1) Serving Size: Start from the top! Serving size is where the main deception lies. Something may appear to be worthwhile when in reality, you are eating multiple servings. Always multiply all nutrient values by the total number of servings you are consuming. A serving is typically much less than you’d think!
2) Calories: Total calories are important. If something is excessive, you’ll know it right away. Your body can only handle and break down so much at once. An overload could lead to fat storage. Keep meals small and often, not large and sparse.
3) Fat: There are good types of fat (essential fats) and bad types of fats. Saturated fats and trans fats can lead to weight gain, clogged arteries and, increased LDL (poor cholesterol). At a whopping 9 calories per gram, it’s important to limit excess consumption. As a general rule, we rarely recommend more than 15 grams for a meal and 5-7 for a snack.
4) Fiber: Fiber is one of the most important nutrients. Fiber helps to eliminate toxins, increase digestibility, and keep you full longer. Aim high. >25 grams for women, >35 grams for men.
5) Sugar: Here’s a task. See how many foods you can find that are higher in fiber than they are in sugar. Not many. Nowadays, almost everything is full of high fructose corn syrup. It’s in our breads, our cereals, our meats, everything. Be careful! There is no use or need for excess sugar.
6) Sodium: Sodium is packed into sauces, canned goods, deli meats, and snacks. It’s everywhere. More often than not, it’s used as a food additive to aid in preservation. You’ll find that your sodium levels will drop off if you start eating natural foods. Low sodium reduces your chances for high blood pressure.
7) Vitamins and Minerals: Always try and get the majority of your vitamins and minerals from food sources. Fruits and veges are your best bet!