Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teacher Tuesday: Talking About Labels

It's back! It's Tuesday and I'm teaching you something once again! Because I love alliteration. And also sharing some knowledge.

Teach Me About: Nutrition Labels

I know I've mentioned how I went to this thing called Be Well Philly Bootcamp on more than a billion occasions. But now I'm going to share some information that I learned during the Nutrition discussion! The session featured Candace Robertson-James and Stella Lucia Volpe from Drexel University highlighting some important nutrition information that a lot of people don't know about.

One of our activities was learning how to read a nutrition label. A lot of people seemed surprised at some of the facts, so I decided to spread the word! I'm not going to go into all of the components, just three areas that I found interesting.

The Anatomy of a Nutrition Label

Just from Google images! Nothing specific.

Reading nutrition labels in grocery stores is going to take up more of your time, yes. But it's going to inform you what you're eating. And that information is POWER when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle! When you're wandering down the aisles, a very good place to start is the top.

Serving Size: Always, always, always pay attention to serving sizes! There are a lot of products (trail mix, I'm looking at you!) that have serving sizes that nobody would know. One bag of trail mix that we had at the session, for instance, had SIXTEEN servings in it. Nobody I know would ever be able to stop at one without specifically measuring it out, so just be conscious of that! Especially with snacky foods. 

Trick! If you buy something like trail mix with clear packaging, you can always take a marker/tape/etc. and mark off the serving sizes so you'll have a visual! So in my sixteen serving example, just eyeball the product into sixteen equal parts! Sure, it's not an exact science and measuring is always better. But time is always good too! :)

Also, you should not be fooled by marketing. There are some crazy companies out there (Pop-Tarts, ahem) that package two pieces of their product together. People assume that the serving size would be a package when in fact, that is DOUBLE all of the numbers. They can get crazy high when you multiply it all through so pay attention!

5-20 Rule: This is something that Candace taught us. It deals with the three things people are most concerned with on nutrition labels. Sodium, fat, and cholesterol! You know the percentages on the right side? That's the percent daily value for (usually) a 2,000 calorie based diet. So first of all, always make sure to keep YOUR needs in mind when comparing it to that calorie intake. 

So, 5-20. This rule is basically that anything under 5% for these three areas (Sodium, fat, cholesterol! Don't forget!) means you are good to go. They are GENERALLY healthier choices. Once you hit 20% or above, you may want to think twice about purchasing that product. Anything above that means you aren't balancing your nutrients/fuel sources/etc over the day. And you want to eat often, right? So keep these percentages in mind when you're choosing foods, as well as planning out your day's meals! 

Fiber: We all know fiber is good for us, right? But do we know what amount is good? At the talk, it was established that anything with fiber content over 3g is a good choice. Obviously, you want to shoot for more! But 3g seems to be a good starting point if you're looking to get some fiber!

There is SO much more going on in a nutrition label than what I've wrote here. I just wanted to throw out some information, not a comprehensive guide. So don't only follow the three guidelines listed here. You have to take a lot into account, and for somebody just starting to read these guys it can get overwhelming.

If you ARE looking for a comprehensive guide or just want to find out more information, Fit Bottomed Girls had a wonderful post on nutrition labels. I suggest heading over there to check it out!

Do you have any fun facts about nutrition labels?

*I am not anywhere near a registered dietician, so please don't take this as the end-all-be-all. If you have questions regarding your nutrition, please talk to your doctor!


  1. I'd never heard the 5-20 rule. That's a good one and easy to remember. Thanks!

  2. Great post! I love to read labels but I'm not always sure I'm looking at the right thing. This will help!

  3. 5 - 20 heh? Hadn't hear that one before. Good information!