“You are what you eat.”
How often have you heard this quote and what does it mean to you?
It may sound like a cliché but to me it means that the food you eat has a significant effect on the health and wellbeing of your body and mind.
Picture this… You have just bought a new spanking car. You are rightly very happy since you have been saving all your earnings for this car over the past few years. You treat this car like your own baby.
Let’s say your new car is a diesel. When you fuel it you make sure you feed it diesel. You do not feed it some other fuel for the simple reason that the diesel pump is not conveniently located. Now let us apply this example to your body and the food you consume. Your body should be fuelled with the right food and not just any other food simply because it is more convenient.
Unfortunately we know that in reality things do not work like this for many people. Rather than seeing food as fuel for the body the majority see the consumption of food as a convenient appetite satisfier or time killer.
A success story is the result of several steps, taken gradually one after the other. Success does not happen at the touch of a button. Similarly converting to a healthier lifestyle requires a process which kicks off with a decision or a motivation to eat healthier.
Healthy food choices require a certain degree of knowledge; which knowledge includes how to read a nutritional label on food products or beverages. In fact being able to read and understand food and drink labels will help you make the right healthy choices at the supermarket. So where should you start?
How to read a nutritional label in 3 simple steps:
1. Note the serving size
The serving size is always found at the top of the label. Serving sizes are standardised to make it easier for a consumer to be able to compare like with like products. So if we take cereal as an example the serving size is usually around 30 to 40g meaning this is the indicative size your cereal portion should be. It is therefore important to take note of the serving size to make sure you are not overeating. This is what the famous ‘portion size’ is all about.
2. Note the calories per serving size
The calories (referred to as ‘kcal’) per serving will tell you the units of energy you will get after consuming a serving size of that particular product. This piece of information is highly important for you to be able to keep track of your daily caloric intake. If you do not pay due attention to the calories per serving size you will surely exceed the energy you require which as you surely know leads to weight gain.
Double the serving size = Double the calories.
Furthermore very often on the food label one can also find references to one of the following % figures:
- % Daily Value
- GDA % (Gross Daily Allowance)
- RDA % (Recommended Daily Allowance)
This percentage is based on a 2000 calorie (kcal) diet which is the average daily requirement for moderately active women or fairly sedentary men. Hence if one consumes a packet of pizza which has, say 2200 calories, one may very possible be already exceeding his daily allowed caloric intake. Not very smart right?
3. Note the macronutrients per serving size
This reading is also very important. Macronutrients refer to proteins, carbohydrates and fats and a nutritional label will give you the ratio of macronutrients per serving size and many times also per 100g. I can’t stress enough on how vital it is for you to read through this information when buying your food and beverages as in its absence you will not be able to watch your daily intake of each of the macronutrients.
When one is looking for a healthy option we recommend sticking to low amounts of sugar, trans fats, saturated fats, sodium and cholesterol per serving and looking to go for products which are high in dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.
To fitness with love,