Food Label Reading

Step 1: Serving Size

Look at the serving size and servings per container. All of the information below is related to the portion for 1 serving.  Looking at the example, if you eat 10 crackers you should multiply all of the nutritional information by 2 because a serving size is 5 crackers.              <!–split–>

Step 2: Calories

As a general rule, your meals should range from 300-600 calories and snacks should be between 100-150 calories.  Looking at the example, 10 crackers would be 160 calories.

Step 3: % Daily Value

The %DV is the percentage of the listed nutrition information that you should consume daily based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This calorie level is not right for everyone so be sure to calculate what is best for you.

Step 4: Fat Total

Fat includes harmful and beneficial fats. Saturated fat and trans fat are the harmful fats. Aim for no more than 3 grams of saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat per meal.

Step 5: Cholesterol Dietary

Cholesterol is found only in animal fats. Consume 300 mg or less per day. Step 6: Sodium Table salt = sodium chloride. Consume less than 2,300 mg sodium per day. One teaspoon of salt is equal to 2,300 mg sodium. When comparing food  labels, try to choose foods with 140 mg of sodium or less.

Step 7: Total Carbohydrate

Total carbohydrate includes sugar, fiber and starch. Almost all carbohydrate is formed into glucose (sugar) during digestion, which can accumulate in the blood in someone with diabetes. One serving of carbohydrate (or “carb choice”) is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrate. When reading a label, divide the grams of total carbohydrate by 15 to know how many carb choices you are eating in ONE serving of that product. Be sure to multiply that number by the number of servings you may be consuming. People with diabetes should try to eat no more than 45-60 grams or 3-4 carb choices at a meal.

Step 8: Fiber

A good source of dietary fiber contains 3 or more grams per serving. Try to get 25-35 grams of fiber per day.

Step 9: Protein

A good source of protein is 4 grams or more. If it is less than 4 grams, you should add another source of protein to your meal.

Step 10: Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are listed at the bottom of the label. They may be naturally occurring or added to the food.

Step 11: Ingredients

Ingredients are found alongside the nutrition facts. The ingredients are listed by quantity, from highest to lowest.

—  Kara Ade, Parish Nurse