If you’re like most people, you take the serving sizes deemed appropriate by nutrition labels with a pinch of salt…or four. I mean, come on, if there were supposed to be two servings in one muffin, why wouldn’t two separate muffins have been baked? What am I supposed to do, carry around half a muffin in my back pocket until I get hungry again? Or what about the ol’ sugar scare? Have you ever gasped and thrown a granola bar back onto a shelf after seeing how much sugar was in it, even though it was probably bursting with nutritional value? It’s no secret that there’s a discrepancy between the information provided on nutrition labels and how consumers interpret that information. Well folks, that issue may soon be resolved.
This past May, the FDA announced that, for the first time since 1993, some critical changes are going to be made to those black and white rectangles that we all know so well. The updates will portray a lot of recent discoveries that have been made in the world of nutrition. The changes aim to serve as a more accurate representation of the amount of food people eat and a dependable resource when trying to understand how much nutritional value is really coming from our food.
Just remember, there is absolutely no gold standard when it comes to what we eat; every single body is different and it’s important to figure out what works for YOU.
Here are some changes to look out for on the new labels and what they’ll look like:
1. The more fiber, the merrier!
The (Fiber One) bar has been raised. Recommendations used to suggest 25 grams of fiber per day, but that number has been boosted to 28. This means that in order to encourage a higher fiber intake, the percent daily value of fiber on many food products will drop slightly.
2. Size up
…the servings, that is. Serving sizes are supposed to be based on what people actually eat, not what a company thinks people should eat. Therefore, there will soon be a calories per-package column next to the calories per-serving column on most nutrition labels. This will save you plenty of math time when you look down and find all three sleeves of Oreos gone…it happens, am I right? Many feel that increasing serving sizes will feed into the growing obesity epidemic in the United States, but the FDA insists that, instead, many serving sizes will actually go down.
3. Don’t be salty.
The recommendation for sodium used to be a maximum of 2,400 mg, per day. Not anymore. The FDA has deemed 2,300 mg per day a better number. Pass the…pepper?
4. C y(A) later!
Vitamins A and C percentages are no required in the nutrition facts because people are rarely deficient in A and C anymore. We’re movin’ on up, people!
5. Pour some sugar on me!!
Or don’t. A never-before-seen “added sugar” category will let consumers know how much sugar has been added to their food. People tend to forget that natural sugar is life, and, instead consider it a fear ingredient! Sugar is quite literally human gasoline! The problem arises when unnatural, processed sugars are added to foods in unnecessarily large amounts that offer no nutritional value. Informing consumers of the amount of sugar that was thrown into food on top of naturally occurring sugar will help them make better decisions about what they’re buying.
6. Fat is back!
Avoca-duh!! Creaming coffee with a stick of butter may be taking things a bit too far, but there will no longer be a recommended upper limit on total fat intake so why not? Saturated fat has long been blacklisted for being a major cause of heart disease, and when the low-fat/no-fat fiasco began in the 1980s, it dragged all other fats down with it! But we need fat to survive, and after watching low-fat/refined carbohydrate diets fail and fail again, people began to remember that! Consequently, the FDA decided to do away with the “Calories from fat” section on labels. Feel free to turn your nose up and quote this information when that one person at the dinner table decides to comment on the fact that you’re being “rather generous” with the evoo on your bread.