FOCUS ON THE FACTS: Nutrition Information For Your Family

We kicked off our Christmas celebrations this year by attending the Halifax Tree Lighting in the Grand Parade. It was the first time we had attended as a family. And what an event! There were the Octonauts, mob carolling (is that a thing? It was that night!), a visit from Santa to do the final countdown, and then! Then the ginormous tree lit up, followed by a breathtaking fireworks display. The kids were DAZZLED.

Next weekend we start the holiday party circuit, including hosting a big potluck meal with our extended family. That, of course, means lots of food leading up to Christmas so while we were at the tree lighting we made sure to stop by the Nutrition Facts Education Campaign’s #FocusOnTheFacts booth.

I think it’s especially important to consider nutrition during the holidays when we are entertaining and party-going more than ever. Our little kids trust us to make smart choices for them and the Nutrition Education Facts Campaign gives you the tools to read the Nutrition Facts table properly. By involving the kids in the process, they learn that not every food is equal and how to make good nutritional choices for their bodies to grow.

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The friendly and helpful folks at the booth took some time with our family to go over the basics about breaking down labels and decoding what all those numbers mean. Later, there will be a quiz (really!) where you get the chance to win a grocery gift card so I'm going to share a few things we learned so you’ll be prepared. Let’s call it a study session, shall we? (just hold those study snacks until we figure this out)

START WITH SERVING SIZE

Did you know that the serving size is NOT necessarily the recommended amount you should eat? It’s a base number for figuring out the nutritional components of the food. You look at how much the manufacturer uses for their calculations and then adjust it based on how much you actually eat in one serving. So, yes, triple the ice cream number - that never looked right to me.

USE % DAILY VALUE (or %DV)

Now find the percentage of the daily value (listed as %DV). This is on the right hand side of the label. This number tells you how much you'll be getting of each nutrient, out of the recommended amount per day, based on the serving size amount. 

NUTRIENT

Now the fun starts. You need to figure out if there is a little or a lot of each nutrient in the food; just remember, 5% DV (daily value) or less is "a little" and 15% DV or more is "a lot." Obviously you'll be eating other foods throughout the day so that's why these numbers seem low at first glance.

Compare two or more products to see which one has a little or a lot of each nutrient. Make sure to adjust the serving size as needed on comparable products. Many similar food products often have very different serving sizes listed between brands, which needs to be taken into account. 

Not everyone needs the same amount of each nutrient either. For example, some people need more iron or calcium in their diets, and so the foods with the higher amounts of those nutrients should be chosen for them; whereas someone else may be trying to increase their fibre intake. As a rule though, almost everyone can use less saturated and trans fats and sodium!

QUIZ TIME

That's it! Study session over. Once it’s broken down like that, it seems much less mysterious doesn't it?

After our crash course at the Focus on the Facts booth we were given some test questions to see how well we were paying attention (oh, I loved school! This was just heaven for me and I may have been a little overenthusiastic shouting out my answers...).

Miss M is in grade primary this year and loving school as much as I did, so she was all over this. Right now she is learning about the concepts of more and less so she was a big help to us during our quiz time. She had fun using her magnifying glass to help us figure out which food had more or less of each nutrient on the sample food boxes in the quiz.

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For every correct answer we were rewarded with chips for the Nutrition FACT-O game, which was like plinko, and we cashed in with lots of correct answers!

I let each child help me drop a couple chips in the game and they must have been my lucky charms because we won some entries for the grocery gift card contest as well as reusable shopping bags!

To learn more about making good nutritional choices I encourage you to bookmark the Focus on the Facts website to learn more, and use the notes I gave you to take their quiz daily to be entered for the monthly $300 grocery gift card draw!

*NOTE: The contest is closed for the $100 gift card I was giving away on my site, however, you can still enter to win the $300 grocery gift card by clicking this link!

GIVEAWAY (CONTEST CLOSED)

Now that you’re up to speed and ready to start informed shopping for your family and friends this holiday season, I’m going to help one family get started by giving away a $100 Sobey's gift card (on top of the $300 one you can qualify for here), thanks to the Nutrition Facts Education campaign, a collaboration between Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC), Health Canada, Retail Council of Canada (RCC), and Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). 

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for your chance to win (and don't forget to check off each item in the widget after you've completed the task to be sure your entry is recorded!).

*Disclosure: This blog post was sponsored on behalf of the partners in the Nutrition Facts Education campaign, however, as always, all opinions and experiences shared here are my own. Prize delivery will be the responsibility of the sponsor.