The B.S behind nutrition labels

So you likely already know that fruit and vegetables are healthy choices, and that drinking plenty of water is beneficial to your health and body.

What about when you want to buy something pre packaged at the grocery store? I don’t think it is realistic to advise you to only buy organic, farm fresh, local produce…because well I don’t do that! 

Although packaging labels are now colour coded – you know red is bad and green is good –  this doesn’t always lead to clarity. Portion sizes are not always clear and what do the descriptions like ‘light’ or ‘low fat’ really mean?

So a lot of the grocery stores have their own ‘healthy eating’ ranges and they can often be identified by a logo. We can’t assume that these ‘healthier’ ranges are really healthy, many of them will be lower in calorie compared to a regular version. A lot of these products will be higher in salt, sugar and often have additives to keep their colour or texture. 

I always look at the ingredients first and I am trying to identify if there is added sugar, I also look at the nutrition label not just the calories. 

Lets use a jar of tomato sauce as an example, a very well known brand of pasta sauces in the UK have a ‘low fat’ version of their tomato sauce. Great! My husband and I used to buy it, based purely on the fact it says ‘low fat’ and therefore it must be better for us. We had a jar of said sauce in the cupboard and I suddenly thought ‘but this is tomato sauce, the ingredients should be limited and there really shouldn’t be much fat content.’

I checked the jar against the same product which was considered ‘full fat’. The only difference was the amount of olive oil used and the difference in fat per 100grams of sauce was 0.5g. So yes the product is lower in fat, but guess what, its higher in sugar and the calories are pretty much the same!

Interesting right? How many other products do we buy based on the labels and based on the assumption that they are better for us or will help us achieve a goal?

Other labels like ‘no added sugar’, well it means there hasn’t been any sugar added to the product, but you could place this label on a piece of fruit, right? It doesn’t mean that the product will not be sweet or that it will have a low sugar content. 

Another label that often catches consumers is the term ‘organic’, an organic product isn’t always going to be lower calorie. Of course it technically should be better for you, but organic cookies are still cookies, if you eat them all day you will gain weight. 

I think that you have got to pick your battles when it comes to ‘healthy eating’, I very rarely buy ‘diet products’ – i’m talking about these healthy eating ranges. Mostly because if I want a chocolate cookie, well I want a real chocolate cookie! 

Yet sometimes these products can support your goals. 

You guys know I love love love breakfast, its my favourite meal of the day, my Instagram feed is full of my pictures! If I want to have french toast for breakfast, I’m not going to use regular bread, the calories and the carbohydrates will just be far too high and it won’t support my goals. So I use the Weight Watchers malted danish bread, it’s 45 calories per slice, lower carb, still has fiber and it means if I am super hungry I can have 3 or 4 slices!

You know what’s funny, I would not buy any other Weight Watchers branded products AND I hate the concept of diet plans or clubs…the bread I will buy into though. 

Leave a Reply