FOOD LABELS AND HOW THEY FOOL YOU
Whether you are on a diet to lose weight or just want to maintain good and healthy eating habits, it is crucial to understand food labels as they are providing you the basic information about the content of what you eat.
What I found is that many people don’t give it enough attention or don’t understand the basics principals of reading the label – which leads them to poor purchase and nutrition choices.
In this post I want to briefly give you basic understanding of how to read the food label and why this information can save your diet .
Let’s dive into that :
For the example I would use 2 very famous spreads that are used in almost every household : Peanut & Chocolate butter .
I will base the calculations on the details from this facts so it will be easier to understand
1. MEASURING REFERENCE SCALE
This is a small trick that used by food companies to present the information in a more ‘appealing‘ way. Legally they are both valid but it is obvious that a nutrition company would like to present its product as healthy or at least less harmful.
That’s why YOU need understand what is the measuring scale :
One option is that the food label will refer to the nutrients in a 100g of product
The way is to present the amount of nutrients as per serving (which might be 1 spoon, 32g ,½ cup etc…) .
Most commonly you can see the first option in sweet drinks – the food companies will show you how much calories & macronutrients you have in a 100 ml of drink and it might seems low , however you drink 500ml in one go , not realizing that you had intake huge amount of calories and sugars .
In our case here we are looking and serving size : 2 spoons ( 32 & 37 g )
Now consider this:
Most people daily intake is less then 2000 Kcal / day – which means that fat % will fluctuate:
Here is simple math calculation :
20% fat from 2000 Kcal is 400 Kcal = 44g of fat ( each gram of fat contains 9 kcal )
20% fat from 1800 Kcal is 360 Kcal = 40g of fat ( each gram of fat contains 9 kcal )
Which means that the lower your daily caloric intake , the lower your intake should be in the nutrients in order to hit the guidelines range .
Once again – simple: what is the quantity of carbs in a serving size.
However pay attention to the next 2 items:
Fiber & Sugar.
Your goal is to always strive for products with LESS SUGAR & MORE FIBER .
The more the Sugar will be closer to the total carbohydrates the less healthy the product is.
BTW:That’s why you might notice that the products that have less sugar in them will be more expensive.
To summarize :
It is not very complicated to understand the food label but it requires a little bit of concentration , common sense and realising 3 things :
1. What is the serving size the label refers to
2. What is your daily intake needs
3. How much of this specific product you need / want and how it will impact your daily intake.
Let’s go through a simple calculation that many people are not aware off and DOUBLE their caloric intake with the most famous PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH:
1 big slice of bread : 30 g will contain around 70 Kcal .
Now of course in order to have a sandwich you need 2 slices of bread
so it takes you to 140 Kcal.
In order to make it tasty its not enough to spread only one side , but apparently there are people who spread both sides :
so 2 spoons ( serving size ) X 2 sides = 190 X 2 = 380 Kcal
So think about that : Peanut butter sandwich will contain : 520 KCAL !!!!!
Now here is a how you save your caloric intake.
1 slice of bread , 2 spoons of PB spread & FOLD !
That will bring you to 260 Kcal ONLY .
Not the best choice for intake but hey – much better then 500 + !
Enjoy your sandwiches.
Hope It gives you more understanding on food labels and how to effectively use them for your advantage