5 Tips For Reading Food Labels

August 10, 2015

Trying to decipher food labels can be confusing and time consuming. And lets face it, most of us don’t have the time to spend trying to work out what they mean and how to use them. My best advice is to buy and eat food without labels- fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, fresh cheese and fresh bread. All which can be bought at a farmers market. However if you have to make a quick stop at the supermarket here are my top 5 tips for helping you pick a healthy product.

1. Look at the ingredients list first.

The ingredients are listed in descending order according to their weight, so the most used ingredients are the first on the list. Also the amount of the key ingredient- the ingredient usually mentioned in the name of the product (e.g. oranges in orange juice)- must be listed with a percentage indicating how much of the product consists of that ingredient. So if oranges (or the main ingredient) isn’t listed in the first 2 ingredients or if you see ever sugar as the first ingredient put the product down and step away!

2. Is it truly organic?

Even if the word organic is on the label it does not necessarily make the product 100% organic. For example, companies can list their products as organic even if they’ve only used one organic ingredient (and that ingredient could even be sugar). Products are only organic if they are certified by a trusted certifying body. Always look for a familiar ‘certified organic’ logo somewhere on the label.

3. Always read the ingredients label.

As well as the two points above, always look for products that have ingredients that you recognise as food. Stay away from number combinations (the less numbers the better) and words you can’t understand. Another way to ensure you’re making a good choice is to stick to products with 5 or less ingredients listed on the label.

4. Ignore daily intake labels.

These are based on average energy requirements and nutrient needs – a 5-year-old girl is not going to need the same requirements as a 25-year-old man.

5. Be careful of marketing lines.

When a product says ‘low fat’ it is most probably high in added sugar! Foods that are described as ‘light’ or ‘lite’ may not be light in kilojoules or fat, but instead light in taste, colour or texture (e.g. extra light olive oil). My tip, stay away from anything screaming nutritional benefits at you.


Article by Kavisha, Food & Wellness Coach

Holding a Masters degree in Wellness, Kavisha combines her knowledge of whole food cooking with her passion for wellness to present educational workshops that make healthy eating easy and attainable. Driven to improve the health and wellbeing of corporate workers, Kavisha presents cooking classes and wellness workshops to teach health conscious, time-poor professionals how to move away from processed foods and start incorporating more health boosting whole foods into their diets.

W: www.kavishajega.com

FB: www.facebook.com/kavishajega

I: @kavisha_jega

Print Friendly, PDF & Email