What to look for on Food Labels

When it comes to eating healthy – it’s  not about being extreme, it’s about being consistent. It also helps to know exactly what is in the foods you are eating to help you make better choices.  Of course there is room  in a healthy balanced diet for those treats we all love.  It’s just aiming for a more 80/20 balance in favour of the healthier options. 

However when it comes to knowing what is in the foods we eat – Food labels can be soooooo confusing!.

So what exactly do we need to look for in our foods ? . Hopefully this little guide will help you –

1. Read the ingredients
When it comes to pre packed food , the ingredients listing will be attached. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, from biggest to lowest. If Sugar, salt or saturated fats such as cream or butter are one of the first five ingredients listed – these will make up a large proportion of the food.

Try to eat as natural foods as possible and limit processed foods as much as you can – a great tip when looking at food is asking yourself – “does it grow in the ground, fly in the sky, run across land or swim in the sea”? . look for food where there are as few ingredients as possible – and if there are any ingredients listed that you can not pronounce or you have no idea what it is – leave it on the shelf!.

2. Use the per 100g column on the Nutrition information is the easiest way to compare foods. The main ones to look for are sugar, salt , fat and saturated fat levels .

3. Detecting Sugar on food labels – Sugar can come disguised as one of the below –
• Anything ending in ose – fructose, glucose, dextrose,maltose
• Syrup
• Honey
• Molasses
• Fruit juice concentrate
• Brown sugar
• Agave
• Barley malt
• Dextrin
• Lactose
• Maple syrup
• Malt / Malt extract

So knowing exactly what you ae looking for, can help you detect any hidden sugars. Yogurts are a prime example of foods that can contain a lot of sugar whilst appearing on the surface healthy. When it comes to Yogurts – usually natural or greek yoghurt is the best choice

A guide to what to aim for –

Low in sugar – 7g or less per 100g
High in sugar – 22.5g per 100g

also Beware of anything that states no added sugar – just because no sugar has been added, does not mean that it is free of any sugars! And don’t get me started on diet pop/soda – the sugar has been removed and instead replaced with nasty chemicals that are actually worse for you then if you drank the regular pop/soda!.

4. Types of fat
• Polyunsaturated fats – a healthy type of fat, that can help lower cholesterol , Omega 3 and Omega 6 are polyunsaturated fats and can be found in fatty fish such as salmon , atlantic mackeral, sardines, trout , and nuts and seeds and eggs.
• Monounsaturated fats – are plant based fats and are also healthy fats . These can be found in Nuts, nut butter , oils , seeds, avocados and Dark chocolate – again beware not all dark chocolate is made equal!
• Saturated fats with the exception of coconut oil are not healthy fats and can increase your cholesterol and increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These are often found in dairy products , fatty meats and pastry.
• Trans fats – the worst of all! . These are the fats that lurk in processed and junk food and pre packaged cakes/biscuits.

Too much Saturated and Trans fats can increase your cholesterol which increases your risk of coronary heart disease.

High in saturated fat – more than 5g of saturates per 100g
Low in saturated fat – 1.5g or less per 100g or 0.75g per 100ml for liquids.

Beware of anything labelled Low fat , reduced fat , Light – people often mistake these as being “healthier” options especially if you have ever followed a Weight watchers, slimming world plan . However what often happens is the fat is removed or reduced , but in order to make it still palatable , sugar can often be added instead so be sure to check the ingredients listing and nutrition info!. These can also often have a higher salt content too!.

5. Lets talk Salt!

Salt is regularly added to processed foods – even things like bread, cake and biscuits!

On labels it can appear as either salt or sodium so watch out

Low salt – 0.3g or less per 100g or 01.g sodium or 100mg sodium

High salt – 1.5g or more per 100g or 0.6g sodium or 600mg sodium.

We often add salt to flavour our food f you are going to use salt for flavouring – try Pink Himalayan salt as this has some amazing health benefits such as acting as a natural detoxifier, promotes healthy blood sugar, promotes better sleep. Contains essential minerals, boosts bone strength and can help prevent muscle cramps and can aid digestion.

6. Fruit and Veg.

Fruit obviously does contain sugar – albeit natural sugars which is better for you and also contains fibre . However it is still a form of sugar so aim for more veg than fruit in your 5-7 day!. Aim for a rainbow plate – the more colours from your fruit and veg, the more Vitamins and Minerals you will be consuming.

So hopefully this will help you understand those labels a little better next time you are shopping x

Mis Fitters Healthy Snack Ideas!

I often get asked for healthy snack ideas. My Small Group girls are brilliant and  reading through their food diaries, I often find my mouth watering!. So I asked some of them for their favourite go to healthy snack ideas to share with you all so here we go :-

Kathryn Hunter – Kathryn is a full time working mam with two young boys under 8. 

Peanut butter/almond milk dip

 1 tablespoon of peanut butter,  6 teaspoons of almond milk and 2 tablespoons of flax seed powder (optional)  then use celery/carrot sticks etc to dip.

Rocket, with  Beetroot and Feta Cheese 

Fresh Rocket , topped with Beetroot and Feta cheese and sprinkled with Cracked black pepper on top served with Oatcakes or just on its own.

” also  Corn cakes with avocado and cottage cheese.  Cottage cheese with some chopped up grapes and pieces of walnuts”

Daneka Mcguigan –  Mammy of  6 year old twin boys and juggling University and  work .

Sliced apple, spread  with Almond Butter 

Berries with  Full fat Natural or Greek Yogurt 

Handful of Natural or slightly salted Popcorn  

 

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration! .  A handful of Almonds or walnuts also make a great snack.  Oatcakes or Vegetable crudites with Hummus . Boiled eggs too, easy to prep in advance and take along with you. 

Comment below with your favourite healthy  snacks , lets share the inspiration! . 

 

Plan and prep tips to keep your nutrition on track!

imageFail to prepare, prepare to fail   (Image Pinterest)

 

This is a quote I often use with my small group girls, when they embark on their healthy lifestyle journey.

These days we are all just so busy  and if you are not prepared with your Nutrition , its really easy to just reach for the quicker and often much less healthier option  of take out or something “quick” from a jar /packet that tastes  far less tastier than homemade.   But  with just a  little  bit of organisation , you can head into the week, armed and ready to stay on board the healthy  nutrition train  – now get ready to jump aboard – choo chooo!   (heehee you made the choo choo sound didn’t you?  , maybe even did the arm action like you’re ringing the bell? 😜   )

 

Ok so here are a couple of  tips that hopefully will help :-

 

  1. Before you do your food shop, take a little time to plan out a menu for the week ahead. Take out your diary and see what you have going on so you can work your meals around that. For instance on a Tuesday if you’re working all day and even working late  /or  the kids have activities after school , its no good planning a meal that takes loads of prep time and ages to cook – you’ll be too exhausted and it will be time consuming, so you are more likely to give up and reach for take out or something quick and maybe much less healthier then if you planned ahead and had something pre- prepared!.

 

  1. By planning out your menus in advance, when you go shopping – you can stock up on the ingredients that you know, you are going to need, that way you know you have them to hand already and don’t need to waste time revisiting  the shops. .  plus this actually helps to save money in the long run as you only buy what you need! – limiting food and money waste!.
  1. Pre prepare where you can in advance. At the weekend or on your day off, or anytime you have an hour or so to get in the kitchen and prep . Cook up some meals in advance and   pop them in the fridge  or freeze them, so they can be taken out on busy nights. Or peel and chop up vegetables etc  that you can then pop in food bags in the fridge –  a huge time saver, you just get your little food bag out with all the chopped up ingredients, as and when you need them.  Tupperware and food bags become Kitchen staples!  – but can I just ask does anyone else have a Tupperware elf  in their house that seems to like to mix up the lids and then you just simply  can not find the lid that actually fits that box???????? .  Bulk Cook – when you are making things like Bolognese, Chilli, curry etc –  make extra so left overs can be used for lunches the next day , or a tea later in the week.

 

  1. Life is an adventure and there are some weeks even the best laid plans go awry –  keep some key ingredients in the cupboard/fridge and have a little list of go to  quick, healthy meals that take little time and effort to cook that you can reach for , on the days when you

 

  1. Useful kitchen gadgets to make life a little  easier :-

 

Slow Cooker  –  I love my slow cooker,   I work from home Wed-Fri at my day job and then Wed/Thurs I only have a little time between finishing and then going out to teach classes, so I usually get the slow cooker on , then it feels like a little elf has cooked tea as its all ready for when we finish work. Its also great on a weekend –  meals an be cooking as you’re getting on with other jobs.

slow cooker

Chicken broth cooking today for tea!

 

Soup Maker –  One of the best Kitchen gadgets we bought!. I have no idea how many Blenders I have managed to break in my time  – its a fair few!,  so when my mam mentioned soup makers (she’s a QVC addict is  Christine!) , I thought I would investigate them. I’m more of an Amazon girl so I headed to their website. I found a Morphy Richards one – it got great reviews and was £60   (some of them on QVC are over £100 yikes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) . so I purchased . OMG its amazing – basically I just need to cut up the veg , add in some stock , a bit of oil in the bottom , put the lid on and press the button – you can chose smooth or chunky and voila 20 minutes later –  its cooked and blended!!!. Plus  its super  easy to clean – who does not love easy to clean equitiment!!. You just need hot water, washing up liquid and a sponge and clean it out and leave to dry – fabulous! . its also a great way to use up any left over Veg – I once made up soup – with peppers, sweet potatoes and Chickpeas as I was using stuff up – its one of Martin’s favourites  now .

soup maker

 

These are just a few of my tips and tricks that I find useful. I would love to hear your tips  and tricks you use and your go to quick healthy reciepes – come visit us at Facebook www.facebook.com/lilmisfit1 or Instagram @littlemisfitjojo  .