A Quick Guide to Reading Food Labels
Hippocrates once said: “All things in nutriment are good or bad relatively.” In other words, food eaten in moderation is neither good nor bad for you. Take an apple, for example. Some people like to eat the entire apple-core, pips and all – and while a few pips won’t harm you, a whole cup of apple pips contains enough arsenic to kill a person.
As a nutritionist, the most frequently asked question I hear is whether a particular food or ingredient is good or bad for you. Often, my answer is “It depends on how much of it you consume.” Packaged foods are a good example. A serve of cereal for breakfast may be a healthy way to begin the day, but half a packet of cereal might not be such a good choice.
So how do you know what’s good or bad, and how do you decide what to buy? Knowing how to read food labels is a good start. Food manufacturers have different serving sizes, so when you’re comparing nutritional value between different brands, always look at the column that lists nutrient content per 100 grams. This way, you’ll be comparing apples with apples. You can then look at the nutrient content per serve on individual brands to help you make the right decision.
I have taught my kids how to read food labels, so when we go shopping for lunch box fillers, they choose their own food products based on the nutrient content per serve. They now know which muesli bars to purchase based on nutrient content. They have also learnt that based on this information, there are not really many healthier options to choose from amongst the dozens of muesli bars available. This is valuable knowledge that they will use to make healthier food choices throughout their lives.
If you’d like to kn ow how to read food labels then you can come and see one of our Accredited Practising Dietitians. All our fees are eligible for health insurance rebates and you can click on this link to make an online booking.
Written by Lisa Stegena, Nutritionist
Nutrition Force is a Western Australian based company of Nutritionists and Accredited Practising Dietitians that offer weight loss programs, private dietetic consultations, children’s nutrition & dietetics, school nutrition and Corporate Wellness programs. If you would like more information on our Perth Dietitians and the other services we offer call us today on (08) 9385 7755.