This is no April fools joke! But lets not be fooled by food labels 🙂 We all have good intentions to eat well and exercise more. One way we do that is by looking at food labels so that we make wiser choices. “Diet”, “low fat” “low sugar” “no hydrogenated fat” “low cal” are just some that immediately spring to mind. But do you really understand them? Can you always judge food by its packaging? Unfortunately not, otherwise we probably wouldn’t be in such a mess quite frankly! According to experts when we see some of these labels, we get so excited that we want to eat twice the amount. (Come on we’ve all done it! 🙂 We reason with ourselves “It’s low calorie so that means I can have not one but TWO chocolates and it amounts to the same. Whoop whoop!”) Well steady on with unwrapping that second bar of chocolate. Low fat doesn’t necessarily mean low cal. In fact it can mean the opposite. Often it’s a case of you may have had the normal version and saved yourselves all that heart ache. So why not arm yourself with the knowledge of what some of these terms actually mean and don’t be fooled by food labelling!
As I said like most labels the low fat one tricks us into thinking that we can eat more of that particular food. But unfortunately low fat foods often make up their lack of fat with extra sugar and extra calories. So low fat does not mean low cal and could mean the total opposite. So when it comes to low fat foods, the devil is in the detail, especially in the serving size.
Less than sweet surprises
Ah how many breakfast cereals proudly declare on their boxes that it is low in sugar or lightly sweetened? Of course you’re going to say hoorah! But as it turns out that manufacturers can slap on that label without having to identify exactly what they are referring to. Think sweetened dried fruit, whole-grain cereal, instant porridge, . That would clearly explain why our waistlines continue to widen when we’re unaware of exactly how much sugar really is in our food. So slash your sugar intake by looking at the ingredients. If sugar and its related names like dextrose, maltodextrin, rice syrup appear too often, steer clear of the product. Another way to look at it as one personal trainer put it is, if you can’t pronounce it, there’s something not quite right.
No hydrogenated fat or trans fats
Once again these labels are plastered all over our food packaging – these are like the really “bad” fats. The only way to really find out is to scrutinise the food label. If the product contains words like hydrogenated oil, elaidic acid, put the package right back on the shelf where it belongs. This type of fat is often sneaked into cakes, biscuits, crackers, spreads, instant noodles and the like. Walk away from them!
Low salt or low sodium
I see lots of people opt for lightly salted crisps or reduced salt soups and the like. And while I admire them for taking note, they could be mislead into thinking these foods are better for them. For instance light soy sauce, still has lots of salt in it yet it claims to be lower in salt. So if the soya sauce has reduced its salt by 50% and it was originally skyrocketing high in the first place, you still won’t be making a smart choice. And remember just because a food is sweet , it doesn’t mean its salt-free.
The Food Standards Agency has issued useful guidelines to help us decide if a food is high in fat or sugar.
- Low fat = less than three grams of fat per 100 grams.
- High fat = more than 20 grams of fat per 100 grams.
- Low sugar = less than five grams of sugar per 100 grams.
- High sugar = more than 15 grams of sugar per 100 grams
But as I said to be really savvy, look at all the list of ingredients next time you pick up a packet and really make sure you know what you are putting in your body. Better still, as I said in the last post, if its made by man, be wary of it. Go for good wholesome natural foods that have not been tampered with. Stick to this rule the majority of the time and you’ll be waving goodbye to your fat fast!