How to read a Food Label Posted on November 7, 2014

How to read a Food Label - An Apple a Day  Whilst I’m a huge advocate for eating real foods (AKA foods without labels), I know that there is always going to be the odd occasion, where we are going to opt for food with labels.

To help overcome this hurdle with confidence, I have put together a quick list of tips and tricks that will help you skip the nasties found in packaged foods and ensure you return home with some nutritious and delicious ingredients for your next meal. You could even commit to following this guide and clean out your panty this weekend. Trust me, you’ll be surprised what you’ll find! 


Yes you read correctly, skip the nutrition panel! The list of ingredients will tell you more than enough information about what you are about to consume. If the ingredients list contains anything that you can’t pronounce (except quinoa, acai and cacao), any laboratory numbers (311, 142, 209 etc.), contains flavours, preservatives, sounds chemically or is incredibly lengthy (2-3 lines +), step away – it’s not real food and it’s most definitely not worth it. 


Ticks of approval are given to products where they have studied the nutritional label, they don’t take into consideration the ingredients or the processing methods. This means any of the above (in Rule #1), can be included without their consideration. 


In most cases, foods that are low fat or contain low/no sugar have been chemically modified and these are in no way good for your health (despite what the shiny labels might tell you). Ditch the plastic and eat a banana instead.  


Natural foods are flying off shelves; it’s little wonder the label is everywhere. The FDA hasn’t defined natural and doesn’t regulate its use, so companies can—and do—use it willy-nilly to up sales. All natural foods are fruits and copious amounts of vegetables and not one of them come with an all natural label – use common sense. 


If a label claims to be organic, ensure it is certified organic. The most reputable certifying body in Australia is ‘Australian Certified Organic’ label. This will be printed on the label if the organic claims are met. 

You might also like my posts on ‘Translating Food Labels Part 1’ and ‘Translating Food Labels Part 2’. Here I delve into the food label myths in a lot more detail! 

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Written by Alyse Co-cliff

Alyse Co-cliff

Holistic health coach, author, speaker and passionate whole-foodie committed to helping others nourish their body from the inside out. 
"It's all about simple and effective, no BS nutritional advice and real time solutions for the busy individual. Good health doesn't have to be hard work" Alyse x

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