Whether you’re planning on pursuing a new weight loss diet, or are just trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, knowing the inside-out of food labels will arm you with the knowledge to know what’s really going into your food.
Many food manufacturers will go to lengths to try and convince you into believing that their products are good for you, but don’t be swayed by fancy packaging or marketing jargon, look for the labels and let your knowledge guide your purchasing path.
Some common labelling terms…
Natural or Made from Natural Ingredients
When we think of food that’s ‘natural’, we most commonly associate it with being healthy, and in some cases low in fat, salt and sugar.
Whilst this isn’t necessarily always the case, foods that are ‘natural’ are products of nature will not contain any man-made chemical preservatives, artificial flavors, colors or other ingredients that make the food processed.
The term ‘pure’, like ‘natural’ can be quite broad in nature, which can be misleading. Essentially it should only be applied to single foods where nothing has been added to it, but if you’re unsure it’s always wise to read up on the packaging’s ingredients list before purchasing.
When a food item is ‘fresh’ it means that it hasn’t been altered through methods such as smoking or freezing in order to increase its shelf-life. Fresh foods typically have a small window of sale between when they’re produced and when they expire.
Technically, a ‘low fat’ food product may well have lower amounts of fat than their regular counterparts, but be wary of them because they may have refined sugars or salt to compensate for the flavor. Low fat doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you!
To the eye of the average shopper this would means the product is a healthier version of its full-fat equal. This may actually be a half-truth because the product could have been very high in fat in the first place.
Similar to reduced fat, you’d expect a food item that’s homemade to be a healthiest pick of the bunch compared to other alternatives. In reality homemade simply means a food that has been produced in a domestic kitchen, and not in a factory. The label has no effect on whether the food is mass produced or good for you.
No added sugar or unsweetened
If you’ve done some research and know your refined sugars from your unsweetened then you’re already halfway there to a healthy diet. Many people assume that food items that are labelled as ‘no added sugar’ or ‘unsweetened’ contain little or no sugar at all.
However what the label actually means is that a food item hasn’t had extra sugar added to its natural contents. A carton of orange juice may be ‘unsweetened’ but will still contain sugar because it occurs naturally in oranges. An important distinction to make is that natural sugars (which are found in fruit and Eat Nakd bars!) are not same as refined (found in chocolate), and the former actually contains vital nutrients and fibres that are part of a healthy diet.
We hope that’s cleared things up! A few things to remember:
- Embrace nature: Choose foods that are as close to nature as possible and haven’t been tampered with.
- Look at ingredients: Any food that’s covered in packaging is likely to contain an array of different ingredients which could affect an item’s nutritional value. Opt for foods that have few ingredients (Eat Nakd bars mostly contain only 3 or 4!) by studying the packaging and figuring out what’s in what you’re buying.
- Hopefully you’re now armed with enough knowledge that your next visit to the grocery store will be a breeze. Why put your newfound street smarts to the test by checking out the ingredients on our Nakd Pecan Pie and see how simple things can be.