3 Steps to Making Informed Food Choices #FocusOnTheFacts | This West Coast Mommy
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3 Steps to Making Informed Food Choices #FocusOnTheFacts

Focus on the facts. Nutritional facts, that is!

Regular readers know that I’m pretty health conscious, especially when it comes to food choices. It’s very important to me to provide healthy, nutritious meals for my family full of good things like protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and at the same time minimize sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats. With food allergies and sensitivities in the family, I have to be extra conscientious about the foods and products I buy.

The best way to do all that? By reading through all the ingredients and checking the Nutrition Facts tables on every packaged food item I buy.

Get all the info you need from the Nutrition Facts table. #FocusOnTheFacts

Last week, Tee and I joined a group of fellow bloggers and their kids at Save On Foods for a special Focus on the Facts event, hosted by Kristina Matisic from The Shopping Bags. It might be a little off topic, but I have to say Kristina was just so approachable and friendly, especially with the kids. She’s good people!

Local celeb Kristina Matisic hosted the #FocusOnTheFacts event.

Anyway, our mission was to learn how best to use the Nutrition Facts table found on every packaged food in Canada, and then to share that with our readers!

All the info you need to make informed food choices is right there on the label. When you’re grocery shopping, you can easily compare the Nutrition Facts tables on two or more products to choose the item with the best nutritional profile to suit your family’s needs. Just follow these three easy steps:

  • Step 1: Start with the serving size to make sure you’re comparing equal amounts.
  • Step 2: Use the % Daily Value. A simple rule of thumb is that less than 5% DV is considered a little, more than 15% DV is a lot.
  • Step 3: Look at a nutrient. Look for foods high in protein, fiber, vitamin A, calcium, and iron, and foods low in sugar, sodium, and trans fats.

3 steps for making healthy food choices with the Nutrition Facts table: (1) Start with serving size.  (2) Use % Daily Value.  (3) Look at a nutrient.

While at the Focus on the Facts event, we formed blogger teams and went hunting for products to compare so we could all familiarize ourselves with the three steps. The regular shoppers looked a bit baffled as our unwieldy group of four adults and a passel of kids roamed up and down the aisles discussing which cereals and pasta sauces to take back, but we were on a fact finding mission!

We brought back our finds and took turns filling in the giant Nutrition Facts boards. Then we went through the steps.

Comparing % Daily Values on Nutrition Facts tables to make an informed food choice.

In our example above,

  1. The serving sizes were both 3/4 cups which made things easy to compare.
  2. We checked the % Daily Values for key nutrients like fat, sodium, sugar, protein, and iron.
  3. We determined that the Cheerios had more fat than the Nature’s Path cereal, but at only 6% Daily Value it was well below our 15% “high” threshold. Sodium was comparable at 7% and 9%. The Cheerios had twice as much sugar (hmm) and the same amount of protein (low for both), but the biggest difference was in the % Daily Value for iron. The Nature’s Path cereal contained a low 2% Daily Value, compared to the Cheerios with a whopping 30%.

I loved that this was a family event with the kids just as involved as the adults. As parents, it’s our job to prepare our kids for independence, and part of that is teaching them how to make healthy food choices. Getting kids used to reading the Nutrition Facts table is a fantastic start!

In fact, as soon we got home from Focus on the Facts, Tee immediately raided the pantry for items on which to practice reading the Nutrition Facts tables (with her Sherlock hat and magnifying glass of course).

Teach kids how to make informed food choices #FocusOnTheFacts

And when we went grocery shopping this weekend, Tee was excited about being given the responsibility of comparing the Nutrition Facts tables on soup and chicken stock and telling me which items had the least sodium. The next time you go grocery shopping, put your kids to some detective work too!

Visit the Nutrition Facts webpage to learn more and test your knowledge daily for a chance to win a $300 grocery card!

Disclosure: This conversation was sponsored by Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC), Health Canada, Retail Council of Canada (RCC), and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). Nevertheless, all opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ.

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  • Very important info here, our labeling is simialr, if not the same, in the US. The best tip (IMO) is to CHECK THE SERVING SIZE!! My brother, who is on a diet, was buying frozen dinners and was happy when he saw only 300 calories brightly paraded on the front of the package. But when we looked closely at the label, that was for TWO servings. It is essential that companies make this clearer. I feel this is being purposely misleading!

    • You’re right, that is really sneaky! Clearly, it’s expected that someone will eat the whole frozen dinner at one sitting. Always a smart idea to read labels carefully.

  • I find it consistently shocking that people do not read labels nor the nutritional facts! Thank you for this post… I find that since I have gone back to real food (healthy, fresh food in the outside aisles), a lot of my worries about what I am putting in my body and that of my families has disappeared.

  • I never really paid too much attention to the daily value and understanding its scale. Thanks to you I now understand. Thanks!

  • I am the same way when it comes to my family. My husband got diagnosed with diabetes this past year and since then we have made a lifestyle change. Love this blog!

  • Great info! It’s important to teach kids the skills to making healthier decisions when buying food at the grocery store.

  • Another good thing to watch out for are the stars at Superstore, it sometimes surprises me how many stars what gets. I was under the impression that serving size was the amount that was normally served for a meal – wrong again.

  • Thank you for this great post and a wealth of valuable information.
    I am always looking for healthier choices because my husband is a diabetic.
    All of this was really helpful. 🙂

  • I have learned a lot from WW about reading the labels, and it’s a great thing for everyone to start doing!!

  • I always like reading through all the ingredients and checking the Nutrition Facts tables on every packaged food item I buy because some family members have restrictions for sodium and salt,sometimes i am shocked at the amounts in 1/2 serving.Thanks for this post we all need to be aware of what we are eating on a daily basics

  • I find it so important in today society to read everything that you buy now , because you just never know whats inside, and why take the chance not only on your life but your family and friends. Read the label..