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Reading Nutrition Labels 101 – Be Informed!

Trying to change your eating habits? Make healthier choices? Not sure how or where to start? You’re not alone! Navigating the grocery store and making the healthier choices can be a challenge…even for the strongest-willed and nutrition-savvy. Flashy food marketing and strategic placement of foods don’t make our job as health-conscious consumers and food purchasers very easy.

If I could impart one skill that I know will help you make more informed food choices, it would be how to read nutrition labels, particularly the Nutrition Facts table. The Nutrition Facts table is a wealth of information and research tells us that Canadians have a difficult time understanding how to use it to make informed food choices. Jenn to the rescue!

Want to know more? A lot of grocery chains have hired in-store Registered Dietitians who can help you make the healthy choice the easy choice when shopping for groceries. They provide personalized nutrition services as well as group nutrition services, like grocery tours for adults and children, healthy cooking classes, in-store demos, and various nutrition workshops. Check your store to see if this service is available.

Put this in a Fact Box

How to make informed food choices in 3 simple steps:

  1. Look at the Serving Size.

The Serving Size is found under the header “Nutrition Facts”. The information in the Nutrition Facts table is based on this quantity of food.

  1. Use the % Daily Value.

The % Daily Value (% DV) is found on the right side of the Nutrition Facts table. You can use this value to see if the Serving Size has a little or a lot of a nutrient:

5% Daily Value or less is a little.

15% Daily Value or more is a lot.

  1. Look at the nutrient.

Choose a packaged food that has more of the nutrients you want and less of the nutrients you don’t want. You can use this simple tool to compare foods too. For example, if you want to choose a canned soup that is lower in sodium, refer to the % Daily Value in the Nutrition Facts table and compare the Serving Size and % Daily Values to help you make an informed food choice.

Happy, healthy and informed shopping!


Jenn Giurgevich is the founder of Spark Nutrition & Health, a virtual nutrition consulting business.
Visit www.sparknutritionandhealth.ca for more information.


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