Hello and very good to see you again or welcome if you are new! There are many questions to reading nutrition labels, and it’s a very confusing process. I want to talk about nutrition content, but more importantly I want to talk about the ingredient list. I know that this seems trivial, but I assure you that this is very important step towards a healthy life. So strap in and let’s navigate the label labyrinth!
The ingredient list is the most important information you should look at when buying a product, whether it be food, personal, or beauty supplies. After examining many food labels you will see that cooking is an invaluable skill for fitness. If you don’t cook, now couldn’t be a better time to start. I didn’t know how to cook anything outside of a box three years ago, but with practice, patience, creativity, and persistence, you will be a pro chef in no time. I owe all my thanks for support and suggestions to my gracious husband and in-laws. If you can follow directions, then you have nothing to worry about.
So some of you might be saying why are the ingredients more important than the actual nutrition facts? Well in short, companies are aware that most reasonable people read these and it has become a careful equation of substituting fats for sugars, sugars for starches, ect. The easiest rule to follow is if the product is something simple and it has more than 10 ingredients, put it back. Also, if one of the first ingredients is sugar in some form (Sucralose, HFCS, Stevia, ect.), then back it should go as well. Yes, that means almost all mainstream packaged products you find in the grocery store. Find products that list base ingredients to make that food, or even foods that have no ingredients at all, like fresh broccoli. The main aisles you will find yourself in are produce, frozen, spice/herbs, and baking.
Ignore claims on the item itself like “100% Natural”, “Real Fruit Juice/Real Fruit/Natural Fruit Flavors”, “No Artificial Preservatives/No Preservatives”, “No Artificial Ingredients”, and yes even “Organic”. Just because the product says this does not mean that there aren’t any harmful ingredients or that it is better nutritionally. The best thing to do when you are unsure of an ingredient is to Google it. Wikipedia will become your best friend when deciding whether you want to eat something or not. If you are looking for something to make this process easier, we recommend the app Fooducate. Simply scan a bar code and it will tell you a letter grade for that product. This app is far from perfect, but great for health enthusiasts. Eventually, you won’t need an app or even to read a products label to understand if you should eat it.
Food labels were originally made for nutritionists, to keep track of the nutritional intake, keep that in mind. So, when you’re buying food, it should be noted how that item will fuel your body. The nutrition label gives you a very general idea of how much nutritional content that product has and, as you go through the day, help you keep a balanced nutritional diet. We follow couple rules when we read nutrition labels. Always start by reading the carbohydrates first, if the product is very high in sugars or carbohydrates and very low or absent of fiber, it is probably a good idea to move on. If the product has high fat and/or trans fat, is the next big tip off that the product isn’t a great choice. I am not saying that you can’t treat yourself every now and then to things you like that don’t meet this criteria, but as with everything, moderation is key.
This was a very quick intro to very big concept. Hopefully, you see the importance now of flipping that product over and seeing what lies within. If you take a little more time at the grocery store you can add a lot more to your life. Thanks for reading everyone and we’ll see you next week!
– Fuhrman, Joel. Eat For Health.Flemington:Gift of Health Press, 2012.Print.
– Fennessy, Donna. “How to Read a Food Label” Health Magazine.