Understanding Food Labels: Why It’s Important For You And Your FamilyApr 05, 2023
Nutrition is essential to a healthy lifestyle, so eating the right foods is a must. But what if finding the right foods is a lot harder than it sounds? Not only do food labels these days look like something from a chemistry textbook, but some of the healthy sounding terms they use are often ambiguous or even misleading. Learning to cut through the fog of food labels is critical to a healthy, sustainable diet. Let’s take a look at two key points to guide you through the process of dealing with food labels, and selecting the right foods.
First, Avoid Common Traps Of Food Labels
It used to be that we didn’t need food labels because we only ate real food. Over the past century, all that has changed. Now there are a myriad of added chemicals to enhance taste, longevity, and even color.
Avoiding these chemicals is often harder than it appears since food companies often hide them behind neutral or even positive sounding jargon. Here are a few of the most common food catchphrases to watch out for.
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☞ Meat Labeled “Fresh”
This just means the meat can never legally get colder than 26 degrees Fahrenheit. That still leaves a lot of wiggle room on the actual age of the meat.
☞ Meats Labeled “Natural”
You would think this meant the animals were raised organic, or at least raised in a semi-natural environment. But this term has nothing to do with how the animal was raised. It just means the meat was minimally processed, and that there were no artificial colors or other additives added to the meat.
☞ Meats Labeled “No Hormones Or Steroids”
Hormones and steroids are already illegal to use on animals that produce food, or will be used for food. This is just something companies say to sound more healthy and virtuous, and gives no information on how healthy their product really is.
☞ Foods Labeled “Organic”
Organic foods are still typically much healthier than non-organic foods, but there are pitfalls to watch out for. Organic meat just means the animal is eating an organic diet, but it doesn’t tell us what that diet is. Many kinds of feed aren’t naturally what the animal would eat, and can lead to less healthy meat. A label like “grass-fed” would be more important to look for when searching for healthy meat.
Second, Learn To Understand Food Labels
Those are a few thoughts on the front of the package. Now let’s take a look at the back of the package, specifically at the ingredients list. There are two simple steps to reading food labels that allow you to identify and kick out imposter foods.
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Step 1: Check The First Three Ingredients 📋
The ingredients are listed from highest quantity to lowest quantity. This being the case, the first three ingredients will represent the bulk of the food’s makeup. If any of the first three ingredients are refined grain, sugar, or hydrogenated oil, it’s a fair bet that the food is unhealthy. These three ingredients are ultra processed, and not only don’t give your body the sustained energy it needs, but have a host of negative side effects as well that lead to long-term health issues.
Step 2: Check For Length And Hard To Pronounce Ingredients 🔍
If the ingredients list is long, or if it has hard to pronounce, sciency sounding ingredients in it, it’s safe to assume the food contains unhealthy chemicals that will sabotage your health goals. These words typically represent chemicals used as preservatives or color enhancers. Again, they don’t contribute anything positive to your health, and instead produce undesirable side effects.
Finding Alternatives 💘
Instead of buying these foods, consider three alternatives.
First, buy foods at the store that have short ingredients lists without sciency words, and have whole food ingredients as the top three items in the lineup.
Second, consider buying food directly from a local farmer, or through a farmer’s market. These foods rarely need to be packaged because they’re real foods that weren’t produced in a huge, industrialized farm or processed in a factory. That being said, still be aware that farmers often use pesticides and other unnatural processes when producing food. It’s always best to double check.
And third, cook as much for yourself as you can. This way, you choose your own natural ingredients, and can know there aren’t a slew of preservatives in your meal.
To help you be even more successful in your hunt for wholesome, truly natural foods, we’ve created a “how to read food labels” guide that takes you even deeper into deciphering food labels. It’s packed with great info about misleading labels to avoid, sugars that hide behind neutral language, what kinds of ingredients are typically safe, and much more. You can check it out here.
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR SIMPLE EATS PROGRAM HERE
Become a food labels detective today! 🕵🏽♂️
➤ Download our free “How To Read Food Labels” guide!
➤ Check out our youtube video on the same topic
➤ Take an extra moment this week to check the ingredients lists for the foods you buy most often
This could change everything...
Finding truly healthy food can be challenging, but in the end, it’s totally worth the effort. What we put in our bodies has a massive effect on our current and long-term health, so getting it right is an important goal to prioritize.
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