Are Food Labels Fooling You? Label Maze 3
Not reading a food label is like signing a contract you did not read. It can come back to bite you, and in this case, show up on your waistline or perhaps over time, at the doctor’s office. Reading food labels can be daunting, time-consuming, or fun, depending on how you look at it. At SuperLife, I want to help you navigate the maze of reading food labels. Reading labels is an empowering way to take control of you and your family’s health. To begin, we recognize, like all business, the food industry is focused on making money.
Some companies, although not the majority, do also consider health as a primary factor when creating their products and these good companies will not sacrifice quality over quantity. Unfortunately, this is the exception, not the rule. In today’s world of over-processed food, the ‘quantity over quality’ can be a tell-tail sign the company in question has different priorities (and ingredients) than what you may wish they did.
I’ve already shared my top two rules for reading food labels in the first two blogs in this three-part series, Take a BIG Step For Your Health: Use These Tips to Read the Fine Print on Food Labels” (Blog 1) and Remember this Top Tip When You Read Food Labels (Blog 2).
Below are four additional practical steps I take when reading food labels. These help you make informed decisions when purchasing food at your local market or grocery: Don’t worry. They will be habit in no time after a few conscious trips to the store.
- DO NOT PURCHASE A PRODUCT BY APPEARANCE ALONE. Food companies go to great lengths to make something look and sound appealing. There is fierce competition on the shelves. They will maneuver their products to look dazzling, and exaggerate in every way possible to make you believe they are more worthy of your “stomach share” then their competitor. In other words, be scrupulous with a label regardless of its cosmetic appearance. Look past it and turn the product around to the boring, black and white label. That’s where the truth lies.
- BE WARY OF THE MISLEADING WORDS: MAY, COULD, SHOULD, ADDED, FORTIFIED, NATURAL, ETC. In general, when the front face of the package is saturated with too many words of this nature, become very, VERY skeptical. What is preventing them from declaratively saying IT IS? I especially despise seeing the word “fortified.” This tells me the food has been altered, stripped, and broken apart, and now they have to either “fortify” it to gain something back that they ruined in the processing or add something that is not meant to be in the product anyway. A perfect example is orange juice fortified with calcium. Not only should you not drink the high amount of sugar from the juice, but the form of calcium they add is not very biologically compatible with the body and can cause other cellular problems. Nature already “fortifies” food for us in their natural, fresh, and whole form when left alone.
- CHECK SERVING SIZES. This is one of my favorite tricks used by companies. They love to play with the serving sizes. For example, take a one-liter beverage. On average, a serving size is eight fluid ounces — so in one liter drink, four servings. Important to note is the nutritional information label describes the amount per serving, not the whole drink. If you drink half the container, you have had two servings, and so you double the grams of sugar, sodium, and calories for an honest total. Typically serving sizes are much smaller than what people actually consume so be aware of the amount you eat and the serving size displayed.
- AVOID ANYTHING CLAIMING TO BE “LOW SODIUM.” Sodium is an essential mineral and electrolyte, however not all salt is created equal. Processed, white-colored salt has been stripped of other naturally occurring minerals that the body actually needs. On the other hand, natural, unrefined forms of salt such as Himalayan crystal salt or Celtic sea salt are created and balanced in nature, support homeostasis (the process that maintains the stability of the human body’s internal environment in response to changes in external conditions) and is thus life enhancing. Most packaged foods use the cheap, stripped salt, which in excess can lead also to severe health problems. This makes it even more important to reduce the amount we consume.
Easy, right? Now you are on the right track towards a better, healthier, sexier, and more energetic you. What do you look for when reading food labels and ingredients list? Share with me in a COMMENT below. What are your tricks to keeping it easy but effective?
Love How You Live,
UNCOVER MORE: In this three-part series, Label Maze, I looked at the key, simple ways you can decipher food labels to look past empty claims and upgrade the quality of food you choose to actually place in your cart.
- Take a BIG Step For Your Health: Read the Fine Print on Food Labels (Blog 1 of 3)
- Remember this TOP TIP When You Read Food Labels (Blog 2 of 3)
- Are Food Labels Fooling You (Blog 3 of 3)