How to: Read a Food Label – the practical guide

In my last post (click here for a recap) I discussed the ins and outs of reading a food label.

It’s all well and good to know the theory but how do you translate that info into practice?

I’m here to help 🙂 Let’s go through one of my fave go-to pre-training breakfast cereals –

Sanitarium Weet-Bix Gluten-Free Breakfast Cereal

First up, the ingredients list:

Wholegrain Sorghum (96%), Golden Syrup, Salt, Vitamins (E, Niacin, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Folic Acid).

Even though sugar (Golden Syrup) and salt are listed in the first four ingredients, this cereal is 96 per cent wholegrain, so the rest of the ingredients make up the rest of the product or four per cent. So, it should be low in sugar and salt. But let’s check to be sure 🙂

  • Protein

3.7g per serve – for a product to be a good source of protein it needs to contain at least 5g protein per serve. So, this cereal isn’t a ‘source’ of protein as such. But it doesn’t pretend to be!

  • Total Fat

3.6g per 100g – the guidelines recommend <10g per 100g, so we’re good!

  • Saturated Fat

0.6g per 100g – the guidelines recommend <3g per 100g, so, again, we’re good!

  • Added Sugar

2.2g per 100g – the recommendation is <10g sugar per 100g, good to go!

A little note about the claims …

This cereal makes a claim on the label to be ‘Low Sugar’. But is it?

At 2.2g sugar per 100g this cereal meets the ‘low sugar’ claim!

The FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand) state that for a product to be ‘low sugar’ it must contain no more that 5g sugar per 100g for solid food.

A little more about sugar and also the total carbs…

In yesterday’s post, we touched on the importance of considering serving size to take a look at how much you will be actually eating.

When it comes to added sugar, and total carbs perhaps, in this case, it’s a good idea to consider the serving so know how much you’re eating!

Remember, the WHO guidelines recommend we limit our total daily added sugar intake to between 5-10% of our daily energy (kJ) intake. This is 24-47g added sugar per day.

How does this cereal stack up?

One serve (30g or two ‘bix’) provides 0.7g added sugar! LOW! We’re still good. It also provides 20.9g total carbohydrates. Now, for those thinking this level of carbs is a little cray (!) it’s really not that much. In fact, it’s only 1.4 serves of carbohydrates (where one serve is 15g).

  • This brings me to the dietary fibre…

Interestingly, despite being predominantly made of whole grains, this cereal only has 2.0g dietary fibre per serve. Ideally, it’s a good idea to choose a cereal that has at least 4g fibre per serve.

NB: This cereal claims to be a ‘source of fibre’ on its sleeve/packaging. This claim is met as the FSANZ criteria for a product to be a ‘source of fibre’ is: ‘a serving of the food contains at least 2g dietary fibre’.

  • Sodium

233mg per 100g – this is less than 400mg per 100g so we’re good to go as far as salt goes!

Overall …

This cereal stacks up pretty well and is a great option for breakfast, particularly before a long training session on the weekend. It’s also great for those with an intolerance to gluten, are on the FODMAP diet or who have coeliac disease.

If you’ve started reading labels, how have you found it? If you find it a little tricky to start, remember – overtime it’ll get easier. Practice makes perfect! 🙂

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