What goes into your mouth directly affects your weight, hormones, mood, and overall health status. Learn to read nutrition labels so you can be in control of what is in your body. Garbage in-garbage out. Here are some basics to get started making wise choices when grocery shopping or even buying snacks along the way:
1. Ingredients are listed by weight greatest to least
2. Items containing high fructose corn syrup and anything containing “hydrogenated” should be left on the shelf (where it could probably stay for 10 years and not spoil, yikes!)
3. Added sugar has some sneaky little names these days. Among them:
Evaporated cane juice
Make yourself aware of the things you buy that have added sugar. At this point, try to buy less of these items. More later on how to transition away from added sugars.
4. Items labelled “natural,” “low fat,”no added sugar,” etc. are generally marketing ploys to trick your brain into assuming it is health food. Don’t believe it until you read the label.
5. Anything that comes in a can or box should be harshly judged-ok I know this is a tough one! But when you start reading those labels you will see why!
6. Compare brands of like items for nutritional quality. For example: BBQ sauce is generally full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, BUT we can’t live without it (don’t judge me.) so I shopped around until I found one with the least amount of crap in it and lower sugar grams. And I buy it on occasion. Not all the time.
7. If it contains an ingredient you can’t pronounce, put it back.
8. Not all oils are created equal. Good fat is key to losing weight and health on general. Here are the oils you’ll commonly encounter:
Corn-avoid/mostly genetically engineered (more later)
Canola-avoid/mostly genetically engineered
Cottonseed- usually contaminated by pesticides (more later)
Safflower-okay/not good for cooking
Sunflower-okay/not good for cooking
Soybean-avoid/mostly genetically engineered & contains pesticides
Coconut-ideal for cooking and has many health benefits. Keep in pantry at all times and do buy organic virgin
Palm-not ideal but okay in moderation
Vegetable-avoid/mostly genetically engineered & contains pesticides
Peanut-okay in moderation/not good for cooking but organic to avoid pesticides.
Grape seed-avoid unless using for dressings/not safe for cooking
Olive-great for making dressings and dipping. Not good for cooking as when it’s oxidized it becomes harmful for your health
Avocado-good for cooking
Macadamia nut-good for cooking
Butter-great for cooking. Buy organic pastured: I highly recommend the Organic Valley brand and buy unsalted
The oil takeaway: Buy high quality coconut oil and butter for cooking. Buy high quality olive oil to make dressings. Avoid the rest if you can. The following is more info for those of you who want to understand more about why:
More on Oils
9. Generally the fewer the ingredients on the label, the more wholesome the item will be.
Assume that packaged products containing any of these oils have highly processed and pesticide-treated versions of them and are not ideal. Packaged foods in moderation are not all terrible, however the bulk of your grocery cart’s bounty should be found on the perimeter of the store where the real food is. Yes, REAL food! We will discuss real food prep and cooking basics in the coming days. Let’s keep it simple for now and focus on learning this necessary skill of label-analyzing.
I challenge you to add 10 minutes to your next grocery trip and read EVERY label. It will pay off later. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it! From now on, don’t buy without reading first. I welcome your comments, questions and discussion!