1) Look at total carbohydrate
-not just sugar. Evaluate the grams of total carbohydrate — which includes sugar, complex carbohydrate and fiber — rather than only the grams of sugar. If you zero in on sugar content, you could miss out on nutritious foods naturally high in sugar, such as fruit and milk. And you might overdo foods with no natural or added sugar but plenty of carbohydrate, such as certain cereals and grains.
-Don't miss out on high-fiber foods. Pay special attention to high-fiber foods. Although the grams of sugar and fiber are counted as part of the grams of total carbohydrate, the count can sometimes be misleading. If a food has 5 grams or more fiber in a serving, the American Diabetes Association recommends subtracting the fiber grams from the total grams of carbohydrate for a more accurate estimate of the product's carbohydrate content.
2) Beware of fat-free products
-Per gram, fat has more than twice the calories of carbohydrate or protein. If you're trying to lose weight, fat-free foods might sound like just the ticket. But don't be fooled by "fat-free" food labels.
-Fat-free can still have carbohydrates. Fat-free foods can have more carbohydrates and contain nearly as many calories as the standard version of the same food. The lesson? You guessed it. Compare food labels for fat-free and standard products carefully before you make a decision.
3) Pay attention to serving sizes.
The serving sizes listed on food labels may be different from the serving sizes in your meal plan. If you eat twice the serving size listed on the label, you also double the calories, fat, carbohydrate, protein, sodium and other contents.
4) Consider your daily calorie goals.
The same goes for the Percent Daily Value listed on food labels. This percentage, which is based on a 2,000-calorie diet, helps you gauge how much of a specific nutrient one serving of food contains compared with recommendations for the whole day. If your doctor or registered dietitian recommends more or less than 2,000 calories a day, you may need to adjust the percentage accordingly — or simply use the percentage as a general frame of reference.