The Last Word on Label
Fit in a Year - Week
Finally, the last word
We have to look at a few more
things. WARNING: here comes the math....
Start with carbs. When we read
the carbohydrate data, remember that 1 gm of carbohydrates
equals 4 calories. You need to figure out how many
calories you're getting from the carbohydrates in this
item. If your daily goal is 1700-2100 calories, you'll
want to spread those carbs out during the day. And if
it's all sugar--especially if it's corn syrup in one form or
another--consider putting it back!
And while you're looking at the carbs,
notice the dietary fiber info listed there. You want to
shoot for 20-30 gms of fiber per day. Or 14 gm per 1000
calories. Whichever is mathematically easier. This
is an important number.
The next thing to look at is protein
which is given in grams. You need about 0.8gm per kg of
your body weight. Because one kilogram equals 2.2 lbs, if
you weigh 154lbs, you weigh about 70 kg, so you need about 56
gms of protein (or a bit less than 2 ounces). More if you
are working out. Keep in mind that protein takes many
forms, not just animal. You get it from grains, legumes,
And finally, let's look at fat.
It is also given to you in grams. Remember that 1 gram of
fat equals 9 calories, and you want 25-30% of your daily total
caloric intake to be fat. Let me say this clearly:
NO TRANS FATS. Even if it says zero, be sure to read the
ingredient list to be certain you do not see partially
hydrogenated anything. The majority of your fat should
come from vegetable sources. Fish is fine. And very
little animal fat. If it's liquid at room temperature,
it's ok. But don't scrimp on fat. Your body needs
it. So eat it, and make it top quality.
While this labeling system is supposed
to be helpful, it seems anything but. It's not even
successful at keeping the food processors honest--watch out for
the fake serving size. You have to be on top of your
nutrition game. If you use that entire packet of salad
dressing you got at the drive-through, are you actually eating
2.5 servings? Is the serving size for the cereal
My advice and my practice is to eat as
many foods in their original form as possible. Keep the
ingredient list short and sweet. Think about the recipes
your grandmother or great-grandmother used before foods became
industrially whitened and denatured. The ingredients in
the package are listed in descending order with the ingredient
in the largest quantity listed first. Look for "whole"
grains on the ingredient list and you'll automatically get more
fiber and protein. And if you can't pronounce it, don't
Really, I do everything I can to avoid
reading labels. Every morning, I pack food to take to my
studio: a sandwich including lettuce, spinach, tomatoes
(unless it's pb&j) on whole grain something, a banana,
apple, grapes, carrots, celery--whatever raw fruits and veggies
I have on hand--and I then munch this food all morning.
And I don't have to read anything. Easy.
Simple. Real food. No calculator
We haven't even talked about the
percentage column....do we really want to go there? How
about instead, we focus on eating as many raw fruits and
veggies--organic when possible--as we can every single
day. Seems like a good trade--eating all the
phytonutrients and enzymes that we possibly can instead of
doing that math...
I'm going to leave it at that. If
you want to know all about the percentage of daily intake, let
me know. Meanwhile, I've got some grapes to eat