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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Eat an unprocessed diet as much as possible (80%) then don't worry about the rest. I don't think any of us can claim to be perfect eaters as it's so difficult to avoid the extra stuff in convenience food which is, well, very convenient!
label reading on cereals is an eye opening - lots of stuff labelled 'healthy' is more sugary than a bar of chocolate. Certainly an exercise in caution, and portion control.
Looking at how many grams of sugar per 100g has been very useful to me during times when I cut back on sugar. It makes it easy to see which cereals raise my blood sugar the least and can be quite suprising. For example, healthy muesli packed with natural fruit is actually high in sugar. Only the label could tell me this.
I always avoid anything that contains glucose-fructose-syrup as it's a horror story, so always read labels.
it is interesting to read what the rules are, and how the manufacturers dance round them without breaking them! We all need to get label-savvy.
I think if we all bought food that didn't have ingredients on the label, or just one ingredient, we'd all be a lot healthier"!
no ingredient label on a potato - how true! And they don't get advertised, either. Makes you think, doesn't it?