Traffic light

Just because the label says “Healthy” does not mean it’s the best choice for you.

When it states “Healthy” you automatically assume you are making the better choice.  The wording is fooling us into thinking we can eat more of it. Some of us believe that ‘as a food is “Healthy” it can be eaten freely’, therefore consuming far too many calories.  (The green light is not a license to overeat fat.  Eating too much fat regardless of the type can cause obesity, and raises blood cholesterol levels), making it a contributory factor to the obesity crisis instead of reducing it.

In 2013 the ‘Traffic Light’ system showing how much salt, fat and sugar each item contains was introduced.

The labels with high levels of fat, salt & sugar are labelled red. Moderate = yellow and low = green.  They also show daily % recommendations  for each item.

Some people don’t understand the labels and therefore don’t even read them.  What is also confusing is having 2 different ‘Traffic Light’  systems.  One horizontal and one circular.

Then there is packaging with information on energy in kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal) or “Calories”.  With information on fat, saturates (saturated fat), carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt.  All provided in 100 grams and sometimes per portion.

If you are a person who understands the systems, the upside of this is that you can use the nutrition labels to help you create a more balanced diet.

Eg: Cutting down on fat.  The 5 most used fats from best to worst for you is Omega 3 fatty acids, 2 Monounsaturated, 3 polyunsaturated, 4 saturated and the worst is 5 trans-fatty acids.

Salts from the best to worst are Kosher, iodized, Rock Salt, Sea salt and standard table salt.

Sugars from the best to worst are Brown Sugar, Fructose, Saccharin Sweetener & Maple Sugar, Honey, Aspartame/Sweetener, Sucralose/Sweetener, High-Fructose Corn-Syrup, Molasses, Agave/Maple Syrup, Pancake Syrups and Canadian Maple Syrup.

The staple of your meals should be potatoes, bread, pasta and rice, choosing wholegrain where possible for added fibre.  Then add at least 5 portions of different fruit and veg every day.  Lastly Protein eg meat, fish, pulses and milk and dairy foods