Family Nutrition & Health
March is National Nutrition Month
Make informed food choices and develop sound eating habits by knowing how to read facts on labels, and how to adjust for your energy needs.
How and how much – these are two important factors in the patterns you set for healthy eating. All foods can fit within this pattern, if consumed in moderation and within the appropriate portion size, and when combined with physical activity. Make diet choices based on your individual preferences, genetic background, personal health status and food availability.
On reading the Nutritional Facts panel
Know the Serving Size
• One serving may be one cup or one tablespoon – always measure the serving size onto your plate
• If the serving size is one cup and you eat two cups, you are getting twice the calories, fat and other nutrients listed on the label
• Know how many calories are in a single serving and the number of calories from fat for your healthy diet
Know the number of servings in the package
• Helpful hint: Separate the package into servings once it is open to help with self-control
• If there are 5 servings and you eat the whole package, you are getting 5 times the calories and fat
Check the ingredient list
• Foods with more than one ingredient must have an ingredient list on the label
• Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight
• Those in the largest amounts are listed first
• Avoid foods with particular ingredients if you know you have sensitivities to them
Daily Values are listed as average levels
• Levels of nutrients are based on a person eating 2,000 calories a day
• You may need more or less than 2,000 calories per day
• You may need more or less than 100 percent of the daily value for some nutrients
• The listed daily value percentages are for the entire day, not just one meal or snack
• 5 percent or less DV is low
• Aim low in total fat, cholesterol and sodium
• Total fat includes saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fat
• 20 percent or more is high
• Aim high in vitamins, minerals and fiber
• Fruits and vegetables have more of these nutrients
• Daily values for carbohydrates may break down the sugars, starches and fiber as part of the total value
• Not everything is given a Daily Value on the label
• Protein is not listed as DV since most people get more than 100%
Need more help?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.
• The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.
• To locate a registered dietitian in your area, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at www.eatright.org.
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