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Read The Label…

Picture of groceries on the shelf in a grocery store with the caption "Ingredient Labels 101, What you should know"Are you new to reading ingredient labels and are confused by all the information? Do you always read the ingredient label because you need to make sure your food is low calorie, low fat or low carb?

Regardless of which camp you’re in, chances are you’re missing the bigger picture. What is the FIRST thing should you be looking at when you read the label? – the ingredient label. The nutrition facts don’t tell the whole story. In fact, they leave out some very crucial information that is much more important if you are working towards a healthier lifestyle.

Stop reading nutrition labels and start reading the ingredient label

Take a closer look at the ingredient label and see what is actually in your food, it will surprise you! If you don’t recognize an ingredient as an actual food, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. As Michael Pollan said, “if your grandmother doesn’t recognize it, you shouldn’t be eating it”. You should be eating real food, not some food product that tastes “chemically”. With a little bit of time and effort, you could probably have made that same food at home. And I bet it would taste much better. Eating real food has so many benefits!

Sugar has more than 70 different namesReading ingredient labels for added sugar, the basics

Watching the documentary That Sugar Film was a real eye-opener to all the places where sugar is hidden. Many of the extras added to our food are to mimic flavours or textures, extend shelf life or cut the costs of the real ingredient. Sugar is a common cheap filler used in many foods! Many of the packaged convenience foods available in the grocery stores are science experiment, food-like substances made in a lab. When removing fat out of a food, the replacement substances are frequently sugar and “gums” to replace a texture that is missing.

When I’m buying a packaged food, such as yogurt, I’m buying plain Greek yogurt, 4% or 11% fat if I can find it. Yogurt ingredients should be as simple as: cream, milk and bacterial culture. I add my own fresh fruit and homemade granola. Compare plain Greek yogurt to any popular fruit yogurt. You’ll be shocked at the amount of sugar if you’re new to reading labels. For most packaged foods available in the store, there is a version without all the junk in it – homemade!

Real food nourishes your body

Once you’ve decided that a given item is real food, you should then check the nutrition label. Check serving size, carbs, protein, etc. and see if it fits your individual needs and macros. We’ve been working on eating less packaged food and cooking from scratch more.

That leads us to the next problem – TIME. I’m doing meal planning and bulk cooking to help take some of the stress off our busy schedule. This includes cooking a whole chicken or two and then dividing up the meat for multiple meals that week. And yes, save all the in-edible bits in a container in the freezer to make your very own stock or broth! Delicious homemade soup is in your future! Keep an eye on our recipe section as I add in more things that prepare and freeze well in bulk for a quick and tasty meal!

Packaged convenience foods also contain a lot of preservatives, colours, and fillers added to help things last longer on the shelf in the store. Food that you prepare from scratch at home doesn’t have all of this and that’s why it is much better for you!