Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs): These tend to be the most well-known guidelines. They were set for the nutrient intake that is sufficient to meet the needs of nearly all individuals (about 97%) in a given gender and age group. Many people often incorrectly refer to these as the recommended "daily" allowances and believe that it is their goal to reach the RDA each day. It was not meant to be used as a guide for an individual's daily needs. The RDAs were established to be used in setting standards for food-assistance programs, for interpreting food record consumption of populations, and for establishing guidelines for nutrition labels.
The information listed below the serving size is listed in grams and percentages. You will learn how to interpret the grams for each nutrient later on in the article. In an attempt to help people determine if the food will reach their nutritional needs, the FDA developed a set of generic standards called Daily Values. You will only find Daily Values listed on food labels. The standard DRIs could not be used because they vary by gender and age, so they are too specific for a food label. The limitation of the Daily Values is that they are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. This means that the percentages are only relevant to someone who is consuming 2,000 calories. For everyone else, these percentages will either be too high or too low. For this reason, it's best to focus on grams and ingredients.
It is important to find out from your doctor whether any medications that you take affect how your body uses what you eat. For instance, some medications cause a person to retain sodium, while others cause potassium loss. Methotrexate can lower folic acid levels, causing a variety of adverse symptoms that can be offset by taking additional supplements.
The most important thing to read on the food label is the very first line. The serving size that is listed is what all of the rest of the information is based upon. For example, if you were looking at a label for cookies and the serving size was two cookies, all of the nutrition information on the label would be based on the consumption of two cookies. When you consume more than two cookies, you need to increase the numbers based on how many servings you consume. For example, if there are 100 calories in two cookies, and you consume six cookies, you would be consuming 300 calories.
Make things yourself. While it’s extremely convenient to buy most things pre-made or pre-cooked, it always adds to the price per pound on items. Try prepping veggies ahead of time instead of buying pre-cut ones. Try making your stew meat from a chuck roast. Or, simply try to make your mayo and salad dressings at home. The simplest of things can work to cut down on your overall grocery shopping.

A: The most common ways to track your carbs is through MyFitnessPal and their mobile app. You cannot track net carbs on the app, although you can track your total carb intake and your total fiber intake. To get your net carbs, just subtract your total fiber intake from your total carb intake. I have written an article on How to Track Carbs on MyFitnessPal.
Having ready-to-eat snacks and meals-in-minutes on hand sets you up for success. You'll be less likely to hit the drive-through or order a pizza if you can throw together a healthy meal in five or 10 minutes. Here are some essentials to keep on hand: frozen vegetables, whole-grain pasta, reduced-fat cheese, canned tomatoes, canned beans, pre-cooked grilled chicken breast, whole grain tortillas or pitas, and bags of salad greens.
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