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This is the third post in my Clean Eating Series, created to inspire everyone to take control of their eating and make wise choices. This post is about label reading.
Reading food labels is really important because we want to put good balanced food into our bodies for fuel and nutrition. We don’t want to fill ourselves with garbage or too much of something good. So here’s what to look out for at the grocery store.
- Serving Size: This can be tricky; companies like to have really small service sizes to trick you into thinking something has few calories. Take a look at things like candy, chips, and cereal.
- Calories: Now a calorie is not a calorie, as we’ll talk about in the Spring into Fitness group. But things in packages, generally aren’t the kind of good calories we want to consume. Be aware that recommended daily calories for the general public is 2,000.
- Calories from Fat: These are often empty calories, so keep them as low as possible. These aren’t the good fats like avocados and almonds.
- Total Fat: This is the number of grams of fat. There are three different types: saturated, unsaturated, and trans. Unsaturated are good fats that help the body. The other two will fill your arteries.
- Cholesterol: You need some cholesterol, it used by the membranes in your cells. But too much can give you heart disease.
- Sodium: Again, sodium, in moderation is excellent. It helps the kidneys and keeping fluids in your body in balance. But too much can also lead to heart disease.
- Fiber: This is good stuff! It helps to regulate your digestion and aid in expelling waste.
- Daily Value: The daily value on the table is for the general 2,000 calorie diet. I recommend not paying too much attention to them because chances are, your ideal caloric intake isn’t 2,000. You are an original!
- Carbohydrates: Carbs have a little bit of a bad reputation, which is really unfortunate. The body needs carbs for energy, it is the body’s favorite fuel. But you don’t want to eat too many because they’ll get converted into fat if not used. One thing I always check is subtracting the amount of fiber from the number of carbs. That gives you a more accurate view carbs for fuel your body will use.
- Protein: This is the final macronutrient we’ve talked about on this list. All of them are necessary for your body to function optimally. Protein is used for muscle recovery and is used by the body’s cells.
Now let’s talk to about ingredients, don’t eat things you can’t pronounce. It’s that easy, if it’s a tongue twister, it’s probably because it was manufactured in a library, not grown in a garden. God gave you real food to eat, not science experiments.
Avoid GMOs when possible. They are genetically modified foods and 80% of packaged food contains GMO ingredients. The problem for you is they can cause toxicity in the body or you may have an allergic reaction. As for the environment, they can cause resistant insects and be harmful to biodiversity.
Next is MSG. It stands for monosodium glutamate and is a flavor enhancer. But some tests suggest it causes you to crave more of this chemical. Although the FDA says it has no long term consequences for those who aren’t pregnant, it does admit some short term consequences like headaches, swelling, sweating, and chest pain. None of that sounds healthy.
The point to take away is to be suspicious of foods in bags and boxes. Remember this weekend when I said to focus on the perimeter, this is why. Fruits and veggies are your best health food. Eat more things that grow and fewer things that have been manufactured in a laboratory.
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