Unfortunately, we can’t always trust claims on a product’s packaging. Many foods are labeled “all natural” and “no artificial ingredients,” but that’s not always the case. Some serving sizes are much smaller than we expect, and many foods have way more sugar than we’d guess.
It’s really important to know how to read a nutrition label and understand ingredients lists to be well-informed consumers. We want to be clean eaters right? Then we have to outsmart the food companies and grasp a deep understanding of their labels!
Take a look at this example I’ll be using throughout this post:
1. At the top of the label is the measurement for one suggested serving (1 cup for this cereal). Most people probably consume more than one serving size at a time because we don’t usually measure our food. All of the information on this label is the amount in one serving, so depending on how much you eat, you’ll have to multiply/divide accordingly.
2. Next on the label is the amount of calories per serving and how many of those calories are from fat.
3. Then, in the left column, there is the breakdown of all the fat content and types of fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, fiber and types of fiber, sugars, and protein. Pay extra attention to sugar; many foods have more sugar than you’d expect.
4. In the right column, the label gives the percent daily value of each. These percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so they are only accurate if you consume 2,000 calories per day. Clean eating doesn’t require calorie counting, so the percent daily value isn’t too important.
5. Next on the label is vitamin and mineral content. These percentages are approximate amounts of the total daily recommended intake for everyone, regardless of your daily caloric intake.
6. Next is a further description of daily values based on caloric intake. For clean eating, this isn’t important.
7. Last, but certainly not least, is the ingredients list. This is the single most important thing when eating clean. Ingredients are listed in order by amount. The first ingredient is the most prevalent, followed by the second, and so on. It’s important to choose foods with a limited number of ingredients, little or no added sugar, and no artificial additives or chemicals. The example above has too many strange ingredients to be considered clean.