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Do You "Read It Before You Eat It?"

I recently spoke with my friend and colleague Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, author of the new book Read It Before You Eat It (Plume) which just hit book store shelves. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation….

What inspired you to write a book about food labels?

Reading food labels is often confusing and sometimes downright misleading. So many of my patients say “I wish I could take you shopping with me,” so I decided this was the best way to accomplish this task! Not even one brand or manufacturer is mentioned within its over 250 pages, so my book allows consumers to be able to shop in any food store anywhere.

What’s the biggest misconception people have when it comes to reading food labels?

Although you shouldn’t feel like you need to be dietitian or mathematician to buy food, or feel as though a supermarket is more like a library, a big problem is that so many of us rush when we go food shopping. We don’t take the time to read labels and compare products. We spend more time buying shoes and clothes – items that go ON our bodies instead of IN our bodies. Consumers need to learn how to not be fooled by the flashy front of the package and instead, flip the box or bag over to check the facts…the Nutrition Facts Panel…to see what’s really in the food they spend their money on.

What about food labels is the most confusing to consumers?

I have a whole chapter dedicated to “Tricky Terms” in my book because consumers are often mislead by words like “organic,” “natural,” and “local,” as well as labels that boast “sugar-free” or  “fat-free.” These foods aren’t always quite what they seem!

Even the listing for “serving size” can be misleading. For example, a serving may appear as “1/2 muffin” or “1 cookie,” but to most of us, that portion is unrealistic and many people don’t realize that you have to multiply the numbers on the label by the amount of servings you actually eat.

Another confusing label term is the one listed as “zero grams of trans fat;” many of these foods are actually allowed to contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. “Zero” should really mean zero. If consumers see hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats listed on the package’s ingredient list, that means the product actually contains some trans fats. I could go on and on about these claims…

What should people expect to get out of your book? How should they best use it?

My book breaks down the lingo to show consumers how to sidestep tricky marketing ploys and shop smart. It’s reader-friendly and gives an aisle-by-aisle guide to picking the best foods in each section of any grocery store. It makes great company at the supermarket; readers will find that food shopping will never be the same!

About the Author:

Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN is the owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants with offices in Long Island and in New York City. She was a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and is a regular guest on national television and radio programs and in the press. For more about Bonnie and her work, visit

Would you like to WIN a copy of Read It Before You Eat It? You can enter for a chance to win by doing one or more of the following; ONE winner will be selected at random on September 7th, 2010.

1) Post a comment on this blog post (please provide your email address as well);

2) Follow me on twitter at @elisazied; if you’re already on twitter, send me a nutrition question you’d like answered in a future blog post or ZIED GUIDE newsletter. And/or you can RT any post that mentions this giveaway.

3) If you’re on Facebook, post a question or comment to me at And/or you can repost any of my posts on Facebook that mention this giveaway.

Thank you, and good luck!! 🙂

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author’s publisher. My book Nutrition At Your Fingertips is also mentioned as a reference, and I am thanked in the acknowledgements section of the book.

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About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized and award-winning health and nutrition expert, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books. An avid walker, she loves motivating others to #moveitorloseit. A book lover, she recently earned a certificate in children’s literature from Stony Brook Southampton and is currently working on several young adult novels. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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