What to Look for on the Food Label

Food companies spend millions of dollars on food packaging trying to convincing consumers to buy their products. Sometimes they use terms on their packaging that shoppers may not know the meaning of. The only way to know for sure what is in the food you are buying is to read the nutrition facts label. Learning how to properly read the nutrition facts label can help you know exactly what you are buying.

How many times are you overwhelmed looking at a Nutrition Facts Label? Here are some tips to help you make sense of the label.

Tips for reading a nutrition facts label quickly and easily in the grocery aisle:


  • Serving size

    • is the recommended portion of the food you should eat in one sitting.
  • Calories from fat

    • tells you how many calories and calories from fat are in one portion of the food. This alone is not enough to see if the food fits well into your diet.
  • % Daily value

    • tells you how much of the recommended amount of each nutrient is in one serving of the food. The % daily value is based on a sample diet of 2,000 calories a day.
  • Vitamins and minerals

    • are listed with their % daily value. A value of 10% or more means the food provides good source of that nutrient.


Some good terms to know the definition of are:

  • Low-fat:

    • 3 g or less per serving
  • Low-sodium:

    • 140 mg or less per serving
  • Low-calorie:

    • 40 calories or less per serving
  • Fat-free:

    • less than 0.5 g per serving
  • Sugar-free:

    • less than 0.5 g per serving
  • Good source:

    • one serving contains 10-19% daily value for that particular nutrient


Read labels

Take a look at these nutrition facts labels and see what you think about these products? Would you purchase them? Yes or No?




shredded wheat label


Read these blogs for more tips on deciphering food labels.

How to read food labels.

Three tips for picking a diabetic friendly breakfast cereal.

Source: “Sports and Exercise Nutrition” by William D. McArdle, Frank I. Katch, Victor L. Katch


Blog updated October 2019

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Rebecca Bitzer loves to empower Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and their clients.  Co-author of Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams and  Taste the Sweet Rebellion: Rebel against dieting.

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