Quick Tips for Reading Grocery Labels

 

Nutrition Fact vs. Fiction

What’s Important

  • Focus on the ingredients portion of the label.
  • Look for a minimal number of ingredients — the less the better. You can dress it up once you buy it.
  • Look for natural ingredients, such as the items included on the Core Plan. (Avoid ingredients you can’t read or pronounce because they were probably made in a laboratory).
  • Buy more foods that aren’t required to have labels because what you see is what you get (i.e. fruits and vegetables).
  • Make a habit of checking the label on each item you buy. It won’t be long before you will know exactly what to consider. It will quickly become a habit and won’t add any extra time to your trip to the store.

Common Mistakes

  • Spend less time looking at grams of fat, carbohydrates, proteins, calories, and serving size.
  • Remember that the recommended daily values on this part of the label do not take into consideration age, gender, athletic activity, or specific dietary needs.
  • Beware of boisterous advertising claims. Cereals have recently been under the microscope by the FDA for claiming outrageous health benefits, such as “low in fat” or “trans-fat free,” while clearly listing unhealthy, dangerous ingredients on the label. The advertisers want you to SEE “Low in Cholesterol,” (which doesn’t matter), and miss high-fructose corn syrup on the ingredients list.
  • Being low in fat, low in carbohydrates or sugar-free does not make something healthy.
  • Being organic or located in the health food section of the store, (i.e. organic sugar or organic potato chips), does not make something good for you.

Watch Out for the Following Common Hidden Ingredients:

  • Various forms of sugar (foods ending in “-ose”)
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), a powerful stimulator of free radical production in the body
  • Hydrolyzed or autolyzed ingredients (highly heated, addictive excitotoxins)
  • Artificial sweeteners (sucralose/Splenda®, aspartame/Nutrasweet®, Equal® among others)
  • Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils. These trans fats may still appear on the ingredients list, but if the quantity per serving is less than 500 mg, the food can boast “trans-fat free” on the label. You may notice the serving size has conveniently “shrunk” over the years.
  • Refined flour touted as organic. If it isn’t “sprouted, whole grain, or stone-ground” it is refined.
  • Additives, colorings, chemicals and preservatives.

Now That You Know What to Look for

You have the know-how to seek out all the best foods available to you, but your at-home menu can get stale no matter how fresh your ingredients are. Your Maximized Living doctor is hosting a recipe night that’ll help ensure your home cooking reaches restaurant quality taste.

Join your fellow Maximized Living patients for a night of delicious homemade recipes. Be sure to ask your doctor for time, location and other specific event details.