Label Reading

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How good are you at reading labels?
Sometimes it can be really confusing. Most things on the shelves these days claim to be “the best” for you in one way or another. Certain foods advertise high fiber, low fat, no fat, dairy free, low calorie, high protein, low carb, sugar free…..HELP! Where do I begin?

Well my rule of thumb would be to shop around the edges of the store. If you notice, most things you find around the perimeter of any grocery store are fresh. You will pass by the produce, deli, fish/meat, and dairy sections. When you start to enter the aisles and the center of the store, you will find more preserved foods such as canned, boxed, and jarred goods.

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The fresher, less preserved…the better. Scan the ingredients. You shouldn’t have to be a scientist to read what is in your food. If you can’t read it, it’s probably not that great for you. Chemicals are bad, and those are probably the words you are having a hard time decoding.

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The less ingredients, the better! One perfect example would be a jar of Jiff or other commonly known peanut butter versus natural peanut butter (the kind you find ground fresh at the deli or labeled organic/natural). The Jiff ingredients are: Roasted peanuts, sugar, molasses, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean), mono and diglycerides, and salt. WHOA! Where is my dictionary…actually you better stick with Google because Webster probably can’t tell you exactly what it is or why you need it. Guess what’s in the natural peanut butter? Organic roasted peanuts. Yep. That’s it.

There is a short article from the American Heart Association the could be helpful if you are just learning to read labels. Click here to check it out.

So what would you rather fuel yourself with? A bunch of unknown ingredients or some fresh, natural foods that we are all familiar with? No brainer. It’s easier said than done, but you can start small. Switch up your peanut butter, that is a simple step in the right direction. Do a little label reading and research on more brands that can keep your body clean and free of additives.

When you get into eating whole and organic foods, there are a few stamps to help you through your journey. More and more companies are evaluating the brands on our shelves for quality. I found this great chart in Women’s Health Magazine that explains a few things we might look for when shopping for healthy choices.

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So, good luck on your label reading journey! And ALWAYS….Eat to live. Don”t live to eat.

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