Making Food Labels Make Sense

It takes a degree in food sciences to understand what’s really in the packaged food that crowds supermarket shelves. It’s one thing to know that sugar masquerades as anything ending in -ose, as well as more healthy sounding things like molasses and evaporated cane juice.

It’s quite another thing to understand what the nutritional information actually means and to effectively compare it between products.

I’m a big fan of eating whole foods which neatly avoids the need to read labels, but in real life it’s not always possible. When it’s not, I want to make the better choice and lay off on the guilt. A few ways to make label reading easier:

  • Avoid products with unpronounceable words in the ingredients list — those things are not food
  • Check the order of the ingredients on the label — the earlier on the list, the more of it in the box
  • Be on the lookout for sodium and fat. You don’t want too much of either and processed varieties are not typically good quality

Another even easier way to read labels is to download the Cereal Scan application for iPhone and scan labels as you shop. An easy-to-read display gives you a green, yellow or red light on the product and offers recommendations on better alternatives. It also includes easy-to-understand headlines that reveal the truth behind the labels.

Brought to you by Fooducate, the application was created by dietitians and concerned parents who wanted better information so they could make more informed food choices for their families.