portion sizes and label reading
Learning what a portion size looks like is essential in creating healthy, balanced meals. Our food should provide us with the appropriate percent daily value of each macronutrient. By understanding how to read nutrition labels, we can choose wisely at the grocery store.
Have a balanced snack with one serving of protein, carbs, and fat to keep you full and prevent you from overeating.
Nutrients that are needed in large amounts to provide energy in the form of calories.
Protein is necessary to build and repair tissues in your body. It also protects the immune system and plays a vital role in controlling blood sugar and providing energy.
Carbohydrates are a quick source of energy. They spare the body's use of proteins to be used in other processes. The brain depends on glucose to function, making carbohydrates essential for cognition. Complex carbs have fiber and provide a steady rise in blood sugar, providing longer lasting energy.
Fat is a back up source of energy. It contains essential nutrients to make biochemicals and hormones. Vitamins need fat to be absorbed in order to prevent deficiencies. Fat also surrounds major organs for protection.
Purchasing food can be confusing, especially with all of the persuasive marketing tactics used by food companies. Learning how to read, understand, and compare food labels can help you reduce your risk of chronic illnesses including diabetes and heart disease.
- Serving Size and Number of Servings will allow you to understand the recommended portion size and how many portions are in a container.
- Check calories to understand how much energy this will supply. Checking protein, carbs and fat will help you understand where those calories are coming from.
- Percent Daily Value, 5% or less is too low and 20% or more is too high. This means that the food is not nutrient dense or exceeds the appropriate amount of that nutrient for a single item.
- Total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium should be limited, being sure that their percent daily value does not exceed 20%. Try to avoid trans fat and take note that 300mg of cholesterol and 2000mg of sodium are recommended daily allowances.
- Fiber, a food that has >5g of fiber is a good source. Aim to eat 25-35g of fiber a day.
Schedule a call to discuss going on a grocery store tour with a Registered Dietitian for your next appointment.
Nutrient Content Claims
Have you ever wondered why the FDA put reduced sodium on your bag of chips? This nutrient content claim may cause confusion because it doesn't always mean what you assume.
Low can be used on foods that do not exceed dietary guidelines even when consumed often.
- low fat means 3g or less per serving
- low saturated fat means 1g or less per serving
- low sodium means 140mg or less per serving
- very low sodium means 35mg or less per serving
- low cholesterol means 20mg or less and 2g or less of saturated fat
- low calorie means 40 calories or less per serving