How to Teach Your Kids to Decode Nutrition Labels

It seems as if our knowledge and understanding of nutrition is constantly evolving; it's hard to keep straight of the numbers, benefits and drawbacks of calories, sodium, fat, fiber, carbs, etc. If nutrition labels can be so difficult and overwhelming for adults to decipher, how in the world can you teach a child to understand them? Check out some tips from Radish for teaching your children how to decode nutrition labels.

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That's where Rock Island Hy-Vee dietitian Chrissy Watters comes in. "Nutrition labels can be both boring and confusing for kids — and adults, for that matter," Watters says. "The best thing parents or caregivers can do to teach nutrition is set a good example. Serve a balanced meal based on USDA's (the U.S. Department of Agriculture's) MyPlate. Let your kids see you eating broccoli and — heaven forbid — enjoying it!"

When you're shopping, Watters suggests letting children observe you reading the labels, which will give them the opportunity to ask about what you're doing. You can respond with something as simple as, "I'm reading this label on the side of our bread. It tells me what's in our bread so I can decide if it's going to be good for us," Watters says.

"This will be their first introduction to food labels. As they get older, take opportunities to explain each part of the label in more detail when your kids seem interested," she suggests.

>> Read more: Conquering the Grocery Store: Navigate Your Way to Healthier Nutrition


But where on earth to start? Watters says begin at the top with the serving size. "Tell them this doesn't mean you are supposed to eat this much of the food, just that the rest of the label is based on this amount," she says.

"Then, pick one nutrient to focus on."

Watters says calories are a difficult concept for kids to grasp, so start with nutrients like sugar, sodium, fiber, vitamins and minerals. "Tell kids we want to look for small numbers next to sugar on the label, because too much sugar might make us sick," she says. "Or, vitamin C might help us feel better faster when we have a cold, so it's good to look for on the label."


When it comes to concepts like nutrition, Watters says kids respond well to hands-on learning. Drinks and snacks are fun for kids to compare, she says. She suggests kids look at the sugar content of several drinks, and "put them in order from lowest to highest.

To read more, click here to see the original article from Radish.