I recommend families with impressionable children watch a short DVD by Dr. David Katz called “Nutrition Detectives.” It is geared towards children but speaks volumes to adults. You can find his series on YouTube. The DVD covers other healthful aspects but I summarize the basics of label reading below.
Society has evolved from people growing their own food to purchasing convenient and emotional foods. Since many of us can’t do it like they did in the olden days, we can however, make smarter choices when we buy foods. So, use the following 5 clues to help you at your next trip to the grocery store or while out grabbing a quick bite to eat.
1). Don’t be fooled by the labels on the front of a package, but go to the nutrition facts on the back (or side).
* They can be conflicting. For example, an off brand of juice reads “Orange Juice” on the front but the nutrition label has no oranges or orange juice concentrate listed.
2). The first ingredient listed is the biggest.
* You’re looking for a breakfast cereal. If the first ingredient is sugar, it’s not a cereal – it is instead like eating candy for breakfast. Make the first meal of the day meaningful, full of flavor and healthy. It is what fuels you for the day ahead.
3). Avoid suspicious ingredients.
* Anything hydrogenated, high fructose corn syrup (or its many aliases), artificial sweeteners, any dyes, etc.
4). The longer the ingredient list, the least healthy it is for you.
5). Look for whole grains and avoid imposters.
* Fiber is our friend. Should be 2g or more if it’s truly a whole grain. (Dr. Sears says 3g.)
There is 1 class of foods that do not require any label reading: Fruits and Vegetables. Take it back to nature and eat whole foods as often as you can throughout each and every day.