February 27, 2014

Have you ever been confused about food labels?

Basically there are two things to be aware of:

  1. The claims on the front. Often these are trying to influence you to purchase the product. The images and words are very persuasive. Instead of saying a product is “5% fat”, they’ll say “95% fat free”. The product may be 50% sugar but the claim is that the product is a “good source of pro-biotics for gut health”.  They either brag about what’s in the food or what’s not in the food.
  2. The nutrition panel on the back. There’s been years of work to add a simple Health Start Rating to packaged food to make the choice and comparison easier to understand. Right now there is a huge argument that has stopped the launch of this labelling system.

And so we’ve got a really simple and easy rule to use when you’re doing your supermarket shopping to prepare for your home-made meals.

Buy food without labels!

Think about this.

  • There’s no labels on fresh vegetables. There may be a label on frozen vegetables, but if there are no other ingredients, they will be fine.
  • There’s no labels on fresh fruit. Again, frozen whole fruit, especially low energy-density berries and citrus are your best choices.
  • There’s no labels on meat from the butcher – especially the unprocessed cuts.
  • There’s no labels on fresh fish from seafood shop.  If you do get them to cook it, choose fish that has not been breaded, and get them to grill it instead of deep frying. Have it with salad and not chips.

What about snacks? 

This is where you’ll need some label savvy. You’ve got to balance what’s in the food and what’s not in the food. The goal of a snack is to help you manage (stabilise) your blood sugar and avoid hunger, by eating every 3 hours. This is where protein snacks can help. You want:

  1. at least 10 g protein in a snack – protein satiates and helps prevent hunger
  2. no more than 15 g carbohydrate from any source (starch or sugar) – Healthy Inspirations shakes have less carbs than our bars, but both are under this limit.
  3. no more than 5 g of fat.

If you follow your Healthy Inspirations food plan and shopping list, the current argument about the Health Star Rating won’t be a concern for you.