Snack Attack & Label Reading 101: Notes from Nutrition Class: February 12, 2014

Label Reading 101


What do you look at when you read food labels??  Do your eyes shoot straight for how many calories are contained within?  Do you check the fat content?  While ALL things on food labels are of interest to me, I must say that calories and fat are at the bottom of that list.  I am not an avid calorie or fat counter, as all calories and fats are NOT created equal.  It all depends on where they are coming from and how accessible they are for your body to break down and use as energy and fuel.  The first thing I look at on a food label is the serving size.  This way I am prepared to do any math necessary when checking out the quantities listed.  

If I look at a container that has 4 servings, then when I read the total grams of carbohydrate as 12g, I need to do the math so I can see that there are actually 4 x 12 = 48 grams of carbs.  Kind of a big difference, and most likely all from sugar!  Sometimes serving size makes sense in regards to how much of a product you will be using at one time, but this is not always the case.  The serving size on a can of coke, for example, is 2.5 servings.  When is the last time you divided a 12oz. coke into 2.5 cups to drink on 2.5 different occasions?  What you see on the coke label is 17g of sugar... PER SERVING.  Multiply that by 2.5 and you actually have 42.5 grams of sugar!  

Here is my list of AVOID at all cost food additives... If you see these on a food label, throw it straight away!!  

  1. Hydrogenated/Trans Fats & Oils
  2. Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame, Splenda.. all the blue, pink, and yellow packages)
  3. Artificial Colors & Flavors
  4. High Fructose Corn Syrup, Agave Syrup.. Highly processed sweeteners
  5. Meat from animals raised in cages pumped with hormones & antibiotics 
  6. Words you CAN'T pronounce!!!

Try on these 3 basic rules of thumb to help navigate food labels: 

  1. If there is sugar in the first 3 ingredients.. Don't eat it!!
  2. No labels with more than 5 ingredients (can start with no more than 10 :)
  3. If you can't pronounce it, you shouldn't put it in your mouth!  


I'm sure there are some out there familiar with the term 'Hangry'.   For those of you who are not, it is a term used to describe a big chunk of the population who get angry when they are hungry... Hence, Hangry!  

All bets are off when we are hungry.  It is a situation that you should always be prepared for as you scurry about your day.  I pack healthy yummy snacks EVERYWHERE... In my purse, in my car, in my friends car!  I also like to keep enough around to share, as I am someone who is rarely alone when I eat :)  I have to keep in mind that the snacks I choose to keep around cannot be super perishable.  Apples, tangerines and hard fruits keep really well as do almonds, cashews and almost all NUTS.  Proteins are a bit trickier, but it is easy to get a small insulated cooler with a cold pack so you can carry along some hard boiled eggs, or ready to eat chicken, or fish.  

On the home front, an easy trick I use is to always have pre-cooked grains in my fridge ready to eat or toss in a pan to sautee with onions, garlic and spices.  It is also super convenient to have fruits & veggies pre-cut and ready for cooking or on-the-go snacking.     


Recipes Included.. Check out 'Recipes' on the Nav Bar: 

  • Pumpkin Sunflower Seed Pate
  • Super Power Greens Juice