Changes to nutrition labels are officially on the horizon, but the intent behind them is good: help combat obesity and enable consumers to make better nutritional choices. We can definitely support that. Here’s what President Obama had to say:
Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family. So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.
So what do you need to know about these potential changes? Here are three things to be on the lookout for:
1. Serving sizes get bigger. Yes, you read that right. The new changes propose that serving sizes actually get bigger — but not because anyone is advocating that you eat more. The change is intended to reflect how much people actually eat, not what a label suggests how much they should eat. For example, instead of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s claiming that it has 4 servings, the new label would say it only has two. Of course, that means a “serving” of Ben & Jerry’s now has double the calories.
Why you should care: The new labels don’t suggest you should eat half the pint just because it’s considered a serving. But it may help you be more mindful about portion control. Reading labels will now involve accurately assessing how much a portion really is. So while it’s good that the changes reflect more realistic eating habits, they might also be misleading if you’re not on your game.
2. Speaking of calories…One of the other proposed changes is that calories get a big boost in font size. They’ll be big, bold, and hard to miss if you’re scanning labels at the store. With a 400% jump in size, experts hope that the visual cue will guide people to make better choices.
Why you should care: If you’re a GreenLite client, you already know that all calories are not created equal. While it’s important to pay attention to overall caloric intake, remember that counting calories is only part of the equation. Don’t let the focus on calories override smart choices about fat, sugar, or carbohydrate intake.
3. “Added” sugar gets featured. You can already find “total” sugar on nutrition labels, but soon you may also see a line called “added” sugars.
Why you should care: Many foods already have naturally occurring sugars. But taking note of added sugars can help you discern which foods are artificially sweetened — and with what. In general, added sugar will probably mean more calories and carbs.
The good news is that these nutrition label changes are now part of a public review and comment period that could last up to a year. Actual changes may not take place for about 24 months. So in the meantime? Keep making smart choices, reading labels, and counting those macronutrients!
Source: Conscious Health