How to Understand Calorie Numbers on Food Packaging?
Can you believe two breakfast tarts wrapped in the same packaging are actually labeled on the box as two separate servings? While most people will unwittingly enjoy them both, when you’re finished reading this explanation, you’ll be able to wise up to the misleading labeling practices of many food manufacturers.
#1 Check The Serving Size
There is no doubt that “breakfast tarts” probably aren’t on the menu for people who are looking to get healthier, but they make a fantastic example of just how misleading nutrition labels can be. It’s a great reminder to read the fine print and always be sure to recalculate based on how much you’re actually consuming.
Even a bottled drink that may seem small may have a label saying it’s 2 or more servings. However, the calories listed on the label will always be per serving.
#2 Calculate The Real Nutrition Facts
If your breakfast tart is 100 calories per serving and there is two in a packet, you’re actually eating 200 calories. Plus, a lot more. In addition to checking the calories of what you’re eating, you should also check the carbs, fat, and protein count. Protein will help fill you up, and so will fat.
When it comes to carbs, a lot of packaged foods are considered “empty calories” because they simply aren’t healthy carbs. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the grams of sugar will be factored into the “total carbohydrates” count even though they’re listed separately.
Your next hint will be to read the ingredients list in full to search for added sugar and hidden ingredients that could make you change your mind about even the most healthy looking product.
#3 Read The Ingredients
Excessive dyes, flavorings, and preservatives are all a bad sign. It’s also bad if you’re seeing added sugars and other unhealthy additions that can pack in unnecessary calories. Whenever possible, opt for foods that are as minimally processed as possible. You can also look for do-it-yourself options to make them at home where you’ll be able to control what ingredients you add, and how much.
Finally, always make sure to check the labels of your favorite foods periodically. Manufacturers are known for shrinking serving sizes and also playing with the numbers. They may change up the recipe to try and lower the calorie count while adding in a harmful ingredient that you’d rather avoid.
At the end of the day, always read the label.