Beware of Food Labels

When you look at a food label, it is easy to be persuaded to think a food product is healthy, when it really isn’t. For example, many grains on the grocery shelves might sound healthy, but are really not so nutritious. Terms on a label that do not mean anything when it comes to grains include:

  • 7-grain
  • multigrain
  • wheatberry
  • cracked wheat
  • wheat
  • stoneground
  • rye
  • oatmeal
  • sprouted wheat
  • with whole wheat

The only reliable label is when you read the ingredients on the back of the product and on the ingredients list is stated “100% whole wheat or whole grain.” Unless a bread or cereal says 100% on the ingredient list, do not believe anything on the front label. Always turn the package over and look at the nutritional panel and ingredient list on the back before even looking at the front! Look for 5 grams of fiber per serving for cereals and 2 grams per slice of bread or serving of rice, pasta, and any other packaged grain.

Your daily goal is at least 30 grams of fiber from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes!

Can We Really Call This “Stuff” Food?

I was just on (awesome website by the way!) and happened to come across a link to 12 fast food items that have a disgusting amount of ingredients.

Here’s a quick breakdown for you..

  1. Dunkin Donuts pumpkin pie donut — around 50 different ingredients (you may want to rethink your “sweet tooth” on this one!)
  2. Burger King french toast sticks — 82 different ingredients (think again when you’re craving a breakfast food, you’re better off making your own french toast!)
  3. McDonald’s filet-o-fish — 101 different ingredients (think you’re making the right choice by choosing fish? Think again…)
  4. Taco Bell’s Doritos loco taco — 72 different ingredients (if only they advertised all the ingredients on this new product in their commercials.. maybe it wouldn’t be so popular!)
  5. Subway Italian sub — 95 different ingredients (we might think that we’re making a healthy choice going with Subway.. I mean come on, Jared Fogle lost so much weight from eating sandwiches from here!)
  6. Starbucks birthday cake pop — 60 different ingredients (what a great present to give someone for their birthday… a cake pop filled with massive amounts of ingredients.. enjoy that for a birthday present why don’t ya!)
  7. McDonald’s chicken Caesar salad — 69 different ingredients (hmm… who knew a salad could have SO MANY ingredients?!)
  8. KFC pot pie — 208 different ingredients!! (but it’s not fried…)

So, you might want to think again when you go into a fast food restaurant! Even though something may be lower in calories or look like a healthier choice, look closer at the ingredients listed on a food product. Do your research. This is your body, your child’s body. We only get one body to live in. Why wouldn’t we feed it the nutrients it needs? Don’t give in to temptation and advertisements. Stick to simple, fresh, wholesome foods. We don’t need all of this “fake” food to survive.

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Don’t Be Fooled By Food Labels!

Many of us overlook nutrition labels on the back of products we consume because we either don’t want to take the time, don’t care what we are putting into our bodies, or don’t understand how to read them! Here are some helpful tips to reading labels that might surprise you!

  • Most of us overlook liquid calories, so you might not notice that Arizona Green Tea (yes, the cans that are usually 99 cents) has THREE serving sizes within ONE can. And to top it off, it also contains 12 teaspoons of sugar in just one can!
  • Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels contains 3 servings per bag as well! If you finish one bag, you have also finished about 1/3 of your carbohydrates you need in an entire day. Stick to the serving size: 20 pretzels!
  • You wouldn’t eat 4 apples in one sitting– but that’s the caloric equivalent of what’s in a bag of Seneca Crispy Apple Chips! These apple chips have the same caloric count of a bag of potato chips with even more added sugar!
  • You could eat two whole oranges for the calories that are in Sunkist Mandarin Oranges. These oranges are sitting in pear juice concentrate which is more added sugar!
  • Blue Bunny Personals Premium Ice Cream may be a bit confusing having the name “personals” in it. If you eat the entire product, you will be eating 16g of fat, and 15% more calories than a Haagen-Dazs dark-chocolate-covered vanilla ice-cream bar. Share this “personal” ice cream another person!

Do any of these surprise you?

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Health Food Fakes

Some foods are labeled very well to make us think that what we are eating is healthy for us! However, sometimes you wouldn’t believe how much sugar, calories, carbohydrates etc. you might actually be taking in without even knowing it! Here are some tricky foods to look out for thanks to Molly Kimball, Registered Dietitian in New Orleans:

  • Pretzels: You might as well call  them white bread. The main ingredients in Rold Gold pretzels, for example, are enriched wheat flour (translation: white flour). The stats of a single 1-ounce handful of pretzels (110 calories, 23 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber) are nearly identical to two slices of plain old white bread. And don’t be fooled by pretzels that appear to be whole grain; most really aren’t.
  • Post Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch: Whole grain flakes may be the first ingredient, but sugar in some form (e.g. honey, corn syrup, brown sugar) shows up on the ingredient list 11 different times.
  • Flavored Yogurt: flavored yogurt can easily pack in the equivalent of as much as seven sugar packets!! Instead, buy plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit to it!
  • Granola: They may provide us with some whole grains, but most types of granola and granola bars are filled with added sugar – and a half-cup serving of some types of granola can pack in 300-plus calories – more than a McDonald’s hamburger or a Hershey Bar.
  • Fiber bars:  The bulk of the fiber is from chicory root (also referred to as inulin, is a fiber isolated from the chicory root plant that hasn’t been shown to have the same health benefits that we’ve come to expect from fiber-rich foods like beans and oats.)
  • Protein bars: There are tons of protein bars that, while they may be high in protein, also have just as much sugar, if not more! Be sure to read your labels!

For more information: labels


How Much Sugar Are You Consuming?

The average American consumes, 18-23 teaspoons a day, or 2 pounds of sugar a week, about 2.5 times the recommended daily limit. That is equal to 100-156 pounds of sugar in a year! In the last 20 years we have increased sugar consumption in the United States from 26lbs. of sugar to 135lbs. of sugar per person every year. Sugar is the most widespread form of carbohydrate and the most common ingredient in processed foods. Half of our sugar intake come from “invisible” sugars (foods you don’t think would have sugar in them)

Even if you don’t feel like you are consuming a lot of sugar, you are most likely eating more sugar than your body needs. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and 9 teaspoons for men.

Added sugar is found in many unexpected food items, including sliced bread, wheat crackers, salad dressing, ketchup and energy bars. Soft drinks are largest source refined sugar in children’s diet. Clinical studies show that sugar-free diets are more difficult to follow in the long-term. Sugar-free eating can trigger cravings for sweet foods and disordered eating. Being able to enjoy occasional sugary foods is important (remember moderation is KEY!)

There are many different names for sugar that are on food labels. The trick is if it ends in “ose” it is sugar. Just to name a few: honey, lactose, glucose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, corn sweetener, juice concentrate, natural sweetener, high fructose corn syrup. Remember to always read food labels and choose brands with lower sugar content. Also, keep in mind that artificial sweeteners, like Splenda, are two hundred times sweeter than sugar! It’s not ideal to consume artificial sweeteners if you want to reduce a sweet tooth.

If you are craving a sugary food, try reaching for a food that is naturally sweetened like fresh fruit. But remember,  just because it is a fresh fruit, doesn’t mean you can eat the whole bowl and not expect your blood sugar to rise. A lot of sugar into the bloodstream upsets body’s blood sugar balance, triggers release of insulin which the body uses to keep blood sugar at a safe level. Insulin also promotes the storage of fat (linked to weight gain and cardiovascular disease). High fiber content foods slows down process of digestion which results in slow release of glucose.


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Enriched vs. Fortified, Tell Me The Difference!

“Enriched” and “Fortified” are both terms that refer to vitamins and minerals that have been added to a food product to add more nutrients. Enriched means that the nutrients were added back to the food product after being lost during the processing procedure. On the other hand, fortified means nutrients are added to a food that weren’t there to begin with. For example, milk is fortified with Vitamin D to help our bodies absorb milk’s calcium and phosphorus. Orange juice is also usually fortified with calcium and vitamin D. The FDA also passed a law in 1998 to require the addition of folic acid to enriched breads, cereals, flours, corn meal, pastas, rice, and other grain products to help with folic acid deficiencies, especially during pregnancy.

Common enriched foods include breads, cereals and white flour. These food products provide nutrients making them more nutritious. Some enriched foods, however can be over processed and loaded with sugar. Enriched foods have had fiber and nutrients removed during processing, so sometimes it is better to choose a less processed alternative. This is why it’s important to read food labels! White rice is often enriched, that is why brown rice is a more nutritious alternative that gives you more fiber. Also, many cereal brands are now enriched or fortified with vitamins and minerals that look appealing to the eye, however these cereals are also usually packed with high sugar and preservatives.

So remember, there is a difference between enriched and fortified foods, and it doesn’t always mean that the product is healthy. You must read food labels, especially ingredients, to make sure the products you are consuming do not have too much sugar or processed ingredients! Keep in mind that enrichment and fortification are here to help us make products more healthier… however choosing natural foods with natural vitamins and minerals in them are a much better alternative!