Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Reading Food Labels...What is good and what is bad?

What is good and what is bad is a common question you ask yourself when you walk the aisles of the grocery store. I get pictures texted to me all the time during my health & fitness challenge groups asking me "Is this OK to eat?". Food labels are so deceptive because even though it might say "All Natural" when after reading the list of ingredients you are surprised to find out that it is full of JUNK!
If your goal is to eat healthy and clean food then you need to pay attention to the packaged items you are buying. You just cannot just buy brown rice anymore, you have to READ THE INGREDIENTS because more and more food manufacturers are adding UNHEALTHY ingredients.
My #1 tip to decipher whether or not that peanut butter you are about to buy is "Good or Bad" is to look at the INGREDIENT LIST!  There is really no need to look at the nutritional facts just pay attention to the ingredients. Nutritional Facts tell you nothing about the actual "health" of the food you are eating and the impact it has on your health! Just think about all of those diet frozen meals. They claim to be healthy but next time you go to the grocery store read the label.  It might be only 310 calories, but is it REALLY THAT HEALTHY FOR YOU? There is no way that the "diet brand" chicken frozen meal is healthy for you.  If you rely solely on the Nutritional Facts to choose what is healthy and not healthy for you, you will end up eating a lot of BAD food.
What I want you to do is look at the first 3-4 ingredients....those ingredients are the most dominant in the product. So if lists chia seeds as the 15th ingredient it actually isn't that healthy!
Reading the ingredient list is by far the most important way to figure out if that food item is actually good or bad. And the foods that don't have a label are by far the best, fruits and veggies!
My #2 tip is THINK ABOUT IT! Would you really eat something with ingredients like bleach or ammonium sulfate in it? Use common sense people.
Just because it is ORGANIC doesn't mean it is healthy tip #3. Yes, it is organic so it doesn't have all the "bad" chemicals but how much sugar and fat is in it? Even if it is organic it is still PROCESSED. Of course if you are going to buy something packaged organic is the best way to go but it doesn't always mean it is healthy for you. My kids love some of the organic cereals out there that mimic Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch but they are filled with sugar...more than the average serving my child should consume in a day. So the key is moderation. Eat processed packaged food in moderation.
This leads me to my #4 tip to deciding whether or not that food item is bad or good...LOOK for SUGAR. If sugar is in the top 3 ingredients, don't get it! You definitely do not want to get any processed food item that has high fructose corn syrup in it either. There are so many forms of sugar, even "healthy" sugar. Bottom line sugar is sugar! And sugar is linked to so many health problems such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.
Women should have no more than 6 teaspoons per day of sugar and men should not have more than 9 teaspoons of sugar a day.  That is about 25-30 grams of sugar per day. So even if you are eating that Chobani Coconut Greek yogurt (which is my favorite), look at the sugar content!  
A few other things...don't give too much thought on the fat grams because what is most important is the type of fat you are eating. Coconut, nuts, seeds, and avocados are all high in fat, but are a health heart fat! But you still need to portion those healthy fats out because eating too much can cause weight gain or difficulty losing weight.  
And when it comes down to calories, think about the quality of the food first and foremost. So yes that nonfat frozen ice-cream might have less calories then the banana and organic peanut butter but you want to choose the healthier option.
I really hope this helps next time you go to the grocery store and you are torn between what peanut butter is bad or good! I want you to be educated and confident in your abilities to choose the healthiest food for you and your family.
Please email me if you have any questions about food labels and eating CLEAN HEALTHY foods...I would love to help you get healthy Inside-Out! 
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