The first step towards better health is to eat the right kinds of food in the right amounts every day. But how do you know what the right kinds and right amounts are?

Food labels can help provide the answers, but they can be confusing.

Take serving size. You and the manufacturer of the food product may have a difference of opinion as to what constitutes a serving, but all of the information on the food label is based on what the manufacturer considers typical. Beware. If the label on a can of vegetable soup says it contains two servings, but you eat the entire can at one sitting, you have doubled your intake of the posted calories, fat, sugar, salt and everything else that went into the soup.

Ingredient lists are also key to understanding food content. The higher an ingredient appears on the list, the more there is of it in the food item. When something is listed first, second or third, the food item probably contains a lot of it. Limit your consumption of foods where sugar or salt is listed high on the lists!

[Janet Lubman Rathner]