Decoding Food Labels

You are doing it! You are taking the time to put yourself first by evaluating your nutritional needs and incorporating exercise into your life. Congratulations from Advanced Surgical and Weight Loss Institute! We know that permanent weight loss is more than a mere surgery; it is a lifestyle change that is composed of multiple little choices throughout your day. One thing is for sure, we are proud to be working alongside you to help you live your best life.

One thing that many people struggle with is understanding food labels. Have you ever wondered exactly how to interpret the data you find on the back of the foods that you purchase? If so, you are certainly not alone. There are many reasons people choose to take a closer look at the ingredients and nutritional information on their foods. Some are concerned about sugar content while others want to be aware of portion sizes. Some people are worried about fat and sodium levels. Whatever the reason, understanding labels is crucial when it comes to making wise food choices. Let’s take a closer look at labels from top to bottom.

The first section on a label contains information about portion sizes. This is an area that you need to pay close attention to. It is easy to assume that an entire can or package of something is one serving. This, however, is incorrect. For example, one can of black beans equals 3.5 servings. If you whip up a quick black bean soup recipe and use the whole can, you are actually getting multiple servings. Don’t be fooled. Look closely at this part of the label to see just how many servings are contained within.

Beneath servings sizes, you will notice the caloric content. It is important to note that the calories listed are PER SERVING. The portion of the label also includes the number of calories coming from fat. Fat is an important macronutrient but can be over consumed. It is vital that you pay attention to this information as well.

Right after calories comes what is referred to as the nutrient section. The first part of this section contains details on nutrients that you should limit as most Americans have enough in their diets. The information contained here is PER SERVING as well and gives you stats on how much sodium, cholesterol, and total fat is contained in the item. Fat is further broken down into saturated and unsaturated. You want to pay close attention to the amount and types of fat you are consuming each day. This information is crucial. The next portion of the nutrient section on food labels lists the amount calcium, fiber, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. You want to make sure you get enough of these each day. These are all nutrients that many of us fail to consume enough of in the standard American diet.

Understanding labels and learning to be a critical consumer is important for your success. You don’t have to be overwhelmed by all the fancy packaging. Pay close attention to the nutrients and serving sizes and follow your doctor’s advice. You can do this!