Why reading and understanding labels and ingredient lists can literally add years on to your life.
There is so much information floating around the internet regarding nutrition that it could easily break your brain, and after X amount of minutes surfing the web most people will just give up leaving them even more frustrated than they were before they started. And of course some of it’s true and some of it is so far-fetched you can’t even believe someone is trying to convince you otherwise. You could read three different articles on the same topic, get three completely differing opinions, and end up more confused than when you originally decided to check it out.
I have spent my life thus far doing endless research and experimentation on myself and my awesome (and willing!) clients on the very broad and extremely important topic of nutrition, specifically nutrition and diabetes. One of the things that began my journey to understanding how what I ate affected my diabetes was taking the time to really read the nutrition labels and ingredient lists of EVERYTHING that I chose to purchase. Unfortunately for the general American public and especially unfortunate for us diabetics, the FDA has frighteningly, shockingly loose standards regarding what food companies can legally say on their labels, regardless of whether it is greatly misleading or just completely false! Stand guard at the door of your mouth – for what you allow in – you become! Decide what goes in and keep the rest out!
Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when you are reading ingredient lists. First, if the item has the word “flour” anywhere on the ingredient list, do yourself a big favor, put it down and walk away. It doesn’t matter whether it’s white or whole wheat or stone ground or whatever. Once inside your body flour is flour is flour and it’s all very bad for your entire system, particularly bad for maintaining healthy, steady blood sugar levels. Second, if the ingredient label says the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated,” show your insides you love them by never ingesting that product again. Again, once any oil that has been hydrogenated in any way enters your body, you are opening the door wide for a plethora of health issues, cholesterol problems specifically with LDL and triglyceride levels, both of which lead to heart attack if they remain elevated over time.
Look out for “buzz” words like “all natural” and “whole grain” which truly mean absolutely nothing, and are used to tempt uneducated shoppers who are trying to be health conscious into buying what is almost definitely an unhealthy product. Even products that are labeled as “gluten-free” or “vegan” are often loaded with unhealthy amounts of carbohydrates; I mean technically speaking Oreo’s are vegan and are certainly not a healthy food! That’s why reading the ingredient labels are so important. Also, in general if the ingredient label is as long as the side of the box or bag, it is more than likely not a healthy choice; the longer the list the more heavily processed the item is.
As far as reading labels, the biggest thing that I find trips people up is choosing not to look at the serving size of whatever they are eating. It is so easy to eat overeat something if you are not aware of the serving size. For example, the serving size of most bags of chips for example is 1 ounce, or about 11-13 chips. How many people do you think actually take 11-13 chips out of the bag, close the bag and put them away? Let me assure you, it’s not many, and the average person who chooses to be unaware and not check the serving size eats 2-5 times the serving on average.
Do yourself, your body, your blood sugars a favor and pay more attention to what you are choosing to eat. Empower yourself to make better choices! Nobody can ever stand guard at the door of your mouth but you! Hiring a Nutritionist who specializes in diabetic nutrition to get you going with the basics of making a lifestyle change, or to guide you all the way through your journey is something I highly recommend, and not just because that’s what I do. I recommend it so highly because it is my experience that any time you are beginning a new endeavor in life whether it is health, career, finance, or anything at all, consulting with an expert who has spent years figuring things out tends to make the transition into the new territory quite a bit smoother. And the accountability they provide by weekly check-ins is something you can’t produce on your own and can be the make-or-break factor of whether you stick with your new choices.
Can you think of a time when you looked at the nutrition label AFTER you ate way more than one serving of something and were shocked and appalled? Or any other label-related issues you’ve run in to? Leave a comment below are share your experience, I want to hear all about it!