Food Labels

Reading labels is one of the most important things you can do when you're trying to eat healthy. Many people feel intimidated by this task, but it's much easier than you think!

Here's a five-step guide to help you figure out whether a product is worth eating:

  1. What's on the ingredient list? Are the ingredients "real food" or items that you'd recognize from your pantry? If not, don't buy the product.
  2. Where on the list does an ingredient appear? The closer an ingredient is to the beginning of the list, the more of it there is. The farther down an ingredient is on the list, the less of it there is. So if "sugar" is one of the first few ingredients on the label, you'll know that the product probably isn't all that healthy.
  3. What is the expiry date? Buy products that expire relatively quickly (i.e., within days, weeks or months, NOT years). That's how you know they're made from natural ingredients and are preservative-free!
  4. What are the nutrient amounts? Glance down the list of fat, sugar and salt amounts in the Nutrition Facts box. If the sources of fat and sugar in the item are plant-based, natural and unprocessed, such as nuts and dates, don't worry too much about them (however, if you have diabetes you need to be mindful of sugar quantities). If the amount of salt in the product is more than 10% of your daily recommended intake, don't buy it. Although you need some salt in your diet, too much of it can raise your blood pressure. If the list of ingredients for the product is healthy, don't worry too much about how many calories, grams of protein, grams of fibre and grams of carbohydrates it has.
  5. What is the serving size? Obey the serving size guidelines at the top of the Nutrition Facts box - if the entire package is one serving, feel free to eat all of the food inside. If only half the package is one serving, only eat half of what's inside.