Eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly is the key to good health and wellbeing.

But when you step into the supermarket, choosing healthy foods can be difficult.

You are quickly confronted with a range of advertising claims, such as ‘low fat’, ‘no fat’, ‘fat free’, ‘skinny’, ‘diet’, ‘low in salt’, ‘high in fibre’, ‘baked not fried’, ‘natural’, ‘no preservatives/ artificial colours’, ‘low GI’ and the list goes on.

Many of us often go by these health claims and pick the product that we think is right for us, and our family. But what if the advertising message isn’t 100% accurate?

How can you tell?

Look at what’s listed in the ingredients, and always read the food label

Now reading the food label can be a challenge in itself. Don’t despair however, as there is help on hand!

Go on a supermarket tour

Diabetes Australia Vic organise supermarket tours across the state to help with such dilemmas. That’s right, for only $15, a qualified dietician takes you on a two hour tour in your local supermarket, and teaches you how to read food labels, and ultimately how to choose healthy foods with confidence.

My personal experience

I recently attended such a tour. It was presented by Sandy, a very experienced dietician. She spoke about the Australian Dietary Guidelines and what we ought to be eating for optimal health.

We discussed serving sizes which depend on your age and gender, and we also looked at portion size. This conversation in particular surprised most of the group, and in particular how much they, and their kids were eating – it was more than recommended.

Over the two hours, Sandy took us through the supermarket and presented to us a range of opportunities to make healthy options. We looked at fruit and vegetables, dairy products (including cheese), breakfast cereals, bread, butter and margarine. We also had an interesting discussion about meats, and in particular sausages!

Fat, sugars and sodium

We examined food labels and explored the fat content of a range of items, including looking at the proportion of saturated fat, total sugars as well as whether the product is high in salt. 100g is a useful standard when comparing products.

Sandy also made an interesting point, that it takes 3 weeks for our taste buds to adapt to new taste and flavours. So for those of you who often state that they don’t like a particular food, you may need to try it at least 10 times before you can make such a statement!

Overall, the supermarket tour was a very worthwhile experience. Sandy in particular, presented great information, and did so in a relaxed and fun way.

You also get a show bag!

As part of the tour, you will also receive a goodie bag with useful information and a pocket guide on ‘Healthy Shopping’. This guide contains over 1,000 food products found in supermarkets, and takes out the guess work when shopping.

It normally costs $7.50, but as part of the tour, you receive it for free.

So if you would like some clarity, and would like to increase your knowledge and confidence, then …

I highly recommend this service

By the end of the tour, you will have a better understanding of the advertising claims, and will be able to quickly recognise those that are misleading.

I encourage you to participate; you may just be surprised with some of the products you are putting into your shopping trolley. These products may not be as healthy as you think…

If you would like more information or wish to book yourself into a tour, call the Diabetes Info and Advice Line (DIAL) on 1300 136 588.

With 36 supermarket tour locations, across the state, I’m sure there’s one near you.

Until next time, wishing you all great health and wellbeing, and happy and healthy food shopping!