Reading Labels

Do you know what you are buying – do you look at the ingredients?  You will hear how many foods are good for you and how you should implement them into your diet.  The problem is, you need to buy them closest to their natural state to have any benefit.  Unfortunately many of them get ultra processed losing any beneficial quality they once had.

Break it down into easy steps, all ingredients should be simple and there shouldn’t be a long list.  Be mindful of added ingredients that really have no place in the product.  Sugar, salt, hydrogenation (this turns to a trans fat in the body once ingested but will be confusing as it will say 0 trans fat on label) msg, artificial colours or flavourings, to name a few.  Other foods will have not only added ingredients as mentioned but also have their layers striped off, making them lack fiber, vitamins and other beneficial qualities that were once attached to them.  

Here are some common foods that are good for you from most beneficial to least within their group.

Raw fruits and vegetables

Cooking or canning will take out some nutritional value

  • Fresh organic from your garden or local farmer (less travel = less pesticides and chemicals to preserve the food)
  • Grocery store
  • Frozen
  • Canned (rinse before eating or cooking to wash of excess salt)
  • Pure Fruit and veggie juices – unfortunately most of these juices especially the fruit juices will naturally have a high sugar count and the vegetable juices can be high in sodium.  Fresh squeezed is best with the pulp so some fiber is left.  Remember too much sugar no matter what kind will turn to stored fat if you cannot burn that energy off right away. 
  • X – Beverages – avoid these juices as they have high amounts of added sugar, artificial colours, flavours, as well as even oil sometimes. 

Grains

Hot cereals like oatmeal or cream of wheat are usually okay as long as they aren’t instant.  Look for whole grain breads that have high fiber (includes germ = fiber).

Oats  

  • Steel cut
  • Large flake oats 
  • Quick oats
  • X – Instant oats – maple, brown sugar, apple cinnamon…. Almost all of these have an excess amount of sugar and are so far stripped from their natural state.
  • Cold cereals – again these should have 1 or 2 ingredients max and a decent fiber count.
  • Shredded wheat
  • Corn flakes
  • Bran flakes

Peanut Butter

Ingredients should just be peanuts

  • Peanuts
  • Peanuts and salt
  • X – Peanuts, salt, sugar and hydrogenated oil – unfortunately most of the brands will fall under this category.   

Yogurt

Yogurt is supposed to give you beneficial bacteria (probiotics).  Look for higher protein or fat depending on the consistency you like or the macro that you are looking to get more of.  Just make sure the sugar isn’t the highest number – in the nutrient breakdown. 

  • Plain – Organic, Greek 
  • Yogurt with honey (usually in its natural state and not as high sugar count – but will still store as fat if you don’t expend that energy).
  • X – All other yogurts added sugar – unfortunately most will fall under this category and all the sugar will outweigh any beneficial properties.

These are only a few examples but I am hoping you can see how it can be very tricky.  Just because you hear something is good for you – doesn’t necessarily mean it was packaged to be that way. 

Mikkie Nettles, Certified Personal Trainer/Holistic & Sports Nutritionist
Follow DEEM Health on Facebook, or contact info@deemhealth.ca

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