6 Reasons to Read Food Nutrition Labels

The Spread

April 22, 2022

"What you see is what you get" couldn't be further from the truth when it comes to the food we put on our table. Most of us suffer from mild cases of involuntary health anxiety, notably through the courtesy of the COVID-19 era. And it's not all that bad. We have finally stopped for a brief moment. Not to smell the roses but to listen to the beat of our bodies. Supplements and vitamins have become conditioned reflexes - first thing in the morning and the last thing we taste before going to bed. NutriBullet dawns and microwave nights. This is the breakneck speed we're traveling. But do we ever stop to question the fuel that gets us through the day and what it does to our non-metaphysical temples? Here are the six reasons to read food nutrition labels. Buckle up.


Render me useless, food label

If you're not a certified nutritionist and don't have one for a friend or at least an acquaintance, staring at your nutrition label at a supermarket can feel like standing before Mona Lisa in Louvre. We've all seen it, but nobody knows what she's thinking, right? That's the whole charm. Food labels are the same. Nobody knows what's behind the abstract thought of its ingredients. That can be the case; if you don't know what to look for.


1. It helps you understand your fats

You know that warm feeling, right before you enter R.E.M., when you say to yourself, "That's it, tomorrow's going to be different; I'm going to get up, have a healthy breakfast, do yoga before work, hit the gym after, get that kale on my way ba-" and GONE. As much as you have looked forward to making your trail mix cookies, you end up with Pepperidge Farm in your hand, roaming around a deli. Nobody's judging; we all do it.

No to:

Unfortunately, store-bought cookies and other goodies are well endowed with trans fat, the kind that leads to cardiovascular disease, diabetes type 2, potential stroke, and the jolly bunch. Keep an eye on saturated fat and total fat stats, too. If it's within your daily limit (55 -85 gr per day), you're good to go. Stay clear from "partially hydrogenated fat," as it screams high trans fat levels.

Yes to:

Unsaturated fat. Nuts, avocado, olives, salmon, and some more nuts. Cardio health. Oh, and nuts can help you lose weight, too.


 World map shape trail mix depicts six reasons to read food nutrition labels

Know the right type of fat to consume when purchasing food.


2. Know when you're being sugarcoated

Literally. The average American consumes +/- 94 grams of sugar each day, more than double the recommended amount. Finding the product with less than 10 gr per serving might be tricky, but that's the healthy criteria when shopping for treats. Stay on your toes, though; the product might claim there is no added sugar per se, but there are myriad ways to say sugar: high fructose corn syrup, molasses, lactose, dextran, fructose, glucose, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, malt syrup, the list is a Shakespearean sonnet. Any sweetener is a red flag.


3. Saying NO to pseudo-healthy ingredients

Oh, this is definitely one of the six reasons to read food nutrition labels. We as humans have an inherent need to believe; we are gullible. It can be adorable, but it also makes us the ideal victim of the food packaging tales. We say - we don't buy it!

  • Gluten-free is by no means a one-size-fits-all friend. It only implies that the product doesn't contain wheat, rye, spelt, and barley. Check the food label for sugar and fats.
  • Multigrain is nothing more than a grain mash-up; refined grains don't necessarily make a healthy product.
  • Light alternatives are often diluted, offering nothing substantially beneficial for your health. Check the label to see if sugar or any other unhealthy ingredient has been added to compensate for the lack of flavor.
  • Organic labels don't necessarily equal healthy ingredients. Organic sugar will always be just sugar, no matter how organic.
  • "Natural" is often far-fetched. It could simply indicate that the manufacturer also manages other natural products, like oranges or potatoes. They're just under the same roof. Nothing really in common.
  • "Contains whole grains" - you know when you read a label that says "may contain traces of nuts"? You get the picture.

 gluten-free ice cream stand

One of the six reasons to read food nutrition labels is knowing what your body is actually absorbing.


4. Know your calories

Keeping track of our calorie intake proves almost impossible, given the individual tempo and unforeseen circumstances. It can especially be difficult to look after your health if you’re, for example, in the process of moving. You need to pay attention to your diet and keep track of your daily calories. That's where the "serving size" comes in as a helping hand. It's your compass. If you are consuming triple the amount of the serving size, that's calories X 3 for you. Treadmill hour!


5. Calm your sodium

An average American consumes +/- 3,400 mg of sodium per day. Now, that's a lot of salt. Dietitians recommend sodium limit intake to less than 2,300 - approximately one teaspoon of salt per day. Reading your food labels may make all the difference regarding your cardiovascular health. Food label readers' club! Join now; love your heart.


6. Calculate your protein

Whether you're Alexander the Great or a cardigan knitter, our muscles depend on this indispensable micronutrient. Post-workout snacks or a healthy meal, protein keeps our bodies moving and our muscle tissue blanketed. A regular meal should contain 30 grams of protein, so pay close attention to your food labels if you're fishing for dinner in the freezer aisle. If you're shopping for a snack (10 gr recommended), you should probably avoid crisps and go straight for a healthy protein snack, like nuts or Nuts ’N More snack packs.


Protein shake bowl on table

Reading your food labels helps you calculate the necessary protein intake.


It's important

There are more than six reasons to read food nutrition labels. But, this one is the most important: your overall health. We live in an age where mass production thrives, and our health seems to matter less than ever before. Let's take responsibility for "the self." Eating healthy is the least we can do.