NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.
I’ll never forget when my family – and really, Canadians as a nation – learned about serving sizes.
The year was 2003. Before then, it was not mandatory for packaged goods sold in Canada to display nutritional information of the contents. And so, for many years, we simply helped ourselves to a portion we considered fit, without knowing exactly how we were impacted by our choices. When serving sizes were listed on the label – among other things, such as number of calories, amount of fat, etc. – we all took a step back.
Suddenly, many Canadians received a wake up call when it came to consumption habits. While the information on the nutrition facts label helped guide our understanding of portion sizes, it also helped us make better food choices. Suddenly, words like “calorie counting” become synonymous with dieting, and the demand for fat-free snacking foods and sugar-free beverages was at an all-time high. For better or for worse, we were informed.
Today, the Nutrition Facts table, found on most packaged food products in Canada, is key to making more informed food choices for you and your family. With the help of my little Nutrition Facts Finder (note the detective hat and magnifying glass!), we’re going to make it easy for you to focus on facts!
Step 1: Start with Serving Size. You can find the Serving Size under the header “Nutrition Facts”. Remember, if you eat a different amount than the serving size, you will need to adjust the corresponding information in the Nutrition Facts table.
When comparing one packaged food to another, always check to see if serving sizes are consistent across both products. Often one will look “healthier” when it comes to nutritional content – but that’s only because the serving size is smaller!
Step 2: Find out the Percent Daily Value. You can find the % Daily Value on the right side of the Nutrition Facts table, and this will tell you if the Serving Size has a little or a lot of a nutrient. But, how do you know what a little – or a lot – amounts to? Here’s your cheat sheet.
Consider 5% daily value or less as a little, and 15% daily value or more as a lot. So, you may want a small percent daily value of saturated and trans fat and sodium, whereas you’ll look for higher percentages of fibre, Vitamin A, calcium and/or iron. Step 3: Look at a Nutrient. This one’s a no-brainer; choose packaged foods that have more of the nutrients you want and less of the nutrients you don’t. Using the percent daily value explained above, compare products to find the one that suits your nutritional preferences. Sometimes, I’ll find two packaged goods that have relatively the same nutritional makeup but one will outshine the other in terms of added nutrients.
My advice? Try copying the Nutrition Facts table from some of your favourite foods. When you write it out, you tend to gain a deeper appreciation for what is going into your body.
I’ve always been a label reader – since they came out years ago! – but I understand that some of my readers may not be as keen on dissecting their food. So, if I’ve piqued your interest and you want to learn more, be sure to visit FocusontheFacts.ca. You’ll find a ton of useful information and will even have the chance to win a $300 grocery gift card! You can also learn more about how to read the Nutrition Facts table and its benefits by visiting Canada.ca/NutritionFacts.
Your family comes first in every decision you make. Focus on the facts to feel good about your food choices!
One lucky reader will win a $100 Walmart Canada gift card! To enter, simply fill the form below with your qualifying entries. Good luck!
This post is sponsored by Food & Consumer Products of Canada. The opinions on this blog are my own.