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It’s easy to say that you will start eating more salads and less cheeseburgers, but actually knowing what you are eating can be simpler and more effective. It all comes down to one thing: the nutrition facts.
The nutrition facts label is widely known, but people still love to ignore this black and white chart on the back and side of every packaged food and beverage. It wasn’t until 1990 that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed rules for packaged foods to have nutrition labeling, and it wasn’t until 2003 that trans fats were required on labels. Just this year, the FDA requested added sugars be a separate category on the nutrition label.
The nutrition facts label is still new and continues to grow and change to help benefit consumers and their well-being.
Central Michigan University has a wide variety of options when it comes to eating, such as the Down Under Food Court, RFoC, coffee houses and much more. Whether you are living on or off-campus, finding something healthy to eat can be difficult.
Graduate students Alexa Buckland, Hannah Johnson and Jordan McCarthy have had their fair share of issues with nutrition labels.
After looking at the back of her Starbucks coffee, Buckland questioned the label. “Do you know what I hate?,” she said. “When you look at it and think ‘that’s not too bad’ and then see that there’s four servings. The serving size should be the whole bottle.”
While Buckland and McCarthy both agreed they usually only pay attention when comparing items, Johnson said she rarely looks at the nutrition facts label.
However, as Johnson began checking the back of her Peace Tea can, she said, “maybe I should start paying attention,” as she noticed there were multiple servings in her 23-ounce can.
But reading the nutritional label can only prove confusing, so we’ve laid out the basic facts you should know.
The serving size can be one of the most important and most forgotten parts of a nutrition label. The serving size shows exactly how many servings there are.
According to this frozen pizza nutrition facts, the calories are 340, however there are four servings. The pizza actually contains 1,360 calories. Which means that if you ate this whole pizza by yourself, you would most likely be eating over half your calories for the day.
Hint: make sure when comparing two different items the serving sizes are the same.
Calories are a measurement of energy and are a staple in most dieting programs. People limit their amount of calories to lose weight or may increase their calorie intake if they’re trying to ‘bulk up.’
Calories are an important part of deciding how much of something you should eat. But, what’s forgotten is the “calories from fat” section of the nutrition label. Calories from fat is the percentage of calories in a serving which come from fat instead of carbohydrates or protein.
For a healthy guideline, no more than 30 percent of the calories should come from fat.
Nutrients to Limit
These are the nutrients you should have sparingly, but most Americans tend to over indulge on. These are the trans and saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Eating too many of these nutrients could increase your risk of certain chronic diseases, including heart disease.
Nutrients to Maximize
These nutrients are beneficial to your health. Many Americans don’t consume the suggested amount of nutrients needed for optimal health. This includes Vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and fiber.
Eating the recommended amount, like a minimum of 25 grams of fiber a day, can help improve your health and lower risks for some diseases.
The footnote of the nutrition facts label is what makes all of the percentages and numbers make sense, but it’s rarely looked at.
The footnote shows the percent daily values based on a 2,000 calorie diet. It shows you how much you should have each day of total fat, cholesterol, sodium and more. For example, it shows that for a 2,000 calorie diet you should have less than 2,400mg of sodium a day. This frozen pizza has 890 mg of sodium, which is less than your daily recommendation, however there are four servings which means the product altogether has 3,560 mg of sodium.
Worried about on campus nutrition facts? Visit CMU’s Campus Dish for the details.
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