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Eat Healthier: Pay Attention to the Nutrition Facts Label!

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

I hope everyone is having a great summer and had a wonderful Fourth of July. You may have spent it with your family or loved ones, got to see some fireworks, and took some time to reflect on what it means to be an American. You may have had some really good macaroni and cheese, hotdogs, ribs, juicy burgers with cheese, or funnel cakes! I bet it all tasted really good, but now it is time to focus on eating well.

You can get away with eating greasy, fat, sugar loaded meals once in a great while, especially when you are young or active, but try not to make it a habit. Many of us are struggling with our weight-myself included and it’s important to remember not to over-indulge too frequently. We all want to look good and feel well, now and in the future. Who wants high cholesterol, diabetes, or hypertension? No one but unfortunately, many of our family members do. If we know better, we should do better. If you can afford to eat more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, then do it.

I will be honest, I am not one for counting calories. I tend to focus on making sure I am eating the right size portions, but counting calories are important because if you are trying to lose weight or even maintaining your current weight, keeping track of how many calories you consume counts. To lose weight you need to eat fewer calories than your body burns.

I am always encouraging my patients to cook their own food. Get into the kitchen, that way you can control what goes into the pot or into your plate. Learn to enjoy fresh foods and avoid processed foods. If you must eat from a can or box, learn to focus on the nutrition facts label. What is the serving size? Did you eat the whole can, and in fact just ate two to five servings for example? Or did you share the can with someone else? Or did you save the remains for later? How many calories per serving? Total fat? Sodium? Fiber? Sugar? And Protein?

Here’s another example, I can’t tell you how often patients come in complaining of ankle swelling. Sure the heat, standing, or walking all day can contribute to pedal edema, but salt consumption is also a big contributing factor. When was the last time you looked at the nutrition fact label on a bag of potato chips, salted nuts or bacon? Some of these foods can have up to 20% sodium per serving. That’s almost a quarter of the amount of salt you are supposed to consume for the entire day in one serving! Makes you want to go drink a green smoothie right now, doesn’t it?! So be healthy and make wise choices. And go out and do the right thing on your way to being amazing!

Submit your health questions via comments or email them to

– Habiba Tunau MD

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