Understanding nutrition labels on foods is important because it allows you to make healthy food choices. Activities for reading these labels can help you and your family become knowledgeable as to what constitutes a healthy food versus a not-so-healthy one. The nutritional facts label is located on the package for most foods so that you can evaluate and compare food products.
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Comparing food labels is an activity you can do alone, but it is also a great way to teach children about them. To learn to compare food labels, you might want to start with cereal labels. Choose two different types of cereal, one that you think is healthy and one that you're sure isn't. Let everyone taking part in the activity look at the two labels and discuss which cereal has more fat, sugar, calories and vitamins. This information will allow you to determine which cereal is a healthier choice. For older children and adults, you can discuss what role fat, calories, sugar, salt, and vitamins and minerals play in a healthy meal plan and why you need more or less of these nutrients in your diets.
A food-ranking activity is a way for child and adults to learn what's important on a nutrition label when making healthy food choices. To do this activity, collect six or so different foods with labels. Without looking at the labels, participants should rank the foods in order of what they think is the healthiest down to the least healthy. Once they determine the order, everyone can then analyze the nutrition labels to see if they correctly ranked them. A variation on this activity is to rank the foods on a specific component on the label, such as most calories to least calories or the most vitamin A to the least.
Question and Answer
When your family is learning about nutrition labels, a good way to ensure that they understand the labels is to have a question and answer session. To do this activity, give each person a nutrition label and ask everyone some questions about his label. Ask questions like, "What can you tell me about this food label?" and "How many servings are in the box?" or "How much fat is in two servings?" Each person can show his label to the others while he is answering the questions.