“Read your labels” – retrospectively is no good! A reflection, a survey and slight feeling of dietetic hypocrisy.

It’s Saturday, I wake and stumble down the stairs bleary eyed, hairdo that wouldn’t look amiss on Edward Scissorhands. Cat’s breakfast is made first and then I make my morning cup of tea. First mistake of the day, I use cows milk – damn, now my inner consciousness devil voice starts to say “it’s only a splash of milk can this make a difference?, go on drink it” I think for a couple of seconds and decide that I will make another cup of tea with lactose free milk, then I make my porridge, again with lactose free milk. First critical lapse incident managed, cool!

Now for the confession. On Saturday I like to go for a coffee at a cafe and have my weekly treat a small biscuit or cake with my coffee. Now I asked for lactose free milk coffee  – ok so far, and then chose a coconut macaroon, wheat free – I did enquire if this was the only wheat free choice and I was told it was. Now, I’m not that fond of macaroons but it was the only choice, so I bought it and sat down to drink my coffee and read the paper. The more savvy of you here will be shouting at the screen “DID YOU READ THE LABEL?”, did I? Well, err, (feeling REALLY sheepish) not before I had bought it and certainly not before I had eaten a good portion of the biscuit :-(. I then decided unconsciously to take a peek at the ingredients list. This is where I was totally disappointed with myself because guess what? Yes!! Someone had added a FODMAP to my biscuit. SORBITOL of all

I don’t go this far! No finger wagging in my clinic.

things, in my biscuit, I felt so disappointed and really guilty of hypocrisy. You may be wondering why I feel hypocritical, well, in my clinic when I see people who have to use special diets reading labels is very important. When it gets to this part I furrow my brow and look quite serious and say “reading your labels is very important to following your diet and here is a list of what to look for”. People often say when I see them again that they have made mistakes and a good proportion of those are through not looking at the label. I suggest to them that this is part of the learning experience and then the advice is then reiterated, read the labels FIRST, before you buy and certainly before you eat.

So, I have joined the ranks of people who make retrospective label reading mistakes, perhaps this is a normal part of changing your diet and maybe everyone does this? At least I suppose you read it to see and are then aware of your mistake, but the damage is already done. It really makes you consider human behaviour in this, why would I do this now, when I was successful earlier on in the day? Was it because earlier I had another choice available, do you think? How many of you make this mistake – perhaps we could do a survey?

Survey is anonymous and will close in 1 month – if you wish to know more check this out  http://polldaddy.com/privacy/ or contact Polldaddy directly http://polldaddy.com/about/

Published by


I am a state registered dietitian. My speciality is dietary treatment of gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease, lactose & fructose malabsorption and multiple food intolerances. I have had lots of experience in other areas of dietetics and I wished to start this blog to spread the word about evidence based dietary treatments and dispel much of the quackery that is common with these diseases. All information on this site is of a general nature and is based on UK based treatments and guidelines. Please see your healthcare practitioner should you need more country specific information.

2 thoughts on ““Read your labels” – retrospectively is no good! A reflection, a survey and slight feeling of dietetic hypocrisy.

  1. I imagine the more serious the consequences of making a mistake – the less likely mistakes will be made. Is there any evidence to suggest a lactose intolerant makes more mistakes than a coeliac, or that a coeliac makes more mistakes than a nut anaphylactic? I don’t know of any – but it wouldn’t surprise me, though a self-selecting survey won’t help. Still will be interesting to see what kinds of mistakes people make and under what circumstances, though.

    1. Hi Alex, thanks for your reply and twitter retweet – I think this is a very interesting question and you are probably correct with your assumption. I don’t know of any surveys that look across the full range of food allergies and intolerances and label reading. lets see what response I get for this survey. To complete a survey with a question about diagnosis included will be possible, but much more complicated to design and analyse obviously.

Leave a Reply to Jules_GastroRD Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.