In a joint effort between the Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC), Health Canada, Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG), the Nutrition Facts Education Campaign (NFEC) ~ of which I am participating in and receiving compensation for ~ is designed to increase Canadians’ awareness, use and understanding of the Serving Size and % Daily Value (% DV), on the Nutrition Facts table (NFt), to help them make informed food choices for their families.
The Nutrition Facts table on the side of your cereal box isn’t just there to keep you entertained while you eat your breakfast… it holds very important information about the levels of nutrition you’re getting from your choice of food.
Have you ever actually paid attention to what it says?! You can’t miss them, they’re on every single packaged food item you can find! Have you noticed that not all serving sizes listed are the same? Did you wonder what the % of Daily Value meant?
I spent last summer reading these labels. After my dad’s diagnosis with cancer, proper nutrition suddenly became the most important factor in our meal planning. He had to watch every little thing he ate. We had to find items with zero or low amounts of sodium and sugar and high levels of fibre and protein.
Don’t wait until you don’t have a choice…
Here are three quick steps that help focus on the facts and show you how to read a Nutrition Facts table:
#1) Start with SERVING SIZE
Look at the amount of food. Compare this to the amount you actually eat.
Serving size is not necessarily the suggested quantity of food you should eat. The serving size tells you the quantity of food used to calculate the numbers in the nutrition facts table.
By checking a product’s serving size, you can:
- understand how much of a nutrient you are eating
- compare calories and nutrients between 2 similar packaged food products
- compare it to the amount you actually eat
#2) Use the % DAILY VALUE
Read the % DV (Daily Value). The serving size has a little or a lot of a nutrient.
The % DV is found on the right-hand side of a nutrition facts table. It is a guide to help you make informed food choices. It shows you if the serving size has a little or a lot of a nutrient:
- 5% DV or less is a little
- 15% DV or more is a lot
#3) Look at a NUTRIENT
Let this help you make a better choice for you and your family. For example… as a family, we look for items with less saturated and trans fats and because I have digestive issues… I look for packaged foods with more fibre. Do you have a special diet which requires you to eat less sodium? Read the nutrients list to make an informed food choice.
To get the biggest bang for your nutrient buck… compare the nutrient facts of your favourite products.
In order to do this in the most effective way, make sure you’re comparing “apples to apples” in the serving size department. Next step is to compare the % DV between the two products. For example, take these two soups below:
Soup A vs Soup B
Ultimately, what you chose to put into your grocery cart and feed your family is up to you, all I ask is that you make the most informed choice you can. There is an old saying, “You are what you eat” and I believe it is true. There are consequences of our choices, we can’t keep putting just anything into our bellies. How and what we eat affects our whole being!
As a family, I know we need to eat smarter. It’s up to me as the primary shopper, and the one who prepares most of the meals, to fully understand this, but it’s also my responsibility to make sure my kids fully grasp it as well. I am raising four kids here and in just a few short years they’ll be on their own, making their own food choices. What they chose to eat in the future, largely rests on the choices I make today.
Do you know what you’re eating?
Next time you go shopping, I challenge you to carve in an extra 30 minutes into your trip. Take the time to read the nutrient facts table on the packaged items before you put them in your cart. See if there’s a similar food product that is a better choice for you and your family.
More information regarding Nutrition Facts can be found on the Canadian government’s Healthy Canadians website. Follow along on social media using the hashtag #FocusontheFacts to share tips and learn facts on health and safety topics, such as the nutrition facts table.
Enter to win a $100 gift card by filling out the Rafflecopter form below, contest ends at 11:59pm EST on March 31, 2016. Open to my Canadian readers, with the exception of those in Quebec.
- Participating retailers for the grocery gift card are:
- Federated Coop