In the first article on this series, Children’s nutrition a current hot topic among parents was covered, and some practical ideas were provided to empower parental control over their children’s eating habits. One of the biggest misconceptions is that reading the FDA-mandated Nutrition Facts Labels promotes healthy food consumption. This is both true and false – especially when parents shop for their kids.
Remember, what children eat needs a balance with how much they consume. It should be fun for children to eat (and adults too), however, specific attention needs to be paid to Nutrition Facts Labels. Otherwise, excessive consumption could sabotage even the most well-intentioned nutrition plan.
Consider the following sample Nutrition Facts Labels:
Serving Size: 2oz
Servings Per Container: 1
Total Fat <1g
Saturated Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 17g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Serving Size: 1/2 Cup
Servings Per Container: 8
Total Fat 14g
Saturated Fat 9g
Total Carbohydrate 19g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Serving Size: 1oz
Servings in Bag: 4
Total Fat 11g
Saturated Fat 3g
Total Carbohydrate 14g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Here are some pointers on how to read labels: Label 1 shows a serving size of 2 ounces, and it goes on to list calories, fat, cholesterol, etc. Likewise Labels 2 and 3 list those same items. Pay close attention to the most overlooked bit of information on these labels: Servings. These may be servings per container, or in a bag, etc. The issue is easiest identified in Label 3; how often has someone eaten a bag of potato chips believing that the information on the label listed EVERYTHING consumed? In fact, if someone were to eat the contents of the bag identified in Label 3, the values would need to be multiplied by FOUR to properly calculate the nutritional information. Here’s what you need to pay attention to:
- Serving size – portion control is key
- Servings per – this is the big “gotcha”
- Realize that %DV (Daily Values) is ALWAYS based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet. The actual daily consumption requirements vary greatly by individual.
Once you know how to read labels, you can shop with confidence for you and your kids.
In the next article some of the food combinations that are good for kids and which ones aren’t quite as good are covered. Until then, take a stance to be healthier for you and your kids.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Consumer Information Web Site: http://www.fda.gov/food/labelingnutrition/consumerinformation/ucm078889.htm