Snacks and Stars

Anyone remember what Grocery Shopping pre Kids was like? Yeah me either lol. But I’m fairly certain (after watching a few young childless couples / empty nesters in Woolies), it is a relaxing outing to the shops to rationally and level headedly choose the weeks food intake, maybe even squeezing in an uninterrupted perusal of the magazine aisle. However, these days, with kids in tow it resembles a frantic, stressful, zoom in, out and around type ‘scene’ which involves deciding what you and the kids (who probably won’t eat what you cook anyways) will eat for the week, whilst simultaneously having ‘no you can’t have this’ arguments down almost every aisle. Combine this with trying to keep the troops occupied, avoiding knocking down displays and if your kids are anything like mine – basically consuming half the trolley before you’ve even reached the car, then you pretty much have little to no brain power remaining. Basically, it seems almost impossible to try and make nutritious food choices by deciphering labels, charts, KJs, Cals, Letter/Number Combos and the rest! This is where the Health Star Rating comes into play, a transparent and easy to use system that helps making healthy decisions easier for us.

I know most of us try and do the ‘right thing’ when it comes to our children and their nutrition (heck, I’m pretty sure we put their nutrition in front of our own most of the time – I know I’m totally a member of the coffee/tea for breakfast club – so bad!). But as much as I *try* to buy the better or healthier options, sometimes I get so overwhelmed with what’s what and either end up bringing very little home, or caving and putting whatever is easiest to find, in the trolley. A lot of the information out there can be confusing and overwhelming and until recently, I wasn’t actually aware of the Health Star Rating system that has been put in place to assist us, as Mothers, when buying packaged grocery items. Now that I am aware of it, and looking out for it when grocery shopping – I’ve noticed it’s actually a super quick and easy way to tell whether the product I’m looking at purchasing holds high nutritional value.

 

So what is the Health Star Rating? It is a simple to use and easy to understand labelling system which is located on the front of many pre-packaged foods. It is there to assist us in making healthier food choices and allows us to easily compare different packaged foods. The scores range from 0.5 – 5 stars, with 5 being the best, which is based on their nutritional properties. The system details Energy (KJ), Risk Nutrients – Saturated Fat, Sugar and Sodium (Salt), as well as Positive Nutrients such as dietary Fibre, Protein, and the percentage of Fruit, Vegetable, Nut and Legume content. Here is an example of what the Health Star Rating looks like;

Image from Health Star Rating Website

I have teamed up with the Health Star Rating initiative to help spread the message to you all regarding the Health Stars and how we can apply them when grocery shopping to make better choices for not only our children’s overall health and wellbeing but also our own. If you take nothing more from this article then the knowledge that 5 stars is a better choice than 0.5 when comparing similar packaged foods, then that is great! But I thought it would be beneficial to share and demonstrate a few different ways we can compare foods below.

How can this help me?
When I went grocery shopping this week I went through all of the ‘snack’ type foods available for kids. Sure, in an ideal world we would all love to serve completely home-made snacks, but this just isn’t realistic or easily achieved as we are just all so busy and time poor these days. So the next best thing is making healthy choices when finding pre packed alternatives. You can apply this rating a number of different ways, I’ll show you examples of a few below.

Comparing one ‘type’ of snack, across different brands. Here I have the star ratings for a few different brands of Museli Bar type snacks. You can clearly see that there is a noticeable difference across the brands.

Choosing the better option within the one brand. Example; one brand of lunch time ‘crackers / biscuits’ – when each flavour / choice is a different star rating.

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Informed Choices for the Future 

Making more informed choices. Now that you know how to determine which products are of higher value, you can start to make choices across entire ranges based on the quick and simple Health Star Rating system. Below I have an array of ‘snack’ type foods that I know most kids love. You can clearly see that some are better choices than others based on a quick glance at the Health Star Rating.

I hope that you have found this article useful. Feeding and nourishing little bellies with the best possible nutrients is something that I am passionate about and I was more than happy to team up with the Health Star Rating initiative to bring you this information. Please let me know if you would love me to cover more articles surrounding nutrition for both our little babes and ourselves – and I would be happy to do so.

Author: Bec Crombie

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