Real Food For Families

Reading the Fine Print

on February 8, 2013


Along the way to trying to eat better, I’ve learned a few thing about reading food labels. I used to spend a lot of time looking at the nutritional information, but I don’t really do that anymore. What I focus on these days is the ingredients list. It is sometimes a little unsettling to read what is actually in our food and by the time you finish perusing the list of more than 20 or so items, you start to question whether or not it even still qualifies as “food”. If you are attempting to cut back on processed food, the following guidelines will help. The good news is that it’s easy to determine which foods are overly processed after a quick glance at the label. The bad news is that it’s getting more and more difficult to find “real” food in the grocery store.

Four questions to ask yourself before you put an item into your cart:

1. Would my grandmother recognize this food?
2. Are there 5 ingredients or less on the label?
3. Do I know what all of the ingredients are?
4. Is this food more a product of nature vs. a product of industry?

If the answer to most of the questions is “Yes” you can probably assume that the food is not highly processed. There is also a website that you can use to get the nutritional information and ingredients lists for many products. It is called Diet Facts . This is a site that I use when I am trying to scare you help you make better decisions about your food by pointing out that there is high fructose corn syrup in the bread that you just bought. Which brings me to my final tip about reading food labels. Don’t get overwhelmed and curl up in a ball on the floor in the middle of Wegman’s, vowing to throw out all of the food in your pantry and start raising your own chickens. It doesn’t seem like it should be hard to shop for “real” food in the grocery store, but the astounding amount of choices that are available to us these days can make it confusing and time consuming. If you keep the above questions in mind as you shop, throw a few more fruits and vegetables into your cart and avoid a few more packaged food aisles, you will be well on your way to eating better.


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