Reading Nutrition Facts Labels

Knowing how to read a nutrition facts label is a simple, but very important skill. Here are a few tips on how to properly read a nutrition label:

  • Look at serving sizes

The information that is on the nutritional label is based off a single serving. Pay attention to the servings per container and serving size. The typical serving size will be in measurements like cups, grams, ounces, and pieces.

  • Check the calories

The number of servings you eat will determine how many calories you consume. Everyone requires a different number of daily calories, and this number is based on someone’s age, gender, and activity level. You can visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov to find your specific calorie needs.

  • Nutrients

The nutrients at the bottom of the nutrition label are nutrients that improve our health. These nutrients include dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium. When reading a nutrition label, look for foods that have 10% or more in the %Daily Value column.

  • Limit these

Limiting fat, sodium, cholesterol, and added sugars are important. Eating to much of these items can increase the risk of disease like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

  • % Daily Value

This value is based on a 2,000-calorie diet. This allows someone to see if the nutrients in that particular food contribute to their daily intake. It also allows someone to see if that food has a high concentration of the items we want to limit. Someone’s %Daily Value may be higher or lower than what is on the nutrition label based on their caloric needs.

  • Ingredient’s list

The ingredients are listed on the nutritional facts label from the highest amount to the lowest amount. For example, if sugar is the first ingredient, that means sugar makes up most of the food. It is a good rule of thumb to stick with foods that have only a few ingredients and ingredients that you can actually pronounce! Some ingredients can be additives and fillers that we would be better off not consuming.

Let’s Build A Healthy Meal

Build Healthy Meal

Each meal is a building block in your healthy eating style. Make sure to include all the food groups throughout the day. Make fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods part of your daily meals and snacks. Also, limit added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Use the tips below to help meet your needs throughout the day.

  • Make half your plate veggies and fruits

Vegetables and fruits are full of nutrients that support good health. Choose fruits and red, orange, and dark-green vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

  • Include whole grains

Aim to make at least half your grains whole grains. Look for the words “100% whole grain/wheat” on the food label. Whole grains provide more nutrients, like fiber, than refined grains.

  • Don’t forget the dairy

Complete your meal with a cup of fat-free or low-fat milk. You will get the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk but fewer calories. Don’t drink milk? Try a soy beverage (soymilk) as your drink or include low-fat yogurt in your meal or snack.

  • Add lean protein

Choose protein foods such as lean beef, pork, chicken, or turkey, and eggs, nuts, beans, or tofu. Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.

  • Avoid extra fat

Using heavy gravies or sauces will add fat and calories to otherwise healthy choices. Try steamed broccoli with a sprinkling of low-fat parmesan cheese or a squeeze of lemon.

  • Get creative in the kitchen

Whether you are making a sandwich, a stir-fry, or a casserole, find ways to make them healthier. Try using less meat and cheese, which can be higher in saturated fat and sodium, and adding in more veggies that add new flavors and textures to your meals.

  • Take control of your food

Eat at home more often so you know exactly what you are eating. If you eat out, check and compare the nutrition information. Choose options that are lower in calories, saturated fat, and sodium.

  • Try new foods

Keep it interesting by picking out new foods you’ve never tried before, like mango, lentils, quinoa, kale, or sardines. You may find a new favorite! Trade fun and tasty recipes with friends or find them online.

  • Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way

Indulge in a naturally sweet dessert dish—fruit! Serve a fresh fruit salad or a fruit parfait made with yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top with cinnamon.

  • Everything you eat and drink matters

The right mix of foods in your meals and snacks can help you be healthier now and into the future. Turn small changes in how you eat into your MyPlate, MyWins.

For healthy recipes visit etfbrecipes.org.

National Nutrition Month 2022: Plan your meals each week!

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Follow these tips to help you know how to make a plan to eat a balanced diet.

Choose healthful recipes to make during the week

Keep MyPlate Recommendations in mind – choose meals that fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose whole grains for at least half your meals, vary your protein routine, and include low-fat and fat free dairy.

Use a grocery list to shop for nutritious foods

When you’re ready to go grocery shopping, having a plan will help you choose healthful foods, avoid impulse purchases, and stay within your budget. Use MyPlate Guidelines to help you create a grocery list:

  • Fruits – fresh, frozen, and fruits canned in 100% fruit juice.
  • Vegetables – fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables labeled “no sodium added” or “low sodium.”
  • Grains – looks for items with “whole wheat” or “whole grain” on the label. Look for items that have “whole wheat” or “whole wheat flour” as the first ingredient in the ingredient list. Compare products, and choose the one with more fiber and less added sugars.
  • Protein – choose fresh and frozen unprocessed skinless poultry, fish, seafood, lean pork, and lean beef. Choose canned meats and fish labeled “no sodium added” or “low sodium.”
  • Dairy – choose low-fat and fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese and calcium-fortified soymilk.
  • Condiments and oils – while this isn’t part of MyPlate Guidelines, condiments and oils are used in almost every dish. Choose condiments that are low in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Choose plant oils that are liquid at room temperature and are lower in saturated fats.

Make healthful food and drink choices when away from home

  • When dining out:
    • Look for nutrition information – many restaurants, especially chain restaurants, have calorie information listed next to the food item on the menu. Information on fat, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, added sugar, and protein should be available upon request or online.
    • Look for keywords – sometimes, restaurants don’t provide nutrition information. Words like “crunchy,” “crispy,” “battered,” “breaded,” “creamy,” “cheesy,” and “alfredo” all indicate that an item might be higher in calories and saturated fat. Words like “baked,” “grilled,” “roasted,” “steamed,” “al fresco,” and “marinara” indicate that an item might be lower in calories and a more healthful option.
    • Portions matter – restaurants often serve food in much larger portions that we need. Ask for a to-go box when you get your food, and immediately put half of it away for later to help prevent you from overeating.
  • At work or school:
    • Plan the night before – pack a balanced lunch and snacks to help you avoid unplanned eating out for lunch and snacking on unhealthy snacks when you get hungry in the afternoon.
    • Be prepared – keep single-serve packages of whole-grain crackers, fruit, peanut butter, soup, or tuna at your desk for a quick lunch.
    • Avoid mindless eating – keep snacks off your desk and hidden away to help prevent you from eating when you aren’t hungry.

National Nutrition Month 2022: Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

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Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, but only RDN’s have met the comprehensive standards established by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. RDN’s have a bachelor’s degree, are taught a specially designed nutrition curriculum, pass a national registration examination, and complete an extensive supervised internship. About half of all RDN’s have a graduate degree, and many have advanced certifications in specialized fields. RDN’s are the food and nutrition experts and can meet you where you’re at to help you achieve your goals.

Ask your doctor for a referral to an RDN

  • Many private insurers, state Medicaid plans, and Medicare cover visits for certain preventive services and health conditions with a referral from your physician.
  • Call your insurance provider and ask questions to find out what nutrition services are covered with your plan.
  • To find a RDN near you, go to https://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert or check with your local hospital, doctor, or insurance company.

Find an RDN who is specialized to serve your unique needs

  • When you have a chronic disease, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer, it can be hard to know what to eat. A RDN can help you with a personalized eating plan that includes the important nutrients to help you manage your condition.
  • When you have food allergies or sensitivities, a RDN can teach you how to read food labels, help you identify which ingredients to avoid, and help you find tasty substitutions to keep your diet balanced.
  • When you or your child are a picky eater, a RDN can help identify nutritional risks and help recommend strategies to help you or your child achieve a balanced diet.

Receive personal nutrition advice to meet your goals

  • Whether your goal is to slim down, lower your cholesterol, or to simply eat better, a RDN can help you avoid fad diets and can provide you with a sound, easy to follow plan that is tailored to you, your goals, and your lifestyle.
  • A RDN can help provide you with the best path from where you are now to where you want to be.

For recipes visit etfbrecipes.org.

National Nutrition Month 2022: Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day!

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March is National Nutrition Month®️, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants to help give everyone the tools to make informed food choices and develop healthful eating and physical activity habits for life. This year’s theme is to Celebrate a World of Flavors, and this week’s message is to:

Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day!

Follow these tips below to help you know how to eat a balanced diet in a mindful way.

Include healthful foods from all food groups – eating a balanced diet that includes all food groups is an easy way to help your body get the nutrients it needs.

  • Fruits – make half your plate fruits and vegetables! Choose fruit that is fresh, frozen,    dried, or canned in 100% fruit juice.
  • Vegetables – make half your plate fruits and vegetables! Choose vegetables that are fresh, frozen, or canned without added salt.
  • Grains – make half your grains whole grains, like oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, brown rice, and whole grain flours.
  • Protein – try different protein foods, like seafood, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, soy, eggs, and lean meats and poultry.
  • Dairy – choose low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, calcium-fortified soymilk, and cheese.

Learn how to read Nutrition Facts Panels

  • First, look at the servings per container and the serving size. All information on the food label is based on the serving size, so if you eat more than the serving size, you’re getting more of the nutrients listed.
  • For one serving of food, try to limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and added sugars to less than 5% of the daily value.
  • For one serving of food, try to aim for at least 20% of the daily value for vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Check the ingredient list for whole grains and hidden sources of trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils) and sugar (ingredients that end in -ose, honey, and corn sweeteners).

Incorporate your favorite cultural foods and traditions

  • Cook with others – learn about cooking different traditional or regional foods from others who use authentic recipes and ingredients and explore ways to improve the nutrition of some of your own family favorites.
  • Add a touch of spice – combinations of herbs and spices often remind us of dishes from our own heritage or our favorite ethnic food. Add flavor to meals with herbs and spices, such as chili, garlic, ginger, basil, oregano, curry, or cilantro, which can replace salt and saturated fat.
  • Make smart choices when dining out – eating out offers tempting new dishes that make it easy to overeat. Choose lower calorie dishes, such as stir fries, kabobs, or whole-wheat pastas with tomato sauce. Split a dish or ask for a take-home container at the start of a meal to save part of what’s served on your plate.
  • All types of foods fit on MyPlate – MyPlate is designed to remind Americans to eat healthfully, using foods from the food groups. The MyPlate website provides practical information, tips, tools, and recipes that will help you build a healthier diet.

For healthy recipes visit etfbrecipes.org.