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How to read a food label

6 tips that will change the way you shop!

Reading a food label can be overwhelming and is almost like learning another language. Once you get the hang of the basics however, it will help you discern a healthy product from a not so good one, giving you and your body more opportunity to feel healthy, happy and energetic!

1. Ingredient Order Matters

All ingredients listed on the packet will be listed in order from largest to smallest in weight. For example, if the first ingredients in a can of tuna is skipjack tuna, then the majority of the product is tuna. 

2. Can you pronounce it?

If you cannot pronounce an ingredients or don’t know what it is, don’t eat it. The likelihood is that if you can’t pronounce it your body won’t be able to process it. Go for products that are made from whole foods only, or skip the product and buy the fresh produce instead. It’s much more satisfying!

3. Size matters when comparing products:

Compare products per 100g rather than serving size. The reason for this is that the serving sizes can be very different from product to product, and therefore won’t give you an equal comparison.

4. Do YOU rate it?

Take little notice of health star ratings, heart tick approvals and the claims made on the package. Companies pay big bucks for these ratings and approvals and just because it has a high rating doesn’t mean the ingredients are ones which you want to consume. Instead look at the ingredients list and decide for yourself whether it’s healthy.

5. Know your sugars

Ideally you want no added sugar which means it won’t be listed in the ingredients section at all. You also want to aim for less than 3g of sugar per serve. Learning the common names for sugar and sugar alternatives is also important to know so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to consume the product or avoid it.

Other names for added sugar: Dextrose, fructose, glucose, golden syrup, honey, sucrose, malt, maltose, lactose, brown sugar, caster sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup.

6. The Extras:

Steer clear of any ingredient you cannot pronounce or that contains a number, colour, or additive.

Use these tips the next time you’re headed to the grocery store! You may be surprised at how many products have little extras and additives. 

Happy Day!

Jenna Poole

Clinical Nutritionist

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