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Reading Food Labels

Reading Food Labels

reading food labels

Do you look at the label on a food’s packaging before you chow down?

If you don’t, you should. Reading food labels (and understanding the information you see) can help you lose fat and keep it off. In fact, learning how to read food labels it’s one of the most important healthy-lifestyle habits you can develop.

Here’s a little story for you. I was recently at a relative’s house and we were eating some strawberries. Pretty healthy, right? Then my family member asked did I want to add some whip cream to my berries. “No, thank you,” I said. She replied, “but it’s only 5 calories!” When we looked at the label together and I showed her how to understand the serving size, she was shocked. She hadn’t realized that one serving is just one teaspoon (because, of course, who has just one teaspoon of cream on their dessert?)

Get into the habit of looking at food labels before you buy (just turn the packet around before you put it in your shopping cart), before you cook (maybe that ingredient should stay in the pantry for a splurge day!) or before you say “yes, please” to the whip cream on your strawberries at a family dinner!

You don’t need to get crazy with it, checking every last packet. Once you get into the habit, you’ll soon get to grips with the hidden sugars, trans fats and surprise calories which stand in the way of fat loss and long-term health.

Here’s what I always look for:

carbohydrates, particularly those from sugar. You’ll be surprised how much sugar is hiding in the most innocent-seeming food products!

fats, particularly trans fats. Some fats are essential to our diets, but trans fats should be avoided.

sodium. Too much is a bad thing and it quickly adds up

fiber. We all need more fiber, so avoid processed foods which offer little to no fiber.

protein. Low protein levels mean the food is likely to leave us feeling hungry and craving more!

serving size. Get used to reading food labels so you understand whether the amounts shown are per 100g or 3.5oz, or per serving. Then check you understand what a serving size means. You may be pretty shocked to learn that the manufacturer’s version of a serving is half or a quarter of what you’d typically give yourself.

So skip all of the enticing claims the products have on the front label, go straight to the back and get the facts, and you will be on your way to a more conscious and healthier eating.

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