Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Healthy Supermarket Tour

Last Friday I went on a Healthy Supermarket Tour. It's organised through Diabetes Victoria. I was to meet the group at the service desk at a supermarket in the next town over from us. When I got there I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was only the tour leader Alyse (she's a dietitian). She informed me that this was her first tour that she's led. All I could think was wow it's just the two of us. This should be good :D

Alyse asked me what I would like to focus on. I really just wanted to learn how to read food labels properly so that I would know exactly what I am buying and whether it's a healthy choice or not. We headed off to the down the aisles and started looking at the labels. Alyse asked me to choose foods that I normally buy and we would also compare it to other items on the shelves.

We kept referring to a book called 'Healthy Shopping Guide' (I was given one to keep at the end of the tour). The book explains how to read the nutrition labels on different foods, the maximum & minimum requirements for things like salt, sugar, fats found in foods for each of the food groups. For example healthy versions of milk and alternative products need to have less than 2g of total fat per 100ml AND more than 120mg of calcium per 100ml. So basically you look for skim milk.

Since I was selecting a lot of the foods that I usually buy I was pleased to find that I had been choosing a lot of the healthier options all along. There were a few that I was surprised with. Foods like wraps. I thought that they would be a healthier option but when you look at that saturated fats and sodium levels they contain it made me realise that they really aren't much better than some of the white breads you can buy. I had only been looking at the carbohydrates on the packaging before and not much else.

The book also has a suggestion of foods for each category that are healthier options. It kind of takes the hard work out of what to look for on the shelves. Although I was happy to find that some of the generic brands that I normally get were pretty healthy. Provided you take the time to look at the labels and do the maths to work out if its good or not. I cannot tell you how much maths I did during that tour. My brain got a really good workout that's for sure!

I really enjoyed being on the tour. I learned so much. I hate to admit it but going food shopping does take me a lot longer to do now. I check ALL the labels before I put things into my trolley. I am sure that once I get the hang of things I will know which products are the better options and things will speed up. For now I make sure I set aside at least an hour when I do my shopping :-/
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