Nutrition Labels – Fit to Swim

The holidays are quickly approaching and you plan to stay on track and eat healthy throughout the season.  Limiting portion sizes, avoiding over-indulging and continuing your established workout regimen are the key to maintaining your fitness level during this part of the year.  With all the additional cooking and baking, there are bound to be times when you are wondering if there is a healthier option to use in your recipes or to serve guests.  Understanding the nutrition label on the side of food containers can assist you in making healthy choices.

Serving Size:  The serving size is the item’s recommended serving amount for one sitting.  It may state a certain number of pieces (12 crackers) or be listed as a weight measurement (1 cup).  Regardless, paying attention to this amount can help you keep track of calories consumed and help you keep from overindulging.

Servings per Container:  This is the approximate amount of servings in the container.  If the servings per container are 6, but you eat the entire box of cookies in one sitting, you’ve actually consumed 6 times the recommended amount.  That’s also six times the calories and six times the fat.

Calories (and Calories from Fat):  This is a measurement of how much energy you get from consuming one serving of the product.  Managing your caloric intake can help you maintain a healthy weight, and appropriate caloric intake is different for each individual and depends on many factors.  It is good to note how many calories come directly from fat.  For example, if the total calories per serving are 180 and the calories from fat is 100, that means 56% of the calories of this example food product come from fat alone.  Based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, the FDA’s General Guide to Calories states that products with 40 calories is considered low, 100 calories is considered moderate, and 400 calories or more is high.  Avoiding foods high in calories will help you maintain your fitness not only during the holiday season, but year round.

Nutrients:  Try your best to limit the following in your diet as they may contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure and even some cancers; fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium.  The following can improve your health and help reduce the risk for certain diseases and conditions; look for foods high in dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

Daily Value vs % Daily Value and Dietary Guidance:  The daily value is the amount (usually in grams) based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet that health experts advise you to eat.  Nutrients at the upper limit are listed first and it is advised that you consume” less than” the daily value each day.  For nutrients at the lower limit, it is advised that you consume “at least” that amount daily.  The % daily value helps you determine if a serving of a particular food is high or low in a particular nutrient.  According to the FDA, 5% or less daily value is considered low, while 20% daily value or more is considered high.

These are just a few things to keep in mind while doing your holiday shopping.  All things considered, it’s tough during the holiday season to stay on track.  Especially when Grandma’s cookies don’t come with a serving size, but baked goods made with love rarely do.  Enjoy the extra sweets and treats…just don’t eat them all in one sitting.  Have a safe and Happy Holiday season!!

Some information adapted from

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