Today I am hoping to inspire you to set the goal of becoming a label reader.
I believe reading labels is number one on the road to being healthy. If you are aware what is in our food and understand what to avoid, it will be a great start to a healthy year!
By picking the right brand you can cut out extra sugar, oils, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
For example, this “maple syrup” actually has ZERO maple syrup in it. If you look at the ingredients you’ll notice the first two ingredients are corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. Yuck! It is also packed with artificial ingredients and preservatives. There is nothing real or good about this product. Except that it is cheap. Honestly, you’re better off spending the money on good ingredients and using them more sparingly.
Pure maple syrup is the way to go. The only ingredient is, well….maple syrup. And, yes, it is still pure sugar, but at least it is REAL sugar and actually has some nutrients. With that said, it is still very important to limit your sugar intake. So, just add a little to your pancakes. 🙂
Here is a short list of ingredients that I avoid….
#1- Hydrogenated oils (partially or fully hydrogenated) -these oils are chemically altered to have longer shelf life. Through this process they become only one molecule away from plastic and difficult to break down. Ewwww! It is thick as it moves through your arteries and can damage the artery wall. I think of it as liquid plastic clogging my arteries. (Source: Naturalnews.com)
Once you eliminate hydrogenated oil from your diet, you quickly notice the taste and icky coating in your mouth when you eat it again.
#2- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) -it is more rapidly absorbed into the blood stream than regular sugar, causing spikes in insulin and fat production. (Source: Mark Hyman, M.D.)
#3- Extra Sugar -many products claim to be low-fat but add sugar to maintain taste. Other products add large amounts of sugar for no reason other than our society has grown used to overly sweet flavors.
By comparing brands, when reading labels, you can save huge amounts of sugar on a daily basis. For example, the store brand of vanilla yogurt at our local grocery store has 12 grams more sugar than the Mountain High brand for an 8oz. serving. That’s around 3 teaspoons of additional sugar in one serving! Imagine how fast that adds up. Just by comparing brands I save my family loads of extra sugar.
Another product that I save a lot of sugar by comparing brands is cereal, which my kids eat a lot of! Even among the healthy brands the amount of sugar can vary quite a bit. Just look at the label and try to stay at 6g. per serving or less. Every now and then treat your kids to a 10g/serving cereal but not very often. We also try to buy whole grain cereals and vary the type of grains we choose.
#4- Artificial Sweeteners -In addition to many negative side effects, research has shown that these chemically manufactured sweeteners can actually increase your appetite. Sad considering that people that use them feel they are getting less calories, only to be left with the desire to consume more.
Even worse, they have been found to cause multiple problems/side effects in humans, including bladder problems and stomach pain. (Source: Howstuffworks.com)
#5- Preservatives -Not all preservatives are bad. Citric Acid, for example, is a natural preservative that causes no harm. However, there are plenty of bad preservatives out there that have been linked to such severe consequences as ADHD in children and cancer. The FDA often reports that in small amounts they cause no harm and that is why they are approved in our country. My thoughts are that we find preservatives in so much of our food that they all quickly add up. When reading a food label, if there are preservatives they usually let you know in parentheses. (Sources: news.health.com and eatrightontario.ca)
I do my best to keep the above 5 ingredients out of my home. That way if we are at a friend’s house or out to eat we don’t have to worry too much about what we are being served.
So, next time you’re at the store look at the label and read exactly what you are buying. Compare brands and pay attention to which have the above bad ingredients, and choose a different brand. Once you know the healthier choices it will save you time in the future. 🙂
Happy Shopping! Here’s to your health…!!