I avoid processed foods as much as possible. Yes, there are some boxes and cans in my pantry but really, I try to make as much as possible in my own kitchen using fresh, whole ingredients.
Food labels are really deceiving. Clever marketing tips and tricks abound. It can be tough to figure out what is truly healthy and what is just a gimmick to get you to buy.
I’m sure you stand in the grocery aisle wondering what you SHOULD be looking for on food labels. I know I do.
Here are five tips to help you make the healthiest selection.
1. If the ingredients list contains long, chemical-sounding words that you can’t pronounce, avoid that item. It likely does contain various toxic chemicals. Stick with ingredients you recognize and can pronounce and spell.
2. Look for words like “sprouted” or “raw” or “whole” or “unrefined” to indicate higher-quality natural foods. Sprouted grains and seeds are far healthier than non-sprouted. Raw ingredients are generally healthier than processed or cooked. Whole grains are healthier than “enriched” grains. An unrefined oil is always healthier than one that has been heated and stripped of its beneficial properties.
3. Don’t be fooled by the word “wheat” when it comes to flour. All flour derived from wheat can be called “wheat flour,” even if it is processed, bleached and stripped of its nutrition. Only “whole grain wheat flour” is a healthful form of wheat flour. (Many consumers mistakenly believe that “wheat flour” products are whole grain products. In fact, this is not true. Food manufacturers fool consumers with this trick.)
4. Don’t be fooled into thinking that brown products are healthier than white products. Brown sugar is a gimmick — it’s just white sugar with brown coloring and flavoring added. Brown eggs are no different than white eggs (except for the fact that their shells appear brown). Brown bread may be no healthier than white bread, either, unless it’s made with whole grains. Don’t be tricked by “brown” foods. These are just gimmicks used by food giants to fool consumers into paying more for manufactured food products.
5. Watch out for small serving sizes. Food manufacturers use this trick to reduce the number of calories, grams of sugar or grams of fat believed to be in the food by consumers. Many serving sizes are arbitrary and have no basis in reality.