Food labels, a requirement for most packaged foods, can help us to compare items and decide which is best for us, if at all. But food labels can be daunting and overwhelming if you do not know how to understand them correctly. Below, I have listed some tips (and secrets) to deciphering these labels. Don’t be fooled by media, advertising and catch phrases on the packaging- they are not always what they seem!
1. Check the recommended serving size and number of servings per container.
– Use this to compare similar products and different brands on the market. Take a look at the “per 100g” measurements of fats, sugars, sodium etc to determine which one is best for you.
2. Look at the total calories and the calories from fats.
– The calories indicate how much energy a person gets from a particular food. This is the most important part to look at if your focus is on weight loss or weight control. In general, 40 calories is considered low, 100 calories is moderate and 400 or more is high.
3. Consider the ingredients list.
Ingredients are listed in decreasing order of substance weight in the product. Avoid foods with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, bleached flour or partially hydrogenated oils near the top of the list.
4. Avoid the advertising labels.
– Bear in mind, most food labels are on the back of products whereas many of the “nutritional and health claims” are on the front. Although there are Government regulations for these claims, there are many loopholes which allow companies to claim unproven benefit to products!