And even when you have time to read the label, can you really understand all the numbers?
Let’s stop for a moment and find out what’s really in your food.
– When buying food for the first time, only few of us refer to food labeling. That’s where the nutritional information panel (NIP) comes in. It gives you a clear picture of the nutrients that are crucial for healthy eating.
NIP’s are mandatory on all packaged foods.
With its standard format, you will quickly learn to read the order of calories, proteins, total fat, saturated fat, total carbohydrates, sugar and sodium.
– The trick is to think first about which nutrients are most relevant to the product and to your dietary needs.
For example, there is no need to look into the dietary fiber when comparing 2 kinds of milk, but look into the calcium, vitamin D, or the total fat counts.
Compare the length of the ingredient lists between 2 same products and favor the one with fewer additives, especially artificial preservatives and colors.
For example, 2 different hommus dips can differ a lot with some containing over 11 ingredients.
Think about the ingredients that would be used if you made it from scratch: chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and tahina.
As simple as that!
PS: If you have dietary intolerances or allergies, you need to read carefully the ingredient lists.
The guide to label:
– Order is important:
The ingredients on a nutrition label are listed in order of greatest to least quantity. So often the top 3 items reveal the nutritional quantity of the food.
Look out for words like fruit juice concentrate, honey, golden syrup, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, palm sugar, maltose and corn syrup. They are all various forms of sugar.
Beware of the ingredients like shortening, full-cream, coconut oil, ghee and vegetable oil. They are all fat and animal derived.
What those mean:
– per 100g:
Use this as a way to compare nutrients in other similar food product, and then decide on the healthiest pick.
– Per serve:
Use this to assess your own nutrient intakes.
For example, if we look at a biscuit box, and we see the serving size is 4 crackers, then we see fat, sugar, fiber in one serving size, that means in 4 crackers.
Serving size per container is 25. That means the box contains 100 crackers.
– Total fat:
Low fat foods must contain 3g or less of total fat per 100 g to be labeled as such.
– Saturated fat:
Aim to keep this cholesterol-raising “bad fat” as low as possible. Avoid the Trans fat as well.
Low sugar foods must contain no more than 5g of total sugars per 100g
Low salt foods must contain no more than 120mg of sodium per 100g
– Dietary fiber:
Foods identified as high in fiber must have 3g per serve or more.
WHAT ABOUT EATING OUT??
Even though many restaurants provide nutritional panel and ingredient listings, sometimes you might have no knowledge about the ingredients when eating out or even when doing a take away meal.
All you have to do is to ask about it!
Waiters can always check with the chef.
At the end, we all want to know what we are eating, right????