Guiding you beyond the GDA/RDA
This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard about the food label.
Throughout this site, particularly in the food group page I have talked about “reading the food label”. But labels can differ and can get confusing…
…So use the jargon buster below.
Because of the images and the jargon buster, this page is quite long so keep an eye out for the bold headers if you are looking for something specific.
You’ll find information on this page in the following order:
- Various types of labels and their uses
- The Jargon Buster of food label terms
- How to understand the calories in food when outdoors
- GDAs for Men, Women and Children
- A link to GDAs (EU Values) for Vitamins and Minerals
Why bother reading labels?
It will give you an insight into how healthy/unhealthy the food or drink is. It’ll also help you manage, your balanced diet. The fat section is a good example, especially if you want to lose weight. Sodium is equally as important as it refers to the salt content.
So what do they look like?
At the back of the pack you’ll usually see something like this.
|Average Values||Per 100g||Per Serving|
Of Which Sugars
Of Which Starch
Of Which Saturates
Of Which Mono-Unsaturates
Of Which Poly-Unsaturates
Of Which Trans
- You won’t always see the of which starch info. This is because it is the the difference between the carbohydrate row and the of which sugars row.
- This is usually the most comprehensive type of food label, with more information than visual forms
- Aside from oil and butter, you’ll rarely see the following: of which Mono/Poly-unsaturates or even the of which Trans rows. If there is more fat than saturates, the difference will usually be mono/poly fatty acids. That is a good thing.
Find this label often? You may need the Jargon Buster!
Annoyingly, small products tend to have these labels so you reaally need to know what you’re looking for if you’re going to bother reading this type of food label.
Want to find real food labels for food on the net? Use the Calories in Foodgadget on the Free Calorie Counter page here.
Usually, at the front of the pack, this is just one of the common types.
The traffic light food label tends to vary in shape from product to product. They refer to the serving size only so you can quickly judge whether a small portion will be okay to eat.
Example: Pizza can be unhealthy per 100g but eating half the pizza won’t be as unhealthy since it is a smaller portion.
Sometimes they will have percentages. They usually refer to the womens GDA of 2000 calories. Since most of the percentages are ugly numbers try rounding them till they’re nicer.
Keep reading here for more detail on the GDA/RDA values for men and women.
Labels on the front may be like this or a traffic light label.
Food Label Courtesy of The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) at www.eufic.org
The Jargon Buster
Average Values/Typical Composition:
- The per 100g section is important when you compare similar foods. For example, if you look at cream cheese, different brands have differnt fat content. You’d need to look at the ‘per 100g’ section to compare the fat.
- The per serving section is only important if you will simply eat/drink a portion. For example, whilst most butter is high in fat, particularly saturated, you’re not exactly going to eat 100g of fat with your toast! Unless of course you eat an entire loaf of bread!
- GDA/RDA – (Guideline Daily Amounts/Recommended Daily Allowances) Most average guidlines are based on the womens GDA but some will have the mens GDA on the pack as well.
Energy and Nutrition:
- kJ – Scientific Measurement of energy (Not very useful unless your stranded on a deserted island)
- Kcal – Refers to the calories.
The GDA for women is 2000 calories. For men it is 2500 calories.Whilst all foods have calories, some have negative calories that can help reduce your weight and increase your metabolism.You can learn more about Negative Calorie Foods here, on the Fat Burning Foods page.
- Protein – Many protein foods are classed as a fat burners and they can also improve your insulin sensitivity. The RDA for women is 45g and for men, 55g.You can learn more about fat burning protein foods here, on the Fat Burning Foods page.
- Carbohydrates – Almost every food/drink has this in it. Carbs are either starchy or sugary. This is what the GI/GL values are based on and is the best way to manage your diet.
- Of which sugars – Refers to the ‘simple’ sugar content. Generally, more than 10g is high. Less thatn 2g is low.
The exceptions to high/low amounts are foods with natural sugars. Like, fruit, veg, beans and pulses.
- Fat – Whilst there are 4 fatty acids, generally you’ll only see one, the of which saturates row.
More than 20g is a lot. Less than 3g is low.
- Fiber – Important fo a healthy bowel and better blood sugar control.
- Sodium – Refers to the salt content. More than 0.5g is a lot. Less than 0.1g is little. Sodium is an essential mineral for water balance.
- Trace – When there is less than 0.05g of anything it is listed as trace.
How can I read the food label if I eat out?
You probably can’t, so you’ll need to become more familiar with what you eat.
How do I do that?
Now, that you’re familiar with the food groups, it should be very easy to understand the typical calories found in each food group.
Understanding this is key if you want counting calories to become second nature.
I have created a 15 page ebook on the typical calories in food in a more user friendly PDF format. You can get your hands on a copy on the Calories in Foodpage here.
Below are the GDA’s for Men, Women and Children based on a caloric intake of 2500, 2000 and 1800 Kcal respectively.
Please note that only the one on the left is courtesy of The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) at www.eufic.org.
Since Men and childrens GDA values are hard to find I have created a table based on food labels used in the UK. These may vary slightly to other countries GDA values.
You can learn the EU values of other nutients below: