Making healthy choices in the supermarket shouldn’t leave you feeling like you need a Bex and a good lie down. Thankfully, the new Health Star Rating system can help you make light work of the weekly shop. It may even help shed pesky extra kilos – just in time for summer!
What’s it all about?
So, here you are in the supermarket. You have a few simple goals: complete your grocery list; make wise, healthy choices; pay up; then get the heck outta there. But there’s just one problem. You left your nutritional science degree (obtained after six years of intense study at the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology school) at home. Dang.
For the health conscious among us, the modern day supermarket experience is full of delicious promise and we love that! Sometimes though, it can also be overwhelming and confusing. With so much choice and, to be frank, so many gimmicks and fake outs to try to sidestep, making the best choice can quite literally feel like rocket science. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
That’s where the new front-of-pack Health Star Rating system comes in. Conceived in conjunction with the federal government, industry and public health groups, its purpose is to take the guesswork out of feeding your family nutritious, healthy meals and snacks.
Although the Health Star Rating made its official debut in 2014 and most major food companies have already embraced it, a new public awareness campaign is in full swing. It’s not mandatory for companies to include star ratings but it’s hoped all food manufacturers will eventually get on board. It may even inspire them to make their products healthier.
What does it tell me?
It allows you to quickly and easily compare the merits of similar products within a food category. For example, if one box of cereal has 4 stars and a different box has 2 stars, the 4-star version is the healthier choice. It may contain more positive nutrients such as fibre, protein or healthy heart fats and fewer ‘risk’ nutrients such as saturated fat, sodium or sugar. Alongside the star rating, many products feature an extra panel highlighting its quantity of nutrients per 100ml or 100g.
Will I see it on all foods?
No. Only packaged foods carry the star rating. These foods are more likely to be processed and contain multiple ingredients that require complex calculations to work out which are better for you.
Does it replace the nutrition panel?
No. It’s designed to be used in conjunction with the existing information on nutrition panels. If you have a particular dietary concern such as gluten intolerance, nut allergy or diabetes, you’ll still need to read the small print for information.
Why do we need it?
With obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease on the rise in Australia, our collective health is at risk. We’re also super busy so anything that helps streamline the process of making healthier choices is fine by us!
Making everyday healthy choices
Choose fresh, whole foods over pre-packaged, heavily processed items as often as possible.
Eat a wide variety of foods. We are spoiled for choice here so you may as well take advantage of it. No need for beans on toast or steak and chips everyday! Go crazy in the kitchen with fresh produce!
Be physically active every day. Aim to get those 10,000 steps in! Take the stairs, walk to the next bus stop or do a lap around the office.
Eat less junk food and nutrient-poor foods.
Cook at home regularly. You’ll know exactly what’s going into your meal and save money, too. It’s a win-win!
- Fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables and meats.
- Single ingredient items not designed to be eaten on their own such as flour, sugar or salt.
- Condiments such as vinegar, herbs and spices.
- Tea, coffee and alcohol.
For more information visit healthstarrating.gov.au or email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org