Being Label Savvy!
Are you confident reading your nutritional labels?
The terms ‘kJ’ and ‘kcal’ (calories) tell you how much energy is in a product. Women need an average of 2,000 kcal a day and men need 2,500 kcal on average.
Saturates is another word for saturated fat. This section tells you about the amount of saturated fat in the product.
Most adults eat more salt than the recommended maximum of 6g a day, increasing their risk of high blood pressure. You may see ‘sodium’ listed rather than salt. To convert sodium into salt, multiply the amount on the label by 2.5.
Reference Intake has replaced the recommended daily amount (RDA). You might also see it written as RI. Reference intakes are useful guidelines on the amount of energy and nutrients you need for a healthy balanced diet each day. The %RI tells you how much of your daily healthy maximum is in the portion of the product.
Serving / portion size
The portion size on the pack is the manufacturer’s recommendation for one portion of the product. The %RI is worked out based on this portion size. Some packs also show the amount of each nutrient in 100g of the product. This will be given in grams or millilitres.
A manufacturer’s idea of a portion size might be smaller than yours, which means that even if a product looks healthy, if you have more than this portion amount, you may end up consuming more calories, saturated fat or salt than you realise.
Reduced and low fat are not the same thing. Low fat means a product has 3g or less fat per 100g, while reduced fat means a product is 25 per cent lower in fat than the standard product. Often these foods were very high in fat to start with, for example mayonnaise, crisps and cheese. You still need to limit how much you eat as the reduced fat version is likely to still be high in fat.
Sugar is not always listed in the ingredients as ‘sugar’. Look out for the following terms; sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, honey, palm sugar, hydrolysed starch, syrup and invert sugar. Remember, the higher up on the ingredients list sugar is, the more added sugar is in the product.
The traffic lights on the front of UK packaging can be helpful to see at a glance if something is high in sat fat or salt for example. Chances are if you’re seeing lots of reds but not many greens, then the product is potentially not the healthiest choice. That said, it’s important to consider the type of product you’re looking. For example, a large salmon fillet would show red in the ‘Fat’ section, because it’s naturally high in ‘good’ fats – but it certainly wouldn’t be an unhealthy choice. Similarly fruit based products may show as high in sugar, but fruit based sugars are not the type we’re overly concerned with.
This can be useful to see exactly how much of each nutrient is in a portion and often, these labels compare the amounts to recommended daily intakes too, which can be useful. Be careful to look at what each column represents though – some will be for 100g and some will be for a portion. Make sure you’re looking at the most relevant numbers and also be aware of what a portion is. Some products are cleverly marketed to look like they serve one and so you think you’re getting a great calorie deal – until you look closer and realise you should have only eaten half of the pack!
There are labelling laws in the UK which ensure manufacturers can’t use terms such as ‘low fat’, ‘fat free’ or ‘no added sugars’ unless the product meets specific nutrition criteria. But that said, it’s important to understand what these claims mean – and equally what they don’t. If a product is marketed as ‘reduced fat’ this doesn’t mean ‘low fat’. Reduced fat simply means it contains 30% less fat than the similar equivalent – but both could technically still be high in fat. ‘Low fat’ however has to meet a certain level per 100g – no more than 3g of fat per 100g for solid products.
Across all five meetings this week a total of 188 marbles gone forever!! We welcomed new member Amanda have a fab first week 🙂
The lovely Julie G got to her target weight after losing a whopping 24lb! She’s looking absolutely fantastic – well done Julie G. 🙌🙌🙌
- Jean and Zeinab got their 25lb awards – FAB!
- Kath got her first stone award and also slimmer of the week at Denton
- Amanda has now got her terrific ten% – WOW
- Julie S got her Fab Five% – Well done!!
- Slimmers of the week went to Deb, Zena, Liz, Marsha, Fiona, Rosie, Julie, Kath and Annmarie. MASSIVE well done ladies 🙂