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 why 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 products. When buying anything packaged, opt for items made from whole food ingredients.
Label Focus: Ingredients
- 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 ingredients you can’t pronounce
- Pass on anything that looks like a chemistry experiment.
- Opt for the highest quality organic, GMO-free options available.
Label Focus: Sugar
- To decrease sugar, choose whole foods that don’t have labels.
- Processed products contain over 40 types of artificial and refined sweeteners!
- Eat less processed sugars by favoring fruit and honey.
- Aim for less than 5-10 grams of sugar per serving.
- Inspect low-fat and fat-free items. They tend to have added sugars and artificial ingredients.
- Beware sugar-free products 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. Many parents say it would be easier to eat healthy if they weren’t tempted by their kid’s meals. It’s during their younger years that kids need nutrient-dense options 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. Chances are that they learned those bad habits from you or your spouse. So start cleaning up your diet and be a good example for the whole family.
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 have something healthy on hand at all times.
Again, read food labels and opt for whole foods first, and products made from whole ingredients second. With easy and affordable online shopping available, 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 increases your awareness of what you’re putting in your body and it costs more. 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!