrition tips with all of you!
On May 20th 2016 the FDA passed its proposed rule updating the nutrition facts label so when Megan mentioned a post about label reading I knew it would be the perfect topic!
What To Look For On A Food Label
Read The Ingredients
When I work with my one on one nutrition clients I always coach them to read the ingredients before even looking at the nutrition facts. If there are a bunch of ingredients you have never heard of or you don’t recognize as food like maltodextrin, nitrates, suphites and sorbites you know to look for something else.
The name of the game is to eat as much real food as possible and limit preservatives and chemicals. (For more tips see this post I wrote on How To Eat More Real Food.) If the ingredients pass your eat real food test then it’s time to move onto the nutrition facts panel.
In the upcoming months you will notice a few changes to the nutrition facts label so let’s take a look at the old versus the new label.
Overall the new label is more user friendly and highlights many things the consumer wants to know about the nutritional value of the food. Let’s take a deeper look at the new changes and how you can use it to help you make the best choices for you!
The first thing you want to know is what equals a serving. This is the most controversial and confusing pieces of the nutrition facts label. You might think that the whole package is one serving, but the company may list ½ the package as a serving in order to make their nutrition facts look better or more appealing. To combat this the FDA has mandated that serving size be updated to reflect what people typically eat.
For instance, a 12 ounce and 20 ounce soda will now each be one serving because most people will consume the whole thing. However, keep in mind that the serving size does not equal the recommended portion size. For recommended portion size FDA cites that Americans should reference the USDA Dietary Guidelines of America.
The calories will be larger and more prominently displayed on the new label. When considering calories keep in mind the serving size.
For example if the serving size for oatmeal is ½ cup but you’re going to eat a full cup, then you need to multiply all the nutrition facts including the calories by 2. Remember calorie needs vary depending on your gender, activity level, body composition and type of meal. If you need help determining how many calories are right for you it’s best to consult a Registered Dietitian.
Fat, Saturated Fat & Trans Fat
Keep in mind that you need healthy fat to keep you full and nourish your body. For these reasons, in general, I coach my clients to avoid fat free versions of food that should naturally have fat in them (like nut butters, organic dairy, etc). Don’t fear fat but do be mindful of calories if a food is high in fat from natural sources.
If the food has passed your “read the ingredients test” it shouldn’t have any trans fat (which comes from partially hydrogenated oils) or undesirable types of Saturated Fat; not all saturated fat is bad, but the type that comes from fully hydrogenated oils is. Therefore, in general, total fat and saturated fat are healthy, trans fat is not. Make sure to be mindful of calories and read the ingredients to ensure the food does not contain any “hydrogenated” ingredients to be sure.
(Check out my post on How To Include More Healthy Fat for more information.)
The American Heart Association has lifted its recommendation to limit cholesterol, no longer citing this as a nutrient of concern. Unless you have genetic disposition to high cholesterol known as Familial hypercholesterolemia, you can likely skip over this one. Research has confirmed that cholesterol in foods does not automatically increase our blood cholesterol levels. Keep in mind that cholesterol provides many building blocks for necessary functions in our body like sex hormones.
Foods high in sodium are usually heavily processed and should be avoided. Be mindful of sodium and where it is coming from.Most professional organizations still recommend limiting this nutrient to under 2,000mg/day, less if you are at an increased risk for heart conditions such as high blood pressure.
Carbohydrates provide energy for the body. However, when over consumed carbohydrates cause blood sugar imbalances and inflammation which can lead to chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart conditions.
Research is revealing that added sugars may be more to blame than carbohydrates for health problems so added sugar is a welcomed addition to the nutrition facts panel. Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar, keeps you full and prevents certain cancers such as colon cancer. Look for foods highest in fiber and with little to no added sugars most of the time.
Protein stimulates metabolism, promotes satiety (keeps you full), balances blood sugar, builds lean tissue, and supports immune function. The minimum recommendation for protein per day is .4g per pound of ideal body weight. That is considered the minimum amount to survive but most people need quite a bit more than that especially in weight loss, pregnancy/lactation, illness, and needs increase, as we get older.
Vitamins and Minerals
The FDA will now mandate that the actual amount of four specfic vitamins and minerals will be listed on the nutrition facts label instead of just the percent daily value. These four vitamins and minerals are considered nutrients of concern for the American population because most people don’t get enough. In general, the higher the nutrients are the better.
The minimum recommendations are as follows:
- Vitamin D – 600 IU
- Calcium – 1000mg -1300mg depending on age group
- Potassium – 4700mg
- Iron – 8mg adult males, 18mg adult females
What do you think of the nutrition facts label changes? Do you think they will help you make healthier choices?
Linking up with Amanada for Thinking Out Loud
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Kelli Shallal MPH, RD, owner of Hungry Hobby LLC provides virtual and local one on one nutrition counseling emphasizing a holistic view point and intuitive eating principles. If you are interested in one on one nutrition counseling check out her nutrition services website at www.hungryhobbyrd.com. In addition she is also the author of Hungry Hobby and healthy living blog with an emphasis on healthy recipes, quick workouts as well as health tips. Follow her on instagram, pinterest and facebook for more healthy living tips!