We often wander through the supermarket aimlessly and just grab the same old brand and items we usually get, but how often do we actually stop and read the labels?
Do we really understand what we are consuming? If we honestly know whats good for us we generally avoid the aisles and stick the the fresh produce department. But variety is the spice of life! So when choosing a product and comparing which brand to buy, do you really know what you are reading? Here are a few quick simple things I look at when reading the nutritional label on the back of products. The Ingredients List: 1. I always look at the ingredients first. If I start reading the ingredients and sugar is listed number one to three on the list, I'll put it back on the shelf straight away. The ingredients list is actually listed in order of the main ingredient to the least in the product. So unless you are after eating dessert spoons of sugar out of a jar I would avoid this. 2. Still looking at the ingredient list, if there are words in there that look like they are in a different language, avoid it. 'If you can't pronounce it, Don't eat it' I also look out for items with numbers as many are flavour enhancers, preservatives, artificial colours etc. 'Don't eat anything incapable of rotting' Michael Pollan (Below is the back of an oyster sauce bottle to highlight what I have mentioned above)
'Real food doesn't have ingredients, REAL food is ingredients' Jamie Oliver Moving on to the Nutrition Information: Here it is more about seeing what fits into your macros. 1. Checking the level of sugar. If the ingredients list does contain added sugar, but its lower on the list, so you want to see if there is a lot in the product or not, the easier way to check is by reading the sugar column under per serving and keeping in mind there is 4g of sugar per tsp. So if the label says it is close to or above 4g per serving, thats a whole tsp of sugar your eating every time (see pic below)
Keep in mind natural sugars from fruits will also be listed here, thats why its important to read the ingredient list as well as the nutrition table. If the ingredient list has no added sugars and only lists fruits, then I would not worry about the grams of sugar per serving if they are from a natural source. 2. I personally find it hard to keep my fats down, so I will look at how high the fat is per serving to see if it would be something I could easily fit into my macros or not. Its also a good idea to check protein and carbs and how many kilojoules or calories is in each serve (if your standing in the supermarket its quick enough to google search convert kj to cals on your phone if you're unsure) 3. If I am comparing between 2 different branded products, I will compare the last column per 100ml or 100g. As serving sizes between products can change, so it is always important to look at the last column for this.
You don't need to spend hours in the supermarket analysing food labels, but just having a quick scan and knowing what to look out for can stop you putting a lot of added nasties that your body doesn't need.
So I'll finish with this quote....
'You are what you eat. So don't be fast, cheap, easy or fake'