Check them. AND YES, THOSE OF US OF A CERTAIN AGE HAVE TO TAKE OUR READING GLASSES SHOPPING TO SEE THE SMALL PRINT!
The best tip is go for fresh food whenever possible.
All ready meals tend to be higher in salt, fat, sugar etc than what you’d make yourself.
ORGANIC – Your choice. Research is divided on nutritional value. Personally I buy it, as well as free range - I like to know an animal has had a good life before I eat it!
Remember, organic food has the same calories as the non-organic counterpart.
LOW FAT – often means high sugar. Low fat fruit yoghurts are full of it – yet you might think this is a healthy snack.
REDUCED FAT – ditto regards sugar.
Not all fats are bad, but
TRANS FATS are EVIL. Avoid like the plague!!
REDUCED SALT – doesn’t necessarily mean no salt, or even low salt content.
HIDDEN SUGARS – Glucose, fructose, maltose, honey – all sugars by a different name. Some foods are also sweetened with apple juice – not bad, but you’re still having sugar.
NO ADDED SUGAR/ UNSWEETENED – Fruits and milk have natural sugars, so, even when nothing else is added, the food might taste sweet & you’re still consuming calories from those sugars.
ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS – No calories, but, if you’re honest, I think you know they’re not great for you & do nothing to curb a sweet tooth.
CALORIES – Often given per 100g, or for small servings - not for the whole cake/ pack/ bar.
TRAFFIC LIGHT GOVERNMENT LABELS – Green for go ahead, orange for don’t over indulge & red for only occasionally. It’s not rocket science.
HEALTHY / FRESH/ NATURAL/ PURE/ LIGHT OR LITE – Often a load of rubbish. Sugar is natural. So is heroin – doesn’t mean it’s good for you! ‘Farmhouse,’ ‘handmade,’ ‘finest,’ ‘best’ etc can be equally meaningless when it comes to nutritional value. The government are trying to crack down on this sort of labelling, but admit customers are still being mislead and there’s a long way to go to ensure labelling is more honest.
‘DIET BARS’ – Can have the same amount of calories ordinary choccie bars.
LOW GI- Foods which don’t spike your blood sugar, leading to the inevitable crash. Oats are good for this. So are breads with wholegrains & seeds.
Don’t get too obsessed with labels. A little of what you fancy can do you good. If your goal is to lose weight, you need to be eating good food @ 80% of the time – but that still gives you room for a couple of small indulgences… Only a small indulgence is not the entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s (my downfall!) (Does anyone EVER buy those small tubs?)
Information from Food Standards Agency.