Nutrition food

Here’s how to read an Australian nutrition label

When you look at five brands of the same product, other than price, how do you choose a packaged food and know it will help your health rather than harm your health?

Just four decades ago we were eating real food. Much of the packaged food on supermarket shelves today may look like food, taste like food, smell like food, but may not be food. Manufacturers of packaged and processed foods have mastered the art of disguise. So much so that jams can be made without fruit and packaged meals can have more fillers, colors, flavors and thickeners than actual food ingredients.

The Dietary Guidelines taught us to look for the nutrition panel on food packaging and our food health star ratings are based on this panel. The nutritional panel will give you information on fats (saturated, monounsaturated, trans, polyunsaturated), proteins, carbohydrates, sugars and salts. Depending on the dietary advice you accept, whether it is the low salt, low fat, low sugar diet, it will all depend on what you are looking for on the panel and therefore choose accordingly.

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But what if I told you that food manufacturers are also adept at manipulating the numbers on the nutrition label so that they can put a health claim on the front of the food label, which may include; low in fat, reduced in salt, low in sugar, high in protein, etc. These health claims are useless if the food itself is not a healthy food. Marketing and advertising trick us into believing health claims, but they are simply there to sell a product rather than to create healthy individuals.

When faced with a food label, you need to focus on the ingredient list. This will tell you exactly what’s in the package. If you see a bunch of ingredients that you have in your own pantry and you understand what each of the ingredients are, then you have found a food that your body’s genetic blueprint knows exactly what to do to give you health. energy and health.

On the other hand, if you find that the ingredient panel is filled with flavors (natural or artificial), colors, stabilizers, thickeners, preservatives, numbers and a list of unpronounceable words, then it will be filled with unrecognizable substances that your evolving body cannot recognize and may or may not activate bad health signals.

The reason why diseases in modern times are called lifestyle diseases is that substance-like foods that have replaced real healthy food choices have dominated the Western diet.

So, the key to choosing healthy packaged foods is to focus on the ingredients rather than the nutritional panel.

Cyndi O’Meara is a nutritionist and founder of Changing Habits.