So far, we have taken a deeper look into Artificial Sweeteners and how the FDA has “tricked” us into thinking that packaged foods deemed “100% natural”, “no sugar added”, “fat free” and “USDA Organic”, are not as healthy of choices as they seem. We touched on a few ways to be able to identify healthier options with packaged foods - with this blog post, however, we are going to dive into that even more and cover the third reason for weight gain: not understand Nutrition Labels and Ingredient Lists and how to read + understand them.
Both the nutrition label and the ingredient list are important to look at and understand - so always read both when looking at packaged foods. This week and next we are going to focus on what to look for and what is important to know // remember when reading labels because we want to focus on increasing the value of the food we eat while continuing to keep convenience a factor.
As mentioned last week, the best “rule of thumb” is to always, when possible, increase and reach for the single-ingredient foods and when in doubt… choose the options with as few ingredients as possible and as wholesome as possible. We definitely want to continue focusing on decreasing the foods you have around the house that are packed with fillers and increase the foods you have around that are whole, real, single-ingredient foods. So when it comes to nutrition labels, look for:
Even though this is something we all know to look for, we still eat way more than we should. Check in on the serving size and regain awareness of “eyeball” measurements
If calories from fat is listed, disregard. I say this because we need to remember to look at the bigger picture. Fat is not bad for us, it actually has a lot of benefits. BUT. We definitely need to be aware of the types of fat we are consuming and which are better for us, and which are not as beneficial for us...
Types of Fat
Remember - cholesterol is found in animal products so it’s not always bad. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is known as the "good" cholesterol because it helps remove other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Again, think of healthy fats (fish, nuts, full fat dairy, organic meats, etc) - those are the sources of foods we consume that contain HDL Cholesterol.
Sodium is used as a preservative, so this can be very high in some cases. Watch the amount included so as a general rule of thumb - always try to stay below 5% DV.
Always look to make sure, under Carbohydrates, that there are more grams of fiber listed than sugar. If there is more sugar listed, chances are that packaged product is not going to be a nutrient dense product.
Always look in the ingredients to see WHAT kind of protein is being used.
Vitamins A & C, Iron and Calcium are required to be shown on labels. If there are more minerals and vitamins shown, chances are it’s a pretty nutrient dense product and one that should be ok to consume (again, always double check the ingredient list to make sure there aren’t any fillers or sugars added!)
Learning about the ingredient list and what to look for is the second portion of this lesson - which will be continued next week…. So stay tuned!