The first and most important step in following a new diet is learning how to read food labels. It is an essential skill that you must develop if you want to stand a chance at successfully shopping for the right kind of foods. I could actually save you a lot of time and tell you that making the majority of your food fresh fruits and vegetables will save you from the punishment of getting good at reading food labels. I know that most of you, however, will still be buying some things that are processed, so let’s at least cover some basics you need to know.
Let us first start off with the fact that most labels are confusing and sometimes even deceptive. The packaged food companies want to volunteer as little as possible when it comes to the ingredients inside. So at times you may see different names for the same ingredient which would make it seem like there is less of it in the product. Pay attention to serving size. This is where you may sometimes be eating or drinking two to three times the amount of a certain ingredient. Soda for example may say on the label that there is 40 grams of sugar in the bottle. Upon further inspection, though, you will see that the 20 ounce bottle is considered 2 servings. So drinking the whole bottle will actually give you 80 grams of sugar. A can of soup may have 460mg of sodium but the serving size is 2.5. That means if you eat the whole 10 ounces you will get 1150mg.
Simple sugars are something that you may see many listing names. It could be sugar, sucrose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, corn syrup or even a few other names. By listing them separately it doesn’t seem like there is a lot of sweetener in it when in fact it is loaded to the gills.
Fat is another ingredient that gets broken down into sub categories. You will see saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and Trans fat. The fact remains that when you are eating fruits and vegetables you will get all the fat you need in your diet. The fat that is added into the processed products is what ends up causing the weight problems. Pay attention to how much fat is in the product, especially in regards to the serving size.
Flavorings and preservatives added to the food should also be a concern. Food naturally has an array of wonderful flavors. Why do we need to add to them? Preservatives are used to give food a longer shelf life, but doesn’t it make more sense to eat the food within its natural lifespan?
Try to avoid products that have long and unpronounceable names in them because there is no way these ingredients will make you healthier. There is much to pay attention to when reading food labels. The simple rule of thumb to follow should be to keep your foods as nature made them and avoid multiple ingredients that may be difficult for your body to digest and to eliminate.