To maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle it can help to be aware of the different ingredients and additives in the food you are eating so that you are sticking to a balanced diet. The most important parts to look at when you are reading a food label include the following 5 points…
1. Serving size
Check the size of a single serving and how many of these servings are in the product. The rest of the information on the food label applies to only one serving size so it is very important that you know how much one serving is.
2. Percentage of Daily Value/Allowance/recommended amount
This is calculated based on an intake of 2,000 calories a day (generally a fairly sedentary male or a moderately active female) Obviously this is not applicable to everybody so you should find out what your individual daily recommended calorie allowance is.
3. Total Calories per serving size
Check how much of the package you are actually eating. Is it one serving? Two servings? If you are eating double the servings you have to double the amount of calories printed on the packet.
On the food label you will see different types of fats and the different amounts of each contained in one serving of the food. The fats you want to avoid or have lower amounts of include; saturated fats and trans fats. The better fats (although still fattening) include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Make sure not to confuse the two.
Sodium is salt and should also be limited in your diet as too much sodium can cause high blood pressure. In Ireland, the GDA for salt is 6g for both men and women and you should note that foods like cereal, bread, cakes and biscuits provide about a third of our daily intake of salt.
If you keep an eye on these 5 major sections of a food label it will help you to make healthier choices when shopping for food. Please remember that food labels go by the recommended daily allowance, this is a general allowance and may not be applicable to everybody.