Take A Closer Look At Labels

Sharon Jane Akinyemi

Sharon Jane Akinyemi

“Mum don’t forget to get me my favourite yoghurt”. What if your favourite is not available? I asked. “Then get me one that looks like my favourite and  remember to check the label”, she added.This was between my daughter and I.  Over the years I’ve taught her how to read labels before consuming any packaged food, snacks, drinks etc. So she won’t forget. Many of us are guilty of this. We don’t remember to read labels before buying processed foods.

One of the things we struggle with daily, all over the world is to make distinction between facts and ruse, as manufacturers compete to make impression in the minds of men through aggressive  advertisement in order to increase sales. Our markets are filled with an over-whelming number of food products from which to choose. But how do we know which  food will give us the most nutrients for our money?

Eating nutritiously in this day and age can be a challenge. Many professionals agree that the pesticides, hormones and additives in our diets are the culprits behind many diseases and health challenges, and these things can be especially harmful to children.

Healthy eating starts with knowing the facts about what you are putting in your mouth. Reading nutrition labels can help you make wise food choices; knowing how to read the “Nutrition Facts” on a food label and not relying on phrases like “healthy” or “low-fat” is a key step. Being in better control of your eating habits helps you to feel in better control of other aspects of your life. Food is not the enemy; it has sustained us for decades. Eating should be an adventure and not an ordeal. This article can help you make quick, informed choices that contribute to healthy eating through more informed label reading.

Whenever possible invest a little extra in organic fruits and vegetables. By increasing the quality of your overall diet with nutritious whole foods and lots of pure, fresh water, you are supporting your body’s ability to neutralise and remove these toxins quickly.

You don’t have to become a fanatic to maintain a healthy body. But it does help to tune in to the potential basis. Become aware and start making little shifts in your nutritional habits. Your body will thank you.

Now that you have a better handle on what to eat, you need to be able to discern what is inside those packages you are pulling off the shelves.you will be amazed at what you can learn (and how your choices will change) When you take the time to read the labels on all your potential purchases.

Don’t assume all similar foods have the same components. Reading labels accurately is essential, because it is important to make choices based on complete information. Check out the sample label next time you go shopping.

Serving Size

Always check the serving size first. If you eat more or less, you must adjust your calories according

At the top of the label, you will see the serving size and the number of servings per container. Serving sizes differ on each food label and may not equal the serving size you normally eat. If you eat twice the serving listed on the label, you will need to double all the numbers in the nutritional facts section.

Daily Value

This tells you  how much of a day’s worth of fat, sodium, calories, etc., the food provides based on a two thousand calorie diet. It does not tell you the actual percentage in the food item. (you must do the calculation yourself).

Calories From Fat

This section on the label tells you the total number of calories in each serving of the food and the number of those calories which are derived from fat. Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from eating one serving of the food. If you are trying to manage (lose, gain or maintain) your weight, the number of calories you consume counts. For example, one serving of spaghetti and beef may provide 250 calories, with 110 calories from fat. If you ate 2 servings, you would consume 500 calories and 220 of those calories would be from fat.

Add up the “Total Fat”. Total fat includes fats that are good for you, such as monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fats (usually from liquid and plant sources, such as canola oil and nuts) and fats that are not so good, such as saturated and trans fats (from animal or vegetable sources). Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help lower your blood cholesterol and protect your heart. Trans fats are also known as “hydrogenated” and “partially hydrogenated” fats. These are formed during the process of converting liquid oils into solid fats, such as shortening and stick margarine. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and stabilizes the flavour of these fats. Partially hydrogenated fats are currently considered the worst fats for our health.

Nutrition Label
Nutrition Label

Now you can see just how many calories are coming from fat. You will have to do the math to compute the actual percentage. An easy rule of thumbs is:

15% fat = 1.5 grams per 100 calories

20% fat= 2.0grams per 100 calories

25% fat= 2.5 grams per 100 calories

Cholestrol

This tells you how much cholesterol you get from eating one serving of the food. There are two types of cholesterol – HDL, known as the “good” cholesterol and LDL, the “bad” cholesterol.

Carbohydrates And Sugar

Become aware of the composition of your food. High sugar will promote blood sugar instability. Identify the “Total Carbohydrates”. This number represents the total of all the different types of carbohydrates you consume from eating one serving of the food.

Fibre

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Choose foods with a higher fibre content, which will slow down carbohydrate absorption.

Work out the “Fibre” content. This number tells you how many grams of dietary fibre is in one serving of the food. Dietary Fibre is the undigestable portion of plant food. In processed foods and packaged cereals, choose foods with a minimum of two to four grams of fibre per serving. There are a few cereals with six to eight grams per serving, even better, or better still go for natural cereals like ( millet or corn cereal-pap)

Protein

View the “Protein” amount. This number tells you how much protein you obtain from consuming one serving of the food.

Become aware of your protein sources. Did you get 15 to 30 percent in your diet today?

Sugar

Be vigilant about the amount of “Sugar”. Some carbohydrates become sugar when digested in your body, so you may be consuming more sugar than what is on the label.

Vitamins And Mineral

Look at the “Vitamins and Minerals”. The food may contain several vitamins, such as Vitamin A, B, C or E as well as minerals such as iron and calcium.

Sodium

Sodium is also known as table salt and it is a hidden ingredient in many foods, especially processed food, such as canned foods and tomato sauces.

See the “Percent Daily Value”. The asterisk (*) after this heading refers to the information at the bottom of the label, which states “% daily values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet”.

Finally, don’t forget to look at the “Information at the Bottom of the Label”. This chart is based on a 2,000-calorie diet. This information must be on all food labels, although the chart that follows is not required on small packages if the label is too small.

However, the information is dietary advice from public health experts for all Nigerians and is the same for all products. This is applicable also in many other countries.

The label shows the upper and lower limits for each nutrient based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Let’s use the macaroni and beef example. One serving would provide 18% of the Daily Value of the possible 100% Daily Value for your total fat intake. That leaves 82% that you could consume from other sources for that day. If you ate two servings, you would consume 36% of your Daily Value for fat, leaving 64% to be consumed from other sources.According to WikiHow.

Ensure you read every product label before you purchase the food. And if  you aren’t eating enough whole, natural stuff, shop first where you find foods closer to how God originally created them.

Always make eating nutritiously  your first priority. Try to eat a healthful mix of foods, with a special emphasis on lots of fruits and vegetables, and balance your carbohydrates protein, and fat to meet your body’s specific needs. You can tell when you found the right blend-your body will respond with high energy.

Not to forget that exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose. Our health is now suffering as a consequence.

Whatever your age, there’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even happier life.

People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.

Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.

Remember, you build a completely new body every seven years, and it can only be as strong as the supplies you give it to work with. You really are what you eat! As you make decisions about how you will eat and live for a lifetime, remember that you can’t build a brick house out of straw, nor can you build a healthy body out of sugar.

For Questions and answers, lets connect @ www.facebook.com/BodyConfidenceFitnessClub.