How to Read a Food Label

Here is a great deal of confusing information, and often misleading information, on food packages. To get the facts, go to the food label. Here, you can find the serving size, number of servings in the package and nutrient amounts. You can use this information to make healthy food choices. Start with ­fiber, then look at the overall carb load of a food (carb – ­ fiber = carb load) to determine if it is a food that will elevate your glucose levels. A healthy range is 10-20gm carb load per meal.

Food Label

Aim for 7-10gm of fiber per meal. If a food item has no fiber, don’t eat it. Look for 3-5gm per whole grain serving to reduce risk of cancer and obesity.  

Identify your carb load
Since fiber is the indigestible portion of carbohydrate, you subtract the fiber from the total ingested carbohydrate to see how much carbohydrate actually gets digested. ­ This is your carb load or “net carb.” 

Ex: 31gm carbohydrate – 0gm fiber = 31gm of total carbohydrate digested and turned into sugar (energy) in your bloodstream.  

Aim for the majority of the food you eat to NOT have a food label
Just eat real, unprocessed foods without a label. 

  • Vegetables: 3-5 cups a day 
  • Fruits: 1-2 servings a day 
  • Lean protein, nuts and seeds: try ½ cup of beans or sweet potato  

Eat less sugar
Foods with added sugars may provide calories but few essential nutrients. So, look for foods and beverages low in added sugars. Read the ingredient list, and make sure added sugars are not one of the first few ingredients. Try to keep added sugars to <5gm per serving and no more than 20gm per day. Carbohydrates convert into glucose in your body. For weight loss, keep your carb load less than 10-15gm per meal or <45gm per day.  Tip: Names for added sugars include sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup and fructose (and any other ingredient ending in –ose). 

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