How to Read a Food Label

Reading a food label can at times feel complicated. I’m here to break it down for you in 5 simple steps.

  1. Look at ingredient list first! 
    • Can you pronounce all of the ingredients? In general, if all foods look recognizable as real, whole food, you’re good to go!
  2. Check the order of the ingredients.
    • Typically they are in order of highest abundance, so if sugar is the first ingredient, you know the majority of the product is sugar.
  3. Looking at sugars. 
    • Sugar goes by many different names.
      • Just to name a few: brown sugar, buttered sugar, cane sugar, carob syrup, high fructose corn syrup to name a few. If this is listed as the first ingredients, you know the majority of the item is sugar.
    • Check the added sugar.
      • “Added sugar” is a newer addition to food labels, whereas before there was only total sugar listed. As we know, there are natural sugars in a lot of foods (like fruits and vegetables), so we care more about the amount of ADDED sugar in a product.
  4. Look at the serving size!
    • Is it in line with what you originally thought? Usually they’re much smaller than what you’d think.
  5. Lastly – take a glance at the calories. Calories are a unit of energy and are meant to do just that – provide energy.
    • If an item isn’t very calorically dense, it won’t keep you full and satiated for very long!

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