Food labels can be tricky.
And if you have a hard time understanding what you are reading on food labels, you’re not alone.
Many products use their food labels to lure customers into buying, and sometimes, the health claims they make are false.
With consumers rapidly becoming more health conscious than ever before, food manufacturers continue to come up with newer ways to attract them.
And sadly, some manufacturers have resorted to tricking people by providing misleading information.
This is why it’s so important for you to know how to read a food label to make sure you are making healthy eating choices.
Here are a few tips that can help you differentiate a misleading label from a food item that’s truly healthy:
1. Do Not Believe the Front Label
The front label is often the only thing that consumers read to determine if they should purchase an item. And food manufacturers know this.
This is why many provide false, incomplete, or misleading information on the front label.
The first step of making healthier eating choices is to stop trusting what’s written on the front label of a food item.
Don’t fall prey to terms like “all-natural,” “no artificial flavors,” “no trans-fat,” “no added sugar,” “low calorie,” or “low fat.”
2. Carefully Read the Ingredient List
Now that you know the front labels aren’t to be trusted, your next step is to read the ingredient list on the back.
But, reading the ingredient list won’t help if you don’t know what to look for.
Since ingredients are listed in the order of the highest food content to the lowest food content, healthcare experts suggest that you always read the first three ingredients since they make up most of the ingredients contained in the food.
If the first three ingredients are healthy, like “protein”, you’re good to go.
But, if they include things like “hydrogenated oils,” “sugar,” or “salt”, put it back on the shelf.
Another tip that can help you read a food label is to look at the length of the ingredient list. The longer the list, the unhealthier the food is likely to be.
3. Check Out the Serving Size
A common mistake that even conscious consumers make is that they simply read the number of calories written on the nutrition label.
However, they forget to check the serving size.
When a box of Cheerios states that it contains 106 calories, that means Cheerios contains 106 calories per serving.
That means just 1 cup of Cheerios is 106 calories.
Unfortunately, most people pour themselves a big bowl of Cheerios, thinking that they only consumed 106 calories. However, in reality, they probably consumed at least twice that much.
So, make sure that you understand how many calories are in each serving.
While there are strict regulations and food labeling requirements, they are very complex and difficult to understand by the average consumer. Food companies take advantage of this situation and deceive customers by using fancy words and beautiful pictures.
Remember the simple tips discussed above the next time you go to the grocery store to make sure that you are not being tricked.