Which Side of the Package Do You See?

August 19th, 2011 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

Do you look at the front of the package when you decide to buy food in a package, or do you look at the nutritional information label?

You have to love/hate the fact the US Food and Drug Administration works continuously to inform the public about what we have in front of us and how to make “wise choices” about what we put in our mouths. 

They even have a 30 minute video on the FDA website about the food label!

They want you to pay attention to three things on the label: calories, serving size, and percent daily value.  It’s a relatively entertaining video.  (Well, at least the first 3 minutes of it are relatively entertaining… my attention span is not 30 minutes long when it comes to a nutritional label.)  It isn’t a Disney production—it’s more like a video for science class.  But still.

And when was the last time any of us paid attention to only THREE things when it came to food?!

Having lived with type one diabetes for most of my life and having counted weight watchers points for years, me and that label are pretty familiar.

Now, it matters that you understand you have to agree that what the FDA says is true for you and your body before you continue reading this.  If you don’t agree, you need to know that and you need to be willing to discover for yourself what works and is good for YOU.

So getting back to the package: do you look at the information box with carbohydrates, fat, and calories and beyond or do you care more about information on the front, enticing you to purchase?

Sayings like “natural” and “gluten free” and “low fat” and “high fiber”.  Those that sound REALLY HEALTHY and encourage us to buy it and eat it
without thinking much more about it.  The government calls them “nutrient content claims” and “health claims” and “allergy information”… and they have some work to do when it comes to these claims plastered on the box!

The FDA has almost as much work to do when it comes to these claims as each of us have when it comes to making good healthy choices for ourselves and our families.

The FDA did start to require additional words when claims are made, in addition to requiring the claims fit within the guidelines (like containing 51% or more whole grain ingredients by weight per reference amount customarily consumed).  At this point, however, I fear these words are like that certain Surgeon General’s WARNING millions of smokers no longer even see.

Also: 2,000 calories is a LOT of food when it comes down to it.  So making decisions based on the information listed for a 2,000 calorie/day diet when a 2,000 calorie diet is way too much for YOU doesn’t make as much sense.  You have to make a lot of calculations.

But wait; if you live with diabetes, that’s what you’re doing anyway!

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