Food labels contain a lot of information that can help you choose healthy foods when shopping and planning meals. Because they contain a lot of information, they can be difficult to understand.
The Ingredients list
Every food package has a list of ingredients in descending order of weight, this means that the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first and the one that weighs the least is listed last. The higher up the list you find sugar or fat, the more the food contains.
Some foods contain a number of different types of sugar or fat. This makes it difficult to identify if the food actually contains large quantities of fat or sugar.
The following are all sugars:
The following are all fats:
The nutrition facts panel
This normally shows you how many calories and how much protein, fat, carbohydrate and fibre there is in a food. Sometimes the vitamins and minerals in the food are also listed, such as calcium and iron.
The Foods Standards Agency has produced a set of guidelines to help you make sense of food labels:
|a lot||a little|
In order for you to make realistic and practical choices, Weight Concern suggests looking for the following nutritional values when making food choices. This will enable you to make realistic and practical shopping choices.
|Snacks||Look for less than 3g fat and less than 8g sugar per serving|
|Breakfast cereal||Look for less than 5g fat and 20g sugar per 100g|
|Ready Meals||Look for less than 10g fat and 350 kcals per portion|
|Pre-packed sandwiches||Look for less than 280 kcal and 6g fat per sandwich pack|
FOOD LABEL EXAMPLE
Ingredients highlighted in red indicate sources of sugar
Ingredients highlighted in blue indicate sources of fat
|conservation grade oat flakes, blueberry flavoured fruit pieces (sugar, blueberry juice, blueberry extract, cranberries, sunflower oil,) conservation grade oat flour, glucose syrup, honey, vegetable oil, rice flour, raw cane sugar, malt extract, sea salt|
|Typical values||per biscuit||Per 100g|
of which sugars
of which starches
of which saturates
of which monounsaturates
of which polyunsaturates
Highlighted in bold is the information you should compare when deciding if a food is a healthy option. This particular item (a chocolate chip biscuit) contains "a lot" of sugar and "a lot" of fat. This would not be a healthy choice.