How to read food labels

A healthy diet is fundamental in your treatment plan. But how can you know what you are eating? Reading food labels is a recommendation that should become integrated into your daily routine, or at least whenever you are eating something which you are not familiar with. This can help you make good choices.

What should you look for first?
Pay attention at the list of ingredients. Remember that the list of ingredient is in a decreasing order by weight. The heaviest ingredient is the first and so on.

What should you choose?
Go for ingredients like whole-wheat flour, soy and oats, or monounsaturated fats such as olive, canola or peanut oils. These ingredients are good for your hearth too. You should also choose foods that are high in fiber. If an item has more than 5 grams of fiber you can subtract half of this from your counting of carbohydrates since fiber allows for better absorption of carbohydrates.

What should you avoid?
Try avoiding ingredients such as hydrogenated oil (or partially hydrogenated).

How to pay attention to carbohydrates?
Reading food labels is very important when it comes to calculating the carbohydrates in your eating plan. You should evaluate the grams of carbohydrates in total, not just the sugar.

What should you pay attention to?
Some extra labels such as “sugar-free” or “fat-free” may be misleading. Sugar-free does not necessarily mean less carbohydrates, so you should pay attention to the whole of the nutrition facts. Similarly fat-free food can be rich in carbohydrates. Therefore, you should compare labels before making a choice.

Be aware also that products with sugar alcohols (sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol) contain carbohydrates as well.

Remember to calculate…
The labels are written based on serving sizes. Pay attention to them and to the ones of your eating plan. Remember to double the calories, fat, carbohydrate, proteins and others if you double the serving.

Another useful piece of information is the daily value. The percentage is based on a 2000 calories per day diet. This may help you compare the food with the daily recommendations.

You have to set your own goals with your doctor and dietitian. Knowing how to read food labels will give you more chances to choose what you eat in a correct way.