Labels will be key to creating wholesome meals decisions

We are inundated with tons of creative packaging marketing activities with buzzwords that appeal to our pursuit of healthy shopping. Reading a product’s ingredient label is often ignored due to the packaging suggesting a healthy choice.

I noticed an article that talked about how reading food labels can help you lose weight. That’s a pretty strong statement, but reading food labels can help make a more informed purchase decision.

Food manufacturers compete with targeted marketing efforts to get you to buy their products. If the packaging catches your attention, ignore the buzzwords! A little investigation on the back tells you the real story.

I decided to look at some packaging statements and found that many were vague. Here are a few.

“Free range” applies to chickens. I imagined happy chickens pecking around outside! “Free-range” can be anything from an outdoor chicken to a chicken that is in an enclosure with the windows open.

The phrase “All Natural” means little and is not currently regulated by the FDA and can be misleading to consumers who think they are buying a healthy product.

“Sugar Free” is impressive, but does not mean that it contains fewer calories or is healthy.

“Real fruit juice” can be misleading as it may not tell you how much is real.

“Beef Flavor”, the word flavor in everything, means that the product has been refined with spices in order to replicate a taste in a product. Meat origin does not belong in the flavor category and is indicated on the label.

“Vitamin C or D added” is another indication that how much is added that can be misleading.

The word “organic” has been regulated by the FDA and contains three levels of organic criteria to qualify.

“Gluten-free” is a term that the FDA has regulated for cereals.

You need to be a certified nutritionist or nutritionist to fully understand the complexities of labeling and food ingredients, but reading a food label is relatively easy and provides a good summary of the ingredients of the product you are purchasing.

I’ll start with the first line that shows the number of servings in the package and how many calories are per serving. For example, if the package says 4 servings and each serving has 250 calories and you eat the entire package, you have just burned 1,000 calories.

Sodium is my next step on the label line for quantity in the product and is a key factor in health conditions. The recommended daily dose based on an industry standard 2,000 calorie diet is 2,500 to 3,000 mg. Fast food and sodas can easily be adapted to the recommendation.

The next items to check are carbs and fat, followed by sugar.

Trans Fat is a product that you should avoid altogether as it is used in product packaging to extend the shelf life of food.

The lower part of the label list shows the ingredients in descending order in relation to the amount in the product. Many ingredients can sometimes be an indication of how much has been added, and often the less the better.

Take the time to read the story behind the packaging – it can help you make informed food choices.

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