Look at labels
Sandwiches – people often say I’ll just have a sandwich’ at lunchtime but packaged ones can be surprisingly full of calories. Have a look at your usual choice and see if it could be improved.
For example, a Tesco Just Ham sandwich is 239kcals and the Tesco Ham Cheese & Pickle Brown Bread Sandwich is 411kcals! However, if you make your own sandwich using two slices of wholemeal or granary bread, three slices of wafer thin ham, salad and a thin layer of low calorie mayo this will only be around 200kcals.
Yoghurt flavoured coatings – don’t be fooled into thinking that this is yoghurt and therefore must be ’good for you’. It is made from vegetable oil, sugar and milk powder and so leaves a lot to be desired.
Juice drinks – if it says ‘juice drink’ rather than just ‘juice’ then this is predominantly water and sugar with a bit of juice thrown in as well.
Carton soups – just because they look swanky doesn’t mean they are the best choice. These are often full of salt and can contain a fair bit of sugar too. As a rule we should have no more than 6g of salt a day.
Slimming brands – Just because it says Weight Watchers, for example, it doesn’t make it a better choice. These ready meals and snacks can often have the same number of calories as supermarket standard version so have a look before you put them in your trolley.
Oaty things – without doubt oats are one of the best things you can eat. However, just because a food contains oats doesn’t automatically make it the best choice. Examples of this are:
- Bought flapjacks – look at the underside and you may well see a layer of fat
- Cluster or nugget type cereals. They are like this because the oats have been mixed with oil and sugar and then cooked to form clusters or nuggets!
Don’t worry though, your food shop won’t take twice as long while you are checking all of the food labels in detail, it is just a case of being aware and noticing where there might be some hidden calories.
Don’t forget to keep an out for the next instalment of ‘food choices’ which will give you some great ideas for food swaps!
Jacqueline Bretherton (BSc, MSc, R.Nutr) and Nutritionist at the Centre for Sport