Trucker Mama: Nutrition - What Does "Good" Look Like?

I read labels all the time. 

I buy food based what the label says.

I am extra careful what I put in our cart, now that we have a toddler in tow.

Until researching for this article, I did not understand most of what the label actually meant.

I reviewed several tools, but loved the one the FDA provided at fda.gov.  Let’s explore the “skinny” on labels: the good (stuff), the bad (stuff) and the frankly, ugly (stuff).

The good stuff: 

I learned to zero in on the big 5:  dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.  These are located, basically, in the middle of the label.  Some have the actual amount listed, all have the % of your needed daily intake (for a 2,000 calorie diet, which is loosely recommended for fueling your body if you are NOT trying to lose weight).  Food containing 5% or less are considered “low” in that item and 20% or higher are considered “high.”

The bad stuff:

The bad comes in 5, too.  Total fat has 2 evil brothers: saturated and trans.  In concert with cholesterol and sodium, you do not want to see big numbers on any of these lines. It is recommended that you keep these items as low as possible, although daily value does show how close you are to the maximum “healthy” amount you can consume daily.

The just plain ugly stuff:

Askmen.com wrote an article highlighting 10 foods to never eat, based on nutrition.  Here are a few I found fascinating:

·         Some varieties of Quaker Oats have as much fat as a McDonald’s hamburger.  What?!  That sounds so healthy!

·         One variety of Entemann’s donuts has the same fat as half a package of bacon!  (Next time, maybe just go for the bacon?!)

·         And, some Campbell’s soup is simply steaming with sodium – to the tune of half the daily recommended maximum.

Nutrition is no easy nut to crack.  Is it just me, or does it feel like one line is a win and another a loss on many labels?  The trick – zeroing in on what matters to your diet and health needs most.  Hopefully, this label breakdown has provided some helpful tips.  What tricks do you use for finding the healthiest items in every aisle?

I look forward to learning from your suggestions, and I wish happy and healthy shopping to each of us!

As always, I look forward to hearing what you think of this article and what else you would like to see in this spot. 

Take care of yourself and drive home safely,

Trucker Mama

P.S.  A bazillion brackets will be completed this month – some by fans who have copiously studied the seeds, some by fans who select their hometown or favorite uniforms or mascot.  The current standings will be flashed up in every sports segment for weeks – zeroing in on the national champion.  It is thrilling for the universities, the fans and a dream come true for the coaches and players.  It is certainly exciting to see play out.  Next week we aren’t going to talk about those brackets, but one that matters even more.  Brackets for Good offers a chance to “vote” with dollars for 64 charities that deserve a big win, too.  Let’s explore together in: The Bracket that Matters the Most.