The FDA has recently updated their nutrient labels so pregnant women and parents know exactly how many calories from proteins, carbohydrates and fats they’re consuming along with an updated version of the Daily Percentage values of vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin A. This is so important for consumer’s ability to take control of their servings of packaged foods.
The updated FDA labels include;
Serving sizes: A better, more clear amount per serving and servings per package
Calories: Calories total and calories from fat. Eating too many calories, from any food i.e. fats, carbs or proteins will cause weight gain.
Nutrients: The new labels will provide a clear indication of nutrients you should limit, like saturated fats, trans fats and salt and nutrients you should receive the maximum amount like vitamin D. This is perfect for those looking to reduce sodium due to heart conditions or want increased folic acid or iron such as pregnant and nursing moms.
Daily Value %: This explains the percentage of nutrients in the specific package based on a 2,000 calories per day diet. While this daily percentage value is extremely important to keep you aware of nutrients, it may be misleading for the vast majority of us.
A 2,000 calorie per day diet is a rough estimate. For women who are not exercising daily eating 2,000 calories a day will cause weight gain. For men who are exercising eating 2,000 calories a day will cause weight loss. Pregnant women may consume 2,000 calories a day because of the extra 300 calories per day needed. The amount of calories a day your body needs is based your average day. The REE or resting energy expenditure is based on your calorie needs for a 24 hour period and this is a better estimate of your calorie needs. Pregnant women can add 300 calories per day to their REE during their 2nd and 3rd trimesters, and potentially into their 1st trimester of pregnancies.
Make no mistake, the updated nutrient labels from the FDA are clear and concise and will serve the public well on better understanding of nutrients needs, but nutrient labels are on packaged foods. Packaged foods should take up a small portion of your daily diet. Pregnant women especially should consume whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables for energy and health. Use the new FDA nutrient labels to your advantage, making smart healthy choices for your family.