The 5 biggest changes to the Nutrition Label! What I like and don't like.
The 5 biggest changes to the nutrition label:
1. Calories section
2. Serving size
4. Added vitamins/minerals
5. Dual columns
Nutrition Labels are getting a makeover!
The nutrition labels on most foods will be changing effective July 26, 2018. The changes are being made because “the new label will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices” and “the current label is more than 20 years old” per the FDA.
What I don’t like about the new nutrition labels:
The calories section is bigger which makes it seem like it’s trying to make us focus even more on calories. Calories are not what we should be focused on at all. The problem with focusing on calories is that too many people count calories and feel it’s a healthy habit.
Here’s why counting calories is NOT healthy:
First, let me say I’m guilty of looking at the calories on labels and thinking “Oh, it’s only 90 calories so it’s not bad for me”. However, this couldn’t be more wrong! The ingredients are the most important indicator on the label as to how healthy or unhealthy a product is. Those 90 calorie products are filled with artificial flavors and colors, synthetic ingredients and are void of any nutritional value.
2. Serving Size
On the new nutrition label, serving sizes are being changed to reflect the “amounts of food and beverage that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating”. (1)
On one hand, I’m glad it’ll be more realistic; however, I think the more important thing to address is that people are eating too much (usually of the wrong types of food and beverage).
Another issue I have with this change is that a lot of people think that ‘serving size’ is the recommended amount. I’ve been told that people will measure out their cereal or soda or cookies based on the ‘serving size’ information. Now those diligent people will be consuming too much also.
3. Added vitamins and minerals
The labels used to list the percentage of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron that had been added to the product. Now it will show Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Potassium. When the labels we’re currently using were made, people didn’t get enough of vitamin A and C. We’ve since improved our intake of those vitamins, but are not getting enough vitamin D or potassium.
What it doesn’t tell you is those added vitamins and minerals are most likely synthetic! We want to keep anything synthetic out of our bodies! So don’t be fooled by this section of the label into thinking you’re getting your needed vitamins and minerals from soda, cookies, pasta, yogurt, etc, etc.
What I like about the new label:
The label we’re all used to has one section for ‘Sugar’. The new label will have ‘Total Sugar’ and ‘Added Sugar’. While sugar is super bad for us no matter the source, I feel like this new section might start to bring some awareness to how much sugar is in what we ingest.
The recommended daily amount of sugar is 25g (approx 6 teaspoons) for adults and 12g (approx 3 teaspoons) for kids. Go pick any food item that is in a package from your pantry right now and check the grams of sugar on the label. I bet you’ll be surprised!
I think it’s important to note that the FDA’s “definition [of added sugar] excludes fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100 percent fruit juice that is sold to consumers…as well as some sugars found in fruit and vegetable juices, jellies, jams, preserves, and fruit spreads”.
This means that if any of the items mentioned in that quote are added to the item you’re about to eat or drink, it may not be reflected on the ‘added sugar’ portion of the new label. Have you ever made jellies or jams or just looked at the sugar content on the label of a jar of jelly? There’s a TON of sugar in them.
2. Dual columns
“For certain products that are larger than a single serving but that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings, manufacturers will have to provide ‘dual column’ labels to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients on both a ‘per serving’ and ‘per package’/’per unit’ basis.” (2)
I remember a time, in my unhealthy life, that I was drenching a salad with dressing from a package. I had done my duty of looking at the calories before emptying the entire packet onto my salad. Then, I looked more closely at the nutrition label and thought “oops, that was 2 serving sizes!”
The dual columns will make it easier for us to notice that it isn't recommended to consume the whole package in one serving. Just keep in mind that the recommended serving size will also be changing. It would probably be a good idea to consume less than the recommended serving size.
3. Vitamins and minerals
I like that the new labels are trying to point us in the right direction by listing the vitamins and minerals we‘re deficient in. However, the best source of these nutrients is real, minimally processed food! Real foods that contain potassium: lima beans, mushrooms, dark leafy greens, avocado, salmon, banana, and sweet potatoes. Natural sources to get your vitamin D: fish, mushrooms, pork, eggs, sunshine, and food based supplements.
Put down that packaged food and start cooking!
Please start to read labels! Don’t focus on the calories. I say this because if we all eat real foods, then calories aren’t even an issue. If you need something to count, count how many servings of vegetables you’re eating a day and aim for 5-8 of a variety of vegetables. Count the grams of sugar! Remember, the recommended daily serving for adults is 25 grams and for kids is 12 grams. Count the ingredients listed on the nutrition label. If there are 10, 20, 30 or more ingredients listed, chances are you shouldn’t be consuming it!
Peace, love and wellbeing!!
How do you feel about the new label?