Large companies and food manufactures work hard to confuse us when it comes to ingredient and nutritional labels on food. The thing is, reading ingredient labels doesn't have to be a confusing thing, it can actually be pretty straight forward if you know what you want to see and what you should be looking out for.
It's just as important to be just as aware of what has been taken out of the food as what has been added in! This is something that a lot of people miss but there is a reason that real whole foods are so beneficial, it's because they are as close to their natural state as possible and nothing has been taken out.
For example when you buy a processed grain item (like bread) it has had almost all of the fibre stripped out of it, as opposed to a sprouted bread that contains the full seed, grain and has most of the fibre still in tact.
The top 3 ingredients listed are the ingredients that are the most important, because are the ingredients that appear in the product the most. If the first ingredients include refined grains, a type of sugar, or hydrogenated oils, you can assume that the product is unhealthy.
You can also basically assume that if the ingredients list that is longer than two to three lines suggests that the product is highly processed.
Understanding the Nutrition Label
Nutrition labels state how many calories and nutrients are in a standard suggested single serving of the food.
To find the nutritional value of what the food, you need to multiply the serving given on the back by the number of servings you are consuming.
Ingredients to Avoid
- High fructose corn syrup
- Artificial flavours
- Artificial colours - caramel colouring, Blue No. 1 Brilliant Blue, Blue No. 2 Indigotine, Green No. 3 Fast Green, Red No. 3 Erythrosine, Orange B, Citrus Red 2
- Artificial sweeteners - Aspartame, Nutrasweet, Equal, Splenda, Sucralose, Saccharin, Sweet 'N Low, Sweet Twin, Sugar Twin, Acesulfame Potassium, Sunnett, Sweet One
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Soybean Oil - Polysorbate 60, Propylene glycol alginate (E405)
- Enriched flour
The Bottom Line
If you can focus on having the majority of your diet come from real whole foods that are as close to their natural state, and have no nutrition labels you will be in a really good place.
We also know that never buying packaged foods is not an option for the majority of us, and that's totally okay, just be mindful of what is in the food you're buying and consuming, look for packaged foods with ingredients you recognize and can actually picture in your head and treat pre made packaged food as an add on to your diet, not your entire diet.
Stay Healthy - @tubify