How to Eat Healthier by Reading Food Labels

In my weekly grocery shop this past Monday I overheard a woman talking to a friend that she doesn’t eat or drink sugar. She was pointing to a bottle of creamer that clearly advertises on the front of it that there was “no sugar” added into it. I did not read the label on this product but it made me think, why can’t it be that easy with other products? Why can’t we trust that labels and advertisements are telling us the truth about the product?

“Companies are required to list ingredients in the order of their pre-dominance. But that doesn’t tell you how much is in the package. If sugar is the second ingredient listed on a package, that doesn’t tell you if it makes up 30 percent of the food or 5 percent. 

  • “Food Fix” Mark Hyman

Unfortunately we cannot trust the marketing of thousands of processed food products and drinks. Companies have come up with ways to get around FDA labeling rules, not to mention really sneaky marketing strategies to immediately get you thinking it will do your body good. Did you know that big companies like Nabisco are owned by a tobacco company? Last time I checked tobacco companies didn’t have our best interest at heart.

Here are the most important things to consider when purchasing processed food products (this includes drinks as well).

The Food Label process.

  1. Don’t buy processed food at all. (haha)

I try really hard with this!! One processed food I eat regularly and I will use as an example is Primal Kitchen Salad dressing. Take a look at the label. First ingredient listed is avocado oil. Second is water, and so on. I know each and every ingredient on this list. It doesn’t tell me how much of each but it gives me a pretty good idea. I want to point out at the bottom of the label where it says “Adds negligible amount of sugar”.  I don’t like this. To me it makes me feel like they are hiding something, but alas I still continue to buy it. I’m working on it, ok!

2. Read the label, not the marketing on the front of a package.

Just like we did above, read all of the ingredients. Notice what order they are listed and also if you see an ingredient you can’t pronounce, don’t buy it!

3. The bad oils list.

These oils are used in most processed foods including organic foods, so don’t be fooled. They cause inflammation and are NOT good for our body. If you read the label and see these oils you should not buy the product and trust me this will narrow down your processed food a lot (because they are in EVERYTHING).

  • Sunflower oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Grapesee oil
  • Canola oil

These are all unstable oils, exposed to chemicals in the refining process, stripped of all nutrients, and lead to inflammation. Olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil should be the only pure oils you use and see on the label.

These three rules should help you a ton to get the harmful ultra processed foods out of your house. Check your pantry and do a deep purge. I know when I need to, and it always feels so good!! If you haven’t read Mark Hyman’s book “Food Fix” I highly recommend it. Don’t have time for the book? The quick note is linked below.

Try your best.

When it comes to mine and my family’s health I always always choose REAL food grown or living outside. Not to say that we never eat processed food. On a consistent, daily basis we fuel our bodies with nutrient dense food, with the occasional processed food here and there. Hey who knows, maybe I will start making homemade dressing to avoid the “Adds negligible amount of sugar” label. The skys the limit!

One last quick story. My brother recently texted me with a health bar asking if this looked ok to eat every day as a snack. He works a very busy job where he needs a quick on the go snack. I had never heard of the bar so I started looking into it for him. Just on the labeling alone I couldn’t pronounce many ingredients and actually had to google some because I had never heard of them.

This is a huge red flag. One I did recognize was “soy protein isolate”, which doesn’t sound bad … you would think soy protein is good right? Well “soy protein” is good for you, edamame, tofu, etc. “Soy protein isolate” is the ultra processed version of soy protein that strips the protein from soybeans and also strips the nutrients. Not to mention there are tons of additives because it is chemically engineered and it also contains estrogenic properties. To say the least my brother canceled his monthly subscription not wanting to eat estrogen everyday (in my daughter’s words “duh”) and we found a health bar where we understood the ingredients.

It can be as simple as googling ingredients or just not purchasing something you don’t understand. We will never be able to control the food industry, but we always have a choice on what we put into our bodies and spend our money on.

“For every 10 percent of your diet that comes from processed food, your risk of death goes up 14 percent.”

Mark Hyman

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