Label Reading 101

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What is the best skill you can have when navigating the grocery aisles? Label reading of course! It is so important to have this skill to be able to choose the best food choices for you and your family. There are so many products in a grocery store, with new items being added all the time. It is easy to get confused when faced with so many choices. Here are some tips to help you fill your cart with healthy choices.

The Ingredient List

The first thing to look at when reading a label is the ingredient list; it is required by law on packaged foods. Ingredients are listed from most to least so be sure that the first few ingredients are ones you want to be eating!

The Nutrition Facts Table

Next, have a look at the Nutrition Facts Table. This table has a consistent look on products and lists calories and several important nutrients. This is an excellent source of information when you want to know more about the product. Check the serving size first. All nutrients are based on this amount… and beware! This serving size may be more or less than the amount of food you will actually eat.

The Percentage Daily Value (% DV) is a useful tool for making healthy choices. It is a benchmark for evaluating nutrient content quickly and easily and is very helpful when comparing products. It puts nutrients on a scale of 0% to 100%. For all nutrients, 5% DV means a little and 15% DV means a lot. So if it’s a nutrient you want to eat more of, such as fibre, look for 15% DV or more. If it’s a nutrient you would like to cut back on, such as sodium, look for 5% or less.

Front of Package Claims

Last but not least, you may see nutrient content claims on the front of packaged products. You may see statements like ‘no sugar added’, ‘fat free’, or ‘light’. Buyer beware! Remember that the claim only focuses on one nutrient. You need to read the ingredient list and Nutrition Facts Table to get the whole picture and judge if the product is cart worthy.

Have more questions on label reading? Let us help! Sobeys Dietitians are label reading experts and can help you navigate the grocery aisles and choose the best products. Visit to find a dietitian near you.

Hungry for more? Like @SobeysDietitian on Facebook and Twitter for more tasty tips & recipes or receive our schedule of events and Healthy Bits & Bites Newsletter directly to your inbox! Register at

Nutrition Events

Join Flynn for a label reading tour focused on plant based eating. Sessions offered on November 16, 1:30-3 p.m. at Sobeys Aberdeen, or November 27, 5:30-7 p.m. at Sobeys Westside. Contact Flynn to register at 902-755-3645 or

Quinoa Pumpkin Seed Granola
Serves 12

¾ cup 175 ml Quinoa, rinsed and well drained
½ cup 125 ml Pumpkin seeds, shelled, unsalted
½ cup 125 ml Almonds, slivered
¼ cup 60 ml Flax seeds
¼ cup 60 ml Honey
2 tbsp 30 ml Canola oil
1 tsp 5 ml Cinnamon
¼ tsp 1 ml Salt
¾ cup 175 ml Dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Combine quinoa, pumpkin seeds, almonds and flax in a large bowl.
3. Heat honey for 20 seconds in a small microwave-safe bowl. Stir in oil, cinnamon and
4. Pour honey mixture over quinoa mixture and toss to coat. Spread on cookie sheet
and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until golden, stirring twice.
5. Stir in cranberries and cool for 15 minutes in the pan.
6. Spread out on foil. Cool completely, breaking up any large pieces.

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories 184
Fat 10 grams
Carbohydrate 22 grams
Fibre 3 grams
Protein 5 grams
Sodium 52 milligrams

Tip: Pack in small air tight containers for a grab and go snack.
Source: Sobeys Dietitians