If you’ve found this blog through Instagram, you would already know the importance of not buying into flashy and trendy marketing labels such as gluten free, natural, and vegan.

It really is crucial to flip your packages over and see what’s actually in your food before you buy it. Many products that sub out the “usual” ingredients come along with a slew of additives we don’t need to be consuming.

If your usual approach when shopping is to vaguely scan the back of the package to see carbohydrate, protein, and fat amounts, only to shrug and toss the food in your basket, this post is for you.

Nutrition labels offer a lot of information about a product that can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you know where to look. There is a simple logical flow to follow to ensure you’re getting what you want in the foods you buy.

Let’s start with the Nutrition Facts table.

Step 1 – Serving size: this is found at the top of the nutrition label, don’t just assume the nutrient amounts listed are for the full package contents, or even a full bottle of beverage. Scale the amounts relative to how much you plan on eating.

Step 2 – Calories: found below serving size, the amount of calories if you consume one full serving amount. Multiply calories by how many servings, less or more, than one to calculate the appropriate amount.

Step 3 – Look at the % Daily Value: listed on the right of the nutrition label, use these percentages as a quick guide to determine how much a product will contribute to your daily nutrient balance, and whether or not it is a significant source of specific nutrients

5% or less is an insignificant amount

15% or more is a significant amount of a nutrient per serving.

These percentages are based on an average daily consumption of 2,000 calories. If you count your calories and know your daily target is different, scale it accordingly. Similarly, if you have a specific macro and micro nutrient spread designed for you, a little more math is involved to maintain accuracy and consistency with your dietary goals.

Step 4 – Review the nutrient spread following daily value %.

Nutrients to eat more of: dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.
Nutrients to eat less of, or none at all: saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars, and cholesterol.

Step 5: Check where your nutrients are coming from with the ingredients list. The list is ordered by weight, with the heaviest ingredients listed first.

If this is your first time learning how to review nutritional labels it may take a moment to digest (pun intended), so save this page and come back to it before your next trip to the grocery store.

If you found this post useful and want to learn more about healthy living follow along @everydaynd.

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