You have to eat to survive, but are you eating well enough to maximize your well being? There are plenty of resources of information out there about nutrition. Some of them agree, and some of them disagree. How can you know the truth about what you should be eating?
Where can you find the facts about food?
Understanding how to read a food label is a great place to start. The label provided as part of a food’s packaging can help you better understand what you are putting in your body.
A food label usually includes:
- The appropriate portion or serving size
- The amount of calories per serving, especially important information for calorie counters
- The amount of and types of fat and cholesterol per serving
- The amount of carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, and protein per serving
- The daily percentage of essential vitamins and minerals each serving of the food provides
- Information about the number of daily calories this information is based on
- Some packaged foods may also contain information about ingredients, which you should pay attention to if you have a food sensitivity or allergy
Packaged foods are required to have a food label. Are you in the habit of reading this when you are grocery shopping? If not, you should be. It can be an important source of nutrition facts, and can help you keep a better eye on exactly what you are eating.
Where do the percentages in food labels come from?
The percentages are set by the federal government. To learn more about how to make sure you are getting the right amount of calories and nutrition, you may want to investigate dietary guidelines laid out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and learn more about what is popularly known as the food pyramid, a simple guide to the daily amount of the varieties and amounts of food you should be eating.
What if the food you are eating doesn’t have a label?
It’s definitely harder to learn the truth about nutrition when the food you are eating doesn’t have a label. Fresh produce and food you might find at a farmer’s market may not be labeled. When dining out, you may not have access to nutrition facts either. Fast food restaurants don’t always have nutrition facts readily available. You may have to be assertive and ask your server to provide you with nutrition information. It’s even harder to distinguish the nutritional facts about food at a dine in restaurant. Don’t be shy. Ask your server or chef to tell you more about what is in a dish, if you have any concerns.
The main truth about nutritional information, is that there are many truths. Each individual’s needs and goals are different, and it’s important to educate yourself about what you need to maintain your health. Depending on your personal goals, you may need to eat more calories or less calories. You may need to add certain foods to your diet that provide extra nutrients, or you may need to take a nutritional supplement.