Not everyone likes to grocery shop..
So we may tend to grab things in a rush without much thought or consideration..
But that can mean we aren’t reading our food labels.
Which may not seem like a big deal..
But reading food labels is not only important to know what nutritional values we are feeding ourselves and family- but it also lets us know of any allergens that may be present- which can be particularly important for people with nut allergies, celiac disease or even lactose intolerant.
We want to know what we are putting in our body- and in our family’s body.
Labels are required to show a list of ALL ingredients as well as a breakdown of nutrition value.
So for someone who is diabetic– they would surely need to watch labels to know what is in the product and HOW much so they can ensure their blood sugar doesn’t go too low or too high when incorporating it into their meal.
Someone who has celiac disease, which is a severe gluten intolerance, would also need to pay close attention to labels. Celiac entails a strict gluten free diet. Which means if the label says MAY contain wheat- there is still likely cross contamination and the person would not be able to consume that food.
There are also personal and religious beliefs that individuals follow and they choose not to eat certain foods- labels clearly identify any ingredients they need to steer away from. This can be veganism or even those following a kosher diet.
And we want to know what the ingredients are so we know exactly what we are eating. Would we want to eat an ingredient we don’t even recognize? It is recommended to become familiar with additive names so you know if there are fullers being added. Like Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Not everyone wants to have foods with additives like MSG, although common and generally deemed safe-it can cause a lot of controversy. So it is important to do your own research to see what an ingredient is and what it is all about.
But it isn’t just about ingredients.
It’s also about nutritional value.
If we don’t know the nutrition value- we don’t know if we are getting what our body needs daily by eating foods.
The Nutrition Facts label provides detailed information about a food’s nutrient content. This panel is where you will find the average quantity of energy, protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugars, sodium and any other relevant nutrients found within the product.
The label will have a breakdown of the nutrient content often listed by g (grams) then also a percentage to show you what the % Daily Value is.
For example- a bag of chips will show you a breakdown of what the sodium content is.
Say a typical bag of chips shows 250mg of sodium per 19 chips in one column, the other column will then tell you what the percentage is for daily value, which would be 10%.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends sodium intake be less than 2,300 mg per day. So knowing how much you are eating will let you know if you are getting too much sodium based on what you SHOULD be consuming.
Reading food labels can be especially important when buying processed foods.
Many processed foods are packed full of additives and sodium. Which is not the best for us.
Knowing exactly WHAT and HOW much of something we are putting in our bodies can go a long way.
So next time you pick up a can of soup- be sure to read the label to know exactly what they are putting into it and question anything you might not recognize or see too much of.