Since I last wrote about the Health Star Rating system, we have been looking very closely at the packaged products we buy. It's been fun as the boys race each other to see who can find the product with the highest number of stars. In the last couple of weeks, it's become automatic for us to look for the Health Star Rating on all of our packaged foods!
I've also had the opportunity to talk to Caspar (9 yrs) and Otis (5 yrs) and explain to them how the Health Star Rating system works and why we are looking for packaged foods lower in sodium (salt) and sugar and higher in protein and fibre. It's been easier to explain it to them when we can put products side by side and compare the stars and Nutrition Information Panel.
Caspar found that his favourite muesli bars were the best rated in their category. Some of the boys' other snack foods (peanut butter, roasted beans) already had five stars on them.
We found a type of bread wrap that has five stars and more protein, more than double the amount of fibre, and less sodium and sugar per serve than the type of wrap we usually buy! Guess what went into our shopping basket!
Otis also often asks for alternative crackers (the ones he sees his friends eat at school). So we were able to have a good look at the Health Star Ratings and the Nutrition Informational Panels and make a really informed decision. The difference in sodium, sugar and fibre in the crackers was huge! We both agreed to try the wholegrain crackers which have 4.5 stars. The stars alone were enough to tell us these were the best choice but the Nutrition Information Panels revealed they have significantly less sugar (3.75 times less), less sodium (2.5 times less) and more protein (2.5 times more) per serve than the other two brands we looked at. Again the Health Star Rating led us to make an easy decision. We also found the Health Star Rating useful when buying dips, flavoured milk, cereals, pasta and sauces.
Our focus is still on eating whole foods and also on increasing our vegetable intake. The boys eat lots of fruit for snacks, so we've been encouraging them to put less fruit and more vegetables into their lunch boxes. We are not there yet but we are improving. Below are two lunches and snacks the boys have taken to school. Usually, they have some home baked goods such as banana bread, muffins or our mini quiches, but this week it was more about pasta, salads and dip! All really easy, nothing fancy and I would be happy to eat all of these!
Above: Snack Box includes Grapes, Pop Corn, and Strawberries. Lunch Box includes Chicken with Garden Salad (Carrot, Cherry Tomato, Celery, Cucumber and Lettuce), Wholemeal Pasta with Sauce, Hummus (high in protein), Carrot Sticks and Snap Peas.
Above: Snack includes Museli Bar and Roasted Beans. Lunch Box includes Ham, Lettuce, Tomato and Mayonnaise on Wholemeal Roll, Grilled Spinach and Cheese Wrap, Avocado Dip, Carrot and Celery Sticks and Boiled Egg.
I hope you've found this useful and I hope you will look for the Health Star Rating while out shopping!
For more information on the Health Star Rating system visit healthstarrating.gov.au.
This post is sponsored by the Health Star Rating.