Hello to all of Ashley’s readers!! My name is Lindsay and I blog over at In Sweetness and In Health. My blog offers a glimpse into my life as I navigate graduate school and try to stay healthy and sane through that process. You can find some of my favorite workouts, my attempts at creating recipes, stories about my long distance relationship, and just other random musings :). I have been following Ashley’s blog for a while now, and as I’m sure you all know she is pretty awesome! I would love to have the opportunity to meet her in person someday because I think we could be great real life friends! Anyway, I’m super excited to be guest posting for her!!
Today I thought that I would share with you some of the things that I look at when I read nutrition labels. I used to be a person that solely looked at the calories whenever I picked up a food product. As I’ve gotten smarter about healthy eating I’ve come to terms with the fact that calories do not mean everything. I’ve learned to recognize other important things on a nutrition label that actually can tell you more about the quality of the food product.
Of course there are a bunch of different components that are important to look at, but there are a few that really stick out to me and that I always try to be aware of!
So, in addition to looking at calories what are these other things that I look for?
I think it’s incredibly important to know the amount of the food that the entire label is giving you information about. This can overshadow calories because sure, it could say there are 60 calories per serving, but the serving size is probably so small and unrealistic that you’d likely consume much more than that!
I used to never look at the ingredients list and then my boyfriend explained to me the importance of looking at it- things are listed in order of their proportion in the food from highest to lowest. So you may think something is “healthy” and then see that the first or second ingredient isn’t all that good for you. And that means that the food has a large amount of an unhealthy ingredient.
It’s also important to be aware that sugars can go by many different names and companies can use several different types of sugar so it appears that there isn’t a lot. But when you add up those several smaller quantities it can come out to be the ingredient with the highest proportion in the food. Tricky tricky right?
Fats have been touted by the media as being “bad” for you, but it’s important to remember that your body needs healthy fats in order to survive and thrive! So, a total fat content may seem a little higher, but if they are in the form of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats then that’s actually okay! What you want to watch for are saturated and trans fats.
Also, sometimes a label will only list total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat amounts. If there is a total fat amount of 5 grams and the listing for saturated fat is 0.5 grams and trans fat is 0 grams then it is safe to assume that the rest of the fat is in the form of poly or monounsaturated fat. Of course, in order to “double check” you can just look at the ingredients list and make sure that there are no “hydrogenated oils” listed (that is a sign of trans fats being in the product).
Women are strongly urged not to consume more than 25-35 grams a day. You would be surprised how quickly and easily that number can be reached. For something that I will eat often I try to buy products that don’t have a high sugar content.
So, there you have it! Those are the 4 main things (in addition to calories) that I always check out when I look at a food product. Granted, if I want to indulge in something then I probably won’t even bother because frankly I just want to enjoy the food and not worry about what’s in it haha. But for the most part, I like to be educated and make sure that the foods that are so-called “healthy” actually are!