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You will hear a lot of people (myself included) talk about the importance of reading your food labels. But what exactly are you supposed to be reading?

 

I suggest you look at 4 main things:

 

1. Serving per container

The label has servings per serving, not always what is in the whole container. For example, if you get a can of chicken and rice soup that is around 10 oz, once you add the water it is considered 2.5 servings.

The worst part is the salt in those things. One serving has 34% of the recommended amount of salt you're supposed to have in a day. A whole day! So if you eat that can of soup you just ate 85% of your daily salt intake.

Look at the amount of calories and sugar in a bottle of Mt. Dew some time, it's crazy.

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2. Don't be fooled by names

All Natural means absolutely thing nutritional wise and anything that says all natural is not regulated by the FDA. Organic actually means something, all natural does not. How about Multigrain, Enriched, 7 Grain, or Nutrigrain? Also nothing.

Real, whole foods do not need things added it is already in there. Eggo Nutri-grain pancakes say they are made with whole wheat and whole grain, but if you look at the ingredients it is mainly made of white flour and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Have you ever given your child Gerber Graduates Fruit Juice Snacks? My son loved these things as a kid, now I know why. They are made of HFCS and sugar. Whoops.

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3. The first shall make you fat

The ingredients are listed from the most to the least amount. So if nothing else look at the first three ingredients. If it has something you are trying to avoid it will be right there.

Something tricky that food manufacturers (usually the cereal makers) do is combine all the grains that are included together as one, so sugar won't be the first ingredient. Look at your cereal and if it has something like grains(corn, wheat, oats) sugar is usually the very next thing.

On a side note in case you are curious what a gram of sugar looks like. 4-5 grams of sugar is equal to one level teaspoon of sugar.

 

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4. Other names for sugar When you see -ose it means sugar. Maltose, dextrose, sucrose are all sugars. Or corn syrup, HFCS, fruit juice concentrate, honey, maple syrup also are all sugar.

Compare plain yogurt to fruit yogurt. Plain has 10 grams of sugar, while fruit has 44 grams (about 10 teaspoons!) of sugar. The 10 grams in the plain comes from the naturally occurring lactose that is in milk.

The main thing to take home is that you should always know what you are putting into your body. And if you are a parent it is double important to know what you're putting in your kids' bodies. Learn from my mistakes.

At the very least, give the foods you are eating a quick glance and you it will be an eye opening experience for you. You may dislike me now because I ruined some of your favorite foods, but you will be much healthier in the long run.