Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Nutrition Facts Label... Don't Be Afraid to Take a Peak!

You know, there's a lot of things in this world that are just more complicated than they need to be.  There's also many things that are meant to be super helpful, but many of us simply don't know how to use these tools for them to be beneficial.  Let's break down one of the most misunderstood tools we all face every day... The Nutrition Facts Label.

First, let's focus on the 2 things that most of us need to look at first:

1. Serving Size:
Serving Size is listed first on the panel- directly under or next to the Nutrition Facts title.

(In my opinion the most important to look at first.)  The serving size is the amount of food that the food manufacturer has said is equal to 1 serving.  The entire nutrition facts label is based on this serving size.  For example, if the company thinks that 12 crackers is 1 serving, then all of the information listed on the label is based on someone eating 12 crackers.

This can get tricky because most 20-oz bottles have an 8 fluid ounce serving size, meaning that 2.5 people are expected to share that drink, when in reality, most of us drink the entire beverage ourselves.  We just have to be aware of this.  If we eat double, triple, etc. of the serving size stated, then we have to double, triple, etc. all of the nutrition facts information, depending on how much we really eat.  Of course if we eat less than the serving size listed, say half of the serving size, then we can divide all of the facts listed in half.

Unfortunately, some serving sizes are not listed in everyday terms.  For instance, some serving sizes may be listed in grams or ounces, which is unfamiliar to most of us.  That's when we look at the Servings Per Container.

2. Servings Per Container:
Servings Per Container are listed directly after the Serving Size.
This number can be helpful when the serving size is unclear.  If the serving size is listed in grams or ounces, many of us are unaware of how much this is.  The servings per container help to explain to us how many servings the entire package contains.

This means that if you're eating a bag of cereal and there are 16 servings per container, then the company expects that it'll last you 16 meals if you eat the serving size listed every time, or that 16 people can divide the entire box of cereal evenly and each have the company's serving size listed.  It's OK if we have more or less than the serving size because we all have different needs, but it's important to be aware that we have to adjust the facts listed if we eat more or less.

Wow that's a lot for today.  As I was saying, some things are just more complicated than they need to be.  Now if only someone could explain to me the nuts and bolts of my car.  That's really something that seems too complicated!  See you next time at the table!

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