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Teaching kids to read food labels

When working with kids, I have looked for easy explanations on how to read food labels. I found one rule that helps them to understand the basics of what is good and not so good in a food product. I explained it to my 7-year old and now she is a label-reading maniac.

Basically, the label is divided into red and green categories. Red items (servings, calories, calories from fat, fat, cholesterol, and sodium) are less desirable and are things we want to have lower levels of in our food. Green items (fiber, vitamins, and minerals) are desirable and are things we want to have more of in our food.

Now we use what’s called the 5/20 Rule. Anything under 5 is considered low and anything over 20 is considered high. When looking at the Nutrition Facts label, we want the less desirable items to be under 5% of Daily Value (low) and the more desirable items to be 20% or more of Daily Value (high). Make sense?  

Finding foods that meet perfect criteria may not be super easy, but it’s an easy way to recognize which foods are super bad and which foods would probably be better choices.  

Check out this handout from Nourish Interactive to learn more about this strategy. Print it out and share with your kids. Even though it’s designed for kids, you can use it too!


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