Grand River Health: Nutrition labels good starting point to eating healthy |

Grand River Health: Nutrition labels good starting point to eating healthy

Grand River Health
Special to the Citizen Telegram
Contributed Photo
Staff Photo |

Learning proper nutrition is difficult, especially in an environment that makes it easier to make less than optimal food choices. Participants in Grand River Health’s Shapedown program learned how to read nutritional labels during a recent visit to the grocery store.

Using these guidelines from the American Heart Association, you can make educational decisions on healthy eating choices while you buy your groceries.

• Start with the nutrition label. Note the size of a single serving and how many servings are in the package.

• Check total calories per serving. Look at the serving size and how many servings you’re really consuming. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and nutrients, including the percent of daily value (% DV).

• Limit some nutrients. Remember, you need to limit your total fat to no more than 56–78 grams a day — including no more than 16 grams of saturated fat, less than two grams of trans fat, and less than 300 mg cholesterol (for a 2,000 calorie diet).

• Get enough of the important nutrients. Make sure you get 100 percent of the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients you need every day.

• Quick guide to % DV. This section tells you the percent of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (such as saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium), choose foods with a lower % DV — 5 percent or less is low. If you want to consume more of a nutrient (such as fiber), seek foods with a higher % DV — 20 percent or more is high.

Here are more tips for getting as much health information as possible from the Nutrition Facts label:

• Remember that the information shown in these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more than 2,000 calories depending upon your age, gender, activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight.

• In general, as you think about the amount of calories in a food per serving, remember that for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, 40 calories per serving is considered low, 100 calories per serving is considered moderate and 400 calories or more per serving is considered high.

• There is no % DV shown for trans fat on the panel because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it does not have enough scientific information to set this value. We recommend eating less than 20 calories or (less than two grams of trans fat) a day – that’s less than 1 percent of your total daily calories (for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet).

• If a food claims to be calorie free, it means that one serving of the product contains less than 5 calories.

• If the food claims to be sugar free, it means that one serving of the product contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar.

Grand River Health now offers Shapedown, a national weight management program designed specifically for children, using a family approach. A multidisciplinary team of health professionals teaches this 14-week course. For more information about the next Shapedown program, to schedule an initial evaluation for your child, call Changing Lifestyles, 625-6200, or email

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