Reading nutrition labels is something I am hot and cold at. I tend to remember for a significant period of time and then life gets busy and I race through the grocery store just to get home. I mean let’s be completely honest here – grocery shopping is FAR FROM SEXY. In fact it’s like polar opposite of sexy. It’s a chore many days. So who can blame anyone for wanting to get the chores done quickly.
I know I have room for improvement. I know it. There was a time there about 2-3 months ago when I read EVERYTHING. Every label was scrutinized. I scanned them all for sodium content and sugar when I had my high blood pressure readings. That was an eye opener. “Don’t buy anything processed,” said my general physician. That’s a hard thing to do. I have cut down in the last few months. I have dramatically tackled my sodium and caffeine intake. I am getting better at reading labels. And I scrutinize with extreme caution any time I have my niece or nephew visit. They each have life threatening peanut allergies. So I read labels with an eye to keeping them safe, if they are ever staying over, or visiting. But what about the in between times? Like the day to day label reading and nutrition information.
Recently I attended an event in Toronto that reminded me how important it is to read those labels habitually. Make it part of your grocery buying process. The facts might surprise you.
Together groups of Moms and influencers went shopping. Then we partnered up and compared foods that were in similar food groups by reading the label. There were a few surprises. For instance one group had chosen a jar of sauce made with butternut squash. Prior to reading the label they each thought it would be healthier than the traditional spaghetti sauce brand they grabbed from the shelf. Turns out they were wrong. The amount of added sugar in the butternut squash product was way higher than a regular branded sauce.
Our group had snack foods. We compared Half Moon snack cakes and Nutella muffins that looked like cupcakes. At 500 calories a muffin the Half Moon snack cakes won for me. 500 calories? That, I told our group would go right on my derriere. I am all for snacks and treats once in awhile BUT not if they are going to tip the scales for me and make me unhealthy.
The Fact Finding Mission was held at a Toronto Metro grocery store and hosted also by the lovely Kristina Matisic, cofounder of Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag. Kristina was there to talk about the Nutrition Facts Education Campaign.
The current phase of the Nutrition Facts Education Campaign encourages Canadians especially parents of children aged 2 to 12 to use the “Serving Size” in the Nutrition Facts table (NFt) on packaged foods to compare similar foods. By using the “Serving Size” and “Percent Daily Value”, consumers can choose foods that have more of the nutrients they want to consume, such as fibre and calcium, and less of those they don’t want, such as saturated and trans fats and sodium.
Nutrition Facts Education Campaign: Focus on the Facts is a partnership between the Retail Council of Canada, Food Consumer Products of Canada, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and Health Canada.
The Nutrition Facts Education campaign is part of a broader government effort to help Canadians choose healthier foods by learning how to read and use the nutrition information on food labels. The NFEC Focus on the Facts messages and tips will still apply for future changes to the NFt. Serving size and %DV (daily value) are the core concepts behind the present Nutrition Facts table and are the focus of this campaign. These will continue to be important concepts for consumers to use when comparing foods.
This summer Focus on the Facts and the new NFEC campaign messages will be travelling throughout several cities in the attempt to educate more Canadians on how to read nutrition labels.
Takeaway 1: When using the Nutrition Facts table start with Serving Size, found under the header Nutrition Facts, then look at Percent Daily Value (% DV); then use the % DV to see if the Serving Size has a little or a lot of a nutrient 5% DV or less is a little and 15% DV or more is a lot.
Takeaway 2: Stay away from fats, trans fats and sodium.
Right now you can take a limited time quiz and win a $300 grocery gift card from the RCC, FCPC and CFIG. Take the quiz at FocusontheFacts.ca
I received perks for attending this event. My opinion is all my own.