Eating the right food is really important to help our bodies do all the different jobs it needs to do.
However, this isn’t always easy to do. That’s why food comes with labelling to tell you all the information you need to understand what you’re eating!
The most obvious label is the ingredients. These are usually printed on the packet and detail the different foods that have been used to make the product.
It’s really important to know the nutritional value of food, so that we know whether we are getting too much of one thing and not enough of another in our daily diet.
For example, although a certain food may have lots of carbohydrates to give us plenty of energy, it may also have high levels of fat or sugar too, so overall it wouldn’t be a healthy choice. Click here to find out more about nutrition.
Use By date
Most foods ‘go off’ after a certain amount of time and are no longer safe to eat. Food should always have a label telling you the last day you should use your food by. Make sure you look for this label because eating food that’s gone off might give you an upset tummy.
Remember though, when food has passed its use-by date, don’t throw it away, you could compost it – click here to find out more about composting
For many of us who are allergic to things, such as nuts or milk, it is important to know if food contains them or not! So the ingredients section will tell you if the food contains known allergens or might have come into contact with any.
Foods should also tell you the name and address of the company that made the product, so you can get in touch if you have any questions or complaints.
The Traffic Light System
When we read ingredient and nutritional labels, it’s sometimes hard to know how much is too much!
To help you out, shops and manufacturers are increasingly labelling food with details of their salt, sugar, fat and fibre levels.
Quite often they use a traffic light system to make it easier to understand.
The different colours show you whether the product has high, medium or low levels of fat, sugar and salt.
Green means you are good to go as the food has low levels of these things – the more green lights, the healthier the choice!
Amber means there are medium levels, so this means the product is OK, but obviously lots of green is the better option to stay really healthy.
Finally, if it is red that means that it has a high level of fat, sugars or salt.
Of course, you don’t have to avoid everything that has some form of red on the label. A healthy diet doesn’t have to be a boring diet!
It’s fine to eat occasionally or as a treat, but think about how often you choose it and how much of it you eat. If you’ve been eating lots of stuff with red lights on the label, then take red to mean stop!