A few days ago, as I was perusing Trader Joe’s- yes, perusing, because I LOVE looking at all their seasonal offerings-I realized that the first thing I was doing with each beautifully packaged item, was flipping it over to read the label on the back. This is all too normal for me. Before it goes into my grocery cart, I scan the label and look at the nutrition information.
As per usual, the store was packed with people filling their carts for the impending holiday. I caught myself just observing people shop and I very rarely saw anyone look at the label. And then it hit me, what if people aren’t looking at labels because they don’t know what to look for or how to read the label?
That led me here.
Here is your basic guide to reading a nutrition label:
The best way to read a label is from top to bottom, left to right.
Focus on these 5 key factors first:
Serving Size: How much of the food is considered one serving. Shown in both measurements and weight. Weight is generally more accurate.
Total Calories: the amount of calories in each SERVING.
Total Fat: The first macronutrient, shown in grams. The amount of calories in each SERVING that come from fat. Each gram of fat has 9 calories.
Total Carbohydrates: The second macronutrient. The amount of calories in each SERVING that come from carbohydrates. Each gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories.
Total Protein: The third macronutrient. The amount of calories in each SERVING that come from protein. Each gram of protein has 4 calories.
Now, you may be thinking, but what about all the other things on the label? Those metrics can be used if you have a specific goal, weight wise or health wise. Master the basics and you will be well on your way to decoding the full label and utilizing the information for your benefit.
I encourage you to start looking at the labels in your cabinet, your pantry, and everything you pick up in your grocery store trip. Like the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, and in this case practice makes you an informed consumer.