5 Tips for Reading Food Labels

I have come across a lot of documentaries and books about the rise in global obesity but recently a common theme has emerged, our education about the food we eat. Scientists and nutritionists argue that we should be educated more about food and learn the ability to differentiate between fake healthy foods and real, nutrient dense foods.

Quite often you may think you are eating healthy foods when in fact you are not. Before I became really passionate about healthy eating and started researching more about it I thought having a Caesar salad or a salad covered in dressing was healthier than having a burger and chips. In reality it was not that much better for my body. Do not feel embarrassed if this is you, we are all drawn to meals that promise health and weight loss benefits when in fact they are riddled with sugar and processed ingredients. We are tricked by food companies and their smart choice of words.

Picture/ Pinterest/ Paulina Arcklin.

There are a lot of mixed messages out there about healthy eating so I decided to show you the 5 simple rules you should follow when doing your grocery shop.

1. READ THE INGREDIENTS
Unless its quinoa or cacao, if you can’t pronounce the ingredients don’t buy it. Many supermarket products are full of stabilisers and waxing agents to allow for longer product shelf life. For example, I used to always purchase unsweetened almond milk thinking I was fuelling my body with a healthier alternative and one day I decided to look at the ingredients and realised that I did not recognise half of them.

2. INGREDIENT RANKING
Ingredients are listed in terms of their amount in the product. For example, almond butter should have Almonds listed as its first ingredient because it is the main ingredient. If sugar is anywhere near the top I would avoid it.

3. THE SUGAR RULE
Our recommended sugar intake is around 20g (for women) which is about 5 teaspoons. Look at the 100g/100ml nutritional information at the back of products..if it is more than 4g or 5g per 100g/ml avoid the product.

4. MISLEADING LABELS
Beware of misleading labels such as low fat, gluten free or low calorie. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. In low fat products the fat is often replaced with sugar and it is surprising how much sugar can be found in gluten free foods, some gluten free biscuits have even more sugar than normal biscuits! Gluten free breads can also be full of random, processed ingredients so always make sure you read the ingredients!

5. MORE THAN 5..
Often if there are more than 5 ingredients the product is not the healthiest. Think about it..broccoli only has one ingredient, nut butter only has 1-2 ingredients, nuts only have one ingredient. The more ingredients the further away the product is from its natural state.

I know these are only brief guidelines but they are staple guidelines that I live by when doing my grocery shop. You do not have to bombard yourself with tons and tons of DOs and DONTs, keep it simple. Notice how your trolley will be packed with healthy, wholesome, nutritious foods from just following these 5 simple rules! Don’t forget life is all about balance so don’t beat yourself up if you sometimes find yourself straying from these guidelines.

 

Tara

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