Supermarkets, online stores, and even gas stations are full of products just waiting to be picked up by us every day. And if you think about it, the reasons why we choose the products we buy can be quite complex and even subconscious in nature. Very often, we end up with a product in a bag and at home have no idea we chose that particular product to buy.
Whatever you put in your stomach has an influence on you. It could be a good, bad, or neutral impact. It’s really hard to ignore the news about how big corporations try to manipulate ingredient names or use unhealthy ingredients in products that have huge marketing captions like ‘eco’ or ‘bio’. You also can’t ignore this study which claims that ‘female consumers who consult food labels weigh nearly 4 kilograms less than those who don’t’.
What we want to do is end this unaware buying process and show you how checking food labels can only have positive results for all of us. OK, so why is it so important to read and check food product labels?
1. It keeps you healthy
The products you buy contain different ingredients and are made up of vitamins, minerals, calories, fats, etc. All of these are important and have an impact on your everyday mood, skin, nails, hair, breath, focus or even the way you will spend time at the toilet (well, that matters to some people I believe!).
Going even further, if you’re on a diet and trying to lose some weight or gain muscle, then it’s even more important to check food labels and can even make your plan stronger. I’m not going to mention people who are allergic to some products or have diseases because I believe they already check food labels.
2. You can save some money
This is mostly about avoiding mistakes and spending money on products you wouldn’t buy if you knew what was in them. You can also save money if you start checking labels and find out that there’s a cheaper alternative with better ingredients than a product you normally buy.
3. It can keep you safe
Reading labels can help you spot allergens, as we already mentioned. It also ensures that you spot simple things like an expired due by date – which is one of the main reasons why people in Australia throw away food.
4. You’ll waste less food
Wasting food is not cool. The image of a full fridge from American movies is no longer a sign of wealth. Planning your meals, trying to be zero-waste and reducing the number of trash you accumulate is crucial to our planet. Australian households throw away 2.5 million tonnes of edible food each year – that equates to nearly 300 kilograms per person, source Foodbank.
5. Support your local food producers
Because why not? Globalisation has taken a backseat recently, and we’re realising that focusing on your local community might actually be more beneficial for everyone. Getting fresh tomatoes or mangos from a local farmer sounds pretty good right? Sure. So don’t hesitate to support local businesses. Still not convinced? Read this article ‘6 Big Reasons to Eat Local Food’.
Things that you should always be checking on labels:
- Calories: This will depend on the number of fat, proteins and carbs within the product. Of course, if you want to lose some kilograms then fewer calories is better for you!
- Proteins: The higher the amount of protein in products like ham or sausage, the bigger the chance that the manufacturer used real, good quality meat for it.
- Carbs: This will depend on the number of veggies, fruits, grains and sugars. Reduce the number of simple sugars to the maximum.
- Fats and saturated fat – While a butter containing fat over 90% is a high quality product, a large amount of fat in something like a pie is a bad sign.
- Fibre: This will help “clean up” your intestines.
- Sodium: Australian men should have about 10 grams of salt per day, and women about 7 grams. The World Health Organisation’s maximum recommended salt intake is 5 grams. Overuse of sodium can be a contributing factor in heart disease and stroke.
How to start checking labels?
In the beginning, you might feel overwhelmed with all the names, shortcuts and symbols on food labels, but believe me, after you’ve spent a few times standing at a supermarket shelf scanning labels, it’ll become your new hobby. In case of any questions or doubts you can always reach out to us, but please first check that we haven’t already covered it on the blog.
Our main tip: Keep it simple. The longer the list of food ingredients on a product label, the more likely you are to find some unhealthy ingredients in there. However, that’s also not a rule. Just start by paying attention to what you buy and aim to go for products that are more beneficial for you and your family.