Reading Labels to Lose WeightPosted: February 21, 2013 in Healthy Eating by Craig Primack MD FACP
A strong knowledge of nutrition can be a huge help to you during your medical weight loss program. Understanding nutrients, calorie contents and the benefits of a well-balanced diet will put reason behind your medical weight loss diet, and can help to keep you motivated to lose weight in Chandler and Scottsdale.
Unfortunately, not everyone is a trained dietitian and not all of us understand the intricacies of our diet and nutrition habits. When you are first adjusting to a new diet plan it can be difficult to guess right away what is healthy and what is not. While cake and candy might be dead giveaways in the “not” category, other common breakfast, lunch and dinner staples can leave you scratching your head.
Luckily for you there is a cheat sheet attached to every piece of packaged food currently available for sale, and it is called a nutrition label. By learning how to read these labels, you can find out all you need to know about the item in question and make an educated decision as to whether it is a good addition to your diet.
Here are a few tips to help you start reading nutrition labels as you lose weight:
- Start at the top. Some of the most pressing information about an item can be found at the top of the nutrition label, hiding in plain sight. This includes the serving size, the number of calories per serving and how many servings are in one container. Never assume one bag, box or bottle is one serving—this can cost your diet several hundred calories a day, if not more.
- Scan the nutrients. There are some nutrients that you will want to avoid, such as sugar, fat and cholesterol. The middle of the nutrition label will tell you the number of grams of these per serving. Remember, the less the better. The nutrition label can also tell you information about nutrients that you want to add to your diet, like protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.
- Read the percentages. The percentages along the right panel of the nutrition label will provide you with further insight about how much of each nutrient you should be consuming. These are average daily values and are attributed based on standard calorie allotments. Your weight loss doctor will give you particular insight into how much of each nutrient you should be consuming, so only use these percentages as rough guidelines.
Learning to read nutrition labels is a great way to start improving your health now. The next time you reach for a snack, turn the packaging over and have a long look at the nutrition information. You might be surprised by what you find!