How Much Attention Do You Pay to Nutrition Labels? Do you know what’s in the food you eat? By: Kitty Bradshaw In 1990 the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act was passed requiring all packaged food to bare nutritional labels. Over the years the labels have evolved to include information like per serving size, and Trans Fat content. In 2014, the FDA overhauled the labels by simplifying and putting an even bigger focus on calories, serving size, and added sugars. The label changes mostly go unnoticed by consumers; most people don’t pay them any attention until a health or weigt issue arises. Fortunately for us, the labels of today are much more simplified compared to the ones first used in the 90s. We encourage everyone to pay attention to the labels and have a basic understanding of what the information represents. In this post we will give a brief overview of the most current label. When approaching the labels for the first time it is important to determine what your daily calorie intake is. The average person sticks to a 2,000 calorie a day diet. However, we suggest that you consult with your doctor or nutritionist first as they have access to your medical history and can best determine your needs. During your evaluation, your doctor or nutritionist can also help you determine what your portion sizes should be. Both pieces of information will come into play while comparing labels. The calories listed on the nutritional label represent the listed number of cups (soups, cereal, pasta, etc) or pieces (cookies, olives, crackers, etc); not the whole bag, carton, or box. The lower the Sodium, Cholesterol, and Total Fat the better. These nutrients lead to weight related diseases such as diabetes and some cancers. While visiting your local grocery store take the time out to compare brands. Internet research beforehand can save time, energy and gas money during this process as sometimes your local store doesn’t carry the brands you need. Again, it is extremely important that you monitor those numbers and keep them low. Now on the opposite end of the spectrum it is recommended that you get as much Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron in your diet! Most people do not get enough of the good nutrients so make sure you always get the most out of this section. A diet high in good nutrients can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. Also know that you can just as easily receive these same dietary fibers from fresh fruits and vegetables. In conclusion think of the Nutritional Label as a helping hand while determining which items you need versus foods you don’t. It will assist you in the long run and help to maintain your dietary goals.