Bags of jelly beans proudly declare “contains fruit juice!” Deep-fried potato chips may boast “made from genuine russet potatoes!” Full fat ice cream treats tempt mothers by printing in big, bold letters “great source of vitamin D!”
While all of the above claims may be technically true, it is important to consider them in a larger context. In reality, we know that jelly beans, fried potato chips, and ice cream are not among the healthiest choices when it comes to nutrition. Instead, they are treats to be enjoyed on occasion.
While there are governmental controls and rules on the use of some terminology used to market food products, others are not strictly regulated at all. “Free range” and “farm raised,” for example, are basically defined by the company that uses them. The only general understanding for “free range” is that the animals had access to the outdoors.
“Doctor-recommended” is another term about which consumers should be wary. First, not all doctors are physicians. Second, not all physicians are trustworthy and well-trained. And third, “doctor recommended” could easily mean a single individual calling him or herself a doctor who was paid to endorse the food product the manufacturers are selling.
Serving size shenanigans
Every dieter has counted calories at one time or another. A quick glance at the nutrition label on a tasty treat will give you the figure you need to decide whether a food will fit into your calorie allotment for the day.
Calories listed on a nutrition label are given in terms of servings. The serving size listed, however, may not be the typical amount a person actually consumes in one sitting. If a pint of ice cream at the convenience store lists 250 calories on the label, make sure you carefully inspect the serving size before grabbing it out of the freezer. That 250-calorie listing might be for just half the container. If you eat the entire pint, you’ll be eating double the calories.
Typical serving sizes have changed over the years. They have changed to such an extent that the FDA is requiring all nutrition labels to comply with new serving size guidelines by the summer of 2018. The FDA’s new labeling guidelines will reflect serving sizes that more closely resemble the amounts consumers of today actually eat as a single serving. For example, instead of listing 8 ounces of soda as a serving across the board, the new guidelines will require listing a serving size as the size of the individual bottle in which the soda is contained (e.g., 12 ounces or 20 ounces, depending on the bottle).
In addition to adjustments in the presentation of serving size information, the FDA is requiring a number of other changes in food labeling. Some manufacturers’ labels are already in compliance with the new guidelines, but others have not yet made the change. Soon, all the labels you see on the foods you find in your local supermarket will be in larger, bolder type; will contain a new line indicating the amount of added sugars in a product; will reflect the FDA’s newly adopted RDAs for macronutrients; and will include a declaration indicating the exact amounts of certain vitamins and minerals.
Gluten-free, low carb, low fat–the list goes on. What’s trendy today is often proved incorrect tomorrow when it comes to health and nutrition.
Consider one of today’s most widespread nutrition fads: the demonization of gluten. If packaging labels were to be trusted, the fact that a product is “gluten free” would mean that it is healthy.
Not only is that untrue, it’s also unnecessarily limiting the diets of far too many people. The fact is, unless you have an incredibly rare condition called celiac disease, the chances that you are truly “gluten intolerant” are exceptionally low.
In other words, shopping for foods that are gluten-free will do nothing to boost the health of the typical consumer. If you do have celiac disease, however, going gluten-free is absolutely essential.
Questionable Quality Control
Vitamins, minerals, and other supplements fall outside the purview of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the organization responsible for regulating the foods and drugs that are permissible to sell in the United States. Though they review supplements, they do so purely for safety, not for effectiveness. It is entirely possible, therefore, that a given supplement, while it may do you no harm, may also have few or no measurable health benefits.
When purchasing vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements, look for products whose manufacturers voluntarily submit to a respected credentialing authority. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and NSF International are two examples of organizations which require the manufacturers they certify to meet exceptionally rigorous standards.
Looking after your own nutrition and that of your family is crucial. Though food labels can be tricky, at Wellness Life Online, we have your back. Contact us today, and we will help you develop a plan for personally optimized nutrition for yourself and for those you love.
Shopping healthy can be challenging in our fast-paced food-on-demand world. Too often you are greeted at the grocery store with quick fixes for dinner and easy snacks for the kids. Unfortunately, most of these products have lower nutritional value as well as additional ingredients that may be hard for the body to process or ingredients that are actually not good for your overall health. So when you plan your next shopping trip, follow the three tips below to make sure your trip incorporates into your happy and healthy lifestyle.
One of the most important ways to ensure a healthy shopping experience is by reading product labels. It is amazing how often we put stuff into our body that we don’t understand or know how it will affect us. Heavily processed food will often have a variety of ingredients that seem completely unrelated to the item or something you might not even be able to pronounce, let alone know what it is. A good rule of thumb is to avoid foods that have ingredients you cannot pronounce, list more than five ingredients or contain artificial contents.
Aside from the ingredients on the labels, you will also want to look at the nutritional contents of each item. Some items can be surprisingly high in sugar or sodium, with a small portion accounting for almost your entire recommended daily intake. For example, try to find a juice that says it is 100% and verify it on the label, juice is a product that often has a high amount of sugar, often enough to negate the nutritional benefits.
Having a plan in place will not only help you stay on track with purchasing healthy foods but will also help prevent you from spending over your budget. To get the most from your shopping trip and help stick to a healthy plan, create a weekly meal planner. By pre-planning your meals, you will be less likely to opt for unhealthy options and will also know exactly what you need for each shopping trip. This will prevent you from buying impulse junk food items or other quick meal ideas that may seem like a good idea at the time.
Spend your shopping trip around the perimeter of the grocery store. Most grocery stores will be set up the same, with fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, and dairy in the front and back of the store as well as the sides. The center aisles are where more of the junk and processed food is located, so if you find yourself tempted easily or are shopping with little ones who get the “I wants,” it is best to avoid these center aisles as much as possible.
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