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Read it before you eat it!

Food packaging is decorated with enough claims to make your head spin. The ingredient lists are long, and full of words you’d need a science background to understand. Something as simple as sugar has over twenty names! Yes, we know. It can be hard to make sense of it all. Making healthy decisions means quickly knowing what to look for on your grocery run:

Measuring tape with nutritional info

Product ingredients are listed by quantity, from highest to lowest amount. So, scan the first three ingredients – they are the largest part of what you’re eating. Also try to choose items that have whole foods e.g milk, whole-wheat, corn, etc. listed as the first three ingredients.

Most nutritional labels on pack show food as “per 100g” next to “per serving” – drinks will be 100ml.Check the weight (g/ml) displayed on the front of pack and see what it is in relation to 100g. This will give you a much clearer picture of how much of the pack you should portion out and how many servings are really in there. Don’t assume that the entire container is a single serving.

The calorie (kilojoules/kJ in South Africa) section can help you manage your weight because it tells you how much energy you get from a serving – 40 calories (168 kJ) is lower, 100 (420 kJ) is average and 250 (1050 kJ) or more is high.

Fat should make up no more than 30% of your daily total energy which translates to about 2500 kJ of an average 8400kJ diet.
If most of the fat content comes from healthy unsaturated fat, you’re good to go. But if the fat is mainly saturated and/or the product has anytrans-fat, reconsider your choice. TIP: With any item that includes ingredients such as ‘partially hydrogenated oil or shortening’, you can be sure you’re having trans-fat.

Look for the wordswhole grain or 100% whole wheat. It’s not enough if it says multigrain – whole grain has been shown to be heart-healthy.

Just because it says it’s fat-free, doesn’t mean you get a free ride. The food item may still be loaded with sugar. Just remember that sugar-free products could be loaded with fat.

“Low cholesterol” means that the food has less than 20 milligrams of cholesterol and two grams of saturated fat per serving.

Prevention rocks! Remember, reading it before you eat is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle. Look for Nestlé’s Nutritional Compass™, an on-pack information panel, and Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs), a labelling guide to help you know what is contained in one serving of a product you’re consuming – these are on all Nestlé products.

Content provided by Naazneen Khan, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Manager at Nestlé South Africa
Click here to view her bio

Join the conversation by sharing a photo or how you experienced a Wellness Moment on @NestleSA with the #WelnesWednesday.