For the past 2 months, I’ve been teaching a community cooking club at the community hall every Thursday night. We were following the curriculum set out by the Alberta Health Services – which is a great free manual written with healthy recipes along with nutrition and kitchen skill lessons. Not surprisingly, I actually discovered a few lessons along the way too. (We adults always have some more to learn too!)
One of the lessons involved choosing a healthy breakfast cereal. I explained how it was important to choose healthy foods that provide our bodies with the nutrients and energy we need to grow, play and learn. One of the easiest ways to make a healthy choice is to read the food labels.
This lesson reminded me though of an easier way rule of thumb. The % Daily Value amount is a key piece of data that can easily tell you:
5% of less has little of the nutrient
15% or more has a lot of the nutrient
-Look for a low % daily value (5% or less) for fat and sodium (salt)
-Look for a high % daily value (15% or more) for fibre, vitamins and minerals
-Look for the least amount of sugar. 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of sugar is 4 grams of sugar.
I know when I shop for my family, I often pick the same kind of cereal over and over again, based on price or my perceived sense that it is healthy. Reading the labels can be a reality check! After hearing so many news stories about how to pick healthy food, I admit I have lost the guideline of what to look for. Often I’m just checking out the fat and fibre listed.
Don’t forget to check the serving sizes against each other too. They can vary widely between brands and really skew the data!
The Nutrition Facts Education Campaign (a partnership including Health Canada) has a great resource for learning more about making informed food choices: read more about how to quickly decode Nutrition Fact Labels here.
I got my food detectives on the case to help me find the healthiest breakfast cereal we had in our cupboards. Turns out it was the simple oatmeal… who knew?