I’ve had a problem since I arrived in Germany: I don’t understand the nutrition labels on food items.
To be 100% honest, I haven’t really made any sort of an effort to learn. Mainly, it’s easier that way, and also, then I don’t feel bad about anything I eat. For example, if I am craving a Magnum ice cream bar after dinner, there are no hard facts staring me down in English saying, “This is bad for you! You shouldn’t eat it!”
My original title for this post was going to be: Since I can’t read the nutrition label, calories and fat don’t exist, right? But, after a couple of delicious trips to the bakery this week, I decided it was time to learn what I was consuming at home.
In the United States, nutrition labels are made according to portion size (e.g. 4 cookies, 16 gummy bears). In Germany, many labels are made according to 100g portions.
There are several problems with this. First, I don’t really know what a gram is yet. Second, once you understand what a gram is, you have to calculate how many grams of something you are actually consuming, which is kind of tricky to do. It’s not like saying, I only had 2 cookies instead of 4, so I’ll halve the numbers.
I did an inventory of my pantry and discovered that some foods actually do have both a 100g column and then a portion column. More international foods, like Ritz crackers, have both, but many food items, including yogurt and milk, simply have the 100g column.
I am disappointed to say that while doing this research for you, I discovered that Magnum bars have several columns, and one is for an entire bar. Sadly, I figured this out, not because my German skills are becoming so excellent, but because at the top of the column there is an actual shape of an ice cream bar.
Now that my nutrition mystery is solved, I suppose I can just stick to the bakeries where there is no judgment or math involved: just good old-fashioned calorie oblivion. And, as an extra precaution, I will be sure not to retain any words like “fat” or “calories” in my German vocabulary.