How to Read Food Nutrition Labels

How many of you have been burned by misleading info on a food nutrition label? This food must be healthy– it has “reduced fat” or “no added sugar,” after all! The fact is that food companies use all kinds of delicious additives to their products (particularly sugar) to keep us coming back (which keeps our weight coming back).

As health professionals, we are taught to “stay on the perimeter of the grocery store,” where the REAL food is (the food that doesn’t need a label to tell you what it is). This remains the best advice we can give. However, if this doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, or if you can’t cook to save your life, you’re going to need to know how to weed out the bad food from the good.

Here’s a food nutrition label courtesy of American Heart Association. The untrained eye falls on step #2 first– the number of calories. But look back at step #1. This step tells you how many servings are in the box of food you are holding and how much of that food makes up 1 serving. So this label tells us that each serving (1 egg) contains 60 calories.

Now let’s take it a step further. Look under step #3 and find “total carbohydrates.” If you have already had bariatric surgery, this is your most important number! Since lifestyle change goes hand-in-hand with bariatric surgery, we recommend our patients follow a high protein, low-carb/low-sugar diet. This means your “total carbohydrates” should be no more than 15-20 grams per day. The fact is there are a lot of items on that grocery store shelf that have more than 20 grams of total carbohydrates in just one serving! To be successful, you’re going to have to look at this number before you buy. Not all calories are created equally. Know what you’re taking in!

Want to know more about the foods we recommend? More to come in future posts!

Want to know more about food nutrition labels? Click here–