This past week the Insight 2 Health crew took a Food Label Reading Tour at the local grocery store.
Let’s face it, the field of nutrition can be a difficult world to navigate, with confusing buzz words and conflicting information coming from all different sources. Bottom line is that we want to eat well, make good choices and keep our families as healthy as possible. I’ve been a part of the nutrition world since the 1980’s and have seen many “buzz words” and “trends” come and go.
We had the “sugar free” generation that led us to a barrage of artificial sweeteners. We have found now that those artificial sweeteners were even worse than regular sugars as our bodies struggled to deal with these toxic chemical substances such as Equal, Sweet-n-Low and Splenda. We have watched as people choosing low calorie sugar substitutes actually got more obese.
There was also the “fat free” generation, where people were told that they could lose all that excess weight by choosing fat free products. What we know now is that those products were laden with extra sugars that again made people more obese. Our brains need healthy fats for mental clarity, focus and memory, so without these fats, we have seen an upswing in memory issues, Alzheimer’s and dementia.
So what should we look for when we are reading Nutrition Label?
1. As noted above, avoid packaged products that are labeled “sugar free” or “fat free”, they are full of other ingredients that will set you off track. Also avoid foods where sugar or any type of sweetener is one of the top three ingredients.
2. Be wary of “gluten free” products. They are useful as a replacement for a certain group of people with gluten intolerance, but may contain other ingredients that are not necessarily good for you. A cookie is still a cookie, whether it’s gluten free or not.
3. Look for short ingredient lists of words that you can pronounce
4. Avoid products with artificial dyes, colors or sweeteners
5. Look for words such as “organic” and “non-GMO” to get the benefits of healthier foods without all the pesticides and toxins.
Of course the best thing yet is to avoid packaged and processed foods all together and opt instead to EAT CLEAN! Choosing to eat organic, non-GMO foods. Eating mainly fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, well sourced, grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish and avoiding packaged foods as much as possible. Grow your own food or source from farmer’s markets and CSAs. Look for buzz words like Organic, Raw, Grass Fed, Wild-Caught, No Artificial Sweeteners, No Artificial Dyes or Colors and Non-GMO.
~Nutrition Julie (NutritionJulie.com)