Reading The Nutrition Label: Become An Expert Consumer Fast!

September 26, 2018

When you’re grocery shopping for healthy foods, your best bet is stick to the perimeter of the store. This is where all the whole foods are: fruits, vegetables, other produce, meats, eggs, the stuff that doesn’t have a food label.


If you have to go into the aisle for something pre-packaged (it’s almost impossible to avoid some items from here) it’s important that you know what you’re looking for.


The hardest part in the grocery store is looking past marketing. Just because the box says “Healthy!” “100% organic” “Fat Free!” or “Heart Healthy,” doesn’t really mean that it is. But it does get your attention and probably makes you feel good about that purchase.


When your shopping for certain foods with food labels, make sure you’re looking at the whole label.


There are some obvious points to look for: how many calories, how many servings per container, how much protein is in it, fat content, etc. And those are important, but I think the most important thing to look at is the ingredients list.


This tells us exactly what is in the product, with the first item being what it has the most of and decreasing from there.


You may find that in a certain drink, the first ingredient is sugar. If that’s the case, then the majority of that bottle is sugar and the rest is water, flavor, and whatever else goes into making it taste so good.


The ingredients list on truly healthy foods should be short and only have words that you know and can pronounce.


Next time you’re at the grocery store, go compare almond milks. Ideally, almond milk should have filtered water and almonds. That’s it.


What you’ll probably find is one brand with that list, and the rest with long lists of 10+ ingredients you can’t pronounce and have no idea what they are.


Check out the ingredients list on protein bars, granola bars and other “health” snacks. I bet you’ll be surprised at how much stuff goes into it that you end up asking, “What actually is this?”


Now that you know how to be an expert consumer, start putting it to use.


Compare products that you typically get and see if there is a better choice out there for you.


If you’re anything like me, you may get frustrated with how much crap is allowed to go in our foods.  


It’s not perfect, but at least looking more often will lead you down a better path to healthier options.


If that’s the case, and you’re trying to be healthier with your foods, stick to the perimeter of the store with your label-free foods! 

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