Reading and Understanding Food Labels

How often do you look at the nutrition label when buying food or drink items?

Now, how often do you look at the ingredients when buying food or drink items?

Processed food is by far the most cheapest produced food items to keep up with the growing rate of the population, and are made as a convenience of a faster ready-made food to make and eat while at home, at the office or on the go.

When Making the Switch to Organic, I looked further into how our food is made and what is being put in it, I was completely turned off! I started by throwing out anything that contained sugar, salt, aspartame and flour.

Overtime I was soon replacing regular grocery items with items I could actually read on the ingredients label, and noticed my fridge full of produce, as opposed to a pantry full of boxes and cans of food that had a longer shelf life than my own.

You don’t even have to consider Switching to Organic, to educate yourself on making smart food choices to better your life with a sense of what it means to be healthy.

Next time you are grocery shopping, read the actual ingredients.

Ignore the labels on the front of the package that says “Natural” or “Organic”

If you read Organic vs. Natural, you would have read that when it comes to processed foods, if it says it’s natural, it’s hoopla.
Ignore these products, the labels mean nothing.

I also discuss how if a products says it’s ‘organic’, it may not necessarily be 100% organic; processed foods can be labeled organic if only 80% of the ingredients are organic!

Read the article Organic vs. Natural to learn more between the two; you can even read my frustration. (lol)

Nutrition Facts Label

Nutrition Facts

Most consumers read the Nutritional Facts; which, sorry to break it to you, are meaningless.

The food industry, expects consumers to focus on nutrition through percentages and “healthy elements”, causing you to overlook the ingredients.

Ever wonder why there are no TV commercials for breakfast cereals anymore?

Let’s take a look at a favorite cereal I used to enjoy eating – Fruit Loops.

As you would have guessed it, this “fruity” cereal contains everything but fruit (surprise surprise!).

Fruit Loops are made up of 41% processed white sugar, along with processed flour and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil; and let’s not forget about the synthetic coloring chemicals.

… now you know why I don’t eat them anymore.

If the sugar content isn’t an eye opener for you, I hope you realize cereals like this are very far in providing any sort of nutritional value as Kellogg’s (and many other companies) promote.

You may be familiar with Nutrition Keys and Smart Choices – labels that are placed on the front of food/drink packages, like below.
Nutrition Key

In my honest opinion (and I’m sure of many others), this labeling system is a scam to mislead and misinform consumers into buying processed foods.

Let’s ignore the fact that there are toxic chemicals in the ingredients such as GMO, Arsenic, Chemical Food Colors, Pesticides, Industrial Oils and Refined Sugars, but hey these Fruit Loops are 110 Calories per serving, so they’re good right? – it is so so so very wrong!!!

These Nutrition Facts / Smart Choices, have only made people sick and fatter – now tell me how they add nutritional benefit to your lifestyle?!

Read the Label

Read the Ingredients

I cannot stress enough how important it is to read the ingredients. Only then will you really understand what is in your food, and to select food items by their ingredients and not the nutritional label.

Have a look at some items in your pantry, you will be surprised of ingredients listed that you can’t even pronounce, let alone understand what they are and why they are in your food.

If you are Making the Switch to Organic, or just aiming for a better and healthier lifestyle, don’t bother looking at the food labels – read the ingredients.

The general rule of thumb, the ingredients label should not contain no more than 5 ingredients.

Sure anything you eat is more than likely available as an organic option, but think of it this way, if you can actually use the ingredient in your own kitchen, and it came from a farm, not a lab, than you are nourishing your body properly.

Fresh food is better for you anyway. If your diet consists of 80% or more fresh, raw, organic fruits and vegetables, your body will be happy and healthy.

Plus you decrease the amount of waste you throw out from packaging, and help support the environment – it’s a win win!

Processed food, whether boxed, packaged, canned, jarred, (certain) fast food … whatever you buy – it is an edible food-like substance.

The processed food you buy does not come from a farm or nature, it is from a food science lab!

As the saying goes: You are what you eat… so if you eat like sh!t, you are going to feel like sh!t, pretty much.

Don’t be fooled

Why do you think fast food tastes so great?!
Fast food, like processed food, is pumped with additives to preserve flavor and improve taste and appearance, by altering the foods texture, color and freshness.

Processed foods are empty calories, with no real nutritional value; do your research, and know what you are eating.

There are 20+ words for the word “sugar” alone.
As consumers grow become more health conscious, food companies disguise the use of sugar in their processed foods as many forms of sweeteners.

Ingredients that end in the word “ose” are all forms of sugar, including honey and corn sweeteners.

Most processed foods include hydrogenated oils (trans fat) and MSG. Foods labeled as “Trans-fat Free” will most likely contain Partially Hydrogenerated Oils, and is the primary source for trans fats, which is more harmful than saturated fat.

Don’t worry about anything but the ingredients.
It’s not so important of how many grams of saturated fat a product has, it matters where the fat comes from.

Bottom line is stay clear from any trans fat period.

If you want to buy a processed food product, I strongly suggest reading the label carefully and choose wisely.

Read the Lablel

Ingredients and Phrases to Avoid

  • Artificial Colors
  • Artificial Flavorings
  • Artificial Sweeteners (Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Equal, NutraSweet, Saccharin, Sweet’n Low, Sucralose, Splenda, Sorbitol)
  • Benzoate Preservatives
  • BHT, BHA, TBHQ
  • Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oil
  • Propyl Galate
  • Sodium Nitrate or Sodium Nitrite
  • Sugar
  • Enriched or bleached flour
  • Genetically Modified – come on, that is just a given!

Some Gruesome Facts

Forget the fact that I can’t even pronounce half of these additives, their primary use/origin is pretty disgusting.

Read on if you think you can stomach it…

  • Castoreum Extract, used for flavored vanilla or raspberry ice cream, yogurt, cookies, etc, is from the beavers anal gland – yum! Food products list this additive as “natural flavoring” – cuz who would eat vanilla ice cream with beaver anal secretions in the ingredients right?!
  • Shellac is a wood finishing material, which is used on candies, coffee beans, fruit and vegetables, which gives these items a glossy shine
  • Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) is an additive for sports drinks and soft drinks to keep the artificial flavors from separating, but BVO is used to keep plastics from catching on fire, and is patented as a flame retardant. It is also banned in food products in Europe and Japan.
  • Propylene Glycol, a laxative chemical and electronic cigarette filler is used in fast food chain, Wendy’s Frosties
  • Benzoyl Peroxide, known to treat acne/pimples, is used in flour as a bleaching agent
    I actually saw a coffee cake from Walmart contain this lovely ingredient.
  • Azodicarbonamide used in yoga mats and foamed plastics, is used in McDonald’s McRibs making the “pork” in the sandwich. Azodicarbonamide is actually banned in Australia and Europe, including Singapore, where you would face up to $450,000 in fines and 15 years in jail!
  • Dimethylpolysiloxane is used in McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets is a chemical used in silicone breast implants and Silly Putty
  • Horse Meat has become a popular choice in the UK and some parts of Europe. It has been found in Burger King, Taco Bell and Ikea meatballs
  • Geltin, a protein collected from animal skin, is used as a thickening agent for Jell-o, frosted cereals, yogurt, candy, select types sour cream and more.
  • Cochineal Extract used as a food dye from crushed insects. Starbucks was hit with criticism over using these bugs in their drink and food items, and have switched to using Lycopene, a natural, tomato-based extract instead, although, companies still use Cochineal Extract as a red dye

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