Monday, 27 February 2012

Food Labelling in Supermarkets

I am studying Nutrition at University and have just had a lecture on Food Labelling in Supermarkets.

Do you pay attention to the "traffic light system" on food labels in supermarkets? Or do you just go straight to what you want and throw it in the trolley because its what you want to eat?

I do think its important that we take note of what we eat in terms of making an effort to eat a balanced diet but I also think that too much time and worry can be spent on checking and double checking the nutritional contents of everything in our trolleys, and it can become too habitual, obsessive and unhealthy, which is ironic as the whole point of it is to be more aware and...healthy!

For those people with eating disorders, it is not at all helpful to be told to check food labels and count calories as this is exactly what a person in recovery is trying to avoid doing.

There is much talk at the moment about the nutritional content of dishes appearing on the menus in restaurants. Would you choose one dish over another because you can see there is more fat, salt and calories in one than the other? I am biased on this as (a) I am studying Nutrition and (b) I am recovering from an eating disorder so I try and just buy what I know I will enjoy eating and not think/over analyse if it will be "good for me" or not, but its not always easy...


  1. I don't check nutritional information in supermarkets at all. This is largely because I have too much knowledge of calorie counts and fat content already and don't need to look at it again, but also because a healthy diet for me is very different to a healthy diet for someone who may be, say, middle aged with no recent serious illness. Because of my past anorexia, the fact that I need far more than the recommended daily calorie intake to maintain a healthy weight, and that my hormones respond best to a highish fat diet, I don't shun red lights on fat or calorie content. High calorie density is my friend! I do eat fruit and veg, but my digestive system is a bit screwed up and I can't eat vast quantities.

    Also, I think current campaigns trying to educate people on the right or wrong way to eat are misguided. Most people seem to get into yoyo dieting patterns because they try to eat too LITTLE, not too much. Bingeing is very often a result of someone attempting to crash diet or undereat, not just amongst eating disorder sufferers but also in the general population. I would rather see a focus on moderation rather than the demonisation of entire groups of macronutrients (see: change4life and their silly adverts which virtually suggest that one should live on fruit and vegetables. Not healthy) and I would really, really love to see more information about how unhealthy and damaging dieting is. Information on things like self care, intuitive eating, coping skills for distress tolerance which don't involve food, how much fun cooking from scratch can be, how to find ways to enjoy exercising and other healthy, rather than restrictive behaviours and attitudes, would surely be more effective than shaming people who are overweight (which is just going to make them feel depressed and more likely to comfort eat...)

    Our society is entirely backwards when it comes to weight and diet. Decades of promoting dieting has done nothing to improve the nation's health. The value judgements and good/bad labels attached to food are very unhelpful for people in recovery too. Thank goodness there are awesome people like Laura Collins, Charlotte and the HAES movement pointing out how counterproductive dieting and fat shaming is.

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