New to reading nutrition labels? Want some practice and pointers? Don’t know what to look for? In this series, we are giving a full breakdown of how to analyze a food’s nutrition label, so you can learn for your self how to figure out if something is healthy or unhealthy.
Today we have Gino’s East Deep Dish Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza. This is a two-part post. Click here for part 2.
Note: this is episode 4 in an ongoing series of label-reading practice
Each post increases in difficulty and builds off the previous
1. What Am I Eating?
The first step when reading a label is always to use your head. Before doing any reading, it’s best to make a quick educated guess or a rough estimate of what you may find on the label.
Examples: Is it an animal product? Might contain cholesterol? Is it sweet? You can bet on sugar. Is it filling? Look for fat.
Making predictions like these will very quickly improve your reading skills, so you can reach a point down the road where you can estimate what’s in your food to a high degree of precision.
In this case, we are dealing with a box of frozen pizza. Some good guesses about the nutrition would be to think about what most pizzas are like.
They are salty, therefore they have sodium. They aren’t real sweet, so very little sugar. But there are still carbs, don’t forget about the crust. They have cheese, which is mainly fat. There is some meat, so there is a bit of protein too. Combine these and what do you get?
Final guess: About 50% fat, and the rest is around twice as much carbs as protein. Remember these are the 3 Substances required in large amounts to survive. They are pr... More that make all foods.
2. Check for Claims
Is there anything on the box meant to draw you in? Examples: “Low in saturated fat,” “High in Protein,” or “A good source of iron.” Based on these, even before reading, you can observe how it compares to other products or even other brands of the same food.
See also: Get to Know Your Nutrients
And this box of pizza is loaded with info. There are claims like:
- “All Natural”
Contrary to popular belief, that actually means very little.
- “Original” and “Handmade”
- “Authentic Deep Dish Pizza”
Can a deep dish be inauthentic?
- “0g Trans Fat Per Serving” (self-explanatory)
- “No Preservatives” (ditto)
- “Real Cheese”
A step-up from “All This term, to be honest, does not mean much. It simply means... More.” Still pretty vague, but it’s still a nice promise.
See also: How are Nutrients and Calories Rounded?
- “Uncured Pepperoni” (no nitrates used)
- “Inspected and Passed by Department of Agriculture” (self-explanatory)
There are also instructions and warnings, like:
- “Bake time may vary”
- “For best results keep frozen until ready to bake”
- “Do not re-freeze any frozen product that has begun to thaw”
- “To avoid spillage, place foil or pan on lowest rack”
Some may seem a little superfluous, but they are still good to watch out for. Cooking tips can be helpful. You may need to watch out for allergy statements too, like:
- “Contains: Wheat, Dairy, and Soy.”
3. Read the Ingredient List
Now it’s time to look at the back of the package. Unlike with the last few episodes, we will be dealing with a LOT of ingredients. But if you can read this, you can read just about anything.
Remember the that bolded ingredients are the main ingredients. Listed after boldface words are the sub-ingredients that make it up. Time to find out what’s in our pizza.