Making healthy eating choices has become a major stressor for the modern worker.
With more and more jobs being stationed behind a desk, employee health is becoming threatened now more than ever.
So what can you do to help?
- Education is a valuable first step to taking charge of employee health and wellness.
- When educating your employees, it's best to start with the basics, such as: how to read nutrition labels.
You might be wondering: Why do I need to know how to read nutrition labels?
- Most food products are required to display some information about ingredients, portion size, and nutritional value.
- Helping your employees to understand these nutritional values can lead to healthier choices.
Let’s break down what you might find on a nutrition label in order to better understand how you can help your employees to make better choices.
Understanding nutrition labels on foods
A nutrition label or NFP (nutrition fact panel) is the information about the caloric makeup of a given food.
Here’s an example of what you might find on the back of your favorite food products:
As you can see, there’s a lot of information here! Learning how to interpret all the numbers and percentages can be a bit confusing.
Let’s break them down together:
- Servings per container
- This refers to how many individual portions of the food item make up the whole of the container's contents.
- Serving size
- This refers to what is recommended for you to eat in an individual sitting.
- This refers to how many calories your body will intake, according to the established value of one serving.
- Daily Value
- This refers to the percentage that each category makes up of what is recommended for an adult to eat in one day.
- This section includes total fat, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.
- Knowing this can help illuminate how healthy a food item might be for your specific energy needs.
- This section shows how many milligrams of sodium are present in one serving of the food item.
- It’s best to check with your doctor when determining appropriate sodium levels.
- This section includes dietary fiber, total sugars, and added sugars.
- Depending on your health, age and gender, we all have different fiber, sugar, and carbohydrate needs.
- An important component of energy production, the protein section lists how many grams of protein can be found in one serving of your food item.
- Ingredients list
- The ingredients list states all of the different components that have gone into this specific food item.
Now that we know what’s on a nutrition label, let’s look at the commonly misunderstood sections of nutrition labels.
The good, the bad, and the ugly of nutrition labels
Knowing how to read nutrition labels can be the one stop shop in answering the age old question: Should I eat this?
Let’s look at the top five components of a nutrition label that can best help us answer this question.
Component 1: Serving size
- Looking at just the amount of calories in a food item can be misleading.
- Often this number reflects only the portion of one individual serving size, which means that eating the entirety of a food package can result in consuming three or more times the numbers listed.
Component 2: Fats
- It’s now more commonly understood that there are some “good” fats, like those found in olive oil and avocados.
- However, it’s still a best practice to avoid saturated fats like butter and lard, which are harder for your body to digest and can lead to weight gain.
Component 3: Cholesterol
- Cholesterol needs can vary from person to person.
- It is a good rule of thumb to avoid high cholesterol foods in order to prevent health implications.
Component 4: Sodium
- Foods that are high in sodium can contribute to a variety of health conditions.
- Paying close attention to foods that are high in sodium can be an integral role in your overall wellness.
Component 5: Carbs and sugars
- Sugars are a type of carbohydrate that become dangerous when eaten in excess.
- When your body can’t regulate the digestion of sugars, you can develop health problems.
- It’s important to stay mindful of how much sugar is contained in one serving of your food item.
Paying attention to these items listed above can be a great starting point to making better food choices that help you and your employees to become their happiest and most productive selves.
Having employees understand nutrition labels
Navigating these tough health decisions can be difficult and it can feel like a lot to keep track of, but you don’t have to do it alone.
While helping your employees know how to understand nutrition labels on foods is a valuable first step in your team's wellness journey, ultimately you need to partner with a wellness provider who can help you implement long term structural change.
Grokker has you covered
Grokker is committed to helping your employees make healthy choices. At Grokker, we believe that health doesn’t have to be a challenge.
With Grokker’s patented video technology, your workers can learn and connect with any of our 130 master experts, including registered dieticians and professional chefs, in the online Groker community for their unique health needs.