The Top 5 Tips for Reading Food Labels
by Amanda Ursell
Decipher Deceptive Food Labels
- Always check the number of servings in a pack. Calories, fat and other nutrients are given per serving. You need to know how many servings there are in the product to gauge how many calories, for example, you are getting in total. An individually wrapped muffin may have 100 calories per serving, which sounds "good." On closer inspection, the muffin could be supplying four servings. So, if you eat the whole thing, you are eating 400 calories in total.
- Don't rely on nutrition claims like "low fat" to tell you the whole story about the product. Look at the whole picture by checking the nutrition facts box and ingredients list. A "low fat" cookie can still be high in sugar and have plenty of calories.
- Be aware that labels are like mini advertisements for the food or drink. While they have to be legal and honest, they are there to persuade you to buy them and can be confusing. If you are in any doubt whether a product is good for you, leave it on the shelf.
- Don't be swayed by terms like "naturally better" or "nature's way." Take a step back, because they don't really mean anything. Concentrate on the facts (which appear in the nutrition fact panel) rather than woolly, meaningless hype.
- Try not to be influenced by cozy pictures, bright colors and funky names on labels. They can really press your emotional buttons and end up in your cart because they look good, not because they are good.
Amanda Ursell is the author of What Are You Really Eating?: How to Become Label Savvy (Hay House, 2005)
Take the Next Step
- Get exclusive access to free samples, coupons, health tools, tips, news, videos, and more. Register today: Quality Health
- Subscribe to Healthy Foods Ezine and each week you'll find 'Nutrition 101', an introduction to a new food, plus a recipe.
Discuss "Name Changes for Goods" in The Dollar Stretcher Community
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor. Just Click Here and tell us what's on your mind.
We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!
More Money-Saving Tips for Families
- Snap up these 9 deals in August
- 5 big bills you can cut fast
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- 4 steps to a simpler (and more frugal) life
- Choosing a guardian for your child
- 3 fun party ideas your nearly teen will love
- How much do kids need to know about the family budget?
- This week's Readers' Tips