Post One: Learning the Labels
Choosing pre-packaged foods low in fat, sugar and salt and high in dietary fibre are often hard to find on the supermarket shelves. Especially when companies are very sneaky in the way they market and advertise how ‘healthy’ their product may be. Here are some useful tools to navigate your way around a food label.
The first rule of thumb is to try to buy most of your food from the perimeter of the supermarket, stick to unpackaged foods such as vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, nuts and legumes. These foods don’t have labels and are low in sugar, salt and harmful fats.
If you do need to venture into the centre isles, use your food label ‘know how’ and make healthier choices.
Watch out for:
Low Fat: this food must have 3g of fat or less per 100g, but look at the label because it may be high in sugar instead.
Fat Free: this food must have 0.15g fat or less per 100g food, but again look at the label because it may be high in sugar instead.
Lite or Light: always check the nutrition information label on these foods because lite may mean the food is lite in colour or taste, or something else and not lite in salt, fat or sugar.
No Added Sugar: this food has no ‘added’ sugar but may still be high in sugar so check your label.
Low Joule or Diet: this food is either low in sugar and/or fat and is may be artificially sweetened.
No Added Salt: this food has no ‘added’ salt but may still be high in salt so check the label for the salt content.
Salt Reduced: this food has 25% less salt than a similar product. Lower salt is good but the food may still be high in salt so check the label.
Low Salt or Low Sodium: this food must have less than 120mg sodium per 100g and is a good choice
High Fibre: this food must have more than 3g of fibre per 100g and is a good choice.
Practice comparing similar packaged products, such as cereals or yoghurts. You can do this in your local food store or supermarket, or visit the supermarket online and compare. We would love for you to share your findings.
Diabetes State/Territory Organisations 2012, Reading Food Labels, http://diabetesnsw.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/DA-30-Reading-food-labels.pdf, viewed April 2016.
Dietitians Association of Australia 2015, Understanding food labels, http://healthyweightweek.com.au/understanding-food-labels/, viewed April 2016.
National Health and Medical Research Council 2015, How to Understand Food Labels, https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eating-well/how-understand-food-labels, viewed April 2016.