Atlanta, How Do You Feel About Your Diet?
Is it healthy, not so healthy, or somewhere in between? If it’s not so healthy, you are part of a large number of Americans who feel that their diet is unhealthy. Recent research by Mintel, a market intelligence agency, found that “less than half (42 percent) of Americans consider their diet to be healthy.” Yikes!
While negative dietary influences vary greatly from person to person, there is one thing that impacts the majority of Atlanta consumers—being able to determine the validity of health-related claims on food packaging. As a consumer, how can you combat the uncertainty that often comes with reading food packaging?
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) describes a health claim as “a relationship between a food substance (a food, food component, or dietary supplement ingredient), and reduced risk of a disease or health-related condition.” An example of an FDA-approved health claim that explains the benefit of calcium on the risk of osteoporosis is, “Adequate calcium throughout life, as part of a well-balanced diet, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.” For a manufacturer to be able to include this claim on the packaging of one of their products, the product must meet a list of specific requirements.
In addition, it is often difficult to know those requirements while reading the nutrition label and ingredient list. Ingredient lists and nutrition labels also contain a large amount of information. To better understand that information, here are a few strategies for reading them.
- Determine how big or small the serving size is for each packaged item. Often the serving size is different than the amount of food or drink in the package. To correctly understand the other information on the nutrition label, knowing the correct serving size is key.
- Understand that the “percentage daily value” listed on the nutrition label is not the same for everyone. Most nutrition labels are based on a 2000 calorie per day diet. Everyone’s caloric needs are different. Use the amount listed, 2000 calories per day, and adjust it up or down based on your own needs.
- Pay special attention to the amount of sugar, unhealthy fats, and sodium that are also in a serving as those are ingredients that many individuals need to limit.
- Look for recognizable ingredients. If it is an item that you have never heard of, look it up or ask someone what it is.
- Listed first or early in the list of ingredients.
- Choose products that have shorter ingredient lists. (See previous tip)
Now that you are armed with a few strategies for understanding the information on packaged foods and beverages, you are ready to head out and make healthy snack and beverage choices.
We at Southern Refreshment Solutions would like to help make things a little easier for everyone by offering a selection of snacks and beverages in your Atlanta office break room. For more information about our products and service options, call us at 770-939-9299.