Nutrition Facts labels show the nutrients in food and beverages. Learning how to read them can help people with FCS make the right choices about what they eat and drink.

Here’s what you need to know…

1. Serving size update coming in 2018.

New serving sizes will better reflect the portions that people are eating and drinking.

2. Know what quantity the label is based on.

Serving size is the amount of the food or beverage that contains the calories, fat, carbohydrates, etc. listed on the label. In this example, a single serving is 2/3 cup. There are 8 servings total in the container.

3. Know the calories per serving.

This tells you how many calories you’re consuming based on the actual portion you eat. For example, if you eat two servings, you’d double the calories listed here. People on an FCS-friendly food plan may want to discuss how many calories they need in a day with a registered dietitian or doctor.

4. Calculate total fat. Track it. Limit it.

For FCS patients, it is essential to know how much total fat is in a serving, so you can track and manage fat intake. For example, a serving of this product has 8g of fat. If you can only have 4g of fat, you’d eat half a serving, 1/3 cup.

5. Limit Simple Carbs & Sugars – Especially Added Sugars and Refined Carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are composed of one or two sugar molecules and are very rapidly digested (meaning they won’t leave you feeling full for long). Refined carbohydrates (like white bread and rice) and added sugars (found in things like soda, candy, and syrups) are simple carbs you’ll want to avoid. These may cause triglyceride levels to increase, leading to FCS-related health issues. Choose whole grain products made without fat (like whole grain breads, cereals, and brown rice).

6. Be sure you get the nutrients you need.

Reduced fat foods may lead to low levels of some vitamins your body needs, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K as well as certain minerals. Work with a dietitian to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need.

7. Now that you know, take control.

  • For people with FCS, counting grams of total fat, total carbohydrates, certain vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E, and K), and other nutrients remain the key to maintaining an FCS-friendly food plan.
  • Work with a registered dietitian to create an enjoyable food plan that also meets your daily caloric intake and nutrient needs. Refer to food labels to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need and avoiding the things you don’t.
  • Important: If you have FCS, the percent (%) daily value is not a reliable way to track fat, calories, carbs, and other nutrients. It can even be dangerous. Instead, count or track the actual amount you are eating or drinking, limiting total fat to 20 grams per day.
  • To help feel full longer, try eating foods that are high in protein and fiber, but low in total fat, like those suggested in our Nutrition & Lifestyle Facts.

Note: All food labels must use the new format by July 2018.