Panel beating

posted in: newsletters 0

Did you know? We are confronted with over 20,000 choices every time we step into the supermarket! It’s little wonder then that making healthy choices can be not only confusing, but somewhat overwhelming.

Never fear, help is at hand. This month we are going to dissect the nutrition information panel (NIP) to help you make healthier picks every time you venture into ‘Pan’s labyrinth‘.

When you buy a packaged food product, have a look at the back of the packet. You should be able to see a box with a heading like ‘Nutritional information’. Under the heading, you’ll see categories like:

  • serving size
  • energy
  • protein
  • fat
  • carbohydrates
  • dietary fibre
  • sodium

The NIP also tells you the quantity of various nutrients a food contains:

  • per serve (determined by the manufacturer) and
  • per 100mL or 100gms – which allows you to compare products.

At the very top you will see the average serving per package – this is also determined by the manufacturer.

So which one do I use?

  • Average serving size and servings per package are chosen by the manufacturer so can vary between brands as well as product type. Always check the serving size: if you’re eating more than the recommended serve, you’ll be exceeding the “quantity per serving” in the panel.  For example, a standard 375ml can of Diet Coke (which I know you would NEVER drink) actually contains 1.88 standard servings even though it is very likely that someone would drink the whole can at one sitting.
  • Quantity per serving is helpful when consuming single serve products.
  • Quantity per 100g is a handy way to compare products that have different weights or serving sizes. Use this information to determine whether a food is high or low in in a particular nutrient.
  • % daily intake [%DI] is handy when wanting to know how much of the food products nutrients are contributing to your daily energy and nutritional requirements.