As a parent, I am concerned with a lot of aspects where my children are concerned. One area my other half and I try to be aware of is what our kids eat. We buy a good amount of healthy food, but can you always trust a pretty label? The Nutrition Facts Education Campaign is helping to educate people to look harder at what we are eating by having them look at the labels of food to make informed choices when buying and eating food. We were asked to do this with our family and we could not wait to start cracking this case!
The Nutrition Facts Education Campaign: “Focus on the Facts” was developed to help Canadians understand the Nutrition Facts table (NFt) to make educated food choices and then taking a look at the Percent Daily Value (%DV). These two pieces of information help consumers choose food that have more nutrients they want to intake such as fibre and calcium, and less of those they should be avoiding, such as saturated and trans fats and sodium. This is done by looking at the Serving Size, found under the header “Nutrition Facts”; then referring to the Percent Daily Value on the right hand side of the Nutrition Food table; then using the Percent Daily Value to find out if the Serving Size has a lot or a little of a nutrient. 5% DV or less is small and 15% DV or more is a lot.
My kids and I were excited to take this challenge to see whether some of the food in our home was giving us the nutrition we need to be strong and healthy. We got into the spirit of the challenge by putting on our detective caps getting out our magnifying glasses to start sleuthing. I corralled the kids where we eat, at our dinner table, to take everything in.
We first looked to the generic boxes we were provided to compare similar products for their NFt and their %DV so we can get an idea of what to look for when looking at our packages. It was surprising to see how much or how little nutrients are in certain foods. The serving sizes of some foods was also an eye-opener as, for some foods, it was much smaller than we were taking in. The wipe board helped me show my kids how each of these boxes contained to what we should and should not be eating.
We then turned our attention to our own cupboards to see what we were actually eating. My little girl is a peanut butter fan, so I pulled out the jar so we could look at what we were eating. We found that, according to the NFt, the Serving Size was a tablespoon (Tbsp) or 15 g, which is a reasonable amount to spread on bread or toast. Based on the NFt, it had 12% fat and 8% saturated and trans fat which is a bit on the high side. There was also a low amount of sodium (3%), which I was happy about, but also a low amount of fibre (4%), which concerned me a bit. Then I looked at the other nutrients listed and found it contained mid to higher levels of nutrients, so I felt better about our choice to purchase this peanut butter for our family to eat.
After going through this challenge with my kids, we had a chat about how important checking the Nutrition Facts table is and why they needed to eat healthy food more often. We also spoke about how this table also backed up why some of the more fun, but less nutrient junk food should not be consumed in excess. This part of the talk produced a lot of groans from my kids, solidifying my “Mother of the Year” nomination. All joking aside, we have become more educated about what we are eating and how to find out whether what we are eating is good for us.
We found that, with a bit of practice, it was easy to inform ourselves about which foods we should be purchasing more often by taking a closer look at the Nutrition Facts table. By finding out the proper serving sizes of food, we were able to find out just how much food we should be eating so we are not over-eating and that we are taking in enough nutrients for the day. We also have to take into account the type of food you are eating, as some foods will not have certain nutrients in it while others will have an abundance of it. This challenge was a great bonding experience for my family. Now, whenever we go to the grocery store, I know my kids will be more curious about the Nutrition Facts table on all of the foods we come across to choose the right foods for our table!
To find out more about the Nutrition Facts Education Campaign “Focus on the Facts,” you can check out the Government of Canada’s website!