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What is That and Why is it in My Food?

When it comes to providing healthy foods for our family, it’s easy to be duped. A lot.

Those brands that pose themselves as “all natural” or “100% whole grain” come up short and come off as a crock.

So how do we really know what’s going into our food and subsequently into our bodies? By reading food labels. That’s how. As daunting, and horrible as it sounds, that’s what we have to do, people!

Food companies everywhere are getting away with putting unnecessary crap into our food!

Because this is such a deep topic to cover, we are going to break it down into a recurring series that will teach us ALL how to become better “food label readers”!

First Place to Start – Ingredients

Navigating through your local grocery store is no easy task, these days. Especially for those parents that have children with food allergies and intolerances. Reading your food labels becomes critical!

So to begin, we are going to cover a few of the basics. Things like how to actually tell if the food in your hand is really healthy, or just claiming to be.

So let’s get started!

As a general rule – make sure these following ingredients are not listed within the first three ingredients:

  • Saturated Fats – heavy cream, butter, palm oil, etc.
  • Refined, processed or bleached ingredients
  • Sugarshigh fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose, maltose, honey, maple syrup.
  • ANY ingredient you can’t pronounce – chemicals, preservatives, etc.

Here is a basic nutrition facts food label to help you follow along.

Dr. Randy Pagenkopf Food Label

Lets begin at the top –

Serving size – This is the quantity of the food that contains the amount of nutrients listed on its label.

Servings per container – This is the total number of servings in the entire package or can. Keep in mind that these serving sizes are intended for adults and are not an accurate portion, rather just a common one.

Calories and Fat Calories – Calories are based on a recommended 2,000 per day calorie intake, which is actually more than what a normal adult needs. There is a misconception when it comes to “fats” in general. Heart Healthy Fats such as olive oil and nut butters will always reflect a higher calorie amount from fat.

Pay close attention to those “fats” in things like snack foods and crackers which are unhealthy fats.

A general rule of thumb to follow for calories from fat are as follows:

  • Low – 40 calories
  • Moderate – 100 calories
  • High- 300 calories or more

We Are Only Just Beginning!

These are the very basics of reading food labels! We will be covering so much more in our next blog series, so stay tuned and let me know if you have any questions or comments you’d like for me to clear up or address!

~Cullan Pagenkopf

The Busy Mom