Making the commitment to eat right can be tough enough: getting rid of the junk food, finding balanced recipes that you think you’ll enjoy, setting aside time to cook meals, convincing (or trying to convince) your family to go along with the change. You definitely don’t need to be bombarded by confusing and misleading messages when you’re trying to refill your pantry and fridge with healthy, whole, delicious foods. So here are a few tips to help you understand and avoid a few common traps that many shoppers fall in to.
Really Reduce your Toxic Burden
If you’re trying to go organic, labels can make it very tough for you. Here is exactly what they mean:
- “100% organic” – This designation means that every ingredient in the product has to be organic (besides the water and salt).
- “organic” – This designation means that a minimum of 95% of the ingredients in the product have to be organic.
- “made with organic ingredients” – This designation means that a minimum of 70% of the ingredients in the product have to be organic.
Any products with less than 70% organic ingredients cannot make any organic claims on their packaging. These products can use other claims though, such as “pesticide-free”, “no drugs or growth hormones used”, or “sustainably harvested”. The use of “natural” on a package doesn’t actually mean anything as the FDA has not defined the word yet.
Produce Section Lack-Luster?
If the produce section isn’t wowing you, check out the frozen fruits and vegetables instead. Buying unappetizing produce will just give you more of an excuse to let it sit in the crisper until it moves on to the trash. Frozen produce is a much better choice than canned as it retains much more of its nutritional value. Just make sure you check the ingredients lists to make sure you aren’t getting any added sugar or preservatives.
Speaking of Canned Goods…
Not only is there concern about the lining of cans leaching into the foods they house, canned goods often contain added salt and sweeteners. Always check the ingredients lists on canned goods for these unwanted additives. When buying canned, it’s always a good idea to rinse well before eating to reduce additives.
Trying to Increase your Whole Grain Intake?
Don’t fall for claims on packages such as “made with whole grains.” This is tricky wording that is used to fool you into thinking the product is rich in whole grains when in reality it may not be any better than the white bread next to it. Instead of relying on front of the package claims, go straight to the ingredient list. If the very first ingredient is “whole wheat flour”, you’re good to go.
You Can’t “Healthify” Junk Food
Junk food is still junk food, even if it has “zero trans fat” or is “made with real fruit juice”. Don’t let these labeling maneuvers convince you into adding the product to the cart; it’s still full of empty calories. Instead choose snack foods or treats that have real nutritional value. Such as nuts and dried fruits. Add in a little bit of dark chocolate and you have a satisfying trail mix. Or top some plain greek yogurt with some honey, nuts and fresh fruit… you’ll be hooked.
This goes for dairy alternative products too — many beverages, yogurts and smoothies contain obscene amounts of sugar or alternative sweeteners. Make sure to check labels for these added ingredients.
Don’t be Fat-Phobic
Our society is obsessed with low-fat and fat-free products. Where has that gotten us? With an obesity rate that just keeps rising and rising. The truth is that you need fat in order to lose fat and in order to maintain a healthy weight. Buy the real, full fat product. It is less processed and more nutritious. Read this post for more information on this topic:
Just Say No to Artificial Sweeteners
Seriously. Just avoid these at all costs. More information here: