Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label

In 2016, the FDA announced they were launching a new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods. The new label will make nutritional information clearer and easier for consumers to understand. Manufacturers depending on their annual food sales have from between 2020 to 2021 to change their labels, so you will see both label versions for a while. “Very soon, very soon you will no longer need a microscope, a calculator or a degree in nutrition to figure out whether the food you’re buying is actually good for our kids,” – Michelle Obama. The former 1st lady’s LETS MOVE! campaign along with FDA finally agreed on a new and improved US food label system coming to together to realize that after 20 years of the same labels science and doctors have  learned a lot about health and nutrition. While this a great leap forward in having more information about the foods you consume, labels and label terminology can still be confusing and down right miss leading. I have broken down some of the most used terms with their actual definitions below.

Basic Nutrition Facts

Serving Size

The serving size lets you know how much you have to eat for nutritional information to be accurate.You have to adjust the serving size to the amount you actually consume. If the serving size is for ¼ cup and you consume ½ cup you’ll need to times all the macros by two, and so on.

Calories

Calories refer to how much energy you’ll get from a single serving of that food. Pay attention to how many calories are listed compared to the nutrients, ( protein, good fats, vitamins & minerals..etc). If you notice lots of calories and very little nutrients, you’re probably eating unhealthy “junk” food.

Fat

There are three different types of FAT, trans fat, saturated fat and unsaturated fat. Not all of these fats are bad for you! Trans fat is the worst, it’s artificially made and is heavily linked to disease and obesity. Saturated fat is usually found in meat and dairy products, especially processed meats. Unsaturated fats have two primary forms, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are both healthy fats. You’ll  find these unsaturated fats in wholefoods like nuts and eggs. 

Carbohydrates

Carbs are essential for energy in your body. Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and whole wheat are, high in fiber and help keep you feeling full longer and blood sugar stable. Processed carbs (white bread, chips anything bleached) are processed quickly in  your body, and cause a spike in insulin.

 Fiber

Fiber helps move things along in your digestion & helps you stay full for longer. 

Sugar

Most foods high in sugar lack nutritional value. Stay around 5% to 10% of the total amount of calories you eat, to keep sugar levels in check.

Protein

Proteins are used to build muscle & energy. Proteins help keep your metabolism stable and help you grow.   

Food Label Terms

GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) 

Are foods whose organisms or (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally. Usually to make for more resistance crops and animals to pathogens and herbicides.

All Natural

There is no regulated definition of this term on food sold in the US, so companies can use this term to mean whatever they want. Everything is technically natural, even if its processed, unhealthy, or grown in a lab.

Organic

 Organic means the item is free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes. It must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering for 3 years. The USDA Organic sticker is on items that are shown to be at least 95% organic. 

Low Fat

A food can legally be labeled as low fat if it contains 3 grams of fat or less per serving. In order to be low fat, these products usually rely on added sugar or artificial ingredients in order to make up for the lost flavor. These are usually highly processed artificial product that contain less calories.

Low Calorie

This term is used when a food has 40 calories or less per serving. These serving sizes are often quite small, and as with low fat foods, they usually contain artificial ingredients to compensate for the lack of calories.

 Sustainable

This term can apply to all types of agriculture, and it essentially means that the food was produced in a way that enhances environmental quality, respects animals, is healthy to consume, is humane for workers, and provides those workers with fair wages. This term is regulated and requires certification. I really like this label and practice the most!!!

High /”Rich in” /”Excellent Source of” 

Must contain at least 20% of the Daily Value of the nutrient per serving. 

 Fortified, Enriched, Added, Extra or Plus 

Must contain at least 10% more of the nutrient per serving can be used only for vitamins, minerals, protein and dietary fiber.

 Gluten-free

This term was officially defined by the FDA in 2013, as meaning that a food contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Foods may be labeled “gluten-free” if they are inherently gluten free or have been processed to remove gluten.