5 Reasons To Read Food Labels

5 Reasons To Read Food Labels

labelMost of us think we know what is good for us and what isn’t. It’s not until we read the label that we truly understand what is good for us, and what isn’t. You also need to understand what it is that you’re looking for in a certain food at the time of consuming it. Do you really want to be eating an egg white before you go out on a long run? Or should you be looking for some complex carbs? Knowing what you are putting into your body is so, so important for so many reasons.

1. Just because it says “Healthy” on the front, doesn’t mean it is

The supermarkets are by far the worst at this, although they’re by no means the only culprits. I’ve seen “Healthy Living” biscuits in Tesco. I’ve seen “Good for you” crisps in Sainsbury’s. It’s strange that I’ve never seen this wording put on packs of apples or on their boxes of eggs. That’s because they know we know what is good for us, but they also know what we crave. So by putting “healthy” on the label helps us to justify buying it.

2. Lots of products hide the salt content

They will try and disguise it by only putting on the “sodium” content. Who knows what that means? How much sodium is salt? I’ve found a great explanation here.salt

3. Do you know how big a serving is?

I saw an episode on The Biggest Loser which highlighted this very well. They basically asked the contestants to guess how big a portion is of each food, as specified on the packet out of which it comes. There was a minature pizza which pretty much anyone could have polished off in one sitting. This contained 6 servings!! Yes, 6!! So the calories and fat listed on the back didn’t seem all that bad…. until you multiplied them by 6.
I’ve seen in supermarkets the tiny packs of nuts (the ones I saw were right next to the chocolate bars, opposite the sandwiches – prime lunch spot) which state that a serving is 25g. But the pack is 40g! Try and figure that one out without some scales.
The best way to figure out what you are putting into your mouth is to check the “per 100g” nutritional info, and then look at how many grams are in the whole packet.

4. Did you buy your food from a “Health Shop”?

You know the kind. The ones that entice you in with promises of “natural” or “wholesome” foods. You know, just because something is natural or organic, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Look at the example of yogurt coated raisins and peanuts. A colleague was eating a bag the other day and when I remarked on her rather naughty choice of snack, her response was “it’s not naughty, it’s from Holland and Barrett”. I made a throwaway comment that she might as well have a mars bar. Was I really so far off the mark?

Per 100g, these yogurty treats came in at 479 calories, 29.5g of fat and 50.8g of sugar. mars

Per 100g of mars bar you get 449 calories, 17.1g of fat and 59.7g of sugar.

In addition to this, one mars bar is 51g and unless you’re feeling especially gluttonous, you’ll probably only have one at a time . My colleague ate half her 250g bag of raisins and peanuts. You do the math!


5. Are you following a low carb diet?

low carbMore and more of us are choosing to adopt a low carb diet. I personally am a big fan when I’m in a shredding phase, but it’s always controlled, I always make sure I have a weekly cheat meal, and it’s never for more than around 10 weeks at a time.

Do you know that 100g of apple has around 14g of carbs? Are you aware that to be serious about your low carb diet, you should be consuming around 0.5g of carbs per lb of body weight? That’s about 65g of carbs per day for a 130lb person (me!) and it soon adds up if you’re on the smoothies or big salads.

I’m neither supporting or condoning this diet as a long term thing, but just putting out there that people don’t realize that fruit and veg is a major source of carbohydrates.


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