top of page
  • Writer's pictureJo Goh

Reading Food Labels - is anything packaged that healthy?

Now that I roughly memorised this table, it seems not much is truly that healthy (without sacrificing taste) of the processed packaged products. I even tried to buy healthier granola with less salt and sugar and my partner complained the other one tasted better – of course, it had more sugar!


If anyone has watched the ‘Sugar Explained’ on the Explained Netflix series, highly recommended, you’ll know sugar hits the brain faster than many drugs, from almost the moment in touches the tongue, it produces dopamine in the brain, the reward centre, which makes us feel good. And it’s addictive.


In saying this, I have recently lost about 6kg and have had a scan which put me at 10% body fat (athletes 10-18%, I also don’t know how accurate the scanner is at Ashfield Aquatic Centre) – and this was not a goal or intention of mine, I just happened to add more and more activities (bouldering, another aerial conditioning session, another kettlebell class) and kept eating the same way (lot of veges, fruit, lean protein, fish, and then absolutely whatever on the weekend) and intermittent fasting.


Now I’m worried about going too far the other way (I shouldn’t be, considering how many desserts I consume on days off), so I’ve stopped intermittent fasting so often and eating protein and complex carbohydrates more often, especially on days I’m busy working and training.


If you eat more good sources of protein, veges and fruit, you won’t be as hungry for the processed foods that in excess, cause weight gain.


So, How much salt and sugar are recommended?


Recommended daily amount of added sugar or salt to sometimes foods:


SUGAR - <5-6 teaspoons – 25-30 grams  


- Note that a can of soft drink usually has 10-13 teaspoons of sugar


SALT    - 1 teaspoon /2,300 mG



Ideally we want to reduce added 3 S’s :

·         Salt/sodium

·         Sugar

·         Saturated fats


When we look at food label tables at the back, we need to compare the 100gm right hand column as this is consistent with all packaged goods.


I challenge you to find any cheese that is within the ‘healthier’ range of this table for sodium, sugar and fats, usually the sodium is out of the range. Or find a chocolate block or bar that is not 90-95% cocoa that has a ‘healthier’ range of sugar.


Please let me know if you do, I couldn’t find a cheese or chocolate within the healthy parameters set in this table at the supermarket. This just emphasises that these are to be had in moderation with whole foods.


The tables are just there as a guide to help you choose the lesser of two evils by comparing 100gm vs 100gm %s. Even if you do make the unhealthier choice, you are aware of it.





These are my hacks to get serves of veges in – call me crazy, it just works for me.


On the days I don’t think I’ll get 4-5 serves of veges in meals (especially going out), I :


-          Snack on 1-2 carrots while cooking or watching tv (1-2 serves)

-          Eat a fist or 2 full of spinach leaves raw, like they’re chips  (1-2 serves)

-          Add a medium sliced tomato to any meal (1 serve)



You can always juice veges, but you’ll lose the fibre.


Highly recommend reading Built To Move by Kelly and Juliet Starrett which encompasses 10 Vital life signs indicative of overall health, including nutrition, sleep, balance, movement of course and optimal breathing.


They recommend (and International Journal of Epidemiology) 800g of fruits and veges a day lowered risk of cardiovascular diseases, some cancers and in fact, all causes of death.


-          Apples, pears, citrus fruits, green leafy veges, salads and cruciferous veges like broccoli and cauliflower lowered cardiovascular disease


-          Green/yellow veges and cruciferous veges lowered cancer risks





How much protein should I be having?


Healthy adults need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. 

Eg. 0.8 grams x 75kg = 60 grams

Nutritional needs vary based on a number of factors. These include height, weight, and physical activity.

This amount increases for women who are pregnant, and those recovering from physical activity, injury, surgery or infection. 


From the tables below, you can see what sources you may get sufficient protein from.

4 views0 comments


bottom of page