FORT LEE, Va. – While shopping in the commissary last week I saw the most wonderful sight for a dietitian: Everywhere I looked people were reading labels on packages. I would like to think that they were all trying to make the healthiest choices possible as they took advantage of their commissary benefit. This was wonderful to see, because as the DeCA dietitian, it’s my mission to help educate our customers to make informed decisions about their health.
According to the 2007 Food & Health Survey, as many as 66 percent of food shoppers are trying to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. So it makes sense that more people are reading labels on packages to choose foods that meet their health and dietary needs. However, today it can be a little challenging for shoppers to make those decisions with all the information that is on the labels.
To help make your shopping easier, try using the “5-20 guide” as a quick tip to label reading. For any nutrient on the food label (usually found on the side or back of the product) consider the following amounts. Five percent or less is low. For nutrients you need to limit like fat, saturated fat and sodium, choose foods with 5 percent or less daily value. While, 20 percent or more is high. For nutrients you need more of, such as fiber, calcium and iron, choose foods with 20 percent or more daily value.
The Defense Commissary Agency, the National Guard Bureau Decade of Health Program and the American Heart Association are working together to help you make your shopping for healthy choices a little bit easier. You can create and print your own shopping list found at http://www.heartcheckmark.org/.
For more information about healthy food choices and other nutrition topics, go to http://www.commissaries.com and post your questions on the DeCA Dietitian Forum and be sure to look for other useful information in the Dietitian’s Voice archive.
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings worth about $3,000 annually for a family of four. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.