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THE FIRST THING TO LOOK FOR ON A NUTRITION LABEL

THE FIRST THING TO LOOK FOR ON A NUTRITION LABEL

Less packaging. Less processing. More fresh simple stuff. We know how it goes for a healthy diet. No –one says we should avoid packaged food completely. We just need to know what we are eating. But how?

To know if something ‘does what it says on the tin’, you do have to read the tin! Food labelling in the UK is tightly regulated, so labels do tell what you need to know. However the important information may not be what you think.

HOW MANY INGREDIENTS?

This really is the first thing to look for. Low processed food has fewer ingredients by definition. After all, there’s no ingredient label on a banana or a potato! Look for a list containing what you would expect, no more. A Thai sauce may well have lots of spices, but it shouldn’t have lots of artificial ingredients. Similarly a tin of fish in oil should be just that.

WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS?

This matters most for anyone with allergies, but it is also important for the rest of us. Is that loaf of bread loaded with sugar? Is that low-fat food also full of sugar? Be a bit of a cynic and read the ingredients, not the sales blurb.

WHAT IS THE ORDER OF THE LIST?

Ingredients have to be listed by weight, largest to smallest. (This can be a giveaway in toiletries where the first item on the list is ‘aqua’ – that means you are buying a lot of water!). If sugar or fat are near the top, eat with caution.

HOW MUCH FIBRE?

Food that keeps you fuller for longer is one of the keys to weight control. There are rules for food claiming to be high in fibre. This label is only allowed if the food contains at least 6% fibre by weight, or 3 grams of fibre for every 100 kilocalories.

Make like a dietician (and they know) – read between the label lines.

Photo by Keji Gao on Unsplash

the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.

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