READ ME: How to read a food label

How to read a food label | The Reset women's retreats

Here at The Reset we live in the real world.

We understand that ideally you’d be eating wholefoods all the time and wouldn’t need to rely on any kind of convenient processed food.

But because we live in the real world we also understand that you live a busy demanding life and sometimes you need to grab something that is quick and possibly processed in some way (its ok …no judgement here…we do this too sometimes).

So this week we would like to share some tips on how to read a food label and the specific things you should look out for.

Firstly all information must be given by 100g by law and is usually also given by a serving size.

A serving size is completely objective though and its really important to consider if this is an actual serving size for you for example a serving size of Nutella according to the label is a tablespoon.

Look out for claims. Often we don’t make it past the front of a packet and are led to buying decisions by simply reading the claims on the front.

Claims are often led by fashions so right now its very common to see claims such as “high in protein” or “high in fibre”.  

A product can be classified as being “high in fibre” if it has 6g of fibre per 100g and can be classified as a “source of fibre” if it has only 3g of fibre per 100g.

Considering we need 25-30g per day you can see how you could be easily misled to believe there is a lot more fibre in these products than you would think. Fruit, vegetables, wholegrains beans and pulses are still the best way to meet your daily fibre requirements.  

Similarly a product can be called “high in protein” if it has 20% of its calories from protein which means 80% of it isn’t protein.

A product can be called a “source of protein” if it has at least 12% of its calories from protein.  With this logic it means something like bread which is predominantly a carbohydrate could be called a “source of protein”.

Looking at food labels can be daunting and who has the time to analyse absolutely everything you put into your basket but a few things you can do are the following:

  • Look for the number of ingredients – the less the better.

  • Avoid items that have ingredients you can’t pronounce. If you can’t pronounce it your body probably isn’t going to be too good at digesting it.

  • Look out for hidden sugars. Food manufacturers have had to get a lot more inventive about how they label sugar and its not very often you will see plain old sugar on a food label.

  • A teaspoon of sugar is 4g and we should be aiming to minimize sugar as much as possible.  On a food label this is marked as “carbohydrates of which sugars” so for example if this says 12g per serving there are 3 teaspoons of sugar in it per serving size.  Sugar is often called:

    • Words ending in “ose” (Sucrose, Maltose, Glucose, Fructose)

    • Words that have “syrup” in them

    • Coconut, agave, rice bran, date (These may have some nutritional benefit BUT are still sugar and will be broken down by the body in the same way)

We hope some of these tips have helped you. What confuses you about food labels?

If you would like some time out to chat about your specific nutrition concerns with Lauren who is a Nutritional Therapist, why not join us on a retreat? Have a look at what’s on offer below, we’d love to see you there.