Food Labels

What’s in YOUR Food?

Food labels, self-improvement, healthy diet plan, diet plans, healthy recipes

The food Industry is worth billions of dollars and spends a good portion of its budget on advertising.

Advertising and Marketing plays a tremendous role in influencing how you spend your money and what food ends up in your refrigerator. And let’s face it, they do a pretty good job.

With millions of dollars in their marketing purse they can easily spin an alluring web for the unsuspecting consumer to get weaved into.

One man’s poison is another man’s cure pretty much plays out on the current epidemic of obesity. As profits soar for the unhealthy food industry, the casualties are left behind in their track.

It is an unfortunate relationship given that the food industry usually winds up the winner, in control, pulling the shots and billions in their bank account!

At Sharing Self-Improvement you can begin to take control of this unhealthy relationship and become empowered.

One of this first steps in doing so is learning how to read food labels. Being informed means you can make better choices and change what goes in to your shopping basket.

Since 1994 the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required nutritional information to be placed on most food packaging. In the U.K the requirement is governed by the Food Standard Industry (FSA).

You will see this information as Nutritional Facts printed somewhere on the outside of packaged foods.

nutrition facts-2

Most nutrients are measured in grams (g) and the very tiny measurement of food is measured in milligrams (mg).

There are 1000 milligrams in 1 gram.

Other information of the label is given as a per cent and is the daily per cent required for a healthy diet. It is represented as the % Daily Value on the right of the label and is useful to help you meet your daily goal for a particular food. The per cent value is based on an adult consuming 2000 calories per day.


Food contains fatproteincarbohydrate and fibre along with minerals and vitamins. The Nutrition Facts food label provides this information along with the total amount of calories, sodiumsugars and further lists the ingredients contained in the food. The ingredient list is very important as it is listed in order starting with the food there is most of and ending with the food it contains least of.

Bare this in mind and limit foods that mention sugar in the first few ingredients which means the food is very sugary. Look out for the sugars’ ‘AKA’ as high fructose corn syrup, corn sugar, sucrose, and glucose.

Another food in the ingredient list which you should try to avoid is hydrogenated oil and partially hydrogenated oils particularly when they are listed first, second or third because they are high in trans fat.

The FDA is proposing to update the Nutritional Facts label on packaged food.  The information prepared on this page may soon be out of date.  Click here to stay informed and updated.

I found this fab app by Fooducate to help with your food choice.  They use a scientific algorithm to grade their extensive food database, defintely worth checking out.

Serving Size

The information about the serving size is listed at the top of the Nutritional Facts label. There are two parts to the serving information.

Serving Size – this tells you the size of each serving and could be a number or a measurement. In the above example the number is 2 or it could also be given as ½ cup (120 ml).

Serving per Container – is pretty self-explanatory and tells you how many servings in the entire package or tin.

So if you’re feeling particularly naughty and decide to eat the whole packet of crackers using the above example, you’ve just eaten 21 servings!

Calories (kilojoules) and Fat from Calories

Calories can come from carbohydratesprotein or fat. The number of calories in a single serving of food is listed on the left of the label and tells you the amount of energy in the food.

Foods high in calories are the ones to avoid as part of your weight loss programme and the aim is to burn more calories than you consume. Calories should also be minimised as a way of optimising your health and well-being.

Compare labels and opt for food lower in calories.

Total Fat

Food labels, self-improvement, healthy diet plan, diet plans, healthy recipes

Total fats tell you how much fat is in the food serving. The food label will list the good fats and the bad fats like saturated and trans fat. Use this mantra to help you choose: ‘if it’s trans fat, put it back’! Simple but effective.

The cholesterol in food can contribute to increased blood cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease so avoid food high in cholesterol.

Fat is calorie-dense and contains twice the calories of carbohydrates or protein. Keep a close eye on your fat consumption even the good mono and poly unsaturated fat found in nuts and seeds.

There are no official recommended intake for fat but a rough guideline suggests you aim for around 30g of the total calories you consume to be in the form of fat. This translates to 65 grams of fat for a woman on a 2000 calorie per day diet and 85 grams for a man on a 2500 calorie per day diet. If you are a female on a weight loss programme you should aim for a fat intake of 40g on a 1200 calorie per day diet. Men on a weight loss programme of 1500 calories per day should aim for 50g of fat.

Because not all fat is created equally balance use the following as a guideline to maintain a healthy balance:

Less than 10% of your daily calories from Saturated Fat (less than 22 grams)

No more than 10% of your daily calories from Polyunsaturated Fat (less than 22 grams)

Between 10 to 15% of your daily calories from Monounsaturated Fat (25 to 33 grams)

Sodium (Salt)

Food labels, self-improvement, healthy diet plan, diet plans, healthy recipes

Too much of our diet is high in sodium which is hidden in foods like cheese, salad dressing, canned food and other packaged or processed food.

Check before you invest and opt for foods with less sodium. Exchange regular table salt which is very high in sodium for Himalayan Pink Crystal Sea Salt. It is a pure hand minded salt derived from ancient sea salt deposits and contains 84 minerals some of which play a major role in promoting good health.

Healthy adults should aim for less than 2300mg of salt per day. If you have high blood pressure it may be helpful to eat even less.

Use organic herb and spices to add flavour without the vices! (another mantra perhaps?!) 🙂

Total Carbohydrates and Sugar

Food labels, self-improvement, healthy diet plan, diet plans, healthy recipes

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy.Sugar from carbohydrates and natural sugars that are not immediately used for energy are converted by the body into glucose and then triglycerides. High triglycerides can increase your risk of heart disease. The food label lists the amount of carbohydrates in one serving of food.

The total carbohydrates on the food label include sugar, complex carbohydrates and fibre. To get a more accurate estimate of the carbohydrate content alone, subtract half the fibre grams from the total grams of carbohydrate. The calculation will only work when the fibre per serving is more than 5 grams.

The carbohydrate information is very useful for weight loss and is better than looking at the grams of sugar alone. Looking only at the grams of sugar may result in you excluding nutritious foods such as fruit because the label shows it as high in sugar. Also food that contains no natural or added sugar like cereals or grains are high in carbohydrates therefore should not be overeaten.

Women should limit their daily intake of sugar to 25 grams or 6 teaspoons or less

Men should limit their daily intake of sugar to 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons or less.


Food labels, self-improvement, healthy diet plan, diet plans, healthy recipes

The fibre part of the plant food is not digested (for the most part) but is such a crucial part of a healthy diet. Dried beansfruitvegetables and grains are good sources of fibre.

The recommended daily intake for fibre is 25 to 30 grams.

Checking the food label for grams of carbohydrate and calories is an excellent way to support weight management. But also be aware of sugar alcohols known as polyols, which although have fewer calories than sugar and starches are not necessarily low in carbohydrates or calories. Polyols which include sorbitol, xylitol and mannitol can be detrimental to your weight loss programme if not eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet plan.

Many sugar free foods though they may seem appealing in your arsenal of weight loss foods, can contain an even higher count of calories and carbohydrates. These foods can be misleading because although the sugar has been removed the replacement alternative such as saturated fat and aspartame are actually more dangerous to your weight loss and health.

Choosing foods with small amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium but high in fibre is a major plus for a healthy diet.

Click here for a great resource to help you further with food labels and everything you need to know.  You’ll love it!

Next Page → The Process of Fat Burning

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