Food labels are designed to help the consumer make educated choices. The food labels show you the serving size, the amount of energy i.e. calories, the macro content and the % of the total daily value of each macro recommended. Having a general understanding of food labels will help keep you healthy, these days so many products on the shelves are full of marketing concepts, selling to you that the product is healthy even if it isn’t and this is exactly why understanding food labels is important! You have to make sure you are in the driving seat when it comes to making positive choices.
The marketing that is out there today on food products is next level and sometimes this marketing does not have your best interest at heart. The general rule is if a product is ‘low in fat’ it is basically higher in sugar and / or salt. For products that claim they contain ‘no sugar’ but still taste sweet, these have been enhanced with artificial sweeteners to make them taste good. The marketing on food / drink products today is very clever, the manufacturers want you to buy their product so they will spend money on making foods sounds amazing and ‘healthy’ if they can. So be mindful not to get tricked. Some marketing may be truthful but a lot of the time it is designed to lure you in with claims like: ‘all natural’, ‘Light’, ‘Reduced Fat’, ‘sugar free’ etc.
When you go to the supermarket your main focus needs to be on driving your trolley around the outside of the store where all the fresh foods are, like fruits, vegetables, meats etc. This should be the majority of your shop then you can tick off your prepared list of items that have a longer shelf life without getting distracted by the endless choices. Purchasing foods that are in their original form is always best.
When reading the ingredients list on a food label understand that the list is always in order of the ingredient that is used most in the product and then it goes down in order from there. So for example if ‘sugar’ is the first ingredient on the list or another name for sugar such as these ones listed below:
you know that that product is probably not the best choice for you if your goal is to have a healthy body and mind. If you are looking at the label and you don’t recognise some of the ingredients listed this is another reason to be aware and maybe choose a different option. Again, eating foods that are in their original form or close to it is always best – you can’t go wrong.
Sometimes a product can contain 2 x serving sizes or 4 x serving sizes instead of just one so you need to be mindful. The serving size can differ greatly from product to product so what you think is a ‘normal’ portion size may be way over the serving size suggested. So when taking in the amounts of fats, sugar, protein and fibre from your food label, you need to figure out how much the serving size is and make your conscious decision. Are you going to stick to the serving size suggestion or are you going to have more?
When comparing foods off a food label it is ok if you are comparing two different types of soups in a can but it won’t work if you are comparing a packet of pasta with a bottle of tomato sauce. When comparing products focus on the 100g measure that way you can work on a % basis and it is easier to work out.
Remember it is always best to eat foods in their original form just how mother nature intended as they have the perfect balance when it comes to goodness that our bodies need to function well.
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