Ignorance Is Not Bliss When it Comes To Food

Is 380 calories for a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte a lot? What about 53 grams of sugar in a Naked Green Machine smoothie? Or 620 mg of sodium in a slice of Dominos cheese pizza?

As a nutrition geek, I love walking into a Starbucks and seeing nutritional information on display. Yet, when I asked a barista whether she thought this information influenced her customer’s choices, she replied “I don’t think so, we are still cranking out the frappuccinos.”.

In North America and Europe, there are major efforts underway to empower consumers to make more informed choices. Mandatory nutritional labeling at chain restaurants are one piece of the effort, another is updates to food labeling regulations (rolling out over next few years).

Yet, there is a large gap between this mission and the healthfulness of the choices that consumers make. This gap reflects in part the complexity of our decisions about what to eat, which blend mental, physical and practical factors.

This article targets another driver of this gap — a lack of understanding of how to make use of the nutritional information that is being made available to us. This gap has two underlying issues — the first is knowing what healthy looks like, and the second is knowing how to get this information from a nutritional label (or app). When read and interpreted correctly, nutritional labels can not only help you hit your nutrient targets, but also provide a powerful tool to fight against the wily ways of food manufacturers.

I encourage everyone to take two powerful steps towards making healthier choices. They may seem daunting, but are easier than you may think, and are an investment well worth making.

Step 1: Learn what you should be aiming for in your diet.

Step 2: Pay attention to what is in the food and drinks you choose.

Call me naive, but I am optimistic that taking these steps makes it much harder to unknowingly blow a day’s worth of calories in a burrito, a day’s worth of sodium in a bowl of soup, or a weekend’s worth of sugar in a DQ blizzard.

Read the full article here.