Nutrition - Understanding Food labelling

Tuesday 08 May 2018

I hope everyone managed to enjoy the beautiful bank holiday weather. When the sun comes out most people think of BBQ’s and beaches, my first thought is about the beneficial vitamin D that we will be making!!!!!

I had a busy weekend and spent all of Sunday on a course in Wokingham at the nutrition centre. The course was on cancer nutrition and cookery. I thoroughly enjoyed it, picked up lots of new tips, was introduced to lots of new ingredients and tasted some amazing recipes.

I will share it all with you when I have had time to process it. In the meantime I wanted to draw your attention to an article in the Times newspaper this weekend all about food labels.

The deception that we are subject to and importance of reading them and of course when you have read them to be able to understand them. Anyone who has met me or attended one of my workshops will know that I am always emphasising the importance of reading labels. Particularly looking out for and avoiding Trans and Hydrogenated fats.

Hidden sugar
This particular article focused on the amount of hidden sugar in food and how we are so easily caught out. We all know that in an ideal world to eat well means to try and have natural wholefood freshly prepared etc etc. but in the real world this is not always possible particularly if you have cancer because there will be days with the best will in the world that it just will not happen, Days when you may be tired, unable to get to the shops or suffering from uncomfortable side effects of treatment. This is when we would possibly rely on some convenience ready prepared foods to make life a little easier. So if this is the case it would be worth looking out for the hidden sugar in foods and avoiding the ones with high amounts. I posted a blog in May last year about sugar and the fact that if you have cancer the experts recommend having as little as possible in the diet.

We are all aware that a can of coca cola is high in sugar and that one can contains 8.5tsps. Many of us avoid coke for that one reason (and I can think of many more) but you may not be aware that many low fat ready meals, sauces, soups and yogurt contains a lot more per serving. Some have a sugar content of over 20%. Some examples were quoted in the article, like Tesco chicken sauce which contains 22 tsps of sugar in each jar, a 500grm jar of Uncle Ben’s oriental lemon chicken with ginger sauce, produced by Mars, contains more sugar than 2 ½ mars bars. Some products that many consumer would consider healthy also do not fare very well for example ½  tub of Rachel’s organic low fat raspberry yogurt contains 8 tsps of sugar which really surprised me. Rachel’s defended themselves by saying that some of it was natural fruit sugar. Even so I think it is a good argument to buy natural organic yogurt and add your own fruit. Ocean spray cranberry juice contains more sugar than coke per serving. I could go on.

Why is so much sugar used in foods?
Food experts say an unwanted bi-product of the drive to reduce fat and salt in food has been to use extra sugar to improve flavour and they believe that the government should cap the amount of sugar allowed into foods. The NHS guidelines state that a food with less than 5% sugar per 100grm be classed as low in sugar and a product with 15g or more be classed as high in sugar. Kellogg’s natural wheat Albran contains 20grms per 100grms and Honey Loops 29g. Because of this there is a huge drive by health experts to get the government to legislate for stringent food labelling that is clear and easy to understand. The food manufacturers argue that the public make a free choice and it is up to them if they choose to buy a product high in sugar.

A new scheme that is going to be adopted by all supermarkets and leading food manufacturers is imminent. A red light is to appear on foods high in fat, sugar and or salt as a warning to the public. In the meantime I think that we need to be diligent about reading labels and recognise the negative effects that sugar can have on our health.

I am a great fan of the deep freeze and to try and prepare foods ahead for times when days get complicated or days when motivation and energy is lacking to prepare good nutritious foods.

Chocolate Lime Tart.A very indulgent but healthy sweet recipe that freezes well for you to try or to get a friend or family member to make it for you.
Sweet Freedom is a natural sweetener that will have no impact on your blood sugar levels. It is made from carob, apple and pear pulp.Cacao powder is literally raw cocoa beans finely ground with nothing added. It is rich in magnesium as well as other minerals and antioxidants, so well worth sourcing.

For the Base
2 tbsp of cacao powder (from any health food shop)
150g of pecan nuts
100g of soft pitted dates
2 tbsp melted coconut butter
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 tsp cinnamon.

For the topping
2 ripe avocados
zest of 2 limes or 1 large orange
40gof raw cacao powder
140g of sweet freedom or agave nectar
100g of coconut butter melted.

  1. In a food processor process the nuts and cacao powder until very fine, add the dates, coconut butter, vanilla and cinnamon and process to combine. You should have a soft pliable consistency.
  2. Grease an 8” spring form cake tin and press the base mixture into the bottom of the tin firmly.
  3. In the blender or food processor put all the topping ingredients and process until thick and creamy. Pour over the base and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours until firm.
  4. Ready to eat or portion and freeze.

Next week I will be writing about the cookery/nutrition day with a few more recipes for you to try.

 You may also be interested in my  Sugar blog  (May 2012)

Blog originally written by Caroline May 2013

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