If you’re trying to be healthier or just more conscious of the food you’re eating, you’ve likely tried to make reading food labels a greater habit. But while most people can physically read the label, it’s much more challenging to actually know what you’re reading means. Especially when food companies as often try to skew their information in a more positive light, it can be difficult to actually understand what it is that the food label is saying. So to help make this a little easier on you, here are three tips to implement when reading food labels.
Check The Serving Size First
Before you can really understand anything else about a food label, you first need to see what the service size is. While you might think that the serving size would be obvious, you may be surprised to see what the actual recommended serving size might be. According to Health.gov, the serving size will also tell you how many calories are in that serving size. This will allow you to compare whether or not the amount of calories you’re consuming is actually appropriate for the serving size. For example, if you see that a bag of chips has a label that says it’s 220 calories but the serving size is only eight chips, you may not think this food is worth that many calories for so little food.
Know What “Light” Means
Another trick to reading food labels or just labels on packaging in general is knowing what certain terms mean or are allowed to mean. Keep in mind that just because something says it’s organic or low in fat may not mean exactly what you think it’s claiming to be. For example, Everyday Health shares that saying something is “light” means that it has a third fewer calories or half the fat or salt of its non-light counterpart. Depending on what you’re concerned about, be it calories or fat or salt, the food you think is healthier for you may not be healthier in the way you’re hoping.
Read The Ingredient List
To ensure that you’re eating the healthiest of foods and not just processed foods, Cynthia Sass, a contributor to Shape.com, advises that you always read the ingredient list on the food labels. If the ingredients include food or additives that you know of and understand and could even put together yourself, that’s a good sign that that food is healthy and good for you. On the other hand, if you don’t recognize any of the foods listed, you might want to think twice before buying and consuming this food.
If you need a little assistance when reading food labels, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you use these labels effectively.