WHY it’s so important to read Nutrition Fact food label

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This is a transcription of Neily on Nutrition’s YouTube video posted last June about nutrition fact food labels. To watch the video click here or scroll to the end of this post.

WHY it’s so important to read food labels

I was at one of those big-box technology stores not long ago standing in line. There were rows and rows of point of purchase items that are meant for you to buy them, impulse buys. While I was awaiting my turn I noticed this gentleman in front of me—looked like he was with his daughter. He probably had no intention of buying but he did—this energy mix, that was just there among many other things. He picked up one of the healthier things there. I could just imagine he might have driven home with his daughter, opened it up and had a few handfuls.close up of trail mix neily pic 3.30.13

So I couldn’t help getting up there, picking one (energy mix package) up, looking at it and thinking— this will make a good video. I wanted to talk about portions. (And how misleading they can be.)

The first thing you want to look at is what IS a portion? In this case—one-quarter of a cup. I will show you what that looks like in just a minute but a quarter of a cup is a portion (about 1oz).

Nutrition Fact Food Label

Trail mix label - May 2012 - 28 portions

Then look at how many servings are in a package. That is the second thing you want to look at. No, this is not one serving (holding up the entire bag). Although for some people, it might be. So looking at the number of servings—how many do you think are in this package? 10, 20, 30? there are 28 servings in this package. At 120 calories each, I’ll do the math for you—3,360 calories.

Not that you would eat the whole thing, but somebody might. Just a couple of handfuls can add up to the caloric budget for the day. They might be healthier calories than something else, like a chocolate bar. But, still, it can add up.

nutrition fact food labelWhat does a quarter of cup look like? Just roughly about a handful. A smaller package, like this, is a little more reasonable but still 11 servings in this package. Each a quarter of a cup. This actually has 150 calories per serving, so 1,650 calories for the bag.

measure cups with quarter cup trail mix

This is another package. I think this is the smallest one I could get. How many servings in this? One serving? No, not one serving, six servings! Six at 120 calories, 720 calories for this package.

The point is, you have to be really careful about what you are buying. Not that they are bad foods but the portions can really get out of control. So read your label, look at the portion size, see how many portions and eat appropriately.

I recommend not to open the package until you get home, then get one of these small snack baggies. They are great for portion control. And you have your budget for the day.

ziploc box of snack baggies Ziploc baggie empty

Watch your portions! As I like to say, downsize portion size and supersize common sense.


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  1. Love nuts but eat too many? Here's a slimmed down way to eat! Neily's Trail Mix | Neily on Nutrition - Jennifer Neily - Dallas Registered Dietitian Nutritionist - […] Nuts are an excellent snack. But at 200 calories per ¼ cup they can be a challenge to portion…
  2. Neily's Rockin' Health Trail Mix - You'll love it! - Neily on Nutrition - Jennifer Neily - Dallas Registered Dietitian Nutritionist - […] One way to dilute the caloric density of nuts is to mix with a less caloric product. Trail mix…

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