On the first of the year, new FDA rules went into effect regarding how food nutrition labels look.
Flip over an updated food item, and you will now see two columns – one for a ‘serving size’ and one for how much is in the whole container.
According to Cleveland Clinic’s Susan Albers, PsyD, the idea behind the change is to give Americans a more accurate reflection of how much they’re typically eating.
She said before, many people didn’t realize that they were actually eating perhaps two or three serving sizes in one sitting.
“Take a look at the serving size; this is very helpful, so that when you take your serving out of the bag or the box, you know how much you are eating,” said Dr. Albers. “You have a much better sense if you actually place it in a bowl and have some consistency to it.”
Types of fat, such as the less-healthy saturated fats and trans fats, will now be listed, in addition to the total amount of fat.
Dr. Albers said this is helpful in teasing out the healthy fats from the non-healthy fats.
“You can eat nuts and they may have a lot of fat in them, but it is a healthy fat,” she said. “So, the amount was not always reflective of how healthy a particular item could be.”
Vitamin D and potassium totals have been added, while listing for vitamins C and A have been dropped.
Dr. Albers said many Americans are vitamin D deficient, while deficiencies in vitamins C and A are rare.
Consumers will also notice a new listing for ‘added sugars.’
“It’s helpful to know that there are different types of sugar,” said Dr. Albers. “Not all sugars are the same – some are healthier than others. So, understanding what has an added sugar, can really make a big difference in the long run.”
She said it’s important to take the time to really read the labels to benefit from the changes.
However, for those who may find them confusing, or struggle with disordered eating, it’s best to have a conversation with a registered dietician or therapist about coping with the changes.