Read your Labels!
October 30, 2018
The say “don’t read a book by its cover” has always been a good quote that reminds us not to judge things by their appearance. This couldn’t be more true for both people and for food. Just because something looks nice on the outside, does not always guarantee that it is healthy, or nutritious.Unless of course, it has no label at all such as fruits, vegetables, and most types of fresh produce. These foods are always the best choice because there’s no guessing what’s in them.
Of course, trying to only eat foods without labels is not always realistic, as most foods have a packaging or cover that they are stored in. This is why knowing how to choose healthy options and read labels properly is the key to making healthier choices. Here are some ways to become a more knowledgeable shopper.
- Look at what ingredients are listed first: Labels list ingredients in order of quantity and by weight. If sugar or a type of syrup like high fructose corn syrup is listed at the top of the list you are consuming a product that is made predominantly from sugar. Look for whole grain, or a real whole food as the first ingredient such as peanuts. This will indicate that you are eating something made mostly from a whole source of food, which is good!
- Less is more!! Ever look at a nutrition label and see 30-40 words listed under ingredients? This is the case for a lot of processed food products, and half of the time they are words we either can’t pronounce or don’t know what they are. Chances are if you don’t know what the ingredients are and don’t know how to say them then it’s best not to be putting it in our bodies. Look for products like RX bars, KIND bars, or make your own snacks from home with simple ingredients to ensure you avoid all the additives out here.
- Be mindful of saturated fats: A nutrition label doesn’t write saturated fat as an actual ingredient, but rather disguises fat with other names such as hydrogenated oils, palm oil, coconut oil, butter, cream, etc. All of these are forms of saturated fats. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and linked to higher cholesterol levels when consumed in high amounts. We want to limit these types of fats as best we can, so look for some of these keywords when shopping around.
- Low-fat, Light, Low Calorie doesn’t always mean HEALTHY: Reduced fat means that a product has 25% less fat than the same regular brand. Light means that the product has 50% less fat than the same regular product. Low-fat means a product has less than 3 grams of fat per serving. This may sound all well and good to most people, but when companies make low-fat products they usually replace what’s taken out (fat) and add in something in its place (sugar) to make it taste better. Diet products that are reduced calorie or fat generally have a high amount of sugar added in which isn’t much better. Added sugars are linked to inflammation, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and various other health implications.
Remember; “when we eat foods without labels we no longer need to count calories.”