Knowing how to read food labels is essential to support your health.
Eating healthy starts with the foods you choose.
The first step to eat healthier and improve your nutrition is to always read food labels. Set-up for success with the tips below.
4 Tips For Healthy Eating Success
Most people either don’t read food labels or read them but focus on the wrong stuff.
Unfortunately, pretty packaging, calorie counting and eating low-fat results in a kitchen full of chemistry concoctions. These so-called “foods” are void of nutrients that help you feel full. This is one of the reasons you can eat these products all day without feeling satisfied. Although you can lose weight eating “health” or “diet” foods, eventually you’ll gain the weight back and more.
Learn how to nourish your body with more whole foods and you’ll accomplish and sustain your health and weight loss goals much easier.
1. Read Food Labels
Reading food labels increases your awareness of what you’re eating, benefits health, and decreases dietary toxins.
Knowing the difference between a good and bad label will improve your grocery shopping experience. It can also save time and money.
GOAL: Choose whole foods over processed foods. When buying anything packaged, opt for products made from whole food ingredients.
Food Label Focus: Ingredients Listed
- Ingredients are listed from most to least abundant.
- For example, when buying tomato sauce the first ingredient should be tomatoes and not water or sugar.
READ FOOD LABELS: Look for minimal ingredients. The fewer, the better.
- Whole food sources are better than processed or refined.
- For example, it’s better to choose a date (first ingredient in a LARABAR) than brown rice syrup (first ingredient in a ClifBar).
- Ditch any words you can’t pronounce or that look like a chemistry experiment.
- Opt for the highest quality organic, GMO-free foods available.
Food Label Focus: Sugar Content
- To decrease your sugar intake, choose whole foods that don’t have labels.
- Processed foods contain over 40 types of refined and artificial sweeteners!
- Select less processed forms of sugar, such as fruit over fructose or honey over rice syrup.
- Aim for less than 5-10 grams of sugar per serving.
- Inspect low-fat and fat-free foods. They tend to have added sugars and artificial ingredients.
- Skip sugar-free foods as they often contain artificial sweeteners.
- Avoid hidden sugars, such as words ending in “-ose” (fructose, lactose, dextrose, etc.)
2. Purge Your Pantry
Now that you’re savvy at reading food labels, you’ll want to purge your pantry, fridge, and freezer.
TIP: Don’t buy unhealthy foods but if you do… Keep the bad stuff out of sight and out of mind!
Get rid of your kid’s junk food too. Many parents say it would be easier to eat healthy if they weren’t tempted by their kid’s food. It’s during their younger, body growing, brain developing years that kids need nutrient-dense foods more than ever. Just because kids don’t gain weight or are picky eaters, doesn’t mean they get a free pass to eat junk food.
Especially if they’re picky eaters, they need to get the junk out now or they’ll have serious health issues to come. Chances are too that your picky eater learned those bad habits from you or your spouse. Start cleaning up your diet and be a good example for the whole family to follow.
3. Stock Your Kitchen
Which is more tempting when you’re “hangry,” an apple or bag of chips?
Make it easy to opt for something nutritious by stocking your kitchen with healthier choices so you always have something healthy on hand.
Again, read food labels and opt for whole foods first, and products made from whole foods second.
With easy and affordable online shopping available now, there’s no excuse to not stock up. There are plenty of healthier alternatives and endless meal ideas to benefit your body without skimping on flavor.
4. Go Out to Cheat
Strategize Your Splurges: Plan two cheat meals to indulge per week.
Although cheat meals sound counterproductive, they prevent you from feeling deprived and help keep you on track for the rest of the week.
The best way to indulge without going overboard is to have your cheat meals out. Dining out costs more and increases your awareness of what you’re putting in your body. Both of which can help to keep you in check.
If you do decide to “cheat” at home, then toss anything leftover deep into the trash when you’re done. No dumpster diving!