How many times have you been in the store and just stared blankly at a food label trying to figure out what the heck it actually means? Confusing right!?
Not to mention all the green wash labelling on everything these days.
Natural, high in fibre, low in fat, sugar free, may contain soy, allergens, nuts and so on…. Ekkkk so how do you know whats good to eat and whats not.
Anyone can use the term ‘natural’ on a food label, so be warned that it doesn’t always mean its healthy.
The trick with these foods is no fat, high sugar usually. To replace the flavour and texture when the fat has been removed.
‘No added Sugar’
This means the products must NOT contain any added sugar, but may still contain naturally found sugars. There are loads of alternative names for sugar, actually 61 names.
So today I want to shed light on the nutritional information panel (NIP) and ingredients lists to help you start to understand a little more about what you are grabbing from the shelves.
Most packaged food must have an NIP on its label. This is the little table of information - well seriously there is loads of info on there.
Every NIP lists seven nutrients - energy, protein, total fat, saturated fat, total carbohydrates, sugars and sodium.
Sometimes you will find other nutrients on there like Vit C etc. if the product makes a specific health claim.
Lets break it all down a little more -
Be warned by these!!
NIP list the quantity of nutrients per 100g and per serve.
Serving sizes vary from product to product, they are often smaller than you would believe. Always use the 100g column to compare similar foods to one another
This represents the amount of Kjs that are released when food and alcohol are digested by the body.
Most labels will state the recommend daily energy content to be around 8700kj. This does vary though between age, sexes, activity levels and other factors.
NIP will list fat in saturated fat and total fat. Total fat is all the saturated and unsaturated, essential fatty acids, trans fats in one single sere.
Fot total fat always look for less than 10g per 100g and for saturated fat, less that 3g per 100g is recommended. Also aim for less than 30% of daily energy intake from fat.
Sorry my sweet toothed friends - sugar really needs to be avoided in large servings, it should be no more than 10-15% of your daily energy intake. When reading labels know that 5g per 100g Is a little and more than 15g per 100g is a lot.
Too much sodium in the diet can cause some serious problems. Pacakged and processed foods can be really high in sodium regardless of whether they actually taste salty. Look for products that are less than 400mg per 100g. Read the labels carefully.
Ingredients list as a rule must be listed in order from largest to smallest in weight. Some main ingredients may have a percentage listed next to them… sometimes when you look at a label of something - i.e.; chocolate the actual amount in there may be minimal.
A number thats placed next to the ingredient indicates colours, food additives, preservatives and other nasties.
Honestly when it comes to food - try and eat minimally packaged foods.
Stick to and enjoy as much whole food where you can. Always read the labels and if you don’t understand what they say its fair to say that you probably should best be avoiding eating it.
There is no need to learn how to read labels when you are eating a banana.