Food labels provide the key to unlocking a healthier you.
How many of you find yourself walking into a supermarket with all intentions of making this the healthiest food shop you’ve ever done, only to then find yourself annoyed at trying to understand the food labels on the back of products?
What likely follows is the throwing into the trolley of the cheapest and most eye-catching choices, justified by thoughts like, ‘Why do they make these things so complicated to read anyway?’
Well, the truth is these food labels provide the key to unlocking a healthier you! Using the food label to accurately distinguish between healthy and potentially harmful food and drink products, you can judge products not by their cover but by their true traits. Namely, their macronutrient content.
Here are 4 tips to a healthier food shop:
1. Get to know standard measurements
Firstly, make your comparisons in the 100g column of all products. This provides a standard measurement across the board, i.e. the serve size usually differs in weight per product, which can give you biased interpretations.
2. Assess the fat content
Secondly, assess the total fat content of each product. The aim here is to choose a product that has less than 5g of fat per 100g. The fat macronutrient carries the largest contribution towards total calories/kJ or ‘weight gain’, thus it is a good idea to prioritise this number.
3. Aim for less than 10g of sugar per 100g
Thirdly, assess the sugar content between these products, which are now clearly on trial for a possible pantry selection. Sugar is a subset of the carbohydrate macronutrient, and a major contributor towards diabetes as well as infant behaviour disorders. Thus, aim for less than 10g of sugar per 100g.
4. Choose products with higher protein
The final necessary comparison to make is that of the protein macronutrient. Aim here, of course, to choose the product that has the higher protein reading, because as we all know, protein functions enormously in muscular development, strength, definition, recovery and immunity.
OK team, this year make your food choices align with your goals. Say ‘no’ once in the supermarket, rather than having to say it a thousand times every time you open your fridge or pantry.
Mark Robinson is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, with accompanying undergraduate degrees in exercise science and psychology. His website is healthmanmark.com.