Food and drink labelling as a tool for healthy eating

At, an online community for nutrition in early years, we know some people find food labels confusing, however they needn't be. We are delighted that FDF has produced this resource to help us healthcare professionals to be able to explain nutrition labelling to our patients.

Seeing the calories, fat, sugars and salt in a food at a glance can help patients check and compare similar products and choose those with fewer calories or less fat. The more they compare products the more they become aware of what's in the food they're eating.

The label can also help clearly show patients the difference that portion size can make. Think about asking someone to compare the different calorie and nutrient levels between different sizes of snacks, like chocolate or crisps, before making their choice. Or ask patients to consider the impact of eating one, two or three sausages before they start cooking their evening meal! Just making someone stop and think before they buy or cook can really help impact on their dietary choice.

Advising patients to use the labels can also help them decide when they are happy to be indulgent. For instance, they might choose to save their favourite full fat mayonnaise to have with prawns, but use a low fat mayo in sandwiches or coleslaw. Then again, they could also use labels to keep a tally of their fat intake over a day or a week - this might help them decide if they can afford to be indulgent at all!

On top of this, labelling provides other essential information, such as any allergens contained within a product, which is need-to-know information for all of those who suffer from allergies (as well as their families and friends). I hope that you find this guide useful in your work as a healthcare professional and it helps you to help your patients understand food labels.