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March 10, 2014

AMEEN: Learning about food label lingo

Eating healthy is hard to do. The age-old principle of “everything in moderation” is great in theory, but as it turns out, the cookies, potato chips, and other treats that we all enjoy are addictive! How do you stop at just one? The problem is, the foods we often enjoy eating don’t provide us with the nutrition that we really need.

How do we know this? Well, it’s printed on the food label. You know, that thing printed on the back of most packages that has lots of numbers, percentages, and words that talk about servings, nutrients, and vitamins. We know that it can be hard to read and understand, but it contains important information that we believe you should know, so that you can make the best food choices for your family.

Many people get too much fat and salt (also known as sodium) and not enough fiber from the foods they commonly eat. The “Nutrition Facts” on food labels can help you shop for healthy foods. We’ll help you make sense of the numbers… How you use the labels is up to you. For easy reference, we’ll use a box of macaroni and cheese to break down the food label for one food you may know well and use often.

Serving size: Serving size is how much you’re supposed to eat. All the facts on the label are based on the serving size. Servings for different brands of the same food are the same size. For example, all brands of macaroni and cheese list a serving as “1 cup.” This makes it easier for you as a consumer to compare brands.

Servings per container: Servings per container tells you how many servings are in this box. That’s where it can be tricky. Have you ever eaten an entire box of macaroni and cheese … by yourself? Then you’ve eaten enough food to feed a family of four – there are four servings in each box brand of macaroni and cheese dinners. That’s more than you thought, right?

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