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Registered Associate Nutritionist

Registered Associate Nutritionist

Implementing GDA and Traffic Light Labelling System

 I have had a lot of questions asked about the traffic light system, including many questions into the other nutrients, and implementing this. So I decided to do a second blog post about this.I am going to use one of my favourite takeaway meals Bol, to explain how the traffic light and Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA's) system are used when doing the food shop, including quick hints and tips to go for when we want to be in and out of the food aisles!

As I have mentioned in my many previous posts, looking at food labels is really important, especially if we want to change our lifestyle to become more healthier, lose or manage our weight, or just to make better choices. Looking at labels provides a gateway into what is contained in that particular meal. So let us take a deeper look into the Coconut Lentil tumeric Daal, made by Bol.

I am a person that loves packaging and colour. This meal is definitely packed full of colours. I am guessing the orange colour reflects the turmeric meal that I have purchased (just a guess, not sure if that is the reason!)  

Let us look at the ingredients list first of all, now going by the title of the product this should have lentils in this. On the ingredients list it contains the following: Water, Chickpeas, Lentils, Potato, Coconut Cream, Tomatoes. I have only listed 6 ingredients, there was more however there was no need for me personally to look at them. I am only concerned about the first 5 ingredients, as these contains most of the items that makes up the meal in the first place. So we can see that the meal mainly contains chickpeas, tomatoes, water and potatoes. I then go ahead and look at the nutritional information. So for energy this stated that this contains 356 calories, (calories means energy) Going by the GDA label, this contains 18% of the recommended intake of energy for the day, which also means that we have 82% left for the rest of the day to make sure we consume enough energy for the day (unless we want to loose weight, then this figure would be less) So overall this item is low in calories. 

The next nutrient on the list is Fat/Saturated Fat. Fat is the nutrient we need on a regular basis, but need to monitor the portion size and the amount of fat we consume daily. Ideally it is the saturated fat that we need to keep an eye on, due to increase risk of coronary heart disease, if this is consumed in excess amounts. On the label for Fat the amount contained in the Bol product is 7.2 grams. So according to the GDA this would work out to be 10% of the fat intake already consumed for the day. So we would have 90% left for the rest of the day to consume fat. Now let us have a look at the saturated fat. For this the amount was 5g for the meal, which when this is converted to GDA's this became 25% of the saturated fat already consumed. This means that we have 75% left of saturated fat to consume for the rest of the day. This aim of the GDA labels is to not exceed 100% for each of the nutrients on a daily basis. So we would have to monitor how much percentage we have left for the rest of the day. This would be the same for the other nutrients on the nutritional label for sugars, Fibre, Protein and Salt. When I look at labels I look at the following:

Saturated Fat




I have explained the importance of looking at these nutrients in my previous post here: Reading Food Labels

I do want to comment on the Fibre content in the product. So the amount of Fibre is 28 grams. The recommended intake of Fibre daily is between 25 and 30 grams. To have this amount of fibre in a meal is fantastic, as a nation we do not consume enough Fibre, an article made recommendations for the public to increase intakes of fibre:

Fibre Article 

When we look at the front of the packaging we can see the traffic light label on the bottom left hand side of the product. The nutrients for Fat, Saturates, Sugars all have the colour green, which means that this is low in these nutrients and can be consumed often. The nutrient salt had a colour as amber, meaning that the salt content is not low, but it is also not high, this can be interpreted in   many ways, but personally I would advise not to consume this on a regular basis. As we are aware of the dangers of a diet high in salt. This article explains some alternatives to salt to reduce high blood pressure: Salt Alternatives

For Traffic light labelling system I do advise to aim for all green as the colours for all of the nutrients, however this is not possible as we know. So if we can have at least half of this to be green, and the rest amber in colour would be more ideal, and more in sync with reality. For the GDA labelling system we would aim for the nutrients not to exceed 100% for each of the nutrients. 

Dont forget that if you need tailored support with shopping habits or you have any other nutritional query, why not book a consultation with me? I am a registered Nutritionist with more than 10 years of experience behind me. Further details on my services can be found on this link: Nutritional Services

I just want to take this opportunity to thank Bol for sending these products over, they are great for snacking, or for a quick meal. Plus the main reason I blog about them is that it is packed full of nutritional benefits, and suitable for vegetarians/vegans.