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Reading food labels will enable you measure every morsel of food that passes your lips. It is a excellent idea to measure as many foods and beverages as you can to get a feel for portion sizes. Since fast food companies super-sized the world of food, many individuals are surprised to find that what they thought of as a single serving is actually two or more. It is not surprising that so many adults and children are over-weight. If you like gadgets, there are food scales available with pre-programmed nutritional information, as well as ones that will keep a running total of your daily food and nutrient intake for you. The only tools you really need, are a simple and inexpensive gram scale, dry and liquid measuring cups, and always reading food labels. Among all of the tools, reading food labels seems to be the most efficient way of determining the right kind of food to purchase at the supermarket. It allows you to make sensible food selections. Printed on the “Nutrition Facts” section of food products, you can identify the amount of serving sizes provided in in each package. With food labels, you can see the amount and kinds of nutrients that are provided in a particular food item. Most contain information on saturated fat, sodium, total fat, fiber, and cholesterol, and calorie amount “per serving.” Understanding and reading these food labels can be very confusing. A typical consumer may ask what those numbers mean, how they will affect diet intake. It is important to have a clear understanding of these numbers. You may want to keep a small notebook to jot down the basic intake requirement of your family To further have a clear and more comprehensive understanding of the items stated in the food label, here is a list of things that you need to know:
1. Serving size This is the first item you will see in a food label. The amount of servings stated on the food label refers to the quantity of food people should consume. However, this does not necessarily mean that it reflects your own amount of food intake. Serving size determines the amount of nutrients entering the body once the food is consumed. This means that if you will follow the serving size stated on the label, you will get that amount of nutrients for each measured serving size as stated on the label. For instance, if the serving size says one serving size is equal to 2 ounces, that would mean you have to measure a 2 ounce serving to eat individual. So, the amount of nutrients stated in the food label is the same amount that has entered your body considering the fact that you have just eaten 2 ounces. However, if you have eaten the entire product, and the food label says that each pack is equivalent to 4 servings, you have to calculate the amount of nutrients time four. This means that if the food label says 250 calories per serving you would have eaten 1000 calories.
2. Nutrients This refers to the list of available nutrients in a particular food. It is also where the nutritional claims of the product based on the recommended daily dietary allowance are stated. Generally, nutritional amounts are based on both the 2,500-calorie diets and the 2,000 recommended dietary allowances. Your requirement may vary from these general recommendation and are dependent upon your activity level. In order to understand the numeric value of each item, you should know that the “percent daily value” that the food label indicates is actually based on how a particular food corresponds to the recommended daily dietary allowance for a 2,000 calorie. If in the event that you have purchased an item that has a dietary allowance different from the 2,000-calorie diet, you just have to divide the stipulated amount by 2,000 and you will be able to identify the “percent daily value” for the nutrients.
3. Ingredients This refers to the list of the ingredients that were used to manufacture the product. The listing is arranged from the main ingredients that have the greater amount by weight up to the smallest quantity. This means that the actual quantity of the food includes the biggest quantity of the main ingredient or the first item and the minimum amount of the very last ingredient. So, if sugar or glucose is listed first on the label the food product consists mainly of sugar.
4. Label claim This refers to the kinds of nutritional claims of a particular food item. For instance, if an item says it is sodium-free, it has less than 5 milligrams per serving or a low fat item actually contains 3 grams of fat or less. By no means does it imply that the product is totally free of these nutrients. Reading food labels can be tedious and confusing but is necessary for a healthy diet. Nevertheless, once you get the hang of it, it will become easier for you to watch your diet because you are able to control the amount of food that you consume.