Many of us don’t read food labels when we shop in-store or online.
And honestly, why would we?!
Unless we’re on a diet, or have experienced a recent health scare, or a medical diagnosis, finding out exactly how many calories (and how much carbohydrate, protein, fat, sugar and salt) are in the things we plan to buy and want to enjoy may feel like unnecessarily depressing reading!
If we’re honest, many of us prefer to avoid facing the truth that lies underneath all that clever packaging.
What’s more, we’re often pushed for time when we shop. So, unless we have a clear and present motivation to be more mindful about what we eat, we fling things into the trolley, or add them to our online basket without much thought, before hitting the checkout!
So why should we read food labels?
Although it doesn't always feel like it, facts are our friends.
Better regulation of the food industry is helping make things clearer. Green, amber and red ‘Traffic Light’ colour-coding on the front of food packaging is one simple way we can make healthier choices.
However, marketing experts are constantly coming up with ways to lure us into buying the things they want to sell us. Some of these are fine in smaller quantities, or as an occasional treat, but aren’t healthy for us regularly, or in large servings. Misleading labelling, product names and packaging can be designed to make us think something is a ‘healthy’ or a ‘healthier’ option, when the truth is that it's still full of fat, sugar or salt.
Food labels make for eye-opening reading and fake food ‘facts’ are the worst kind of frenemies.
Last month, when we trained some new coaches to deliver our Intentional Health 10-session community programme, they were surprised as they discovered what’s in some common processed foods, including ones that claim to be healthy!
Food labels on the side or back of packaging are useful, when you know how to read them, but aren’t always easy to spot! But even these labels can be misleading. Manufacturers accurately list ingredients, but can still effectively disguise what’s in our food. For example, there are a range of incomprehensible names for ingredients which are all basically sugar.
The good news, is that although manufacturers and marketers are well-armed, the battle isn’t over - and we’re here to help you fight back! Making friends with food labels can give us the information we need, if we want to make healthier choices about what we eat.
Becoming more aware of what is in our food provides us with vital information.
Understanding food facts better means we can make more informed decisions about what goes in our shopping basket and into us, and the people we care about.
Not all foods have labels on (fresh bakery aisle we’re looking at you!) but doing what we can, with the information we have to hand, is a great place to start.
Encouraging you to read food labels isn't about making you feel guilty, or taking away your enjoyment of food. That’s against everything we stand for! What you decide to do with that information is up to you, but we know from the lives we’re seeing transformed around the UK, that using this information can lead to lasting transformation.
Creating a habit of reading labels when we shop can help us become more intentional about our health and wellbeing in life-giving ways.
Good self-care and love for others looks like lots of things. This is just one of them.
If you’re fed up of being deceived by smart marketing - why not join our Angels Community? This month’s worksheet contains more information and practical tips - and if you'd value some extra support and encouragement, our live 30 minute webinar on Tuesday 20 August will give you a chance to ask your questions to the Intentional Health Team. We’ll be sharing some stories about food labels and equipping you to take the power back from those sneaky marketeers!