Eating healthy can be one of the hardest things to stick to when it comes to your daily routine. One of the best ways to stick to your new eating habits is by reading the labels. Any packaged food should have nutritional facts on the package for you to see what is really in what you are about to eat. Don’t be fooled by the images or the marketing that they use, because it could all be misleading. Here are a few tips and tricks to reading the label so you know what to look for when searching for all of the right and healthy options.
“Low Fat” ?
There a plenty of food products out there that claim to be low fat or “lite” but before you go straight to that option, take a look at the label. Just because it is lighter doesn’t mean it’s better for you. Some companies take out more fat because your mind may automatically think that the less fat, the better. But in order for the food or drink to still taste desirable, many products replace their original ingredients with sugar in order to get that desired taste. Sugar is one of the top reasons you get hooked on certain drinks or foods, which ultimately leads to more fat, and eventually diabetes.
Know The Sugar
We’re here to warn you that not all sugar is equal. As mentioned, plenty of sugar is thrown into numerous products. When looking at the label, you need to look out for any added sugar. If you see a sugar as one of the first ingredients listed, chances are it’s not good for you. As a good rule of thumb, keep an eye out for any sugar name that ends in “ose”. Common additive sugars are names such as glucose, sucrose, and fructose. Other additive sweeteners can also be ingredients such as maple syrup and corn syrup.
Check The Serving Size
Many labels try and fool you by stating a certain amount of calories on the front of the package to capture your attention. But if you look at the fine print, chances are it will say “per serving”. Looking at the serving size can change your perception in an instant. If the package states that there are only 100 calories per serving, but three servings in the package, you triple the amount of calories you are about to intake in an instant. Don’t be fooled by those marketing tactics. Before you take that package off the shelf and put it in your cart, make sure you check out the serving size to understand what you are going to be putting in your body.
Reduce The Salt
High salt intake is a big contributor to many health problems, especially high blood pressure. You may be surprised that high sodium is found widely in processed foods, not just the added dash of salt you throw on your chips. Major health associations recommend that we intake only 1500 to 2300 mg per day. So, when you are looking at the labels, always try to reach for less salt and more potassium. If your salt intake overrides your potassium intake, the salt can take over your body by making it swell up, dehydrating you, and increasing your blood pressure. By ensuring that you have more potassium than salt in your food, the potassium will counteract the salt and thus help you lead a healthier life. Foods such as bananas, potatoes, and white beans are all high in potassium.
Good & Bad Fat
Foods such as nuts, fish, and avocados all contain good fats. These are all mono- and polyunsaturated fats that can help reduce your risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol when eaten in moderation. It’s the bad fats that you have to look out for on the labels! Found in essentially any food we love to indulge on such as cookies, fries, cake, and cheese, “bad” fat can expand our waistline and contribute to diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. The two types of fats you should look for on the label are saturated and trans fatty acids. These two are big contributors to high cholesterol and heart disease. It is recommended to limit the amount of trans fat to less than 10% of your total caloric intake in each day. Plenty of companies use artificial trans fat in their products, especially in foods such as fries, packaged snacks, baked goods, and butter. Remember to always read the label and try to avoid these “bad” fats and even keep the “good” fat intake at a modest amount.