Expert-reviewed by Ashwini S.Kanade, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience.
So you’ve decided to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
You’ve chucked out the ice cream, namkeen, and chocolates from the kitchen.
You’ve started eating breakfast as well as a light, early dinner.
Plus, you’ve started exercising daily and sleeping before midnight.
It’s been a month. You’re feeling lighter, happier, and brighter.
But there’s a tiny thought that’s niggling you: how do I buy healthy food from the supermarket?
With the bold captions of low-fat, no sugar, and high-fibre, it’s easy to overlook the ingredients and nutrition values. Sadly, these labels fool you into thinking that the product is good for your health. Simply put, you shouldn’t believe everything written in a bold or attractive font.
You must turn the box or the bottle and scan the ingredients and nutrition label. They know these items could be doing more harm than good.
Let’s take the case of low-fat items. When you munch on a high-fat food, you’ll restrict your serving to a couple of bites as the fat makes you feel full. On the other hand, when you eat low-fat food, you tend to overeat it because you believe that you’re not consuming a lot of fat. What’s more, to make low-fat food taste as yummy as the high-fat ones, manufacturers add excess sugar, salt, preservatives which spell more trouble for your health.
Now that came as a shock, didn’t it?
The same concept applies to sugar-free or low-calorie foods.
To avoid such mistakes, learn how to read the labels. Yes, it can be a confusing and complicated process. But once you master it, you won’t fall into the trap of so-called healthy foods.
Here are some quick and easy tips to shop for the right items:
1. The serving size and number of servings:
You might check the calories, fat, sugar, and fibre content on the label. However, you may skip the most important nugget of information: serving size. The printed data specifies the nutrition content of a single serving size. And often, the packet may contain more than a single serving.
For example, the recommended serving of chips is around 15 chips and the label reads 3 servings per pack. But can you remember the last time you stopped at eating 15 chips and not the entire packet?
The bottom line: when your serving size goes wrong, you are consuming a higher amount of calories, sugar, and fat than written on the nutrition label.
Read all about the benefits of portion control here.
2. The calorie quota:
While it’s important to look at the overall calories, you should know where these calories are coming from. After all, not all calories are created equal.
For instance, the calories from sugar get digested easily and spike your blood sugar levels. This surge causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin and store the calories as fat.
Also, foods high in fat get stored as fat because fat is the only way your body knows how to store excess fat.
As a thumb rule, choose foods that contain less than 22.5 grams of sugar and 17.5 grams of fat in a 100-gram serving.
Keep your antennas on high alert for saturated fats too because they shoot up your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Pick foods that contain less than 5 grams of saturated fat in a 100-gram serving.
Article continues after the advertisement.
Is diabetes putting your life at risk?
Did you know even a 1% drop in HbA1c levels can reduce your risk of diabetes-related death by 21%?
Control diabetes, live longer. Chat with Dia to find out how!