Empowering occupational therapy practitioners with a playbook of functional tasks to use with their geriatric clients

Comparing Nutrition Labels

Comparing Nutrition Labels

Over time, I have incorporated more medication or health condition management goals into my plan of care. While being able to administer medication is widely recognized as important in managing conditions such as diabetes, diet education is often overlooked by the team. This might be because team members forget about it, haven’t received training themselves, or assume that it is the responsibility of someone else on the team. No matter the reason, it is a vital part of helping our clients manage their conditions.

One activity that I frequently complete with my clients in preparation for more complex tasks is practicing comparing nutrition labels. This activity can be adapted to use with a variety of medication conditions including diabetes, cardiac conditions, and kidney disease. Clients may be familiar with this information already or it may be new and somewhat difficult to understand. It’s also important to keep in mind that understanding and comparing the information in labels requires significant executive functioning skills. This task may be difficult for clients who are showing signs of cognitive impairment, even if it is a task that wasn’t difficult in the past.


Develop executive functional skills, specifically comparing items and making decisions


Great for 1:1 treatment – Great for concurrent or group treatment

Time Frame

10-60 minutes

Materials Required

  • Several different food items with nutritional labels – try to obtain food for a variety of food groups as well as beverages
  • A sample food label, in large print if needed
  • Paper and pencil


  • Clarify any medical diets that the client follows including diabetic, cardiac, etc. 


  1. Review a sample nutritional label with the client. Ask them to find the following on a sample label:
    • Total calories
    • Grams of fat
    • Calories from fat
    • Grams of carbs
    • Grams of protein
    • Total sodium
    • Grams of sugar
  2. Ask the client to select 2 foods with nutritional labels. Ask the client to identify which of the two foods has:
    • Less sugar
    • Less fat
    • Fewer calories
    • Less sodium
  3. Provide the client with four foods with nutritional labels. Ask the client to select which food would be the healthiest for someone who has/is:
    • A cardiac condition (low sodium)
    • Diabetes (low sugar)
    • Watching their total calories
    • Watching their total fat: Invite the client to choose an object to create and a piece of paper to use.

Special Notes

Some clients may require training regarding the specifics of their disease or dietary recommendations for him prior to completing this activity.

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