Wanna know how to cut through the BS marketing and really know how to read food labels? Read on my friend…
I’m sure you’ve been there: you’re browsing the aisles of your local supermarket, searching for the perfect protein bar to fill you up in between meals. Each box of bars boasts its benefits: whole grains, no added sugar, organic. It can be tempting to buy into the gimmicks that manufacturers list on the cardboard packaging, but the thing to remember is, most of that is truly just that: marketing!
Maybe you already realize the tricks? Maybe you know that you need to examine the nutrition label to determine whether this bar is really God’s green gift to Earth, or if it’s basically ground up sugar packed into a mold with some added protein thrown in.
The black and white box on the back of your food shares a lot of important details that you need to know. Choosing the right foods for your body plays a major role in your overall health, and learning to read labels thoroughly can give you power back in your healthy decision-making!
It’s time that you learned how to interpret the facts on nutrition labels instead of feeling overwhelmed by the numbers. What’s really in your food? Let’s find out with this crash course on interpreting the nutrition facts for your food.
Become a detective
The easiest thing to examine first is the list of key ingredients. Processed foods tend to have lengthy lists of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. They are riddled with artificial flavors, food dyes, and hidden sugar content. Before you even look at the numbers, you can tell whether a food is going to benefit your body by taking a closer look at this list.
Follow the five ingredient rule: if a food has more than five ingredients, it’s probably not all that healthy.
When reading through ingredients, you should be able to recognize and pronounce each item in the list. If you feel like you’re reading off of a chinese menu, it’s probably best you put that box back on the shelf. Avoid foods that have lots of sugar, hydrogenated oils, and trans-fats. Keep in mind that the foods listed first have the greatest quantities in the product. That means that if you see sugar or high fructose corn syrup first, you should put that box of cereal right back on the shelf.
By narrowing your search with the key ingredient list, you will have significantly fewer items that qualify to be put in your cart.
For those that remain, we have to get a little more technical.
I’m fat, but I’m good fat
We have been conditioned to believe that having fat content in our food is automatically bad for our health. Both unsaturated fats and saturated fats have been given a unfavourable reputation! The truth is that some high-quality fat content is absolutely amazing for your body, and is a key macro that I recommend all clients enjoy! You just have to know where to look on the nutrition label to determine what is best for you.
The reality is that your body needs both types of fats to function properly.
You should look for high-quality fats that originate from grass-fed meats and plant-based sources. When you see hydrogenated oils in the key ingredient list, this indicates that you are selecting food that might be high in saturated fats but without the healthy aspect found in other products such as:
When it comes to focusing on the fat content in your food, always check the nutrition label and the source of the fat. The packaging may claim that these foods are low-fat, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. These foods often contain small amounts of low-quality fats from hydrogenated oils that would be worse for you than a higher content of better-quality fats. Or worse yet, they pack the food with sugar to make up for the flavour that’s lost after removing the fat! The little critters! I remember I used to think making (and then eating) meringue was healthy because it had no fat, only sugar and egg whites!
Enough to feed a mouse?
That new box of cereal might boast some impressive nutrition facts, but how much of it can you actually eat? Manufacturers often manipulate the serving size on the box because making it smaller reduces the number of calories, the overall fat content, and more. You are tricked into believing this food is healthy based on the single-serving size. In reality, you might be eating three to four servings in a sitting to really feel satisfied! This is especially important with high-sugar foods and drinks like fruit juices, cereals, and other packaged goods.
COUNTING THE CALORIES?
Most people associated the caloric content of their food with its nutritional value. Counting calories is the basic premise of many popular diets, but it shouldn’t really be something you consider when checking the food label. These measurements are not always accurate which means you might be consuming up to twenty percent more calories than you see on the box! Instead of getting caught up in the calories, you should focus on the other areas of the nutrition label.
Get your vit on
Reading the nutrition label thoroughly involves more than just avoiding fats and checking the ingredients. You should also be looking for products that contain vitamins, minerals, and fibre to help keep your body healthy. Incorporating more of these nutrients into your diet can reduce your risk of certain diseases such as osteoporosis.
Searching for products with high percent daily values for additional nutrients like these can be key in selecting healthy products. Look for foods that contain high daily values of twenty percent or more of these important building blocks.
DOING YOUR HOMEWORK
Buying the right foods at the grocery store can feel overwhelming when you’re trying to eat healthily. Never give in to the marketing gimmicks on the packaging that claim your food is low-fat, fat-free, sugar-free, or natural. Terms like these do not have any real meaning and can be extremely misleading. Smart consumers know that they have to look past the bright colours and bold claims to find out what is really going on with their food.
The best source of accurate information on the nutritional content of your food is the black and white box on the back of the packaging. Shop smarter by taking the time to check these nutrition facts next time you’re at the grocery store. Knowing what is really in your food can make all of the difference in your health!
If you don’t want the fuss of reading food labels then just focus on eating these: Click here…top 15 foods for health & vitality.